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I also write for Influx Magazine--where many of my opinions and reviews are also posted.
Doc Martin: Out of the Woods (2005)
Let's go for a hike....
"Out of the Woods" is not a particularly great episode of "Doc Martin". Now, "Doc Martin" is a very good show, so even a weak show like this is still worth seeing.
It begins with Constable Mylow approaching Martin. He wants him to be his Best Man for the upcoming wedding. Not surprisingly, Martin rebuffs this out of hand--leaving Mylow to find someone else. When he does find one, he comes up with a dumb idea for a bachelor party- -to go hang out in the woods. Now I am not against camping but Mylow has no idea what he's doing and is ill-prepared and the pair get lost. Even worse, Mylow gets bitten by a poisonous snake and could die unless they get help. Unfortunately, FINDING the pair is a trial and Martin's guide is a really nutty man! Can Mylow be found in time?
The show lacks the usual structure for the series and is basically one plot instead of the usual 2 or 3. It's odd but still watchable.
Doc Martin: The Family Way (2005)
A chance to see much of why Doc Martin is a real git!
"The Family Way" is a show that contrasts Doc Martin's family with a new family to be in town. As for Martin, his father and mother come to visit and immediately it's apparent that his parents are awful. The father talks and talks and most of the time it comes off as criticism of Martin. He's a real horse's butt, that's for sure. As for the mother, she says nothing...nothing at all through most of the show. And, when she does talk, she is an evil viper--and you just have to hear her talk about her son to realize this. At the same time, a 50- something year-old lady has a variety of complaints--and Martin surprises her by telling her she' pregnant. This is a HUGE contrast to Martin's parents, as the mother and especially the father are overjoyed. The other subplot involves dust and a collapsed young--and you'll just have to see what all that is about as well. All in all, one of the best episodes--as it gives you nice insights into why the Doc is as cranky and cold as he is.
Doc Martin: Always on My Mind (2005)
A bit below average because the resolutions to the problems seemed to be lacking.
When the show begins, you see Doc Martin out on a house call* at the Pratt's. Unfortunately, there isn't anything he can do and Mrs. Pratt dies from an embolism almost the second the Doctor enters the house. Oddly, Mr. Pratt is furious at the Doctor--though common sense says it's not the incredibly insensitive man's fault. Even stranger is that he then begins behaving very spitefully towards the Doctor's aunt--who's done nothing wrong. Where all this goes is pretty weird but the story never seems to exactly resolve itself.
The other plot (and there always seem to be at least two) is a much smaller one. The new teacher has problems but the Doc doesn't seem to care...and the teacher seems unwilling to accept his help anyway. However, there IS something wrong...what?
Both plots are odd because neither seems fully resolved. They MAY resolve themselves but you aren't sure about what happens. Odd but worth seeing.
*Throughout this series, although the Doctor is a grouchy guy, he DOES make lots of house calls. In the US, I doubt if any doctor will still do this and am curious if making house calls is the norm in the UK. Just curious and would love to hear from you.
Doc Martin: Aromatherapy (2005)
"Aromatherapy" is an okay episode of "Doc Martin". Like other episodes, it has multiple plots--one which is quite interesting and one which turned out to be a slight disappointment. The main plot involves a local radio personality. In a rare case, she's even more disagreeable than Doc Martin. This combined with apparent alcoholism are causing huge problems--especially since she won't seek help. However, through the course of the show, it turns out there's more to this case--and ultimately Martin figures it out before it's too late. As for the other plot, there's an old man who is incredibly smelly. Not much more to it than that. Overall, this is a mixed bag. The drinking plot is superb and worth your time. The other is just yecky.
Mannix: The Upside-Down Penny (1972)
Not much about this one makes sense.
"The Upside-Down Penny" is among the worst episodes of "Mannix" I have seen--and I have seen most. The problem is that the show's plot simply makes no sense and lots of plot holes exist that should have been eliminated.
When the show begins, a kid, Kenny (Ike Eisenmann) comes to Mannix to get him to help him find a stamp album. This is the second time a kid approaches Mannix--both seemed to be for very mundane reasons. After all, the kid never mentions that there are any stamps in the album-- and a new album would have probably cost about $10 back then! Yet, inexplicably, Mannix takes the case and expends a lot of effort to help Kenny. Now here's where it gets really dumb--folks start trying to kill the detective and all this for $1.85 that the kid offered him. Any sane person would have quite the case. They also would have questioned WHAT was inside the album...but for a while no one seems to question any of this...duh. Later, you learn that some SUPER-valuable stamps were inside. Why, then, would the uncle entrust such expensive things to a tiny kid?!?!
The bottom line is that this show is very contrived and difficult to believe--making it more a chore to watch than anything else.
Not as interesting as most of the other episodes but still worth seeing.
The so-called Zeigfried Line is the subject of this installment of "Nazi Mega Weapons". In many ways, the show is very much like the very first episode "Atlantic Wall" and if you can, try to see both episodes one after the other. This is because much of the Atlantic defense wall was actually cannibalized from the Zeigfried Line.
The story begins in 1938. Hitler is maneuvering to start WWII and in anticipation, he's ordered a defensive wall built along the western edges of Germany--near Belgium. However, unexpectedly, the Nazi war effort goes much better than anticipated and the German front lines are now the Atlantic--hence the newly built Zeigfried Line was now torn apart in order to relocate the guns to the French coast to help prevent an assault by the Allies. This plan (explained very well in "Atlantic Wall") wasn't especially successful and the Atlantic defenses were now torn apart and relocated BACK to the Zeigfried Line! What's next? See the show.
This show is very typical of the series with narration, reconstructions and a few clips of old footage to help explain the story. Interesting and worth seeing but considering that in many ways the Line was out of date when it was first constructed, not the most satisfying of shows.
Doc Martin: Blood Is Thicker (2005)
"It's okay...it's herbal."
"Blood is Thicker" is an excellent episode of "Doc Martin", as it's written a bit better than usual and holds your interest. I know this is the case, as my older daughter is usually indifferent towards the program and really enjoyed this one.
Like other episodes, there are several plots running through this one. One, the slightest of the plots, involves a man who wonders about his exact parentage, as he really doesn't look a lot like his father. This one is very touching and actually might make you look for a Kleenex. The more dominant plot is a naturopath who is in town prescribing all sorts of herbal elixirs with no real concern about how this might interact with the drugs prescribed by Doc Martin. She is actually MORE egotistical and disagreeable than the Doctor and for once you can understand how the Doc is outraged at the woman's lack of professionalism or consideration. This turns out to be a serious problem in the case of a VERY strange family where salmonella is NOT there most serious concern. I'd say more but it might spoil it, as there is a HUGE surprise!!
The bottom line is that this episode works a bit better than usual and the show is hitting its stride. However, if you love the idea of folk medicines and all sorts of unproven herbal remedies, you might be offended. The show, however, isn't so much anti- naturopathy but is stressing responsibility--and I have been alarmed at the dubious claims and lack of scientific rigor with these drugs (and yes, they are drugs). Well worth seeing.
Angels from Hell (1968)
Typical of the genre...but a bit better.
In 2015, it's a bit hard to imagine that evil biker flicks were so popular in the late 1960s. Although the films seem incredibly naive and silly today, at the time they were box office gold for American International--a studio specializing in cheap and trashy drive-in fare. But the films were wildly successful despite their many shortcomings.
Unlike many of the biker films which starred the likes of Joe Naimath or Peter Fonda, this one stars a relative unknown. Tom Stern stars as Mike--a newcomer to town who soon becomes the leader of the Madcaps biker gang after he breaks the leg of their old leader. Now with a taste of power, Mike becomes a bit of a megalomaniac--feeling invincible and drunk with power. So, when his gang goes too far, he does little to reign them in and it's soon war with the local police. And, when 'Nutty' murders a girl, instead of turning this psychopath in, Mike covers up the killing and continues to think he can do pretty much what he wants. What's next for Mike and the out of control and rather stupid gang?
So is this film any good? Well, yes and no. Compared to many other biker films it's a bit better---with a bit more realism and a great ending. But it's also very low-brow and not exactly a must-see film! Not terrible overall despite the title.
Campus Romeos (1927)
Not much in the way of plot and plenty of cheap laughs.
I wonder why this film was called "Campus Romeos" as it has nothing to do with a campus and there are no romeos! However, this IS the correct film, as the cast does appear to be the guys in this movie. As for the movie, it has practically no plot whatsoever--just three fat guys getting into all sorts of hijinx--with tons of weird gags and slapstick. But because there is no plot, the film has little in the way of staying value. So, if your idea of a good time is watching three extremely obese guys doing stupid things and seeing a few nice sight gags, then this film is for you! Otherwise, there are better films out there from this era and it's a pretty easy one to skip. Amiable but slight.
Hard Boiled Yeggs (1926)
With this plot, the film should have been better.
Billy West (not in Chaplin garb) stars in this amiable enough comedy that SHOULD have been better. When Billy inherits some money, two tough guys and their low-life friends are determined to steal it from him. Throughout the film, they make attempt after attempt on Billy and ultimately he prevails.
The idea of the film isn't bad at all. However, time and again, you see Billy bonking the guys on the head (or some such nonsense) and so should the rest of the gang--yet again and again, they just keep coming and letting him smack them on the head or whatever. Better direction would have made this more subtle and work, but here it just looks sloppy and ill-conceived. Not one of West's better shorts.