Reviews written by registered user
|6 reviews in total|
Here now is one of Florida's very rare (if not lost) motion picture gems, and a ton of fun for the whole family. Filmed in 1981 as part of an ABC's "Afterschool Special" anthology series, this half-hour puppy flick served as a publicity stunt both for the Benji film company and for Marineland of Florida. Located on Highway A1A (the Route 66 of Florida's east coast) this Sunshine state counterpart to Marineland of California was one of Florida's first theme parks before Disney. Besides Benji, the park has also shared the spotlight with Clint Eastwood in "Revenge of the Creature" (sequel to "Creature from the Black Lagoon")Lloyd Bridges in his "Sea Hunt" series, and Elvis Presley in "Live a Little, Love a Little." Alas today, the ravages of time, weather, and economics have turned the facility from a once famous dolphin show site, into a strictly marine biology education camp. Still, should you happen to spot this classic on DVD at your local Wal-Mart or Target Store, (along with the aforementioned other 3) snatch it up quickly before it's gone! You won't be sorry.
John Hand, yes, is brilliant, talented, and able to sell a picture. (I
said 'sell a picture,' not 'tell a story.') Evidently he wants to
create an aura of mystery and suspense around his nebulous art style,
if only to cover up the fact that he's a less than great narrator.
(Well, what of it? Ed Wood, Tim Burton, he's in good company.) He seems
to brings up plot points and characters for the sake of having them,
then discards them entirely once a spurt of action takes place.
But hey, I'm not giving him points for perfect story, big spending OR an all-star cast. I'm giving him points for location use, and effort. WHY you ask? Well...because regionally speaking, even though we're not a big film town, Pensacola is NOT exactly 'Nowhere, Florida.' Yes, we're better known for turning out more Navy pilots than filmmakers, and probably more paper products than film stock. BUT... the tide in the art community is slowly changing. Presently, filmmakers are still a rare breed in the local crowd of painters, sculptors, weavers and folk singers. But in the last 26 years alone, more than 50 Pensacola filmmakers, actors, and technicians have sprung up and left the nest. Some work in Hollywood, some in New York, others in Atlanta, Mobile, and New Orleans. Some have already won Oscars and Palm D'or's for their work. Others are still waiting in the wings.
So take heart, Friend John. You're still a diamond in the rough, but you're headed in the right direction. At least you're trying. And historically, that could pave the way for legions more in the near future. Lead on, John. Lead on.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Don't know if this really counts as a spoiler or not, since by now I think everyone knows this show was NOT shot in the real Pensacola in Florida, but at Mirimar Naval Air Station, San Diego, California. As a basic military series, yes,it's well crafted, character driven, morally sound, etc. But the real Achilles heel of this show was the less than sincere attempt to pass off San Diego as the Florida town in the title. If you couldn't have it in the real Pensacola, why not just call it MIRIMAR WINGS OF GOLD, or CORONADO WINGS OF GOLD, or just TOP GUN THE SERIES? No military person who went through Pensacola was fooled in the least. They know from experience that the real Pensacola has white sand beaches, no mountains, more magnolia trees than palms, a Pensacola News Journal daily paper (not the Pensacola Post) 6 major area hospitals--the largest being Sacred Heart, Channel 3 News at 10pm (not 11)and at the time of the show---Trader Jon's Bar & Grille, not a Kate's Bucket Bar. As I recall, the local news reported the producers of the show had every intention of shooting there, but at the time the city had no active film commissioner to handle the business arrangements. So to save a lot of location hassle, they shot in San Diego, and sent out a small camera crew to take only exterior location shots of real Pensacola landmarks,like the neon Pensacola Beach sign, the NAS main gate marquee, and the Escambia County Area Transit Bus Depot. Still, I believe putting the Pensacola mask on San Diego did more harm than good for both the show and its target audience. Most Pensacola citizens today are so insulted by the outcome,they don't even want to talk about the show anymore,much less remember it. So a DVD release just might lead to a local boycott of CBS-Eyemark in the City of Five Flags. Strictly IMHO: more location homework should have been done before launching this series.
I sense out there a mix of confusion and varying degrees of personal taste in the reactions to this film. Yes, there are vampire stereotypes. Yes, there are scientific stereotypes covered here. Even martial arts stereotypes. All well and good, and sure, not all perfectly done. However, I sense one crucial point about this film is being overlooked...the cultural significance of its location. The film is set in Pensacola, Florida, and does not try to avoid saying so. That's a bold move in the film world today, and a rare treat for fans of indy films. And indeed, it may not be the last. Pensacola is world renowned as a Navy town, an aviation town, a lumber town, and sometimes even as a hotbed for political controversy. Rarely is it seen as a growing film town. But that's all changing now. More film companies are coming in to shoot. And more native Pensacolians are discovering the power of cinema for themselves. This film is part of a growing trend of Pensacola-based indy films, and more are on the way. Pensacola is making a big noise in the global film community, and by and by, the world is taking more notice. Watch and listen, world. The Pensacolians are coming. Like a virus.
I sense some public confusion out there regarding just how to accept this film. First, it would be unjust to compare it with other shark movies in circulation; this is not that kind of film. Second, it most certainly should NOT be confused with "Hammerhead: Shark Frenzy" starring Jeffrey Combs. This is NOT the same film as that one. This "Sharkman" film is a superhero buddy comedy about a struggling cartoonist in Pensacola who makes a wish that his creation would come to life and do his bidding for him. A wish which suddenly comes true one day---with drastic results. One might call it Marvel Comics meets Pinocchio, meets Odd Couple. This is a low-budget screwball comedy which tries to do nothing more than tell a lighthearted story while showing off the Pensacola Bay area in Northwest Florida. That's something the world doesn't often get to see. But by and by, that's all changing. Pensacola is getting noticed as an active, self-producing film community. They're not perfect yet, but they're getting closer. More independent Pensacola releases are on the horizon. And by and by, the world is taking more notice. Watch and listen, friends. The Pensacolians are coming.
Call me a devil's advocate if you must, but I for one had the time of
my life growing up watching this show. To me, the Osmonds were, are,
and shall always be, the best entertainers on the planet. (I emphasize
the word "entertainment" over "music" in this case.) So the music
wasn't always the best. So the jokes were often lame. So
"squeaky-clean" wasn't everybody's thing. THAT DOES NOT MEAN EVERYONE
IN THE WORLD HATES THE SHOW! As far as my family and I were concerned,
"squeaky clean" was in. We never had to worry about the show being
offensive or risqué. Choosing "Donny & Marie" on weekends was a
no-brainer. No matter how silly or over-the-top things got, it took us
out of ourselves and made us forget our troubles for one hour every
week. I don't recall any episode that failed to entertain us,
particularly me. I enjoyed the humor, the songs, the guest stars, the
Krofft puppets, even the cross-references to other period shows.
Compared to today's lame-brained comic fare, this series is truly a lost gem that deserves rediscovery. (As I recall, one night in 1993, Nick at Nite did air a New Year's Eve episode of the show, but they aired it only once. Maybe they thought no one was watching. They were wrong. I was.) If Nick at Nite, TV Land, or even Goodlife TV won't put it back on the air, at least put it out on DVD. I rank this show right up there with other classic variety shows like "Lawrence Welk,""Ed Sullivan," "Sha-Na-Na," "Carol Burnett & Friends," Flip Wilson," and "Tony Orlando & Dawn." (Believe it or not, "Sonny & Cher" never appealed much to me. Maybe it was the music, or Cher's outrageous choice of wardrobe. I don't know.)
Suffice to say, there's no point in adding to Donny's socio-phobia. Not everybody got the Captain Purple jokes. But you did good by my family. Take a bow! This show absolutely deserves more credit than it's been given. (If YOU don't like it, please go puke in the bathroom.)