Reviews written by registered user
|3 reviews in total|
In the mid-90s there was a string of cartoons based on Marvel comics,
from the wildly successful Spider-Man and X-Men to the lesser ones such
as The Incredible Hulk, Fantastic Four and this show, Iron Man. FF and
Iron Man both started as part of the Marvel Action Hour with debut
seasons of 13 episodes each. They were both rubbish. Choppy animation,
lame out of place CGI and inconsistent voice acting didn't help the
stories, which ranged from limp and mediocre to indecipherable (one
episode about a plane being stolen through some sort of time
displacement makes absolutely no sense).
Despite this, Iron Man got a second season and managed to prove itself as a good show. The glut of regular characters was cut down. The Mandarin being reduced to appearing in minuscule vignettes at the end of each episode while hislackeys disappeared almost completely, allowing for a fresh batch of villains such as Firebrand and AIM to appear. The Force Works team also broke up, with Century and (the terribly accented) Scarlet Witch being cut almost entirely and Hawkeye reduced to a handful of appearances. War Machine and Spider-Woman were keep along and both managed to grow more as interesting characters in their own right, helped by War Machine finally getting a consistent voice artist in Dorian Harewood. Robert Hays stayed on as the best interpretation of Iron Man yet; smart and funny, yet able to convey action and drama well. He was joined by his armour's new AI Homer, who added some nice comic relief. The show improved in the second season visually as well. The art became more detailed and moodier, the animation much smoother and the mind-numbing opening credits of the MAH season were replaced with a fairly cool rock theme. If you can catch it in repeats, the second season of Iron Man is well worth watching, with engaging and entertaining super-hero stories (many of which are adaptations of stories from the comics, such as the Armour Wars two-parter). Just try and avoid the first season.
As much as ITV have tried over the years, BBC Saturday morning kids magazine shows have generally been the most popular. It wasn't until SM:TV Live in the late 90's that that changed, meaning that Motormouth was just another in a long string of well, second stringers. Doesn't mean it was bad though. Any show with a life-size Mouse Trap board must be good. I can't honestly remember all that much about it, mostly just that Art Attack's Neil Buchanan and Bad Influence's Andy Crane hosted it for a while. I was surprised to read that Julian Ballentyne (now head presenter on QVC) and Gaby Roslin (who was the original female host of Big Breakfast with Chris Evans and annual Children In Need host) also hosted for a while.
Joan of Arcadia works from a simple premise; what if God spoke to a teenage girl and got her to do things for him in a variety of mysterious ways? Yeah, it's basically Joan of Arc transposed into modern times, hence the name, but, surprisingly, it works. The focus of the show isn't religion, but God and yes, there is a difference. Rather than God turning up and telling Joan that she needs to get all her friends to go to church on Sundays or else face eternal damnation, God requests she does slightly more offbeat tasks, such as skipping school to make a boat. The point of God's tasks are often unclear at first, similar to the way Joan can never be sure if the stranger that just started talking to her is going to be God or not. Just as with any teenager, Joan often asks questions, perfectly reasonable ones that anyone would ask in a similar situation, but no real answers are provided, which is good. The show isn't claiming that there's one definitive answer to God and faith in general, but it promotes viewers to think about things. The show isn't just for the religiously inclined; atheists such as me can find enjoyment in the show. Amber Tamblyn's Joan is quite entertaining in her cynicism, while the supporting cast of character are also humorous, such as her 'geeky' younger brother, played by Michael Welch, who was equally excellent as the 16 year-old version of Jack O'Neill in Stargate SG-1. Jason Ritter portrays nicely embittered paraplegic ex-baseball player of an older brother, though too much time is spent on his problems for my liking. Mary Steenburgen and Joe Mantegna are great as Joan's parents, though there's something that just seems wrong with the voice of Fat Tony DeMarco from the Simpsons as a police chief. Overall, Joan of Arcadia is a fun show. Sure, it's not gonna unite the world under the visage of one true God and it's hardly likely to change your beliefs, but at least it can entertain you with a witty, coy interpretation of God and his actions through Joan affect the lives of those around her.