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bensonmum2

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1107 reviews in total 
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4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
"But I am afraid, Madame, that your female intuition; it has taken the day off.", 6 April 2011
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

James Bentley has been arrested, charged, tried, found guilty, and sentenced to hang for the bludgeoning death of Mrs. McGinty, a charwoman from whom James rented rooms. Almost immediately, however, the Superintendent in charge of the case starts to have doubts. He contacts his old friend, Hercule Poirot, to look into the matter. Poirot discovers that a crime committed long ago may have played a part in Mrs. McGinty's death. Has someone from the past come forward to commit murder? A couple of old photographs may hold the key.

It's hardly surprising I enjoyed this version of Mrs. McGinty's Dead so much. I've always enjoyed the book and I almost equally enjoyed this dramatization. It makes for a solid mystery plot. While it may not be entirely faithful to Agatha Christie's work, enough of the good stuff is still here. And really, what Christie adaptation could ever hope to be 100% faithful? The writing, the attention to detail, the cinematography, the lighting - all are what I've come to expect from the better episodes of the Poirot series. I've run out of superlatives to use when describing David Suchet. He's about as perfect for the role of Poirot as anyone could hope to be. Some of the other actors, including Zoe Wanamaker as the apple-eating Adrian Oliver and Mary Stockley as the uber-secretive Eve Carpenter also made significant impressions. Other than the botched and confusing handling of the pair of murderous backstories, Mrs. McGinty's Dead is about as good as I've seen in the entire series.

2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Giant bugs run amuck, 12 March 2010
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Jonny, Hadji, and Race are desperate to find Dr. Quest after he's been kidnapped. Dr. Quest has been taken to the secret lab of Dr. Chu Sing Ling – a scientist working on a secret formula that turns insects into giants. Dr. Ling wants Quest's assistance. Naturally, Dr. Quest refuses and faces the prospect of being fed to one of Dr. Ling's creations. Will the rest of the gang arrive in time to save Dr. Quest?

While Terror Island is reasonably fun and feels something like an homage to the 1950s era giant bug movies I love so much, for whatever reason, I don't care for this episode as much as some others. Sure, I enjoyed the rampaging giant bug action, but I have a couple of problems with Terror Island. First, this may sound silly when talking about Jonny Quest, but Terror Island lacks the "real" feeling I enjoy in other episodes. This one is sci-fi all the way - with an emphasis on the fi part. I can go along with all the spy stuff, the robots, and even the prehistoric creatures you usually find in Jonny Quest, but this episode pushes credibility too far. (Please remember, when I use words like "real" or "credibility", I'm using them in the context of the Jonny Quest world – not the world you and I live in.)

My second problem is with Dr. Ling's rather sketchy plan. I'm not sure he ever says why he's trying to create an army of giant insects – he just is. Even the most deranged of the Jonny Quest baddies has some sort of explanation for what they're up to. Again, it takes away from the realism (relatively speaking once again).

In the end, despite the problems I have with the episode, this is still Jonny Quest and its still fun. I'll give Terror Island a 6/10.

2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
What an episode!, 11 March 2010
9/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The Quest Team heads to the fjords of Norway to pay a visit to one of Dr. Quest's old friends, Dr. Ericson. Dr. Ericson has invented an anti-gravity device that may have drawn some unwanted attention. Even though no one will believe him, Jonny is sure he spotted a submarine in the nearby fjord. Next, once at Dr. Ericson's, Jonny is certain he's seen one of the stone gargoyles that guard the castle move. Again, no one believes him. Opinions on Jonny's eyesight change, however, when Dr. Ericson's discovery is stolen from the castle by foreign agents.

Based mostly on recollections from my childhood, there are what I would consider to be three iconic Jonny Quest episodes. These three episodes represent not only what I call the best of Jonny Quest, but they're filled with moments and images I'll never forget. The three episodes in question – The Curse of Anubis, The Robot Spy, and The House of Seven Gargoyles. I've already written about the first two, so now I'm on to third. To begin with, what a name – The House of Seven Gargoyles! How cool is that? It just evokes mystery and suspense. And what about the human gargoyle? I'll never forget the first time I saw this episode – it gave me chills for days. The image of the gargoyle coming to life and creeping through the castle corridors is the stuff of nightmares. Add to that clandestine meetings in a graveyard, spies in a submarine, and a stolen anti-gravity device and you've got one rock solid Jonny Quest episode. With no hesitation, I rate The House of Seven Gargoyles a 9/10.

Another thing that always creeps me out about this episode is the gargoyle Jonny is given in the final scene. Looking at the statue sitting between Jonny and Hadji in the backseat of the car, I'm always waiting for its eyes to open. Creepy stuff!

0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Worse than I could have imagined, 10 March 2010
3/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Fearing his father will have his nightclub closed down, club owner and singer Danny Warren (Phil Regan) goes to extremes to ensure no one is able to serve papers on him. In an effort to have the papers served, Papa Warren hires an attractive young woman named Carol Lawrence (Gale Storm) who might have more luck getting close to Danny. But Carol's more interested in pursuing her music – and love – than any old papers.

Deathly dull, Swing Parade of 1946 isn't so much a movie as it is a series of set-pieces and musical numbers held together by the most minimal plot thread imaginable. What little plot there is wouldn't fill 10 minutes of the movie's runtime. Instead, the film goes something like this – a little plot followed a bit from the Three Stooges followed by an excruciating, painfully long music number. Just repeat this pattern for 74 minutes. The Stooges are wasted and out-of-place repeating bits most fans will have seen a number of times previous. Regan and Storm are both too uninteresting to carry the film themselves. I know that, at least in the case of Gale Storm, she would go on to have a long career in entertainment, but it's difficult to imagine that after watching this movie. I never thought I would say this, but Edward Brophy actually comes out of Swing Parade of 1946 looking better than anyone else – well, anyone other than Louis Jordan. Jordan and his band are the film's real highlight. As for the rest, it's all 'lowlights". Unless you're just a fan of really bad musicals from the mid-1940s, I'd say skip this one altogether.

3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
I can't believe it - an episode I've never seen!, 5 March 2010
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

While visiting some unnamed Southeast Asian country, Dr. Quest is asked by the local authorities to look into the strange happenings in the nearby Swamp Lake. None of the police patrols that have gone into the swamp have returned. What lurks in these murky waters? How about a band of ninja types guarding a secret missile installation. Things could get quite tricky for the Quest Team.

A few random things about The Quetong Missile Mystery:

- To my utter surprise and delight, I realized almost immediately that I had never seen The Quetong Missile Mystery. I'm not sure how I missed it either when I was younger or when I went through the episodes when I bought the DVDs. But how cool – a new episode!

- The bad guys in The Quetong Missile Mystery are great. The black clad ninja-types in the trees, the traitor Lt. Singh, and the head baddie General Fong are an impressive cast of villains. One of my favorite bits comes near the end when Gen. Fong barks the orders to catch and kill the Quest Team. You wouldn't see anything like that in today's overly PC cartoons. Fong is just awesome.

- I knew I recognized the voice of Commissioner Wah and was delighted to discover Keye Luke's name in the credits. How cool is it that Keye Luke provides some of the voices for this episode? To me, it's just about the coolest thing I've run across in a Jonny Quest episode. I know he did a lot of things, but as a huge fan of Charlie Chan, Keye Luke will always be #1 son Lee.

Overall, The Quetong Missile Mystery is another great installment in the Jonny Quest series. I'll give it an 8/10.

4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Von Duffel is as mad as a hatter, 5 March 2010
7/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Dr. Quest and Race set out to retrieve a scientific balloon that has crashed atop an escarpment known as The Devil's Tower. Race leaves Dr. Quest and returns to camp to pick-up the boys. Back on top of the escarpment, Dr. Quest is no where to be found. Instead, Race, Jonny, and Hadji run into a tribe of cavemen. They also run into a Nazi war criminal known as Von Duffel who has been using the cavemen to mine a load of precious diamonds. Can the whole gang escape the mad Von Duffel or, using Race's plane, will Von Duffel make his own escape?

While not the greatest of episodes, The Devil's Tower is still highly entertaining. Von Duffel is as good a baddie as the Quest Team face in any episode. And by good, I mean he's so stark raving mad that he seems quite capable of anything. Von Duffel's appearance is also a highlight. His stark skeletal features are nicely drawn. He reminds me quite a bit of the Crypt Keeper in appearance. The only real weakness of the episode comes in the final chase scenes as Jonny and family attempt to escape while Von Duffel attacks from overhead in the plane. It's exciting and all, but it feels too much like the finale of an earlier Jonny Quest episode, Shadow of the Condor. Still, a quality entry in the series that I rate a 7/10.

5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Scared the pants off me as a child, 28 February 2010
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Dr. Isaiah Norman, an old friend and colleague of Dr. Quest, calls with a frantic request for help. His latest experiment involving molecular energy has gotten out of control with devastating results. Somehow, Dr. Norman has created an invisible creature made of pure energy. It exists solely to consume more energy. The Quest Team quickly boards their plane to head off on another adventure. But will they get there in time to save Dr. Norman?

Finally, my run of bad luck with Jonny Quest is over. The Invisible Monster is one of those episodes that stands out. And why not? An effective monster, cool jet packs, and characters that actually die – it's got all the makings of a first rate Jonny Quest episode. It was the kind of episode that 40 years ago would have had my lights on all night. It was that scary! Watching today, I may have slept comfortably, but I can still recognize class when I see it. It's truly one of the most memorable of all of the Jonny Quest episodes. One thing I noticed looking at it today, the monster doesn't have the same polished appearance of the other artwork from Jonny Quest. It's a simple design with colors that change from frame to frame. But I guess with a creature made of molecular energy, you could do almost anything with it and it would look okay. And that solitary eye – creepy! And that noise – even creepier. I love it! The Invisible Monster easily gets an 8/10 from me.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Very little to recommend - even for fans of classic Universal horror, 25 February 2010
4/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Private Detective Jerry Church (Patric Knowles) is asked to investigate the strange deaths of several recently acquitted men. The only clue is the mysterious calling card found on the body of each victim of a man known only as "Doctor Rx". Soon after taking the case, Church is on hand to see a man named Zarini acquitted, only to fall dead before he can leave the courtroom. To solve the series of murders, Church is kidnapped, his wife's life is threatened, and he is strapped to a table by Doctor Rx and prepped for an operation involving organ transplantation with a gorilla. Will Church survive this ordeal and unmask the killer?

As far as the classic Universal horror (and horror is used very loosely here) films of the 30s and 40s go, The Strange Case of Doctor Rx is about as bad as you'll run across. I place it at the bottom of the heap with the unfortunate She-Wolf of London. I described The Strange Case of Doctor Rx to a friend as a Charlie Chan movie without any of the charm or interest of a Charlie Chan movie. Knowles' Church doesn't make for a very effective or interesting lead. He's just too bland. Lionel Atwill is billed second, but he has so little screen-time you'll forget he's even in the film. And when Atwill is on screen, he's reduced to playing the role of the most embarrassing red herring I've ever run across. Gwynne is okay as the love interest / wife, but she can't save the film on her on. The highlights of the cast are Shemp Howard and, especially, Mantan Moreland. They have a scene together involving shooting dice that's laugh-out-loud funny. Moreland, as usual, steals most every scene in which he appears. Other weaknesses: the films plotting is plodding, the direction is pedestrian, the mystery isn't very mysterious, and the horror is pretty much missing altogether. As most everyone who has written about The Strange Case of Doctor Rx has pointed out, the one scene of real horror feels like it was cut from another film. Other than Moreland, the one bright spot worth mentioning is the "look" of the film. Like most other Universal pictures from this period, the movie looks like a million bucks. Overall, a very disappointing affair that I'll be generous to and give it a 4/10.

A ruddy average episode, 25 February 2010
5/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

When compared with the previous three episodes, Attack of the Tree People isn't half bad. But, when compared with some of the better episodes of the Jonny Quest series, it doesn't look so good. In this one, after an accident at sea, Jonny and Hadji are separated from Dr. Quest and Race and end up in a thick, jungle type setting. The boys aren't alone for long as they are quickly befriended by a band of friendly apes. Unfortunately, there are also two gun-runners lurking nearby who see ransoming the boys as a way to make a quick buck. In the end, it's not Dr. Quest and Race who save the boys – instead, the apes save everyone.

Okay, first for the good – I really enjoyed the two would-be kidnappers, Silkey and Topper, and their thick cockney accents. The two sound like they're straight out of the chimney sweep scene in Mary Poppins. I think every sentence they utter includes the word "ruddy". As for the bad – look no further than the apes or "Tree People" of the episodes title. The fact that these wild apes act nothing like wild apes is just too silly. It might not have been so bad if there had been some explanation for their behavior, but there's nothing to indicate why these apes act as they do. The rest of the episode is pretty uneventful. As with the other recent episodes I've watched, there's nothing worth getting overly excited about. In the end, the best I can say about Attack of the Tree People is that it's a thoroughly average episode of an excellent series. A 5/10 seems about right.

I'm in the middle of an awfully dry stretch, 25 February 2010
4/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Dr. Quest newest invention is an underwater vehicle (sorry, I can't remember what they called it) that sort of rolls across the bottom of the ocean floor. The invention becomes the target of a group of baddies who want the vehicle for themselves to sell off to the highest bidder. Race and Jonny get mixed-up in the hijacking and it's up to Dr. Quest and Hadji to save the day.

I hate to have to give another Jonny Quest episode such a poor rating, but I don't have much choice. Pirates from Below just isn't that good and has very little to recommend. In a word, it's pretty dull. I've had similar problems with the previous two episodes. When I think about these three episodes, they all suffer the same weakness – the lack of a compelling or interesting villain or other threat. The pirates in this episode, the loggers in Werewolf of the Timberland, and the nondescript bad guys in The Fraudulent Volcano can't begin to compare with the spider-like robot of The Robot Spy, the threatening mummy from The Curse of Anubis, or the dragon pit found in Dragons of Ashida. Those episodes presented adversaries and situations that were suspenseful and frightening. I know things pick-up later on in the Jonny Quest series and there are some really good episodes to come, but right now, I'm in the middle of an awfully dry stretch.


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