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I Expected Better From This Anime
I stumbled upon this Anime on Wikipedia's list of Anime based on video games page by chance and thought that it would be as good as the original Streetfighter Anime from 1994.
Sadly however, Streetfighter IV: The Tide That Bides is no where as amazing as its previous effort as this one is disappointing.
The plot takes place before the Streetfighter 4 game so it's a prequel to it. Characters in Guy, Dhalsim, Fei Long, Blanka, E. Honda and Dee Jay to Streetfighter 4 newcomers El Fuerte, Rufus, Juri, Hakan are all absent and are nowhere to be seen. However, it makes one wonder why is this actually called Streetfighter 4, when in which one say one third of the characters from the game are in it? It makes no sense.
Much of the movie involves the characters spending a large chunk of the film having a conversation- and less on the fighting and action sequences. The main storyline involves Ken, Ryu and Crimson Viper with Chun Li and Guile playing second fiddle to the trio and although it was the writers attempt to make this watchable, it became overdrawn and turned out to be a snooze fest. It got to me that the writers or whoever it was decided to make Crimson so annoying, arrogant and obnoxious.
Because when I played Super Streetfighter 4, as she is a CIA agent, I assumed she would be a tough character with a heart. Viper in the games is a cool chick, but here she could've been easily mistaken as one of the villains.
The animation is OK at best, although the colours look muted and drab. The character designs I thought are somewhat good - Anime standard that is, but they're not great.
I still dislike the live- action Streetfighter flick of 1994 with Van Damme more and would rank this below that and the recent legend of Chun Li movie in third place.
If they put more time and effort into it, it would've been a terrific Anime; but alas, this was a waste of an opportunity & a waste of the Streetfighter 4 franchise.
In all, a huge disappointment and inferior to the Streetfighter 2 Anime, which is still class 17 years on.
Virtua Fighter (1995)
Virtua Fighter Anime Does Justice To Its Gaming Franchise
I am a huge fan of the Virtua Fighter video games and when I saw that there was an anime based on it, I thought I'd check it out to see whether it is worth seeing again.
Compared to the King Of Fighters and Streetfighter anime movie and the TV series, this one is up there with the best. Akira Yuki, who is the main protagonist of the games goes on a quest to see the 8 Stars of Heaven. In addition, Sarah Bryant- Jacky Bryant's sister gets kidnapped by Koenkan (in the game's plot, they are known as J6) and is brainwashed by a evil scientist named Eva Durix, who uses her fighting techniques to create the ultimate android known as Dural.
Along the way, Akira with Jacky, Pai Chan meet up with French teen Lion Rafale- whose family have struck deals with terrorists over illegal arms, ninja Kage Maru, Aboriginal Australian fisherman Jeffry, Canadian wrestler, Wolf and herbal doctor, Shun Di to help defeat Koenkan.
It's almost as faithful to the actual games and beats the Tekken: the motion picture anime and has been praised by a number of critics and I can see why.
It's funny, well- animated, the story-lines and the characterisations throughout are excellent. The Virtua Fighter anime is one of the very few video game screen adaptations, which rightly and faithfully sticks close to the original source material and doesn't divert from it. It helps when the developers, SEGA had a hand in the show.
Even if you have never played the games before, the story lines will hook you in and the fighting scenes are sure to get your attention.
If there is one thing I wish to point out though is the characterisations of Akira and Jacky are slightly off and reversed; likewise, in the series Akira is goofy, jokey and enjoys to slack off and Jacky tends to be more serious. In the game, Akira comes off as the more disciplined one and Jacky is more brash, confident and upbeat than his anime counterpart. But these are just minor in discrepancies that do little to tarnish the series.
The first series was televised in Japan back in 1995 and there was a second series that followed after that. The only English dubbed version was the first season, which is a shame given it is such a good show. Virtua fighter did air in the West but due to falling sales, the company who distributed the rights of the show outside of Japan, decided not to dub the second series in English. Alas, no western licenser picked up season 2.
I'd like to see a new VF anime in English but a more up-to-date one with characters like Eileen, Aoi, Jean Kujo, Brad, Goh, Lei Fei and Vanessa from VF 4 and 5 added to it.
Undoubtedly one of the better video game anime's produced, Virtua Fighter certainly packs a punch. And a kick. If you are a fan of the games, be sure to give this a watch.
*8.5 out of10
Arguably,The Best Black British Sitcom Ever
Desmonds was one of channel 4's most successful U.K sitcoms during the late 80s and what made it so appealing to mainstream and black audiences was the funny- yet well depicted life of a Black family led by 2 Jamaican born parents, Desmond and Shirley and their British born kids, Sean and Gloria.
Desmonds is the name of the barber shop, Desmond Ambrose runs alongside his wife Shirley. There are 4 other supporting characters: Tony, the token Caucasian who is a fellow barber, Porkpie and Matthew, the African who comes across as being very intellectual and offers a philosophical insight on life. Lastly is Desmond and Shirley's other son, the somewhat stuck-up and sophisticated Michael, who works in a bank.
What makes Desmonds different to every other Black sitcom that has been around on television and are on TV today firstly is it is mainly centred on Black British Caribbean culture, as opposed to African American Black culture in the U.S. It was not the first ever Black sitcom to air on TV but it was the first set in a work environment.
Many Black communities in the U.K and England, tend to be either of Jamaican or African descent in contrast to the U.S. Which explains a lot about the differences between Black British culture and Black American culture. Desmonds was a sitcom that showed the lives of a working man and his family and it gave us a glimpse of this infusion of Black British, Caribbean culture with some 'western' aspects and conventions of the sitcom genre.
Secondly, the humour is very quint-essentially British-like-like with a Caribbean flavour to it; it works so amazingly well.
Desmonds is well- written, very funny and the characters are very likable. I think it was a shame that as a result of Norman Beaton's death that the series had to end so prematurely. Had that not happened, then I could've seen it last for a few more series.
Desmond's was a great little sitcom- if you haven't seen it yet, I'd recommend that you do!
What's Happening!! (1976)
Good Clean Fun
I caught some episodes of 'What's happening!!' on You Tube last year and being a U.S sitcom fan myself, I had to give this one a try. I thought it was very good.
From the writer of Good Times, 'What's Happening!' followed the trials and tribulations of young Raj aka Roger, the family he lives with and his friends, Rerun and and Dwayne.
Raj had a mother, Mabel going by the name of mama, who was single and a sister named Dee. She was somewhat interesting because at times i found some of the things she uttered funny, but also on occasions she'd annoy me. But props go to Danielle Spencer who for someone so young at the time, then possessed so much comedic talent.
Raj, Rerun and Dwayne often hang out at Shirley's café and talk about things together, which a lot of it was humorous but good natured as well. The 3 teens along the way experience love, more about what friendship means and through Raj see his relationship with his sister and mother grow, in addition to experiencing more problems and resolving them. Shirl was a hoot at times and was such a fun character.
What's Happening had a very good run, in spite of the fact it was overshadowed by the likes of The Jeffersons, Sanford and Son, Diff'rent Strokes and Good Times. There was a follow-up titled 'What's Happening Now', but that series didn't do so well in contrast to its predecessor.
Being in my 20s and entering my 30s, I've become more used to see shows that I never managed to see when they aired in the U.S via the internet and You Tube because I was too young to know or have heard of them. People lauded the Jeffersons, Good times and What's Happening as great shows and having seen episodes of those programmes I could see why.
This series deals with in particular the notion of how being a child of a single parent doesn't mean one is at a complete disadvantage from other children as seen mostly from Raj's perspective; with friends by your side, such as Re-Run and Dwayne, Raj still was happy, content and had fun in his teen-hood. And later on through the spin-off, What's Happening Now, he got married and a had a wife of his own, whilst still retaining his friends.
What's Happening is good, clean fun and if you love your classic American sitcoms, you should give this one a watch. It's funny, well-written and scripted and the performances are very, very good.
Living Single (1993)
The Forerunner To Friends: Amusing, Light-Hearted -Yet Far More Intelligent
Living single was lauded as the African-American version of Designing Women and Friends. With the latter show being a forerunner to Living Single.
Like Friends, it was based in New York- only this time in Brooklyn and as opposed to just 3 guys and 3 girls, there were 2 guys and 4 girls who all hanged out in a little apartment.
The show's ensemble cast was one of the best, let alone in a Black sitcom; Queen Latifah was superb as Khadijah- she was laid-back but also, had a no-nonsense yet still firm attitude. Erika was at times hilarious as Maxine, Kim Fields was very, very good as Regine and managed to be sharp and sweet too. My favourite was Synclaire (notice the spelling, there is an 'e' at the end of it); played by actress and later TV host, Kim Coles. She was by and large the Black version of 'Phoebe' from Friends. Kooky- yet subtle, quirky and silly. Which is good!
Another Friends- like character was Kyle- he was the show's version of Ross but he was less goofy and more reserved, he came off as being very 'dashing' and exquisite in contrast. Almost posh-like. And last but not least was Overton- he was the more laid-back, easy going, fun loving guy.
Arguably, most of the jokes and funnier moments were much better handled and executed well; thus, it stood out more than NBC's worldwide hit, Friends. Each character had their own agendas, as well as individual personalities and the actors all had depth and they brought something different to them to make them as likable as interesting as they are.
I also noticed whilst watching a few of the episodes that there seemed to be an air of intelligence, especially in the writing that made this head and shoulders above many other black sitcoms. Not just in the 90s but the early 00s as well. For instance, whilst Synclaire was portrayed as being an 'air-head' in many respects, she was also very loyal, compassionate and had a innocent and endearing charm about her. Nearly child-like that is. The scripting of Living Single was excellent.
One's initial viewing of this show would be this is a 'chick' show, but for a so-called chick sitcom, Living Single was both clever AND amusing.
I read also that like many sitcoms over the last decade, Living Single fell foul to terrible writing towards the last couple of open-ended episodes of the final season, which later resulted in its cancellation by network Fox- only for the series to be brought back and wrapped up in the final 3 eps.
Living Single was very under-rated as a show; the characters were well developed and story-lines were well-written; the writers did extremely well in juggling and handling both the humour and drama.
The rights were never bought in the UK, and so I don't recall Living Single ever being shown on terrestrial and satellite TV over here. But I have watched a couple of the episodes on-line and for me, it is a really good sitcom. It's a shame that U.S TV has stopped making sitcoms such as this nowadays. Sitcoms that put a smile on your face and with an ongoing plot line, because right now, the TV market is currently saturated with reality TV and drama.
Overall, it was and still is amusing, light-hearted and one of the most intelligent sitcom shows around. Living Single may not have been an outright sitcom classic, yet it was terrific fun that during the 00s its relatively short success was later followed by the likes of 'Girlfriends'- another sitcom that was remarkably similar to Living Single in many respects.
Living Single was a show that was fresh and unique that deserved to be handled much, much better than it was by Fox.
In Hindsight, The TV Show Was Superior To The Movie
Just like with the movie, I myself was too young to ever remember the TV series of Fame. I was 1 years old at the time (was born in 1981 and an 80s baby)- I never saw a single episode on TV in the UK when it was aired. But as I grew up, especially in the 00s, I read lots of things on the internet about 80s pop culture and the impact it had everywhere. Fame, as well as Flashdance and Footloose were the embodiment of the 1980s dance revolution. Culturally, it spawned things like Lycra and knee length socks.
The Fame TV series was launched in 1982 amidst the back of the global success of the film itself- yet whilst the movie was gritty, raw and powerful in places, fans especially felt as if they knew very little about the characters themselves and how they had ended up at the performing arts school in New York. Thankfully, throughout the 6 seasons, the show was able to address that issue and focus more on the characters and their individual and collective situations.
The movie was good, but looking back on it, it did lack that element of 'character' development. Yes we got to see Coco, Montgomery, Doris, Danny and Leroy but their parts were relatively speaking very small. There was also criticism from some fans that the themes in the movie rendition were too adult-orientated and R-rated, for a film supposedly depicting life at and behind a performing arts school. As well as the film played on 'stereotypes'- i.e. the black kid who is angry, aggressive in the shape of Leroy; Montgomery the closeted homosexual.
Fame's appeal was now broad and mainstream- the movie's swearing, nudity, R-rated hardcore stuff had to be 'cleaned up'. Again, die- hard fans of the movie weren't too happy with this, but for everybody else it was just what this series needed to further extend its mass appeal to the audience.
Dance student Coco Hernandez was now played by Erica Gimpel- she replaced Irene Cara, the original actress of that role in the movie, after she had disagreements, issues with the people behind Fame and her record company with regards to royalty payments for her hit, 'Fame'. In addition, the roles of Montgomery and wisecracks Doris Schwaltz and Danny Armatullo were performed by P.R Paul, Valarie Lansberg and Carlo Imperato respectively.
The only main cast survivors from the original movie to make their transition to the small screen were Gene Anthony Ray as would- be dancer, Leroy Jonston and Lee Cureri as music student Bruno Martelli. and then- newcomer, Julie aka Lori Singer joined the ranks.
Carol Mayo Jenkins played English Lit teacher, Miss Sherwood, Professor Shorofsky was undertaken by the late Albert Hague and last but not least, Lydia Grant- who having lusted after Leroy in the movie, became a hard- as- nails, tough talking drill sergeant/ dance tutor. She was played by the ever talented and sublime, Debbie Allen.
Debbie Allen's role in the movie was once again very minor, but in the show itself, she became a regular cast member and as Lydia waved her magic wand, slipped on her dancing shoes and danced and sang like never before. For all her production, directorial efforts on other shows, her association with Fame will live on in memory for generations to come. She was in many respects, the heartbeat of and driving force behind 'Fame's success and phenomenon. Almost everything she touched turned to gold. Debbie choreographed most of the dance routines, directed and produced the show, as well as act, dance AND she sang on the show too. Just wow!
I recently purchased the first season on DVD and throughout each episode, I was engrossed in and drawn by the quality of the story lines, as well as the dialogue. The writing in Fame is superb. The characterisations were much better suited for the small screen, as opposed to the big screen and it showed throughout with each episode. The original music numbers are great too, I felt like dancing myself! And the performances from all the cast members were fantastic.
Overall, the TV series of Fame is better than the original movie. It is very much an extended version of the movie but has none of the expletives and adult themes. Of course, there was also the remake of the movie that came out in 2009 and whilst that is also more family orientated, that version of Fame is aimed more at the kiddie market, as opposed to (elder generations of) fans of the original film and TV show.
If you are a fan of the 80s, and want to feel artistically and creatively inspired, then be sure to get and watch Fame the TV series.
'Fame', we'll always remember your name! ;)
Gritty Yet At times Moving Look At Performing Arts And Its Students
Fame was released in the U.S. a year before I was born; I was too young to ever remember the original version of Fame- and yet I heard and read numerous things about it. Such as the fact that it spawned a TV series and that its soundtrack was led by the Irene Cara, Giogio Moroder hit, 'Fame'.
Fame was arguably the first of its kind to portray and showcase the world of performing arts in the form of a feature length film. The lives, the struggles, the hurdles the students and some of the teachers undergo themselves were under the eye of the viewers.
The performances were great, yet one which caught my eye in particular was Gene Anthony Ray, who played the troublesome yet promising Leroy. Angry, frustrated and at first rude, his character later became less angry and frustrated and more committed to his studies- not just with the practical in the performing but in the theoretical too. Irene Cara was good as Coco- the scene with her taking her blouse off while some pervy director was filming her was rather discomforting to watch-, as well as Paul McCrane for his amazing portrayal of a vulnerable but closeted homosexual trying to cope with life and enrolling on a performing arts school in New York, after he had been kicked out of the military when he told them he was gay. Ralph played by Barry Miller was interesting but at times, his character did grate on my nerves.
The choreography was excellent, there were some good dance numbers involved and the 'hot lunch' scene in the cafeteria was worth watching. Another scene that was great was when the 'Fame' song was played and all the kids started rushing out into the streets of New York and danced wildly and without a care in the world. It was a street jam like no other.
The only star to ever truly benefit from this in the long run was and is Debbie Allen- she later became a producer, director and star- though she mostly worked behind the scenes on shows such as Everybody Hates Chris and The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Paul McCrane later went on to star alongside Peter Weller in the movie, 'Robocop', where he played a villain and E.R. as the judgemental, obnoxious Doctor Romano.
British director Alan Parker shot this really well- he allowed the performers to dance, act, sing to their hearts content without wanting to interfere with and affect their styles.
Throughout the duration of the movie, we see the various stages the students encounter during their 4 years- from their auditions to freshman year, all the way up to graduation in New York's High School For The Arts.
Fame is one of those movies which caters for or is aimed at a particular audience that isn't necessarily the general mainstream movie loving community- it is definitely NOT for everyone.
I for one enjoyed it because I have an interest in the arts- not technically in terms of being a performer because I am not one but as someone who appreciates that creativity and artistic expression can be channelled through hard work, commitment and passion towards what one does with their talents. Therefore, if you are an aspiring dancer, actor- or just someone who is creative, you might be interested in a movie such as this- though whether the events in Fame are anything like what it is in a performing arts college/school in real life, then that is a completely different matter altogether.
The 2009 remake of this movie was released recently and frankly, it virtually pales by comparison.
As for the original Fame, almost 30 years on though yes it is a bit dated but it is still a great movie, nonetheless.
It's not an outright classic but as a 80s cult classic, in line with other 80s dance hit movies, such as Footloose and Flashdance, Fame hits the spot. Isn't it a coincidence that all those dance movies begin with the letter 'F'?
Gritty, moving and intriguing, this one is worth a watch.
Take the Lead (2006)
Not Bad, But That's As Far As It Goes
I saw this movie when it was premiered on Channel 4 for the first time on Sunday 13 September, this year and I have to say that afterwards I thought it was okay, at best.
Take The Lead is basically 'Fame' mixed in with elements from the Australian flick, 'Strictly Ballroom' and 'Dangerous Minds'- but whereas those movies in their own way, captured the essence of triumph over adversity and the idea of working hard to get to where you want to be and in Fame's case, combining it with dance, Take The Lead doesn't necessarily quite hit the mark.
It wasn't by any means awful, but neither was it fantastic- yet it was entertaining to say the least. I expected more in terms of what was happening, but it just didn't materialise throughout the duration of the movie.
I did feel that some parts of the movie were a little too over-exaggerated and corny, but they didn't put me off from watching it the whole way through.
Antonio Banderas's performance wasn't his best, but with regards to the material he was given, he made the most out of it and at times, he really asserted his authority in this film. As his character tries to instill confidence, passion to his students and motivating them to take a keen interest in ballroom dancing.
The choreography was good though- well executed and captured and shot on camera brilliantly, the acting was good in places, but the script was somewhat of a letdown.
I really wanted to enjoy this movie a lot- instead, it didn't live up to what I expected from it, and I expected more from 'Take The Lead'.
The ending especially disappointed me and I felt this was a let down, given that it didn't go to great lengths to tie up the loose ends of the characters' own predicaments. I'm not sure that many people who have watched or will watch the movie will buy that ending completely. I didn't.
If you're expecting something similar on the lines of 'Fame', 'Strictly Ballroom' then you can forget it. It is entertaining to watch yes and it is not bad, but that's about it. If you do watch 'Take the Lead', then it is probably best to do so for the choreography than for anything else.
Good Times (1974)
Dynamite! Good Times Was Good Fun
Like The Jeffersons, Good Times was one of the those classic American sitcoms which was never aired in the UK, not to mention it came out in the 1970s- a decade where of which I wasn't born yet.
But like most fans of the show, I watched a few episodes on You Tube- and afterwards, I loved it.
The Evans family are headed by James and Florida- two parents trying to make ends meet, and who despite their lack of qualifications, encourage their children, who have their own aspirations in life to fulfil them and to take their chances. James was the strict but loving dad, who didn't dare hesitate in disciplining J.J, Michael and Thelma- should they over-step the line. Whilst Florida, in contrast was a fair, kind- hearted and considerate mother and loving wife, although she was in many ways similar to James, with regards to their attitudes to parenthood and family values from an Afro- American perspective.
The kids were just as lively and entertaining as the parents themselves: J.J was an aspiring artist with a goofy personality and crazy sense of humour, who would often wear multi-coloured outfits, and whose 'DY-NO-MITE' catchphrase is as infectious and familiar as Arnold Jackson's 'Whatchoo talking' 'bout Willis?' from Diff'rent Strokes. Michael was the smart-alec, who dreams of becoming a lawyer, whilst sister Thelma had her own dreams and hopes. Her verbal taunts with J.J were mostly hilarious, as was the love/hate relationship between brother and sister, which was played out extremely well by both Jimmie Walker and Bernadette Stanis.
Over the seasons, there were a few cameo appearances made, most notably from Janet Jackson, Debbie Allen and a young Gary Coleman as himself! I actually prefer Good Times over say, The Cosby Show, which was an 80s show because a) I preferred the Evans family over the Huxtables, both in terms of a) characterisation and b)as I felt it tackled serious and difficult social issues, in a way that resonated with many viewers. It was a comedy but it was also a social commentary which aimed to highlight the lives of working class, Afro- Americans in 1970s America. The Cosby Show attempted to cater to the mainstream audience in a 'candy coated' way, as the Huxtables were portrayed as Blacks who easily assimilated themselves into an upper-class U.S culture we would associate Whites with, whereas Good Times in contrast was much more 'edgier' and it was not afraid to address themes such as drug and child abuse in a realistic way. I actually found that whilst The Cosby Show can be fun to watch at times, it lacked that bit of 'sassiness' which Good Times has and of which made it trendier and cooler.
The show did jump the shark during the latter seasons, as it continued after John Amos's character, James died in a freak accident (in reality, it was known at the time that John had quit Good Times for good. And so, his character's death was written as it is on the show). Without John, the show suffered and alas, it lost a lot of its charm.
Still, for a sitcom, Good Times ticked all the right boxes. If only they had shown this in the UK during the 80s. As it certainly is, as JJ would put it, 'DY-NO-MITE!!'
My rating: 8 and a half
An Underrated Gem Which Should Have Lasted More Than One Season
From the animation company who gave us Transformers in the 80s and 90s incarnations of Marvel Comics's X-men and Spiderman on the small screen, TMS Entertainment made a follow-up to Transformers, in response to its success on TV and its popular toy line, titled: Visionaries- Knights of the Magical Light.
Two sets of enemies: one good, one bad- the good being the Spectral Knights, the other the Darkling Lords, with Merklyn the great wizard maintaining order, do battle against each other. Each member possesses their own weapon and is acquired with a set of special powers that enable them to magically transform into animals, best represented by the holographic emblems- or be it totems on their chest. They are also assigned to a particular animal, such as a lion, whale, a grizzly bear and a wolf to name for example. Thus, the animal also tends to, but not always reflect and connote the personality of each group member.
The series combines medieval shivery with futuristic special effects, which is and was the first of its kind to do so- think 'King Arthur' mixed with elements from Transformers, Jayce and the Wheeled warriors and Galaxy Rangers and you'll get the picture.
The dialogue was impressive, the concept is original and something that has never been attempted before for an animated show. The quality of the animation was faultless and the characters were well designed; and whereas they were often complex and detailed, the plots were unique, interesting and well- devised. As for the voice-acting, it was one of the best from any animated series.
The fact that it only lasted 13 episodes- which frankly equals to one measly season was criminal; given as this doesn't do this franchise any justice whatsoever. Visionaries was a very under-rated cartoon and one of the most overlooked ones, back in the 80s.
This is one of the many cartoons that deserve to make a comeback and be possibly remade for older and future generations of fans and admirers of Visionaries (and if it does so, to retain the original premise, design and feel of the show). I may have been a little girl at the time when this came out over 20 years, but I loved the action-packed cartoons the 80s had- and Visionaries was no exception. As it is an underrated gem.
It deserves to be released on DVD in the UK.
3 Men and a Little Lady (1990)
Disappointing Follow-Up To The First Movie
After the massive worldwide success of Three Men and a Baby in 1984, a sequel was launched 7 years later with Ted Danson, Tom Selleck and Steve Guttenberg all reprising their roles as Jack, Peter and Michael and a slightly grown up Mary tagging along for the ride.
In this sequel, Mary's biological English mother, Sylvia- played by American actress Nancy Travis decide to move to 'merry old England' and start a new life. Her London/English accent sounded a bit bizarre ; when I first saw this film, I'd thought she was English. However, I think it would have made much more sense if the casting directors had opted to hire an 'English' born actress for the role of Silvia instead.
On the way, Sylvia's charm and beauty attracts the attention of fellow Englishman, Christopher Casonove (Note: I use the term English as opposed to British here, in an attempt to dispel any confusion and to say that 'Britain' is made up of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland). Later on, Peter suddenly develops feelings for Sylvia and when he finds out she is going to marry her English boyfriend, he, alongside Jack and Michael fly to England to stop Sylvia from proposing to him.
The film is set within the English countryside backdrop (according to this site, it says it was filmed in Oxfordshire), and so rather you only get a glimpse of one part of English culture and not the rest, which is unfortunate. Many American and overseas films and TV shows in their portrayal of British/English culture and the people, have a habit in depicting British people as either upper- class snobs speaking with posh accents or the Queen's English for instance, or with Dick-Van Dyke, 'Oliver' Cockney London accents.
I think this is partly because people outside the UK view the nation as being nothing more than London itself- which is a problem and many of them are unaware of the different accents and regions that exist in and around the UK, such as Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Birmingham, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Cardiff etc. Also people confuse England with Britain, which coincidently, is not the same thing. The lack of Media representation of these cities and its people to the wider world in both TV and film needs to addressed, if we are to get beyond the 'geezer' and 'maa'm' stereotypes.
Apart from the much stereotypical portrayal of us Brits, Three Men and a Little Lady, is in itself, a lacklustre sequel to what was, in my view, a very good movie, first time round. It is very sickly sweet in most places, some of the jokes are quite flat as well and it is a bit too 'hammy' for my liking. For a so-called light- hearted movie, there are less laughs to be found and the plot and narrative is all-too predictable that you'd be able to figure out what is going to happen in the end.
The soundtrack is great though; Boy Meets Girl's worldwide smash- hit of 89','Waiting for a Star to fall' is still one of the most infectious-yet equally memorable movie songs of all-time.
Overall, Three Men and a Little Lady is a disappointment; well I didn't really like it that much, but if you liked the first movie so much, then give this one a spin. Otherwise, there are better family films on the market, which whilst a lot of them aren't as similar to 'Three Men and a Little Lady'- plot-wise, they offer a lot more for your money, in contrast.
Kuai can che (1984)
A Culinary Kick-Ass Romp
Two owners, of whom are cousins and run a mobile food business on the outskirts of Barcelona- played by Yuen Baio and Jackie Chan, along with a private detective in Sammo Hung, sporting an 'embarassing looking' Gerry curl haircut- are embroiled in a mission when a Spanish woman, who is also a thief but later befriends the guys, is kidnapped by a gang of criminals. She is also the daughter of Baio's dad's girlfriend. Together, the trio work together to rescue her from the bad guys.
At first impressions, the film's title implies that it has food connotations; well, the two cousins are working in the café/take-out based industry after all, serving and taking orders from customers, whilst riding on a skateboard. But with Jackie Chan, you know that there is far more to this film than serving portions of fried rice and chow mein. Though the plot is really nothing new, it is the movie's fight scenes, which are a delight to watch as ever, as well as the humour and the narrative; this of which becomes a dominant aspect of Wheels on meals. Viewers of the US show, Martial Law will recognise Sammo as the cousin's friend and P.I.
The camaraderie of the three male leads is always great to see, and the performances are spot-on, as usual. The script is well written; the comedic elements add a nice touch to the film and the humour works well to good effect. The climax of the movie reaches fever point towards the end with the fight to the death between the impressive Benny Urquidez and Jackie himself.
All in all though, Wheels on Meals is a culinary, light-hearted, 'kick- ass' romp, and one of which has some of the most amazing stunts and battles ever featured in a martial arts comedy-based movie. This is yet another one of JC's movies worth adding to any fans' collection.
8 and a half out of 10
The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo (1985)
Despite The Appearance of Scrappy, 'The 13 Ghosts of...' Was Still A Good Cartoon
The Hanna Barbera, Scooby Doo franchise underwent a drastic decline in the late seventies to early eighties when little Scrappy Doo- or as others would rename him as 'Crappy Poo'- arrived out of nowhere to join the gang of Scooby, Shaggy, Velma and Daphne. The so-called diminutive nephew of Scooby was, in many Scooby fans eyes, an annoyance and who'd embarrass the hell out of the gang, not to mention the fans themselves.
Thankfully however, a new animated show based on the characters, arrived towards the mid-eighties titled: 'The 13 Ghosts of Scooby Doo' and HB decided to shift their focus away from Scrappy (and rightly so), for once and onto the likes of Daphne, Shaggy, Scoob, as well as the new additions to the franchise; a pint- sized kid going by the name of Film Flam (who looked like he was of Mixed race/Asian origin) and Vincent Van Ghoul- voiced by none other than the famous Vincent Price, whose often scary voice-overs once scared the pants off me, as a kid. For those of you, who need reminding, he did the soliloquy or spoken word bit towards the end of Michael Jackson's 80s hit, 'Thriller'.
I assumed the arrivals of Price and Film Flam, meant that Fred and Velma had to make way for those two, but this in itself didn't hinder the quality of the cartoon or the story itself. I actually thought that Film Flam was not that bad- I could do with Film Flam in the cartoon and get rid of Scrappy. You also had two ghosts, Boogel and Weerd, who were the main villains and of whom tried to outwit the gang, but in the end they always fail.
The Scooby gang have to retrieve the 13 Ghosts, of which they have released from a chest, after Scooby and Shaggy were duped by Boogel and Weerd.
Arguably, the best aspect of this show was that whereas all the other Scooby shows had the same formula, plot-wise that is; i.e, haunted house, Scoob, Fred, Shaggy, Velma, Daphne (and later on Scrappy) try to solve the mysteries and unmask the villain, dressed as a monster and ghost, 'The 13 Ghosts' had a completely different narrative angle, which was refreshing to see. For once, it wasn't just about capturing and unmasking the villains, but also, there was an element of mystery, suspense and of the chest-, which acted as a prop device to further propel the gang forward, in their attempts to recapture the ghosts. It was also good to have the late Vincent Price aka Vincent Van Ghoul and his contribution in the show, was very effective I have to say.
Whilst it wasn't in the same league as say 'Scooby Doo, Where are you?' for example, 'The 13 Ghosts of Scooby Doo' was much better than The Scooby and Scrappy Doo Show and A Pup Named Scooby Doo, which I prefer over the Scooby and Scrappy Doo Show. It is completely different and the show's plot brought an extra dimension to one of the most famous cartoon franchises in history.
This was one Scooby show that didn't get the exposure it deserved, which was a shame but nevertheless, it was a good cartoon, -but for the inclusion of Scrappy-, and like many other toons, 'The 13 ghosts of Scooby Doo' deserved a longer run.
The Medallion (2003)
Hate To Say This, But This Is Not One Of Chan's Best Efforts
This is not a great movie; in fact it isn't even funny when it tries to be. Jackie Chan has starred in so many great movies that one could've imagined when he'd have a flop of his own. The Medalion is just so woeful, it is difficult to explain how utterly poor this movie is. And to think that this was produced in Hong Kong as well, now that to me is a big shock.
The makers pumped so much money into the CGI and special effects that they limited the amount of fight choreography and action sequences, of which weren't all that spectacular. It looked heavily disjointed and out of sorts; there was too much CGI, not enough genuine action. The story was frustrating at times, unexciting and lacked depth; the characters were either one dimensional or flat. The romance between Claire and Jackie was embarrassing to watch, it's hard to believe that they had chemistry, because it looked totally unconvincing, and may I add it was a flawed idea to hook them up, anyway. The acting was not so much the problem but rather the woeful script and tedious dialogue, it was boring to boot as well.
Lee Evans does his typical one- man English routine to minimal effect. I think he is okay as a stand-up comedian, but his role in this film did him no favours whatsoever. He was wasted in the Medalian, which is unfortunate to say.
In fact, this is a waste of a movie and a waste of Jackie's talents- the editing was all over the place. The premise sounded interesting for a while, but overall, it just didn't work and the end product is terrible.
I loved Police Story, Drunken Master, Wheels On Meals and My Lucky Stars but this film, the Rush Hour series and The Tuxedo have been disappointing. The truth is Chan is effective when he is given the freedom to do things, but also when the story itself is good; he however is not so effective and at his best when the script is poor and Jackie doesn't get to showcase his strengths and talents. The latter is certainly the case, in reference to his American efforts and in particular to The Medalian.
This is not the Jackie Chan we all know and love: as fans of this genre, we all are aware that he can do better than this. But I for one just couldn't bring myself to recommend this to any JC fan, of which I'd say to them avoid this movie at all costs
Fuk sing go jiu (1985)
May Take Some Getting Used To For Some, But It Is A Good Laugh
My Lucky Stars is one of those Kung Fu films that western audiences are unfamiliar with. There have been serious hard-hitting martial arts flicks; namely Enter the Dragon, Police Story and yet there are also comedy based Kung Fu movies, such as 'My Lucky Stars', the sequel to 'Lucky Stars: Winners and Sinners'. It combines slap stick comedy with martial arts action, though the humour isn't exactly as silly as that of Kung Pow or Beverly Hills Ninja. It is Hong Kong Chinese humour but with a touch of Charlie Chaplin, Laurel and Hardy and Marx Bros thrown in for good measure.
The film is mostly set in Japan and there is a lot of Japanese being spoken, although this is still a Hong Kong production. Jackie Chan plays a cop and he and Yuen- the other cop are on a mission to Japan to get hold of a former cop turned thief. When Yuen's character is captured, Chan enlists the help of his friends to rescue Yuen and to recapture the diamonds. Joining the guys is a female cop named Barbera, who apparently takes no prisoners and puts up a decent fight.
Most of the scenes feature lesser known names such as Sammo Hung- who later on went to make his US TV debut in the CBS show, Martial Law-, Yuen Biao and Hong Kong comedy actors, Eric Tsang, Richard Ng and Charlie Chin, who are well known faces on Hong Kong television, all interacting with one another and making silly banter.
Depending on how receptive you are of the humour, it can take a while getting used to; being Chinese and with Cantonese as my dialect, I understand it better than I do speaking it myself and so I had no difficulties adapting and assimilating to it. Yes it is different but the quicker you get used to it, the more you'll enjoy this movie. It is funny in places and the fight sequences as ever, are excellent.
One of the highlights of the film is the battle between the two Chinese and Japanese female characters; it is brilliant to watch and a complete contrast to see women squaring off each other in unarmed combat; not like Police Story where the females such as Maggie Q gets seven shades knocked out of them by the villains.
Despite Jackie Chan's appearance being relatively limited in contrast to the other cast members, this doesn't dampen the film's interest. The other characters all play their part; thus for once, Jackie doesn't dominate this movie, as he does with his other efforts.
I think that it's a tad shame though that the Hong Kong film industry, thanks to the likes of Raymond Chow and Leonard Ho, no longer churn out these types of movies. The Kung Fu genre began in the 70s with Bruce Lee, continued with Jackie Chan in the 80s and then eventually it died by the 90s, after the efforts of Jet Li and Stephen Chow, only to be replaced by the likes of Hollywood blockbusters, The Matrix and China's Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon and Hero. Chinese cinema, well make that Far Eastern cinema's reputation, laid bare the foundations of Hong Kong film making and it was a reputation that was once lauded by many as one of the very best that ranked alongside the US and Hollywood.
'My Lucky Stars' is one of Chan's under rated hits- which spanned a follow-up titled: 'Twinkle, Twinkle Lucky Stars', released in the same year as its predecessor, and yet if you want to see him in a comedy- based role, then you can do no wrong with this effort. I enjoyed it very much and if you're a fan of his, then so will you. Highly recommended
An Excellent Remake Of A 60s Classic For The Younger Generation
The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest was killed off right before it got the chance to realise its potential. Yes this was a 90s remake of a cult classic, and yes you could argue that nothing beats the original Jonny Quest; however, as an 80s born kid growing up as a teen in the 90s, the only version of this show that I was practically familiar with, was this one, 'The Real Adventures of...'.
Plot-wise, the story revolved around a teenager named Jonny Quest- a computer whizz kid, who battles international criminals with the help of a computer generated program, known as 'Questworld'. Joining Jonny on his quest are Jessie Bannon and her father Race Bannon, his Indian friend, Hadji and Jonny's father, Dr Benton Quest.
The voice cast were made up of some of the most recognisable names in TV and film; Rob Paulsen, Frank Welker, Robert Patrick (he of The X-files and Terminator 2 fame), George Segal (Just Shoot Me)and Mark Hamill (Star Wars)to name.
I remembered seeing at the time a few promos of The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest, on Cartoon Network's part, courtesy of Hanna Barbera in the lead up to its debut on the channel in 96'. Design-wise, the character designs had more of a dimension to them, in contrast to its 60s counterparts. The use of computer generated effects really brought this show to life almost. At times, it looked very flashy- although I have to say that whilst the computer graphics looked impressive back then, these days, I personally think they look rather dodgy. In addition, a female character by the name of Jesse was introduced in this particular series- although she was not an original member of the 60s Quest team.
I still don't understand why this cartoon series was cancelled; in fact, the best post- 60s Hanna Barbera cartoons which were cancelled, such as 'The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest', 'Johnny Bravo' and 'The Pirates of Dark Water' to name, were all short-lived and were brilliant shows in their own right.
The stories in this show were inventive, interesting and well written; the dialogue was superb, the animation was spot-on and the music was great too. I cannot really compare this Jonny Quest to the 60s version, given my unfamiliarity with the latter show, but The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest ranks up there with the very best.
Such a shame however that it never really got the respect it warranted.
Room 101 (1994)
A Great Little Show And A Good Laugh
'If you had the opportunity to consign 5 items into the oblivion known as Room 101, what would they be and why?'. That was the main theme of this BBC2 show, as celebrities- most of whom we've never heard of or seen before- choose their 5 pet hates and offer reasons as to why they despise them so much.
The first presenter, Nick Hancock eventually left the show to host the BBC1 sports quiz, 'They Think it's All Over', only to be replaced by the sarcasm and sardonic wit of 'Have I Got News For You's' Paul Merton.
The format of this show was well put and devised, the idea of selecting 5 things; be it people, places, animals, whatever, you loathe to death is more interesting, when it comes down to entertainment value than say selecting 5 things you like. Besides, in a way almost, negative things generate just as much attention, as well as criticism as that of bad press, which sells. The selection of video clips to illustrate the guests point, as well as Paul Merton's is great.
What I found interesting though is that the guests on the show, many of whom i am totally unfamiliar with myself, select some of the most bizarre and interesting things to put into Room 101.
The show celebrates mediocrity, in a way that is a send-up of the things people considered inferior in their eyes. The humour aspect is a great addition, because even though it is about the things we loathe, we can still laugh at it and make fun of it at the same time and at our own expense. I enjoy watching the likes of Paul Merton take the mick and have fun.
I think that had Room 101 been just about celebrating the good things and selecting people, places, things etc that we consider to be good, no matter how inspiring and uplifting it may be to us, then it wouldn't make interesting viewing as this show is. Likewise, in that case, that would be just too obvious and playing it 'too safe'.
Past guests who have appeared on the show included Stephen Fry, artist Tracy Emmin, Ricky Gervais and the late great Radio 1 DJ Sir John Peel and lesser known celebs such as Linda Smith and Tony Slattery to name but many.
Room 101 is a great little show and a good laugh that deserves a much bigger audience, if it had been on BBC1, although its cult status on BBC2 makes this one of the channel's most under- rated hits.
Cutthroat Island (1995)
Before Pirates Of The Caribbean Arrived Came This...
Whilst it proved to be a monumental multi million dollar flop in the box office both in the US and UK, 'Cuttthroat Island' is in fact not as bad as the critics had originally made out. It is not an outright classic by any stretch of the imagination, but neither was it as awful as they have stated themselves. It is at most an OK film that is fun and entertaining to watch. I think though that the most of the critics condemnation of this film was directed more towards the budget of the special effects, costumes, the large ships which were built etc, as opposed to the standard of the film's narrative itself. However, the slating this film received was a little too harsh.
Geena Davis plays heroine Morgan, whose 'tough as nails' approach attracts the attention of Matthew Modine's William- a thief who longs to be part of the adventure and together the pair set foot to avenge the death of Morgan's father and to get their hands on the treasure. Davis was very good, whilst I thought with Modine's performances, whilst it was okay, i'd have expected more from him in that role. Some of the scenes in the film did drag on a bit too long though, whereas some of the dialogue was a bit cheesy, which is a criticism of Cutthroat Island, but otherwise other than Pirates of the Caribbean there have been not that many swashbuckling, pirate based movies made for the big screen.
It is definitely not as bad as the reputation it first received when it came out and I have seen much worser films than this. Overall, Cutthroat Island is an okay movie- although with the colossal big bucks being spent on the film, it is a little disappointing to see that the film's extraordinary budget didn't really translate into success on screen, in regards to the story. Which is a bit of a shame given that the scenery and locations of the film looked spectacular.
If you do see it, then do so with an open mind and do not expect it to be anything like Pirates of the Caribbean.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)
This Proves That Not All Animation Has to Be CGI Based To Become A Hit
Before the CGI phenomenon and Dreamworks's digital animation kicked off in the late 90s- early 00s, animated films were still hand drawn and well animated. Bob Zemeckis- who had hit the big time with the first Back to the Future film, turned his attention to making a movie by combining both live action and quality animation. The collaboration of all the Disney, Warner Bros and Tex Avery cartoon characters is just amazing to see- although it would've been just as great had Hanna Barbera and its creations, Yogi Bear and Boo Boo, Fred Flintstone, Top Cat, Huckleberry Hound, Scooby Doo to name made an appearance or two as well.
'Who Framed Roger Rabbit?' is one of the finest animated movies of all- time and so enjoyable to sit through as well. British actor Bob Hoskins plays an American detective, Eddie Valiant- a guy who hates toons well in fact anything to do with them, whose partner in crime dies after being killed by one of the toons in Toon Land. Roger meanwhile is being framed for a crime he didn't commit after a businessman, who has a sexual encounter with Jessica Rabbit, is found murdered and he finds himself a prime suspect to the case. So Roger goes on the run from the mob and seeks refuge in Eddie's hideout. It is up to Eddie to help clear Roger's name and for Roger to further convince Eddie that he wasn't responsible for the victim's death. Christopher Lloyd who played Doc Brown in BTTF again makes his mark on another Zemeckis effort; this time as an evil villain trying to thwart Eddie and Roger's plans.
These days with many computer generated animated films, whilst they look impressive on screen, the makers often sacrificed the quality of the narrative and story lines in favour of fancy graphics. With 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit?', what we have is a terrific film, where both the juxtaposing of live action sequences and animation are of a high standard. The animation looks fluid and smooth and to this day, it hasn't diminished the film one bit. The special effects are brilliant and the performances- both vocally from the voice actors and live actors, are one of a kind.
The film is well written and the concept is well implemented and devised. Kathleen Turner does exceptionally well as the voice of Jessica, capturing her sexual presence and oozing a vixen-like persona. Charles Fleischer does a sterling job as the often maniacal Roger; he was able to switch from being insane and plain crazy to unfortunate and sad, often this would occur in one particular scene.
Not even Space Jam or the okay-ish Looney Toons: Back in Action could rival this 80's effort. But the success of 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit?' goes to show that one doesn't always have to rely on CGI to produce a really great animated feature film with live action sequences thrown in. Likewise, the characters are well drawn and colourful without the need of being pixel lated. Although Space Jam and Looney Toons both looked impressive, the narrative in those movies weren't as strong, effective, nor as appealing as 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit?'.
Entertaining, light-hearted and well executed, this is a must for all those who love watching classic cartoons and their favourite characters come together for the first time on the big screen.
Rating: 9 and a half out of 10
Mister T (1983)
Might Be A Silly Cartoon To Some, But Mr T Is Very Educational
Back in the 80s, The A-Team was one of the biggest TV hits to grace Western television, both in the US and UK respectively. Its combination of live-action sequences, odd humour and end-to-end action won the hearts of millions of people and garnered new fans in the process. Following on from The A-Team's phenomenon, animation company Ruby Spears wanted that success to continue through transition by creating and releasing a cartoon series based on the exploits of one of the A-team cast members, MR. T who played BA Baracus in the original show.
In Mister T: The Animated Series, the 'Gold-chained one', was a coach to a group of kids, who ply their trade as gymnasts and together, they solved mysteries and caught the bad guys. The show would open with a opening title sequence and the appearances of the main characters and then afterwards, there would be a live- action type of segment where Mr T basically explains, what I refer to as, the synopsis of the episode. The episode is then shown and the initial problem is then resolved, in the end. The show is concluded when Mr T, in live action mode, then explains the moral of the story and teaching kids not to talk to strangers and things like trust, respect and the importance of friendship, for example. He also pointed his finger at the camera, in a 'don't mess with me' style and uttering: 'Take it from me Mr T!'.
It can be a tad cheesy and to some they may see this as embarrassing or stupid-which it's not, but Mister T's brief success did span other TV/film based crossovers/adaptations/spin-offs for the cartoon market back in the 80s. These included, The Gary Coleman Show, Rambo, It's Punky Brewster, Chuck Norris Karate Kommandos and Police Academy- all created by Ruby Spears Production. The only thing I Wished Mr T had done more often, was that he would frequently utter his famous lines from The A-Team, such as: 'I Pity The Fool', 'Shut up fool' and 'I ain't getting on no plane, fool!'. Something on the lines of that.
Whilst Mister T came across as a 'hard man' as BA,who took no crap from no one in the A-Team, in the cartoon series, he is more laid back and not as angry and aggressive as he was in the A-Team. But then again, this was a kids cartoon and so, Mister T was a hero to many kids back then, who looked up to him and saw that despite his mean streak, in the show, he demonstrated he had a lot of heart and that he cared so much for the kids, who show a lot of faith and respect to him.
Overall, despite the cheesy overtones this show might give off, this is quite an entertaining cartoon that has an educational theme to it. So take it from THE Mister T, watch this show and you will see, what this show might mean to you and me!
One of Filmation's Best Efforts
Bravestarr was released in 1987 by the now defunct American animation company, Filmation on the back of He-man: Masters of the universe and She-Ra: Princess of Power, in 1983 and 87' respectively. The plot of the cartoon was about a Native American cowboy named Marshall Bravestarr, who possesses the strength of the bear, ears of the wolf, speed of the puma and eyes of a hawk, and his trusty sidekick, a talking horse named Thirty- Thirty, who carried with him a gun aptly titled, 'Sarah Jane' and with the help of Deputy Fuzz and Judge J.B serve to protect New Texas from the evil Tex Hex and his band of outlaws.
Set in futuristic Texas, this was and still is to this day, one of the very few cartoons set in a particular city, in the US- hence in the South- thousands of light years ahead in the future. Considering this was made in the 80s, the creators did an impressive job trying to recreate the wild west look but from a Sci-Fi based outlook. Bravestarr didn't just evoke morality and good verses bad, as well as teaching children lessons about life, but it also highlighted themes of culture and community and that we shouldn't take things and life for granted. And despite the fact that this was an action adventure cartoon, many of the story lines, themes and issues it addressed resonate with children and adults in a way that makes sense to them. In addition, Marshall Bravestarr was one of the very first major cartoon characters from a (ethnic)minority background, to make an impact on TV.
The sound effects were amazing, the music was great, the theme song equally memorable and the animation was wonderful. The characters were well designed and the stories were diverse and taught kids morals and the importance of what is right and what is wrong. Something of which the same cannot be said about today's cartoons, sadly.
Whilst Bravestarr was overshadowed by the success of He-man, it is still a personal favourite for many 80s cartoon fanatics. Suffice to say, I preferred Bravestarr over He-man because of the diversity of the story lines, characters and that the depth of the situations and problems that the characters faced themselves, were more what I would say realistic and identifiable in contrast. For some reason, they resonated more with people because like for instance,in 'The Pledge' where a kid dies from a drug overdose, the fact that there wasn't a happy ending was important- in the sense that when kids watch that episode, well, in fact anyone who watches that episode, will realise for themselves the devastating consequences of drug usage and that no one should underestimate the dangers of drugs.
Bold, brave and at times thought-provoking, Bravestarr is definitely that- bold, brave and thought provoking. A cult cartoon classic for many years to come, it dared to take some risks, but it had well and truly paid off in the end. It will be remembered by many cartoon fans as one of the most interesting as well as best 80s cartoons ever, and rightly so
8 and a half out of ten
The Paul O'Grady Show (2004)
A Lively Yet Entertaining Chat Show That People Of All Ages Can Enjoy
Known to many of us in the UK for his on stage antics as Lily Savage in drag, Liverpudilian Paul O'Grady has proved to have made the successful transition from an adult stand-up act to a family friendly TV presenter. The Paul O' Grady show is a one hour chat show where celebrity guests drop by and talk about their latest book, film, TV show to name, as well as the playing the odd games, such as 'guess the theme tune' and even features appearances by some animals; most notably they include Paul's very own dog Buster, who has become something of a cult figure in the show.
As a presenter, O'Grady himself brings a lot of flamboyancy and silliness to the chat show format, which is usually renowned as being very formal and straight-to-the point, which in itself, is rather boring to watch. It works well a) because this is a light entertainment programme after all and b)he is able to combine his comedic talents with a particular style of presenting, which is refreshing and different in contrast to other so-called celebrity-based chat shows. O'Grady looks like he is enjoying himself and his humorous banter offers a somewhat off-the wall perspective on the chat show format that is mildly appealing and entertaining to watch.
Even though the show is aimed at older audiences, the Paul O'Grady Show can be enjoyed by everyone, regardless: it is as I said entertaining, colourful, amusing and likable at the same time. It did well on ITV1, and it's still doing well on Channel 4, thanks mainly to the brilliant efforts of O' Grady himself as the host.
Definitely worth watching.
Wayne's World (1992)
Wayne's World! Party Time! Excellent!
Starring Saturday Night Live's very own duo of Wayne and Garth- Canadian Mike Myers and Dana Carvey, Wayne's world is a comedy rock fest of epic proportions. Think a grown-up Bill and Ted and replace the history element with more heavy metal rock. Wayne's world is a humorous and farcical take on two hosts and fanatical rock fans, who host their own Cable show titled: 'Wayne's World'.
Wayne is the guy, who wears a black t-shirt and baseball cap, whilst Garth is the long blond- yet shy geeky one, and the pair utter phrases such as 'schwwwwing!', 'we're not worthy' and 'excellent!'.
Proved as a relatively small hit, their small screen antics catch the eye of a sleazy TV producer played by Rob Lowe. He intends on destroying Wayne and Garth's reputation and careers by exposing them as frauds, and to make his life a misery even dates Wayne's crush:lead singer Cassandra in the process. Meanwhile, in addition to falling in love with Cassandra, Wayne agrees to promote her band's talent and help enhance her chances in furthering her career.
The humour is adolescent and at times childish and daft, but this is all in the name of fun with this movie. The cast ensemble are great and they all looked like they had fun making the film.
Unlike the Austin Powers movies, it relies heavily on pop cultural references and mickey takes on various TV shows and films. And although Mike Myers is a very funny comedian, it seems as if in film terms people associate him more with the Austin powers franchise, rather than with Wayne's World. Which is a shame because I prefer Wayne's World to Austin Powers; the humour wasn't as smutty and as it was utilised in a somewhat clever way- even if some of the scenes came across as childish or silly looking.
Highlights of the movie include the Scooby Doo ending- one of three endings that is-, the product endorsements of Pepsi- the taste of a new generation LMAO!!- and Adidas, and a memorable rendition of Queen's Boheminan Rhapsoday, with Wayne, Garth and company rocking along to the track.
Overall, Wayne's World is an entertaining- yet highly amusing farce, which should've got a much higher profile than Mike Myers' other hit,'Austin Powers', which went on to spawn three other sequels.
As Wayne and Garth would say: 'Excellent!'
Who's the Boss? (1984)
One Of The Memorable Sitcom Hits From America That Defined The 80s Era
As an 80s child myself, this effort was one of America's memorable sitcoms during a decade where the TV industry was saturated with the likes of The Cosby Show, Family Ties, Facts of Life to name on our TV screens. Who's The Boss is undoubtedly one of the best family-based sitcoms ever: a divorced but wealthy career woman, going by the name of Angela Bauer, -played by Judith Light- lives at home with her son, Jonathan and whose mother, Mona occasionally drops by to pay a visit. Angela hires a hunky, ex- Major League baseball player, Tony Michelli- Taxi's Tony Danza- as her housekeeper: he brings along his daughter, Samantha, played by Charmed's Alyssa Milano and the pair move into Angela's house.
Angela is uptight-some would say pretentious and is yet a well- educated, intelligent and ambitious woman, who at first, is so tied to her work that she doesn't seem to have time to relax and have fun with the kids. Tony on the other hand, is a fun-loving, humorous, New Yorker, whose mischievous and larger than life persona springs to life from the very first moment he enters Angela, Jonathan and Mona's lives. Amidst the positive effect he has on not just the kids and Mona, but Angela especially. And it is down to his effect on Angela, that as we see as the series progresses, she becomes less uptight and more sensitive, caring and loving, in addition to being more assertive and confident. Both as a mother to the kids and towards Tony, particularly as her feelings towards him develop further on, from employees, to friends, and then onwards as lovers. The emotional and sexual tension between Angela and Tony is well developed and the writers and performers did a good job in projecting that chemistry and making those characters believable, to the extent to which we as the audience, wanted to root for them to get together.
Thus, the fact that Who's The Boss, managed to sustain the interest in Angela and Tony's relationship throughout the 8 seasons, without it diminishing the standards this show has set is a testament to the quality of the writing, the humour and the performances themselves.
Today, Judith Light is well known to many of us for her role as stern, no-nonsense, Claire Meade in ABC's Ugly Betty, but here as Angela, she is wonderful as she plays against type as a down-to-earth, sensitive-yet modest career woman and single mother. Personally, for me it was refreshing to see a younger Judith, looking beautiful and elegant throughout this sitcom.
Having seen Ugly Betty and Who's The Boss, I can understand why she is considered by many people- within the TV industry and outside of it- as a great character actress. She has this ability to play certain roles that are as varied and diverse, as well as ones that challenge her acting capabilities. Her level of experience on screen and stage, not to mention her knowledge of this business, from an acting perspective makes her one of the most well respected and under rated actresses around today. And with 'Who's The Boss?' Judith hardly puts a foot wrong; she looks radiant and glamorous as the attractive Angela. Tony Danza is as charismatic, charming and witty as he is as Tony and together, the pair make a great sitcom couple.
There are many sitcoms which encompass the romantic pairing of two characters, but not many shows are able to develop that chemistry and relationship further along throughout the duration of the series and in a way that makes sense to its viewers. 'Who's the Boss?' with Tony and Angela, on the other hand, did just that, courtesy of the performances given by Danza and Light. It was at times amusing, interesting and touching, without being too sappy.
Overall, this was an underrated show that never got as much recognition that it deserved and is a likable take on the employer/employee relationship; a theme that was employed during the first 2 seasons of the 90s LL cool J and Debbie Allen sitcom, In the House. I have to admit I didn't like this show when it first came out, but as I watch the episodes as a 20 something person, it made me appreciate Who's The Boss more, as well as to understand and getting used to its humour.
As I said, the 80s was a great cultural period for Television in the States, and 'Who's The Boss?' was one of those shows that best reflected and represented American family life and culture during that decade, in the way that it did.
The Jeffersons (1975)
George and Weezy Are Movin' On Up
I must admit that I am not that familiar with its predecessor, All In The Family, seeing as I wasn't born when it was originally released, but neither was I familiar with The Jeffersons either. It wasn't until later on one of the episodes of the Fresh Prince of Bel Air back in the 90s that I saw George appear on the show for the first time. And so from then on, I caught up with The Jeffersons, thanks to the brilliance of the web and sites such as You Tube, seeing as they had hardly shown this sitcom in the UK.
George and Louise 'Weezy' Jefferson are arguably one of the funniest sitcom couples ever; as different as they are in terms of personalities, and despite their arguments and fall- outs, like all couples they have managed to stay together and see things through regardless, no matter how much they get on one another's nerves. Sherman was just excellent as the outspoken, no- nonsense George- who has a bit of a short fuse, whilst Isabel was marvellous as the care-free, down-to earth and less pessimistic Weezy. The couple live together in an apartment block along with their son, Lionel, and their mother would occasionally drop- by, much to the Jefferson's surprise, whilst their neighbours were a Caucasian man named Tom and his Afro-American wife, Helen- which, for a inter-racial couple appearing on mainstream TV- was a rarity to see back in those days. The other characters on the show were the (somewhat) likable and pleasant Mr Bentley, Ralph and Florence, the sarchastic maid.
The Jeffersons was a humorous, fun and enjoyable comedy, which ran for an astonishing 11 seasons between 1975-1985. Some of my favourite moments include George taking part in a boxing contest- I couldn't help but laugh my socks off, what with George jogging all over the ring and his movements had me in stitches - and when George, Tom and Helen are trapped in George's bathroom and the situation is further complicated when 1) Weezy is having her hair done; unaware of the predicament her husband and her friends find themselves in and 2)they realise that the door can only operated from the outside, and not whilst they are inside the bathroom! In one scene and to make matters worse, the door handle even falls off! Not to mention 'Brother Tom' when Tom tries to act Black, much to his wife's embarrassment, in an attempt to fit in with the other Black folks, of whom included George and Louise.
Even though the Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Diff'rent Strokes and The Cosby Show got plenty of air time, here in the UK, it is a bit of a shame that this sitcom was never actually televised in this part of the world because as I mentioned The Jeffersons is a great show, which deserved to be seen by its audiences.
Nevertheless, this was one of CBS's fewest hit sitcoms that managed to hit the big time and sustain a longevity that rivals the likes of NBC's other long running comedies, Frasier, Friends and The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.
Catch it if you can