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The Famous Jett Jackson (1998)
I usually dismiss most Disney shows as being really cheesy. This is one of the few exceptions probably because all the characters are believable. The series managed to impart little lessons and morals without shoving them down your throat.
It's got a good title too. "The Famous Jett Jackson". Nice ring to it. It's the story of Jett Jackson, a boy who stars in an TV action series called Silverstone. It sounds more like a tire company but anyway...Jett convinces the network to move filming to his hometown in North Carolina. That way he can be with his father and grandmother, and pal around with friends Kayla and JB. Jett had to deal with being famous, having his father as the sheriff and dealing with his parents' divorce. Other characters included Booker the town deputy and Cubby, a props master on the set of the show. Now you'd think one moron-type character would be enough but you'd be wrong. They pushed that a little too far. I didn't mind Cubby too much since he actually had some worth but Booker was just a bumbling fool. Also on the set, you had Riley Grant, who looked like she was thirty, and co-starred with Jett on Silverstone along with Nigel who played Artemus. The Silverstone segments fit well into what was happening off set too. I remember one episode where the director wanted them to start using guns to heighten the action but Jett didn't want to. That was a good episode.
Sure the theme song sounded like a rip-off of Eric Clapton's "Change the World" but it was a pretty good show that didn't lose it's plot arc. Deals with issues and what not but is still fun.
Poketto Monsutâ Aka (1996)
I had no idea this game would be so addictive. Despite being on a small black & white Gameboy screen, the game's content and appeal overcomes all that. There's so much to do in the game that it drives you nuts because you want to do it all. There are 150 kinds of POKeMON (in this Red/Blue version) to be found. They are all unique which makes it easy for anyone to pick a favorite (my personal favorites were Kadabra, Omastar and Raticate). Your goal is to earn all 8 gym badges from the different elemental leaders and beat your rival to becoming a POKeMON Master. Little side quests put you in situations to collect more POKeMON. The more you have, the more flexible you can be in battle. The catchy music is great for Gameboy standards. It changes depending on the town, different places you walk through, your current action and when you're in battle. I thought it was cool they incorporated all the game themes into the cartoon. Sometimes the battles could get tedious as there are always many competing trainers on the way from place to place. It was a great way to build experience but in certain spots they were just overwhelmingly annoying. I haven't played any of the sequels but I've seen some of the new character designs on the more recent versions of the cartoons. I don't like them as much as the old POKeMON. It just seems like they're trying too hard.
Overall, POKeMON is a great game and I dare you not to get addicted.
The Facts of Life (1979)
When books are what you're there about and looks are what you care about...
The Good: Charlotte Rae as Mrs. Garrett (who was also the housekeeper on Diff'rent Strokes). She was kooky and goofy but she was sweet and there was something warm about her. She ran the boarding school, took good care of them, and was always there to talk to them. Even when they got in trouble, she'd punish them but still be understanding. They were all different characters you could relate to probably because they were realistic. I remember the opening the most: Mrs. Garrett holding a broom and the girls teaming up on her, the paint throwing scene, Tootie with her huge braces and Blair with her hair dryer. Jo rode a motorcycle and had that NY accent and she'd always give Blair a hard time. Natalie had that hat with the lightning bolts and Tootie had mushroom hair.
The Bad: When they changed the theme by putting that stupid rock guitar in it which was cheesy and annoying. Unfortunately in later seasons the show's appeal began to decay. I forget what happened exactly but eventually Mrs. Garrett had that shop in the later episodes and then George Clooney was hanging around with excessively long hair. And then Mrs. Garrett wasn't on the show anymore and Cloris Leachman stepped in as her sister. She just didn't do it for me. Maybe because Mrs. Garrett was there for so long, or maybe because she had those little clips in the opening of season one.
Take them both and there you have: a good first season, bad following seasons and the cheesiest ending to a comments post ever. And of course, the Facts of Life.
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993)
Deep Space Nine is the only Star Trek series not to (completely) take place on a ship. Commander Benjamin Sisko is assigned to assume command of the station and help the Bajorans in the good name of Starfleet. The station was constructed during the Occupation, in which the Cardassians came in and enslaved the Bajoran people (similar to our own history). Now the Bajorans have regained control of their planet, claimed the station and are rebuilding with the help of the Federation. The station also guards the Wormhole which reaches far into a neighboring galaxy. The Bajorans believe this wormhole to contain the Celestial Temple, the home of their gods, the Prophets.
Where TNG was very episodic with a slight story arc, Deep Space Nine has a big story arc and most of the episodes hint on details of the big picture. Some compare it to a soap opera but I disagree because it has a higher quality of drama and characters, deals with war and politics that you don't get to see in TNG, expands more on the Star Trek universe, and also has morals that can be compared to today. Jean-Luc Piard will always be my favorite Captain but I liked Avery Brooks gave a great delivery as Sisko. His character was a bit weak in the beginning of the series but by Season 4 he had established himself. Major Kira has to be one of my favorite Star Trek characters of all time. The strong willed station commander is a fighter and doesn't take crap from anyone. Her strength, determination and faith are hit right on the mark by Nana Visitor. Jadzia Dax was a fun character because of her playful and witty nature. You also get Worf carrying over from TNG, another stable, strong crewmember. I liked Odo for his sarcastic remarks and rough exterior but also the fact that he acted that way to protect his soft interior. Bashir and O'Brien were alright, they didn't really stand out that much. Jake and Nog just kinda hung around. You got to see different ships (Klingon, Jem Ha'dar). The Runabouts were crappy but the Defiant was cool. You also got to see the Federation go to war, although I would have liked to see more TNG crew cameos during that portion of the story line.
I had a few problems with the series, mainly Jadzia's death. I liked her character a lot, and was very disappointed that Terry Farrell wanted to leave so she could co-star with Ted Danson on "Becker". Of course, in the Star Trek production world, an actor parting ways with a series means death to that character. This is similar to Tasha Yar in TNG. Then Jadzia was replaced by that awful Ezri Dax who I could not stand. I loved Season 7 with the exception of her and the fact that the crew spent so much time in that damn Holosuit. They were constantly hanging out with Vic Fontaine and sitting around. I liked the way they included more alien races in the spotlight (Founders, Ferengi, Vorta, etc.) but sometimes those Ferengi episodes were a little difficult to watch. Quark was the only one I liked because he was funny, conniving and always getting in trouble with Odo. I also don't know why they felt the need for those verbose and corny episode titles. Slightly annoying.
My favorite episodes include "In the Pale Moonlight", "The Dogs of War", "Wrongs Darker than Death or Night", "In Purgatory's Shadow", "Indiscretion", and "Shadowplay". It is Star Trek, but just takes a break from the constant treasure hunting for life forms quest. You get in depth episodes that not only tell a story but add to the whole series. Beautiful interconnecting story line, well cast, great episode scores (Visitor, Dogs of War, What You Leave Behind) and excellent in depth look at the darker side of Star Trek.
Mystery Science Theater 3000 (1988)
Joel Hodgson is my idol.
The man had the best idea ever. Take the crappiest movies ever made and make a show all about making fun of them. It's the idea everyone else wish they thought of first because we all do it. Joel found the formula, and the perfect way to institute it. Not only that, but because he worked his way up from his initial KTMA studio days and then finally to Comedy Central. The show later on was adopted by the Sci-Fi Channel after Joel left the show. I haven't seen every episode and the show was on when I was a kid, so there is still a lot I don't know about.
*POSSIBLE SPOILERS* I also love the premise of the show. You learn about the story in the theme song of the show. Joel Robinson works at Gizmonics Institute doing janitorial work, shipping, etc. His bosses, Dr. Clayton Forrester and TV's Frank, didn't like him so they took his red jumpsuit wearin' keister and shot him into space aboard the Satellite of Love. As part of their weekly experiments, they send him the cheesiest movies they can find and force him to watch. A man would go insane having to deal with that all by himself so makes a sacrifice. He can't control when the movie starts or stops because he uses the machinery to make robots. You've got Cambot, who's purpose is to film Joel as he makes his broadcast. Gypsy, the only girl robot aboard (aside from Magic Voice who is just a voice) who keeps the Satellie functioning. Tom Servo, the bubbly little gumball machine. And of course, the legendary Crow T. Robot made from gold parts, famously the bowling pin nose.
I've never been a fan of Mike since his onscreen presence didn't have the same strength as Joel. Mike did a lot of appearances (Torgo, Morrissey, Steve "Hercules" Reeves) prior to taking over as the human. He didn't have great host segments, partially due to the loss of the invention exchanges (which was Joel's fault). I just didn't like the fact that someone took the reigns for Joel and that minor changes were made to the set. Mike did the great writing for the show but his words came out better through Joel, in my opinion.
I think I first saw the show when I was 9 or 10 and just being floored by it. It was on at midnight on Comedy Central, and I would stay up late when I wasn't supposed to so I could watch it. I LOVED IT. I usually didn't make it for the full two hours but watching Joel and the 'bots was amazing to me. The first one I might have seen all of was "King Dinosaur". As time went on, I would tape all the episodes I could. I wanted to get a jumpsuit just like Joel's and I would run around making wisecracks I heard from the show. They released a few movies on tape through Rhino, namely "Catalina Caper", "Manos: the Hands of Fate" (CLASSIC), "The Gunslinger", "Side Hackers", and a few others as well as MST3K Shorts featuring different segments they performed. I'm waiting for them get more out. Other favorites of mine were "King Dinosaur", "Super Agent: Super Dragon", "Santa Claus Conquers the Martians", "Hercules Unchained", "Beneath the Ocean Floor" and "Eegah".
It's truly priceless. Awesome series, I wish I could have helped work on it. Turn your lights down (where applicable) and have a Patrick Swayze Christmas.
The Man with the Golden Gun (1974)
Love it or hate it.
Roger Moore is back with his portrayal of James Bond: light, quipping, and deadly. People I've talked to about this movie either really enjoyed it or didn't like it at all. Many consider this a weak follow up to "Live and Let Die" or a forgotten 'in-between' prior to "Spy Who Loved Me". I liked this movie a lot for numerous reasons.
The Title Song: The rowdy jazz band gets your attention with this loud, upbeat song with vocals by LuLu.
The Plot: Scaramanger is a hitman who charges $1 million a shot from his golden gun. Bond's current assignment is to track down the Solex Agitator, a device that can harness the Sun's power. A golden bullet with a 007 engraving arrives at headquarters and Bond is ordered off the case but he goes to investigate against M's orders. There's plenty of mystery to Scaramanger. He wasn't a Blofeld or Dr. No but more like a sinister gangster. Plus he had a cool training facility and a hot girlfriend.
The Score: Beautiful. Some criticize Barry's work for this film saying that it's boring when that is not so. The movements included stand out enough to be enjoyed but does not overshadow any of the onscreen drama. The slow pieces are full and flowing while the fast paced portions accompanies the action perfectly.
Great Scenes: Bond beats a lot of people up in this one, and although Moore plays up the lighter side of the 00 Agent we see him fiercely determined in this film. I like the scene in Beirut when he meets up with the exotic dancer who still has the bullet which killed Bill Fairbanks, Agent 002. The best scene is the duel on the beach except instead of shooting at twenty paces, the man with the golden gun lures Bond into his fun house of doom.
Weak Spots: A few flaws, one being the reprisal role of Louisiana Sheriff J.W. Pepper from `Live and Let Die'. While seeing him be insult martial arts students is slightly amusing, his presence is unnecessary. Herve Villechaize's midget-butler character Nick Nack is not one of the famous henchmen of the Bond series. He does make for a fun final scene for the epilogue however.
A great film and one of my favorites. Might be too slow moving or boring for some unless you're a die hard fan willing to give it a shot.
Out of Control (1984)
Classic revolutionary Nickelodeon TV.
This show was on during Nickelodeon's good days in the 80's. It featured Dave Coulier, now mostly well known from Joey Gladstone on "Full House" and host of "America's Funniest People". It was basically a news show except filled with goofy segments and quirky characters. Sure it had a crappy set and graphic abilities, but it was Dave back when he was funny and Nickelodeon when it was quality. There was also station manager Diz, who had hair and makeup like Cyndi Lauper, and her calling card was a high whistle-pitched scream. Some of the skits on the show were "It's Probably True" dealing with oddities around America, "How Not to Do Things", "Adult Education" (not porno, it's where kids are the teachers) and "Moments in Inventions". Diz also had a segment but I forget what it was called. All I remember is her animated face doing that scream; EEIIIIEEE EEIIIIEEE!
It may not have been the best show, but at least Nick was being creative and original instead of pumping out the garbage it is now. And of course, "CUT IT OUT"!
Sailor Moon (1995)
Who could possibly resist the Sailor Scouts?
*MOON PRISM SPOILERS*
I've seen just about every episode they aired of this series since it used to be on weekday mornings. There will always be a special little place in my heart for Sailor Moon. Why? Because somehow the most whiny and lazy girl not only becomes a mystical heroine, but a princess as well. Serena (aka Usagi, Bunny) seems like a normal teenager but talking black cat Luna helps her transform into a super fighting force.
You've got a lot of great characters here and while Serena is the main character, you can still enjoy episodes featuring other members of the team. They find out they are Sailor Scouts one by one, and each girl has her unique personality making them easy to identify with. You also have Darien/Tuxedo Mask for the men. My favorite was always changing, but I did take partial favor to Jupiter. Even the bad guys are fun to learn about as Queen Beryl's minions have small subplots taking place.
The DiC Debate: Some people love what DIC did with the series, others tolerate or hate it. The upsides? The show had relatively good voice actors unlike other series that get dubbed. They weren't sloppy and matched up the voices for the girls really well. Serena's voice could get a little annoying but not on par with Melvin or Molly's New York accent. The edits are slightly choppy considering certain things had to be cut (nudity, certain violence, same sex relationships) and there were script revisions but it does not hinder the flow and there's plenty of good background music. The downsides? DIC did cheese-ify the series...like a lot. The episodes tend to fall into the repetition rut; Negaverse assistant of the week tries to steal energy for Queen Beryl, assigns monster to task, Scouts investigate and save the day. The Japanese version is on a much more mature level but you get to see more depth to the characters and story. It's also a little more elegant with the Japanese voices and the score for the show in later episodes is more masterfully crafted.
If you like the show, read the manga which is also really good and beautifully drawn.
Wing Commander Academy (1996)
Wasn't given a chance.
I love Wing Commander and was very excited when the cartoon made its debut. Not only did you have the big name characters from the game, but you also had the voices of the actors who played them! Mark Hamill, Tom Wilson AND Malcom McDowell who make a great cast once again. The animation was crisp and held true to many aspects of the Wing Commander universe which was great to see. For WC fans, it enhances a lot of the game plots instead of ruining them plus there are some new characters and completely new stories. Unfortunately, they only got to make thirteen episodes. It was a high quality cartoon that really had the potential to be a great series. Hopefully it'll get picked up again because it deserves to be worked with.
Family Matters (1989)
Apparently family doesn't matter!
"As daaaaays goooooooo byyyyyy..." *SPOILERS AHEAD*
If I remember correctly, Family Matters was a spin-off of "Perfect Strangers". Harriet worked at the office with Larry and Balky or something like that. It was kinda like "Full House" except with a black family. Carl Winslow, cop, has family with wife, Harriet. They take care of the old but lively Grandma, son Eddie who is yearning to grow, boy crazy Laura, mysterious disappearing Judy, that little bratty kid, and Harriet's sister, Rachel. Next door neighbor Urkel tried to show his affections for Laura, and for a while had competing woman, Myra who was cute but nagging. And don't forget Maxine and Waldo Heraldo Faldo!
Overall, they had a pretty good cast. I liked the show up until Steve Urkel's little visits engulfed the entire episode. And they also made that Urkel doll? I won't get into that. Carl Winslow was probably my favorite since Reginald VelJohnson was the strongest actor on the show. Laura was slightly annoying because she was always having the same boy problems. She kept picking morons that would try to take advantage of her, and Urkel would be there singing in her tree. And then there's Judy Winslow's disappearing act since they wrote her out of the show. Shouldn't a missing kid be a family matter? Eddy had some good episodes but nothing that really stood out. I think I remember him cheating on a test or buying a car, maybe.
Then to liven things up, Rachel had her own restaurant but I think that got burned down. She eventually bailed and left Richie there with the Winslows. Then one by one the family members left the show and they were left with Carl, Steve, Laura and Eddy. They put waaaay too much stress on that Carl/Steve relationship. I seriously thought he was really going to have a heart attack with the frequency they made him get angry. All Carl's kids got pushed into the corner to make way for Urkel, his robots and alter-ego Stephan. Ugh. The murder mystery episode was pretty good.
A good show in its early TGIF days, but then went to hell.