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Bat Masterson: Double Showdown (1958)
Where it started
"Double Showdown" marked the beginning of the Bat Masterson series. It really set up the series, and its tone. The series was one of the more interesting Western series, because the hero wore a derby and used a cane.
Some critics have not been kind to the series because of the accuracy of the Bat Masterson portrayal. However, this episode addresses this. Toward the end of the episode, we see Gene Barry address the audience himself to explain what is going on with the episode, and compare biographers' accounts. Breaking that wall was a very interesting touch indeed!!!
Well worth a watch!
Family Guy: Life of Brian (2013)
Something was bound to happen
You don't run a series for 12 years and expect to maintain quality without making changes. Not that the changes may be for the better. And I can clearly tell SO MANY fans are irate about Brian's death.
However, Vinnie sounds like an interesting character from what I have seen of him, and he may yet lead the family into some more interesting, spicy adventures a la The Sopranos. We'll have to wait and see what happens here.
One thing I did not appreciate was the treatment of the Native Americans at the beginning of the episode. I thought it was lame and offensive, though that seems to be much of the show's premise.
Overall, I will not rate the episode, as I will see what unfolds.
Killing Kennedy (2013)
Flawed, but great acting and a good human story
I do not agree with the notion that Lee Harvey Oswald was some lone nut assassin who murdered John F. Kennedy. I side with those who believe there was a conspiracy.
That said, "Killing Kennedy" was a very interesting watch, in part because we get to see more of the side of Lee Harvey Oswald and his family life. One thing the movie deserves credit for is its showing of Oswald not as a monster, but as a flawed human being who has been scarred from bad breaks. His defection to the Soviet Union in 1959 seems more like that of a very young idealist who is looking for something to fill a void in his life than anything else. I have my own views on that event, but never mind.
I also liked how we not only saw his relationship with Marina, but also the parallels between the Oswalds and the Kennedys. Both have young families, and both have their own trials and tribulations.
And I can see also how stressed Oswald was with the constant surveillance. He was one of the countless casualties in the Cold War and the resultant FBI spying. Not that Oswald was a saint. Far from it. But it does offer some better understanding of things.
Overall, the acting is outstanding. The actor who played Lyndon Johnson did not have the right physicality, but he seemed to do what he needed to do, and I cannot complain. Overall, an interesting story despite the fact that I do not agree with Bill Maher here (or in other things).
Mad Men: In Care Of (2013)
Exit Don Draper, enter Dick Whitman?
This sign-off to Season 6 of Mad Men packs a wallop!
Pete Campbell's mother is lost at sea, and and Pete himself ends up leaving the agency for California after a terrible time in Detroit. Ted Chaough ends up as the agency member leaving for California, because of his yearning for Peggy Olson.
And Don Draper is facing the fact that he is Dick Whitman.
In a meeting with Hershey executives, he reveals his unsavory past to everyone, including the partners. This, plus all of his behavior during Season Six, results in his being deep-sixed by the partners, in a meeting led by Bertram Cooper, who knows Don all too well.
At the end of the episode, Don shows his children the run-down house he grew up in. Very powerful scene indeed. The acting is terrific, and this makes a great end to what for me has been a better season than Season Five.
Now here's onward to Season Seven!
Headed for a meltdown?
"Favors" may be the clearest sign yet that Don Draper may be headed for a reckoning. In the last episode, we saw him in bad form on the West Coast; here, he seems listless at work. But the shocker came toward the end of the episode, when his daughter Sally caught him literally with his pants down, having sexual intercourse with Sylvia Rosen (in the most graphic scene to date in the series).
I was totally shocked myself.
And it means there is major trouble ahead for Don. His wife Megan, as well as the Rosens and his own children will experience fallout from the discretion. God knows his relationship with Sally has been badly compromised.
And factor in his professional decline, as well as the possibility of being revealed as Dick Whitman, and it is clear something is gonna happen.
Oh, and we learn something about Bob Benson. I would have liked it had he been a government agent investigating Don for his desertion, but so it goes.
While this episode was painful, at least this season overall has been a major improvement over the last. And as of this writing, it ain't over with.
If I thought Season Five tended to drag on, this season seems to pack a wallop, and this episode is no exception. Don Draper and several agency staff members get a feel-good shot from a doctor clearly modeled on the late Dr. Max Jacobson, who administered amphetamines to such famous people as John F. Kennedy.
And what we have is a man on a "Lost Weekend," working on advertising for Chevrolet, along with his fellow staff members. Once again, we get to see flashbacks concerning his past, and they are unsettling, of course.
But the part that was really creepy was the bit about "Grandma Ida," who enters Don Draper's apartment and wakes up the kids visiting there. Turns out she was a burglar. That scene was just plain unsettling, but I guess that was meant to be the case for 1968, when things in New York were really beginning to break down. Sadly, for the show, the character is one of the rare times we get to see non-white characters, and this was not a positive thing here. Very sadly indeed.
Overall, it seems as if Don Draper is more and more self-destructive, in his own way like Montgomery Clift was in the last decade of his life. It almost makes watching Ted Chaough and Henry Francis totally reassuring. Anyway, this series still has some mileage to cover before the end, so we'll see what happens here.
Mad Men: Man with a Plan (2013)
Is Don disintegrating?
This episode seems to indicate that Don Draper seems to be in a real decline. Here, he does not attend to the matters at hand because he is involved in a master/slave relationship with his latest squeeze, played by Linda Cardellini. Things do not go well with the relationship.
And they don't go smoothly with the merger, either. We'll see how it goes between Don and Ted Chaough. Looks like there may be a power struggle down the road. And at the end of the episode, it is clear that Don's marriage to Megan is fading away.
Pete Campbell's upheavals continue, as he deals with a mother who suffers from dementia. One of her rare lucid moments comes at the end, when she tells a half-asleep Pete that Kennedy has been shot. He somehow thinks she is referring to JFK, but it turns out that it is Bobby. The episode ends with Bobby being alive.
For a series that has had its share of flat spots in the last two years, this is the third episode in a row that has packed a punch. And it is clear that there will be more fireworks ahead!
Three Smart Saps (1942)
I myself found this short to be truly funny.
And you can thank Curly Howard for this!
His dance steps are the highlight of the hijinks in this short. His incredibly footwork was incredibly amusing, as well as his facial expressions.
But don't count out Moe Howard, though! His line to Curly, "I'll Venus de Milo you!!!" is absolutely priceless! And the very tail end is also amusing.
While the plot line may be a little thin, Bud Jamieson's appearance helps. But it is the dance sequence that makes this short really shine!
Live and Let Die (1973)
Excellent intro to Bond for some of us
"Live And Let Die" was my first introduction to James Bond. By this time, I was @14 or so, and I could not stomach the Sean Connery films as a youngster, as I felt they were too intense. I would overcome that later, but that is for another time.
While the "blaxpoitation" theme has not aged well for me at all, I found the film itself a great intro 101 for those of us who are not familiar with the world of 007. It's not overbearing, has plenty of action and a lot of unusual, crazy features to keep your attention. It is also a cool capsule of late 1972, when this was filmed, because you get to see a wild car scene on the now-gone West Side Highway in New York. And I liked the movie, because it was a reminder of fun times I had in 1973 as well.
Sir Roger Moore and the rest of the cast do their job well. While I thought Sir Paul McCartney's theme was a little overbearing, I liked what Sir George Martin did, though I am curious as to why John Barry did not score this.
And for director Guy Hamilton, this movie would prove to be his third successful effort for the Bond series. The next movie would prove to be another story altogether
Make Mine Mink (1960)
I give "Make Mine Mink" 10/10, because it enchanted me from the first time I saw it on WOR back in 1968. I was a youngster then, and found it very engaging.
And you know what? Things have not changed!
The movie sports a terrific cast, led by Athene Seyler and Terry-Thomas, and they make the movie tick! While the plot may seem unrealistic, it IS a comedy, and its purpose is to make one laugh. It is also clear how the movie is as much a spoof of the British establishment, and a commentary on the redundancies that so many Britishers felt after World War II.
Some people might find the movie dated, because it was shot in 1960, but that adds to the charm. The jazzy soundtrack music really adds to the overall cool ambiance, and is reason alone to give the movie high marks.
"Make Mine Mink" remains a personal favourite, even after all this time!!