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America's Book of Secrets (2012)
Another conspiracy nut show on History
History Channel (and H2) once got a bad reputation for being the "All Nazi ALL The Time" or The Hitler Channel. They have overcome that, which at least was based on actual history, by veering into every ridiculous conspiracy theory currently running. UFOS (numerous shows), Bigfoot (at least 2 or maybe three), Knights Templar/Holy grail, and of course the evil government. America's Book Of Secrets falls into the latter category.
They wander around the edges of the real world. The kicker for me was a recent episode about **possible spoilers (sadly)** a supposed vast network of underground trains between military bases, and the topper, a secret passage for submarines from a lake in Nevada to the Pacific Ocean. This supposedly natural formation crosses at least 6 major faults (which are really not faults, I learn) and somehow manages to maintain near hydrostatic equilibrium despite the fact that the surface of the lake is **4000 feet** above sea level. If true, it would drain itself like a toilet, in about the same time!
Things like this don't seem to phase any of the deeply inquiring minds interviewed on the show. They drone on like Art Bell callers, mixing their strange delusions and perfect conviction. One is left with the impression that they genuinely believe what they are saying. That's either Sir Laurence Olivier-level acting, or they are frighteningly deluded.
In a way, of course, it's entertaining, but not in a good way.
Space: 1999: The Last Sunset (1976)
Most implausible episode EVER!
Plot was as the other reviewers noted - aliens send probes to make a temporary atmosphere.
I understand that you have to suspend disbelief to buy into the idea that the moon can be blown out of orbit to relativistic speeds by a nuclear waste explosion, without turning various b-league British actors and Mission:Impossible refugees into "ham paste", and the moon to a plasma. OK, I got past that one. I even got managed to at least not entirely choke on the idea that, in another episode, they went through a "de-evolution" field that altered their DNA and turn them into cavemen - and also somehow managed to "devolve" their quasi-futuristic uniforms into *bearskins and loincloths*. But I am sorry, the idea that someone thought it was a good idea to build a moon base *with windows that can be opened* is a little too much for me. And all the inhabitants of the moon base thought to bring bikinis, beach balls, umbrellas - *to the moon*!?
On a positive note, the motivations of the aliens - that they did it to make sure that Barbara Bain and Martin Landau never came to their beautiful planet - are entirely understandable.
Bad Conceptual Art
This is more of a performance art piece than a TV show. Unfortunately, it's very bad performance art. Someone else mentioned it looks like a college cinema course project, which is pretty close to right. The sort of project that end up putting most cinema students into the fast-food industry. It's not even that it looks like editing-room scraps thrown together at random - most Chilly-Willy cartoons are like that, and those are pretty entertaining. This show is random, but also exceptionally tedious. I really can't even point to specific problems. There's just nothing there. I did smile briefly once in the three shows I have watched - but if the best thing in 48 minutes of show is a picture of cat defecating cardboard-cutout feces, what else needs be said?
I am sure this is going to go down the same ratings rat-hole as TGTTM, Saul of the Mole Men, Smoking Gun TV, and Assy McGee (which actually is quite a bit better than this piece of dreck - even though the Title sequence of Assy is by far the best part of the show).
Barney Miller had it's good points - and Det. Fish was one of them. Abe Vigoda is the perfect downtrodden "Sad Sack". The popularity of the character led some network genius (of which there were many in the 70's) to decide to spin him off into his own series. And "Fish" was it.
Fish and his wife Bernice (Florence Stanley - the female equivalent of Vigoda) were quite plausible as a long-married couple. The kicker was that they had a houseful of adopted children - that looked like the Rainbow Coalition. They could have named it "Ethnic Mismatch Comedy #644". The kids were "intensely annoying". The worst of the bunch was "Victor" - his character made me want to punch my TV set. The plots were the standard "kids get in trouble but family warmth solves it all in 30 minutes" dreck. In short, the long-suffering Fish character turned into a knowing father figure. It was just too far a departure, typical idiot TV Exec thinking - take a popular character, try to mine his popularity but forget completely about why he was popular in the first place.
As far as I can tell, everybody seemed relatively plausible, but it was just such a bad idea it got deservedly cancelled after one season. It sure isn't the worst sitcom ever (Heck, it's *a lot better* than "My Big Fat Greek Life" - but then again, most things are) but it's definitely towards the bottom of the list.
Animal Precinct (2001)
Surprisingly engaging, but not always for the squeamish
This show is a documentary series that follows the New York City ASPCA enforcement officers around on their daily rounds. It's pretty much the doggie version of "Cops". The camera operators follow the officers around and film the action as they rescue animals from a remarkable array of abuse and neglect. They occasionally arrest someone, but for the most part they just take the animals out of harm's way.
I was surprised at how engaging this turned out to be. The things people do to animals are pretty disturbing. I don't know if I could tolerate this on a day-to-day basis, but they are all in there plugging. It's really very entertaining. There are obvious bad guys and they usually get what they deserve.
There are a few "stars". At times it seems like the "Annemarie Lucas Show". Cynic that I am, I imagine that the fact that she is blond and fairly attractive gets her more TV face time than her cohorts. But there is a reasonably full recurring cast (there are only something on the order of 20 officers for the entire city) so they all get their chances to shine.
This show, while is may on the surface sound like a great kids show, should really be reserved for early teens at the minimum. Some of the things that are shown would be very alarming for young children. I'm 41 and it bothers me to see some of this stuff; an 8-year-old would be traumatized. Everything usually works out, but that point would be lost on children.
Some of the injuries and diseases shown are nothing short of disgusting. Of course there probably a lot of editing going on and I suspect the most dramatic cases are the ones that make it to air. Disease, starvation, parasitic infestation - this show's got it all in living color. I suspect it's a good thing no one has invented "smell-o-vision" just yet. You'll quickly learn that dogs can really take a licking and keep on ticking, and that cats breed like rabbits and tend to have very poor dispositions!
There are relatively few episodes so far so you get to see a lot of repeats. But it's definitely worth watching. Animal Planet has several of these type of animal-based documantaries, and they are generally very well done.
Good Morning, Miami (2002)
Some changes in the right direction, but it's too late...
I was among the first on the "Good Morning, Miami" flambe' bandwagon. I have to admit, they have fixed the worst of the obvious problems. The Weather Nun (possibly the the most absurd and insulting character ever on network TV) is gone, both from nunning, and from the show. Same apparently with the bimbo cohost, neither with any significant explanation. As if we needed one.
Now, we have a goofy love triangle, which oddly enough, is an improvement. The girls are both cute. The actress playing Penny is actually pretty believable and appealing. She may have a future. The guy is- well, who cares.
But the show looks like they have given up completely - the set seems like it's somehow almost empty, like a locker room after the game is over. It's a completely different show than when they started. They are down to just the 5 principle actors, no attempt to fill the background with extras. It's more like a play. But it's still a bad play.
From Russia with Love (1963)
Most believable Bond movie
I think this is by far the most plausible of the Bond movies. Unlike all of the recent movies which are simply gadget- and explosion-fests. From Russia with Love is a genuine, believable spy film. The only other one that I think comes close is "For Your Eyes Only", but that movie had none of the tension.
Some fans will find it a little slow. I would say tense and somewhat claustrophobic at times, a lot like it would be in real life. There are plenty of Bond "action movies" that stink despite of the breakneck pace.
Actually, the only thing that doesn't ring true *are* the few action sequences - particularly the scene with the "exploding gas drums". Somehow, the 4 drums that were on the boat multiply into 20-30 by the time they blow up. There are some continuity issues in the same scene, too. The helicopter explosion is clearly SFX-challenged by modern standards, as well, but this WAS 1963.
Will & Grace (1998)
Guilty fun at first, but running out of gas quick.
Early on, this was a sort of guilty pleasure and it was occasionally funny. But there's only so much Karen Walker and/or Jack McFarland a person can take. They were both surprising when they first appeared, but once the shock value wore off, they became very annoying.
The gay factor was a hook, and it worked well to get people to watch initially from curiosity. But at this point, it's just another source of cheesy sex gags and idiotic double-entendres'. "Will and Grace" is to homosexuality what "The Jeffersons" was to African-Americans. Yes, you are now represented on TV - sort of. I am neither gay nor black, but both insult my intelligence with the gross sterotyping.
I'm mildly surprised no one commented on the fact that this is an nearly one-for-one remake of "Ned and Stacey". This show had the same problem as "Will and Grace"- Thomas Hayden-Church was just too over the top for most people's taste. It was, in my opinion, a much funnier show but it failed fairly quickly because it didn't have the anything to exploit to get people to keep watching.
Must see TV
This is my favorite 15 minutes of the week! Hapless, second-rate H-B superhero Birdman is now a hapless second-rate lawyer, defending various twisted former H-B stars like the cast of Jabberjaw and the now clearly homo-erotic Jonny Quest, etc. Race Bannon (well, sort of Race Bannon) suing Dr. Quest for custody of Jonny, Hadji, and Bandit after a, uh, lover's tiff? Hapless and hyper-paranoid former Birdman antagonist Dr. Reducto opining over the good old days ("Back when I was a kid, if a someone brandished a Shrink Ray, he'd get some respect!"), becoming smitten with a witness ("No one told me your feet would be so - tiny!"), and threatening everyone in the courtroom to "Back Off! I'll make you travel size!"?
Most people would be completely mystified as to why this would be funny. I thought about it for a while, and I think unless you had watched the old series' on which this show draws, you would have no idea whatsoever what the heck was going on. You pretty much have to be a male between 38-42 to truly appreciate it. That's a pretty small target audience.
Even if you do recognize the characters, it's so surreal that you will be amazed. Seeing a giant grab and the mechanical spider/eyeball monster testifying to Race Bannon's bond with the kids defies description.
One odd thing about this series is that the characters are much better defined than the originals. Back in the 60's, the writing was almost non-existent. Somebody must have written up one or two story outlines, and just randomly used them to generate every episode of Birdman, Space Ghost, The Herculoids, etc, by substituting characters. Could have done it with a computer. This show fairly well written and I think this is what ultimately makes it funny - these absurdly flat characters you remember have internal lives, and for some reason this makes it funny.
Birds of Prey (2002)
Next time, try ripping off a show that *didn't* get cancelled!
This show is a Dark Angel clone in most every major element, including the mistakes! The pseudo-Batman spin isn't much cover for the blatant "homage". The show isn't entirely terrible (although the first episode was downright painful), but the Schwarzenegger/"McBain" -style clever quip count is awfully high. Very large eye candy coefficient will probably keep it going for a while, but unless they start coming up with some substance, it's not gonna last. Just like Dark Angel!