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The Golden Girls: The Engagement (1985)
In the beginning...
In this classic pilot episode we discover that man-hungry Blanche (McClanahan) plans to marry Harry (Aletter) at the house after a whirlwind romance. Blanche's roommates Dorothy (Arthur) and Rose (White) react with surprise, shock and suspicion. Dorothy thinks it's too soon for Blanche to get married: "You've only known him a week!"; Rose worries that when Blanche gets married she will be turfed out: "Dorothy, we'll become bag ladies!" To complicate things even more, Dorothy's mother Sophia (Getty) turns up unannounced, claiming that the retirement home has just burned down. She now needs a place to stay. On the day of the wedding, Rose, acting on a hunch, intends to tell Blanche that Harry is not the man for her. She claims that her hunches have never been wrong. Dorothy doubts Rose - she even throws her in a closet to keep her quiet! Dorothy wants Blanche to be happy; she believes marriage will be good for her. That, however, never comes to pass. After waiting for hours for Harry, a cop arrives to say that Harry has been arrested for bigamy. Blanche is crushed, but soon recovers when she realises she has a new family: Dorothy, Rose....and Sophia.
Tyra's fierce! (and quite scary in this episode)
I've gotta say that America's Next Top Model (ANTM) is one of the best reality TV shows I've seen in a long time. Of course I don't buy this whole 'reality TV' notion, though. Well, not completely. From what I've seen some of the show seems quite staged. But it's very entertaining, so I'm not too concerned. This episode is a perfect example of staged reality TV. At the end of this episode, Tiffany Richardson, is told to go home. Unlike other unlucky contestants, Richardson doesn't seem so upset, is shown laughing, and this really irks Tyra, who proceeds to scream and throw her arms up in the air, telling Richardson that she had the opportunity to become a model but now she had blown it. I watched and re-watched this scene several times. It was sidesplittingly funny. It screams overacting, and "Hey, if I do this, will the ratings go up?" Watch and enjoy!
New Best Friend
Dorothy admits she is stuck in a rut and decides to do something about it. She meets a local writer Barbara Thorndyke (Bonnie Bartlett) and a friendship develops at the expense of her friendship with Rose and Blanche. Dorothy starts spending a lot of time with Barbara - Dorothy even says she will not attend the girls' favourite masquerade ball - and as a result Rose and Blanche feel left out. Dorothy then tries to smooth things over by involving Rose and Blanche in her plans with Barbara. This attempt is unsuccessful at first because they feel Barbara is snooty and difficult to talk to, but when Barbara invites the girls to the Mortimer Club all is forgiven. All goes well until Sophia's date, Murray Guttman, arrives. Barbara assumes he is Jewish, and reveals to Dorothy that the Mortimer Club is restricted. Dorothy then throws Barbara out and an embarrassed Dorothy agrees to go to the masquerade ball.
1931's Frankenstein holds up surprisingly well against such modern horror fare as Ashton Kutcher's (scary) Just Married, Hilary Duff's (terrifying) Lizzie McGuire Movie and anything starring those (just plain petrifying) Olsen twins. In this relatively short film (the shorter the better, I say, eh, James Cameron!), we witness a kooky 'young doctor-slash-necrophiliac', Dr Henry Frankenstein (Clive) and his right hand man, a hunchbacked midget named Fritz (Frye), scouring the countryside for dead bodies for some strange experiment that could change the face of science as we...er, then knew it. The doctor's intentions seem fairly sound, you know, he desperately needs the bodies for scientific purposes and all that jazz. The same, however, cannot be said about weirdo Fritz (a tired old deviant from way back), whose primary motive for helping the doctor with the dead bodies just ain't explained. It seems Fritz is prepared to go to any length to please, including stealing a brain-in-a-jar from a local medical university-kinda-place for the doctor's experiment. No Questions Asked. (And Fritz does go through with it, too, though the stupid fool inadvertently steals the brain of a killer, which subsequently really stuffs things up!)
We also soon discover that Dr F - fully stocked with smelly old corpse bits (and a killer brain to boot!) - is soooo busy up in his hilltop laboratory-slash-windmill he can't even get it on with his bride-to-be, urbane and refined Elizabeth (Clarke). She feigns concern - she's actually just tired of waiting for her lover to consummate the passion that constantly threatens to erupt from within her - and cons poor old sods, hanger-on nobody Victor (Boles), and experienced head of medicine Dr Waldman (Van Sloan), into accompanying her on a search-and-destroy (her pent-up urges) mission.
On arrival at the dark and dusty windmill on the hill, the threesome discovers that Dr F and dorky Fritz don't got no time to see y'all. Feisty Elizabeth chucks a hissy fit about being given the brush off by her fiancé; Dr Waldman bangs on the door until his head starts to bleed (?); and resourceful Victor spices it up by calling Dr F "a crazy sonofa...." On hearing them fightin' words, Dr F decides enough is enough and admits the threesome, all the while informing (or should that be, warning) them that what they are about to see is something marvelous, something outrageous, something unbelievable (and, no, I don't mean a Chevy Chase post-Vacation box office hit!). They are going to see history being made: Dr Frankenstein's lil fella (Karloff) (you know, the collection of mismatched body parts all sewn together) brunged back to life!
At this point in time (in the film, not now), you can just imagine the many thoughts running through young Elizabeth's mind on witnessing firsthand her fiancé's delusions of power and prestige. Thoughts such as: "Elizabeth, what the hell are you doing?" and "Well, he is a doctor..." and "He'd better not try anything on the wedding night. I'm in this for the money, and that's all!" and "What a dork! Look at that lousy haircut!" and "I know, I'll poison his tea and collect the insurance money!"
Now, IMDbphiles, an exclusive run through Dr F's oft-rehearsed procedure: Cue the storms, thunder and lightning - check; Uncover the body so the audience gets a thrill - check; Tell Fritz off for being a dim, sycophantic layabout - check; Keep an eye on the body as it goes up in a cage-like contraption through the ceiling towards the sky - check; Act all weird and decidedly manic in order to appease studio heads - check; Let the body be zapped a few (hundred) times before bringing it down for inspection - check; Gasp and cry out "It's alive! It's alive!" when the once-lifeless body starts to move - check.
It certainly is alive! And quite a sight to behold. I mean, with all the makeup and hair products, one could be excused for mistaking him for J.Lo in drag. And as the towering monster saunters around the countryside, looking for friends (or foes) one gets the feeling that Karloff's characterisation of the monster included some unambiguous reference to TV travel program hosts. See Dr F's monster making his way through a gorgeous bushy meadow; see Dr F's monster taking in the views of a breathtaking lake set against a beautiful alpine mountain; and see Dr F's monster interacting with a sweet-faced local child playing with her kitty. It's all very Channel Nine's 'Getaway'.
In conclusion, I must comment on the acting prowess of not only Clive, but that of Clarke, that saucy vixen of yesteryear. The two really light up the screen, bringing passion to their characters. Van Sloan is equally adept in his role as the concerned doctor, while Kerr brings a bit of good old English sense and sensibility to the role of the old German Baron Frankenstein (?). Minor players Boles and Frye have little screen time (the latter is killed off halfway through the film). Finally, Karloff impresses as Frankenstein's creation, exuding feelings of angst, anger ... and amoral grunting noises better suited to porn flicks.
After seeing Frankenstein, I think it deserves to be the movie of the moment. I mean, any film that features a mute sexually ambiguous killer in dire need of some blond highlights and a head-to-toe fashion makeover, deserves the attention of Queer Eye! I can see it now, the new and improved Frankie on the TV chat show circuit, promoting the benefits of facial cream (to hide those sunken cheeks), hair products (to disguise that squarish head) and cosmetic surgery (to fix those droopy eyelids).
If you don't have a copy of this film classic, run, run, run up to the windmill-slash-video store on the hill and grab a copy. You won't be disappointed!
Kath & Kim (2002)
What does that "pacifically" mean, Kim?
KATH & KIM starring Jane Turner, Gina Riley, Glenn Robbins, Peter Rowsthorn, Magda Szubanski
MOST PROBABLY CONTAINS *SPOILERS*
The Australian sitcom. Ah, a very rare creature whose species was thought to have become extinct. Until recently, recorded sightings were sporadic ("Kingswood Country" and "Mother & Son") or downright false ("Hey Dad..!" and "Us and Them").
Then along came Kath & Kim. Mmm. Kath & Kim. This curious creature was discovered a decade ago, and was seen intermittently through the Nineties on "Big Girl's Blouse" and "Something Stupid". Atypically worldly in nature, and very aware of its surroundings, Kath & Kim of the Noughties has adapted well to its suburban sprawl surroundings. The good news is that it has spread to other parts of Australia, and other foreign environments.
In all seriousness, Kath & Kim has done for Aussie comedy what pathetic Aussie 'comedy' "Hey Dad..!" failed to ever do: provide heaps and heaps of 'laughta'. Though the premise for Kath & Kim is not exactly groundbreaking, its fly-on-the-wall, hand-held-camera-in-a-real-house (a la reality TV), its jumbled sayings, proverbs and mispronounced and incorrect words (eg, "What does that PACIFICALLY entail?"), and its satirical flavour are all winning ingredients.
NOW, A BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE BEGINNING
Relieved empty nester 40-something Kath (Turner) is shocked to her very core when her selfish, self-absorbed, immature 20-something daughter Kim (Riley) returns to the nest. Kimmy is equally shocked to discover that her once Care Bear-infested bedroom has been turned into a pump and Pilates room by exercise-mad Kath - and so soon after her marriage to Brett (Rowsthorn). What ensues is a struggle for space, with the latter reclaiming her place in the family home. Kath's equipment ends up in the 'good room' AKA the living room.
Long live Kath & Kim......
Matthew's Best Hit TV (2001)
Maybe I'm trapped in some parallel universe ...
MATTHEW'S BEST HIT TV (known to the natives here in Japan as Masshuu's Besto Hitto Teebee) is an amusing, very colourful weekly programme hosted by effervescent Matthew Minami (Takashi Fujii). Each week Matthew entertains in his trademark brightly-coloured suit and blond wig, interviewing Japanese and international guests, hosting outdoor concerts, and going on location in Japan and around the world. It's executed with incredible zing, often with a very tongue-in-cheek approach to the topic at hand.
Having caught a recent special episode of MATTHEW, I can say without any hesitation that Matthew Minami has become a very popular character in Japan.
I mean, you know you've made it when ten thousand screaming fans greet you when you step out onto the concert stage in Yokohama. It's all very exciting to watch on TV, but also just a tad scary ... just a bit. I know for a fact that in my country, Australia, people wouldn't get so excited about some nighttime TV host, you know, for fear of being labeled a loser, a dork, a nerd etc by friends, family, classmates, and so on. In Japan, however, that kind of peer group pressure doesn't exist in great measure. It's perfectly acceptable for 20-something women to drive around with Winnie the Pooh dangling from their rear vision mirrors (and from their mobile phones), for middle-aged housewives to visit Tokyo Disney Resort three times a week simply to watch the parade, for men to walk around with shoulder bags, and for people of all ages to scream at the top of their lungs for some TV host in a blonde wig!
Maybe I'm cynical ... Maybe I'm trapped in some parallel universe ... Who knows, eh? What I do know is that Matthew Minami is one popular fella.
The Lizzie McGuire Movie (2003)
A slightly amusing, hammy, mid-teenage girl flick that eschews any real character development in favour of Duff's apparent charm and seminal comedic ability
*MOST PROBABLY CONTAINS SPOILERS*
STARRING Hilary Duff as Lizzie McGuire, Adam Lamberg, Yani Gellman, Alex Borstein
Let me start by saying that I'm no snob when it comes to watching movies. I'll usually watch (and enjoy) pretty much anything: be it, say, classic Hitchcock; laughable Irwin Allen disaster pics; mindless action flicks; or even cutesy-pie movies aimed at prepubescent girls.
That, dear IMDb surfers, brings me to The Lizzie McGuire Movie, a slightly amusing, hammy, mid-teenage girl flick that eschews any real character development in favour of Duff's apparent charm and seminal comedic ability to fill the ninety or so minutes. I should add that I have never seen (and will probably never see) an episode of Lizzie McGuire, the now-defunct Disney-owned television show that spawned - surprise, surprise - this Disney-owned family release. I suppose this movie was a farewell to the Lizzie McGuire character - but I swear it'll be lost on you if you are one of those who has not seen the television show. Take, for instance, the whole subplot about Lizzie's younger brother and his blonde cohort's reason for trying to show up Lizzie at every turn (which was totally lost on me), and classmate Kate's reason for being such a bitch to Lizzie (??).
But anyhoo, bubbly Lizzie heads to Italy with her classmates to see the sights of Rome, but spends very little actual time with them. (The extras playing her classmates must have felt quite wooden making this movie, having nothing much to say or do.) On the other hand, Lizzie's motormouth teacher (Borstein, a former MAD TV regular) plays (or should I say, overplays) the role of Miss Ungermeyer, and, as a result, comes across as very grating. The scene where teacher and students visit the Trevi Fountain is especially grating (and cringeworthy). Ungermeyer, with an American flag conspicuously in hand, cuts a swath through the local population - and 'mows down' any cultural sensitivities by obnoxiously barking "Scusi" and "Grazie"at the locals.
Without venturing into too much detail about the fairly tame and somewhat lame storyline, Lizzie's transformation from school student to fresh-faced singer is mildly amusing (but an oh-so-obvious marketing ploy by Duff's music label). TIRED is one word to describe this same old 'girl comes out of her shell' storyline that's been done a million time before. Private Benjamin, Protocol, Educating Rita, Romancing the Stone, Legally Blonde, and The Princess Diaries, come to mind as a few (more successful) titles of this particular genre.
So, if you're looking for screen chemistry, you may find some between leads Duff and Gellman. If you're looking for a movie that showcases Rome's beauty, this movie won't disappoint. If you're looking for something above average, with a touch of magic to it, you probably won't find it here.
The Man in the Brown Suit (1989)
It was all over me like a cheap suit!
MOST PROBABLY CONTAINS *SPOILERS*
STARRING Stephanie Zimbalist, Edward Woodward, Tony Randall, Rue McClanahan, Ken Howard, Simon Dutton, Nickolas Grace, María Casal
I must start by saying that I have loved Agatha Christie's works for as long as I can remember. As a teenager I spent ages (and a berluddy fortune) tracking down her books at book exchanges and book fairs, and was always there with a tape in the VCR to record any Agatha Christie movie that came on TV.
Every Christie-phile worth their weight in doughnuts absolutely loves the Christie film classics: You know, Murder on the Orient Express; Death on the Nile; The Mirror Crack'd; Evil Under the Sun. David Suchet's Poirot series (though plodding at times) has proven very popular, as has Joan Hickson's wrinkly Miss Marple series. And there is of course an audience for the lesser Christies: The TV-movie adaptations, for example, Dead Man's Folly; Sparkling Cyanide; Murder in Three Acts; and, The Man in the Brown Suit - the subject of this review.
While not the best Christie film, and by no means the most colourful, The Man in the Brown Suit makes for pretty good TV-movie fodder, with a fairly engaging plot, decent enough production values, and interesting African locales. What really makes this TV-movie watchable is the fantastic cast of actors. And, I mean, who really gives two hoots that most of them are TV Land Staples. Witness ... if you dare: Stephanie "Remington Steele" Zimbalist; Edward "The Equalizer" Woodward; Tony "The Odd Couple" Randall; Rue "The Golden Girls" McClanahan; Ken "Dynasty" Howard; Simon "The Saint" Dutton; Nickolas "Robin of Sherwood" Grace. Phew!
American actress Zimbalist plays lead character Anne Beddingfield (an Englishwoman in the book, by the way) as a kind of tough, adventurous and resourceful heroine in a nod to the Indiana Jones series, and is ably supported by Suzy Blair, played by McClanahan (who doesn't seem to mind playing her Golden Girls character, Blanche - Or maybe she was forced at gunpoint to do just that??). Dutton plays man-on-the-run Harry Lucas, a handsome Brit who possesses not only some important information, but a secret hankering for some down-and-dirty time with foxy Anne. Woodward has a ball (and I do mean a ball) playing crook Sir Eustace Pedler, and Tony Randall amuses as the fumbling, bumbling, and mumbling Pedler henchman/chameleon.
What's hilarious is that throughout the movie the characters keep running into each other, like, Africa's the equivalent of some small town, you know, where bumping into one's neighbors is a sure bet.
And finally, no review of The Man in the Brown Suit would be complete unless it included comment on that zingy little Spanish starlet María Casal, who plays bad girl with matching bad haircut, Anita. Casal's Anita spends most of her screen time writhing around in the back of a beatup taxi staring at a scrap of paper with some ridiculous code scribbled on it, all the while beaming from ear to ear like some grinning idiot! Now that's what I call acting! Pity she gets blown away by bad guy Pedler moments later. That'll teach her not to wear her seatbelt!
SEE IT OR ELSE!
Empire of the Ants (1977)
Dreamland Shores Development Ltd cordially invites you....
Are you, like, totally sick of the city? Do you wanna get away from it all? Do you wanna see your dreams turned into a full-blown reality? The answer is....
DREAMLAND SHORES: A place where people can begin to live
If you're interested, Joan Collins - yes, that's right, Joan Collins - and her real estate agent alter ego, bitchy but fashionable Marilyn Fryser, are here to help you turn those juicy dreams into a reality. Marilyn takes small tours of interested persons to Dreamland Shores every day of the week. You can expect to receive enviable one-star service on her Dreamland property tour: amiable service with a bitchy smile; a semi-relaxing cruise with other potential property investors to the beach front properties; a relaxing ride around Dreamland Shores on a mini road train, complete with megaphone for the hard of hearing, and plentiful $1.99 fish bait under a stained marquee on the beach.
There is, however, one minor problem that should be mentioned before you hop aboard. A little ant problem exists in the Dreamland Shores area. Nothing to panic about, mind you. Just a few ants along the shore, on the jetty, in the forest, in the existing buildings, along the river, and in the trees, that have gone a bit loony after accidentally consuming oodles and oodles of toxic waste that just happened to wash up on shore. Nothing to do with Dreamland Shores, mind you. They've grown considerably in size, and attack when threatened. Some visitors were silly enough to threaten these ants and now lay dead in several locations around Dreamland Shores.
Dreamland Shores Development Ltd accepts no responsibility for any of the following: the stupidity of any potential property investor who ventures off the tour route; any potential property investor who dresses in horrible 1970s fashions that have been scientifically proved to enrage the ants; any potential property investor who tries to kill the ants with flares, oars, or any other kind of tool and/or weapon; any potential property investor who smirks, guffaws, sniggers - or, a combination of all three - at the acting ability of Pamela Susan Shoop, Dreamland Shores' very own tour 'groupie'.
So, why not join Marilyn, and today's potential property investors - superstar actors - Robert Lansing, John David Carson, Jacqueline Scott, Robert Pine, Brooke Palance, and, what a surprise! Pamela Susan Shoop, as we discover the magic of .... Dreamland Shores.
Get the DVD and laugh yourself into oblivion!
The High Life (1994)
I wanna fly Air Scotia!
STARRING Alan Cumming, Forbes Masson, Siobhan Redmond, Patrick Ryecart
Camp classic The High Life ranks right up there with Absolutely Fabulous as one of the funniest sitcoms of the 1990s. Written by its two comic leads, Cumming and Masson, The High Life delights viewers with its mix of Scottish sensibility and camp outrageousness.
The High Life revolves around the lives and loves of flight attendants who work for fictitious Scottish airline Air Scotia. Cumming (Sebastian Flight) and Masson (Steve McCracken) demonstrate perfect comic timing, while Redmond (Shona Spurtle) proves adept as the antagonist who always wants to show Sebastian up as a narcissistic egocentric. Ryecart (Captain Hilary Duff) is hilarious as the absentminded captain, who, despite never being 'all there', has control of the plane!
The Scottish accent is, at times, a bit hard to follow, but is funny nonetheless. Versatile Scot Cumming, who has done a few accents in his career: a Russian accent in GoldenEye; an American accent in Romy and Michele's High School Reunion; has a ball spouting all the lines in his native tongue! And speaking of accents, I think this must be the only sitcom to ever include the F-word. In one episode, Steve asks Sebastian: "You for coffee?", but with a Scottish accent it sounds very similar to: "You F*** off, eh?"
It's a shame this comedy gem ran for only six episodes. Who knows what other story lines Cumming and Masson may have come up with.....
A MUST SEE!