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Seinfeld: The Airport (1992)
Sitcom episode Story and Comedy Perfection
To me this episode is essentially perfect as an interesting story with comedic opportunities that are nicely exploited. Briefly, Jerry and Elaine are en route to catch a flight back home from St. Louis as Jerry had an extra flight ticket from a gig that Elaine used to visit her sister. George, who lost a bet to Jerry, is riding with Kramer to pick them up at Kennedy Airport.
What seems like a fairly cut and dried premise fully blossoms in the individual stories. Jerry takes the first class fare relegating Elaine to survive in coach purgatory. Kramer makes a turn that puts their timely arrival in jeopardy and George into paroxysms of anger and anguish. Once they arrive at Kennedy, George gets into an altercation with a crazed criminal in cuffs being escorted by a US Marshall and Kramer comes to realize the man he vaguely recognizes at the airport is an old roommate who left owing him money. But then George is elated to learn Jerry and Elaine's flight plans have changed so now he and Kramer have time to pick them up at LaGuardia instead.
It's really hard to do justice to Dreyfus' portrayal of all of the tortures that a bad coach flight inflicts. It's a clinic in depicting the sweaty, cramped agony of flying second class exaggeratedly compared against Jerry's life of bourgeois privilege in the section closest to the cockpit.
Even if I had 20 pages, I couldn't convey all the comedic opportunities exploited in this episode so I won't even try but I will leave this one teaser. The story culminates in two of the funniest sight gags in the show's history, both done by Kramer, one with Kramer's most epic funny entrances ever.
Mayberry R.F.D.: Miss Farmerette (1968)
Average episode... except for the appearance of a future big star!
The gang is at the county fair competition for Miss Farmerette which is emceed by our favorite gentleman farmer, Sam Jones. When Millie wins it before 5 minutes into the episode, we wonder what else can happen because Millie has already achieved the title in the episode title, "Miss Farmerette."
The turn comes when are in attendance at a dog act and they meet a dog act booking agent played by epic character actor Ned Glass (you've seen him in hundreds of things but couldn't name two) He's unhappy with his fall from being an agent for people and when he lays eyes on Millie, he thinks he has made a discovery of the new "Beverly Bennett." Hint: There was no acting star by that name but the story is he discovered the first.
But he has two huge obstacles; Millie doesn't think she has what it takes and she would have to pay for her own screen test, a considerable sum.
The rest of the story is probably pretty easy to guess or get pretty close but keep watching and you'll see a brief scene with Teri Garr as the diner cashier. I don't want to give it away, but it turns out to be prophetic for Teri Garr . If you're a fan of her, it's a nice little treat.
Land of the Lost: The Test (1975)
Cha-Ka becomes a man! ... or a Pakuni man or ...
In the interest of full disclosure, I like any episode with Cha-Ka in it. But that's because he's always up to something endearing or dangerous or both. This episode is no exception. Cha-Ka's parents have given him a quest as part of a rite to manhood. The challenge calls for him to steal the egg from Alice, the aggressive, predatory dinosaur the denizens of the Land of the Lost are constantly running from.
The endearing part is how Cha-Ka, usually timid, approaches the egg alone. And although in this case the dangerous part is only to himself since Holly cannot stand to see him in such danger. She persuades Will to go with her to aid Cha-Ka when he can't move the large egg and yet he remains in harm's way trying. So, as usual, the Marshalls are put in danger because of their friendship with Cha-Ka. But since he is still a child, it is understandable the Marshalls can't help but seek to protect him.
How this plays out in terms of action is really not important. Also, as typical for a Cha-Ka episode that doesn't include his parents, the amount of Pakuni spoke remains nominal and fun, and doesn't cause the episode to drag. Another, an uncharacteristic episode without Rick.
Sanford and Son: Sanford and Gong (1976)
Nobody ever watched Fred Sanford for subtle humor
At least no one should. I sure don't. And I am never disappointed.
This is a better than average episode in which Fred, Lamont and Bubba attend a taping of the Gong show. Not surprisingly, their attendance is anything but normal and Fred creates mayhem just finding their seats, violating most rules of decorum to successful comedic effect. And,as the Law of Sitcoms states, their visit inspires them to put together an act and get it on to the show.
After attending, Fred figures he could use the $516.32 prize money, reportedly the Screen Actors Guild's minimum pay for a day's work at the time. Unsure of their chances, Fred wonders if his brother-in-law Rodney's help as a stand up comedian will make the act strong enough. While Rodney readily agrees, he has his own agenda.
On the Gong show sound stage, Fred once again acts up and rounds out the episode with laughs including confiscating the padded sticks so the judges can't ring the gong. Don Bexley (Bubba) shows off his soft-shoe skills.
Chuck Barris DOES make an appearance is in the episode albeit just a straight part and about 4-5 lines. The judges have virtually no lines which is probably why they didn't have more recognizable names doing the judging.
The UFO Conspiracy (2004)
A truly interesting thesis, compelling and well-executed
I am no expert in UFOs, etc. so maybe I am just demonstrating my naiveté but I found this video truly engaging. As a Christian, I've already heard the assertion this video makes and it was clear from the summary I read on the website, Christiancinema.com, this video supported the same assertion. (avoiding Spoilers here). However, the film gives quite a case history of UFO sightings, showing several eyewitness accounts and different US government papers asserting their existence and not saying they all sightings are explainable as natural phenomena. I fully expected a talking head lecture so I was pleasantly surprised.
As a matter of fact, most of the video is devoted to making a case for the "realness" of UFOs. But it does not do as well in making their case for their assertion and, unfortunately, really resorted to fear tactics to achieve the aim of the video: that is, to convince people that we should not embrace UFOlogy, to avoid it and to believe it has far more sinister origins and intentions than may be apparent. They may well be right in their assertion and it is probably too difficult to "prove" it.
I think as a believer, though, you understand that ideas and philosophies at odds with a historical view of the Christian faith are virtually part and parcel of the UFO experience. So the filmmakers were really aiming at believers who were uncertain about what to think about UFOs or, say, what to tell their children. So, in that, I think the filmmakers really did succeed. And those who believe such negative assessments about UFOlogy are rubbish, would not likely be watching this video anyway.
When Things Were Rotten (1975)
What a collection of corny setups and stupid jokes, the core of Mel Brooks ' genius! I was so excited seeing this show promoted and my fellow nerd friends in high school eagerly awaited it's debut. We were a core group that routinely watched Monty Python's Flying Circus. Well, "When Things Were Rotten" did not disappoint us although it had a lot more in common with a movie like "Airplane!" that it did with that brilliant British ensemble.
Perfect fodder for a bunch of underdeveloped pasty-faced bookworms! Of course the jocks and the "hip" crowd cared nothing of the show. Some stupid gags I still remember? Robin Hood being confronted to a sword duel and he yells out, "A sword lads!" and about 10 fly in at him from off-screen, hilt first. Or the time when the public herald is announcing another oppressive edict from the evil usurper of the throne, the crowd begins to boo. He yells at them, "Hold your tongues!" and the crowd literally sticks out their tongues and holds them with their fingers.
How brilliantly stupid!
Out of the Shadow (2004)
A heart-wrenching, unblinking look at the realities of paranoid schizophrenia
The simple elegance of just telling the truth is the bedrock of this documentary. Facts and figures - which the film does sprinkle throughout - inform us of a national issue. Seeing the trials and struggles of Millie, the film's central figure, lay hold of your heart. In this way, you understand what the facts and figures cannot possibly do alone.
Susan Smiley, Millie's daughter, is the documentary's interviewer and often while also often acting as the camera operator. She candidly discusses the special difficulties posed by being the daughter of Millie who was afflicted with the disease while being a single mother raising two daughters. Susan also interviews the immediate family members in a way which creates an intimacy that makes you feel you are also a person involved. You yearn to help Millie get the help she needs to, as she calls it, get her "life back on track." You ache for Susan who candidly wonders if she can be the mother to Millie that Millie never was to her.
This film is a compelling and enlightening treatise of the real life of a paranoid schizophrenic and the ham-fisted management of the public mental health system. But Millie does have some success and so it does offer hope.
Most grossly overrated movie ever
By one of the most overrated directors ever. Mindless, incoherent, unceasing violence. Narration is almost always a bad idea in a movie and this movie is no exception. A little narration can be okay but when it is such a dominant part of a movie, it subtracts and doesn't add. But, more importantly, about half way through, I was sickened by all the violence AND depravity that I just couldn't stomach any more and basically "skimmed" (fast forwarding about 5 minutes to watch 30 seconds, repeatedly) to the end just trying to see something redeemable that would validate all the unwarranted hullabaloo that was given this piece of crap.
The shame is that Scorcese has the ability to make great movies that include violence and violent personalities (Mean Streets, Taxi Driver, Raging Bull) but these are exceptions which everyone seems to remember and not the stinkers like The Color of Money, The Last Temptation of Christ or Goodfellas.