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8/10
A handy man
12 December 2018
Two parallel stories are happening in this TNG episode. First Captain Picard is going to a star base for an operation. Making the voyage with him is Wesley Crusher who has been doing OJT on the Enterprise and if he can pass this Star Fleet entrance exam he'll get some credits for the Academy.

But while Patrick Stewart and Wil Wheaton are on board a shuttlecraft going to the star base, the Enterprise answers a distress call from a Pakled space ship.

The Pakleds are a roving band of nomads who act real dumb, but aren't as dumb as they look. They steal and scavenge and when their cobbled together ship breaks down they decide to keep Geordi LaForge who has come over to effect repairs. He's probably a handy fellow to have around they reason.

Leaving quite a dilemma for Jonathan Frakes as he tries to get LeVar Burton back from these bottom feeders.

Captain Picard and Wesley Crusher get to really know each other finally on that voyage. We learn for the first time that Picard has an artificial heart that needs repair and maybe replacement. Something he did not want the crew to know. And Picard is full of sound advice for Wesley for the academy and for life.

I really did enjoy the Pakleds, they make this story.
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7/10
Conditioning and fitness
12 December 2018
The considerable athletic prowess of Douglas Fairbanks is on full display here in The Mark Of Zorro. This film became the standard for all future Zorros including Tyrone Power and TV's Guy Williams.

Don Diego Vega is back from Spain learning the latest in court fashion and etiquette, but also learning duelling from the best teachers. Seeing there is despotism developing in the person of Captain Robert McKim in charge of the garrison of His Majesty's troops. California is a very long way off from Spain and the chance of appeals is limited.

Leading the opposition is the Pulido family headed by Charles Hilles Mailes who has a beautiful daughter in Margaret DeLa Motte. She has everyone's eye including Fairbanks.

Fairbanks courts her both as the court fop Don Diego and as the masked mysterious man in black Zorro who is doing his Robin Hood thing. DeLa Motte is bored by Don Diego, but the masked mysterious stranger is one romantic devil outlaw or not.

Those duelling and chase scenes are the highlight of the film and the hallmark of any Douglas Fairbanks film. Fairbanks was 37 when he made The Mark Of Zorro, but he prided himself on his conditioning and fitness. That is Douglas Fairbanks doing all those stunts, he rarely used a stunt double. It's what makes The Mark Of Zorro hold up so well today.

I'm sure that the story of the fop Don Diego like Clark Kent and his Superman like persona Zorro will be filmed once again for the big and small screens. But folks, the standard is set here by Douglas Fairbanks.
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77 Sunset Strip: Vamp 'til Ready (1961)
Season 3, Episode 30
7/10
The music almost stopped
12 December 2018
Young Bert Convy is a concert pianist of some renown and the character is obviously modeled on the very popular Van Cliburn, very much in vogue when this episode was filmed. He's gone missing and his manager John Van Dreelan has hired Stu Bailey to find him.

There's a good reason why Convy's gone missing, someone out there is trying to kill him. And it's his loving wife Janet Lake who plays the concerned spouse quite convincingly.

But when Efrem Zimbalist witnesses a murder of someone mistaken for Convy he's thoroughly convinced.

All I can say is that Convy had one poor choice of spouse and friends. And the hit man is one real idiot.

See how the music almost stopped in this episode
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Super-Sleuth (1937)
5/10
Jack's not the real deal
12 December 2018
Before Jack Carson came along, the biggest blowhard on screen was Jack Oakie. Super Sleuth was a perfect Jack Oakie vehicle. In it he plays a blowhard actor who is a detective in films and of course he solves the crime. Somewhere in that walnut size brain of his, Oakie has gotten the idea he's the real deal.

Studio secretary Ann Sothern tries to keep him somewhat ground in reality but to no avail. He insists that he will solve a string of murders to someone who writes nasty notes to his targets. And of course show up the police who are represented by Edgar Kennedy at his slow burning best.

No mystery here as it is real obvious who is doing the deeds. But there are some funny moments in Super Sleuth.

Definitely one typical Jack Oakie film.
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3/10
Buy a title cut rate
12 December 2018
World War I left a lot of unemployed nobility and royalty and many like Patric Knowles were doing all kinds of real work to pay the rent. But they still have their titles. And there's a lot of rich folks who might like to have one.

Such a one is Beverly Roberts an actress who is somewhat past her prime and she's gone to Europe in hopes of picking up her career.. Maybe a title might do it and through the good offices of title broker Vladimir Sokoloff she winds up with Knowles whom she had dealings with as a waiter. He probably makes a better prince than waiter.

This one's a subpar comedy and I'm willing to bet this might have been offered to Errol Flynn and Olivia DeHavilland who wisely turned it down. Knowles was not good at all as the former prince of some Ruritanian principality. I'm not sure if he was trying an accent or not.

I'd skip this one.
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In Person (1935)
6/10
Craving solitude
11 December 2018
George Brent is imported from Warner Brothers to co-star with Ginger Rogers in In Person. Ginger is a movie star who is craving a little peace and quiet away from her adoring public. She gets that, but she also gets psychologist Brent along for the ride. All without her knowing of course. She just thinks of Brent as a he man outdoors type and he pretends he doesn't know she's a big movie star.

Ginger has some good scenes learning how to rough it in the woods, but the film overall is rather silly. The best thing it has going for it are some musical numbers for her in it without Fred Astaire. Alan Mowbray as her leading man and a stuffed shirt to boot stands out in the supporting cast.

Ginger's legion of fans should like this.
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6/10
Doppleganger
10 December 2018
In this TNG story, the Enterprise is heading for the crash site of the Potemkin where Jonathan Frakes was a lieutenant years earlier. But when he was the last of a party to beam out, temporal distortions the cause of so many futuristic problems created a doppleganger William T. Riker.

Still at the rank of Lieutenant the second Riker presents an interesting dilemma for all concerned. It certainly makes Riker prime a bit uncomfortable. I know it would me in that same situation.

Of course this episode belongs to Jonathan Frakes who delivers a great dual performance. We never do get to hear him on the trombone though.
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7/10
Sold down the river
10 December 2018
Richard Dix's whole universe is turned upside down in this pre-Code drama Day Of Reckoning. Wife Madge Evans is a good soul, but a spendthrift and Dix's gets caught for embezzling company funds and gets two years of county time for the deed.

That's enough time villain Conway Tearle figures he has to move in on Madge Evans. He's a friend and neighbor of Dix whose hormones have been pining away for Evans for some time. Tearle even pays for Samuel S. Hinds to be Dix's lawyer to throw the case. And Hinds in his couple of scenes stands out.

Providing a bit of comic relief and stalwart support for Dix and Evans are maid Una Merkel and her boyfriend the milkman Stu Erwin. Isabell Jewell as Tearle's mistress whom he throws over for Evans has some real bite in her scenes.

Life does take a funny old bounce as Tearle and Dix are together for a really thrilling climax. Day Of Reckoning is something these two most definitely have.

As for the film, a bit melodramatic, but the ensemble cast really delivers in this one.
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Maverick: Flood's Folly (1961)
Season 4, Episode 23
6/10
Stopping in on a snowy evening
10 December 2018
This rather spacious but vacant hotel seems a welcome sight to Beau Maverick on a snowy night, stuck in the middle of nowhere. It looks kind of creepy though and usually when it looks creepy there's a reason.

The occupants appear to be Marlene Wills and her aunt Jeanne Cooper. But there are more of them, outlaw Michael Pate and two of his henchmen. Cooper is an old girlfriend of his and he's been in prison developing an itch that needs to be scratched.

But Cooper has a nasty sinister scheme involving her niece and her partner in that is Judge Alan Baxter who also is at the hotel.

Roger Moore needs his considerable wits about him to get out of this situation where the friendly faces are very few.

This is a well told Maverick tale.
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Maverick: Last Stop: Oblivion (1961)
Season 4, Episode 22
7/10
Lyme Disease
10 December 2018
This episode of Maverick has Jack Kelly taking a stagecoach where they will have overnight accommodations in a place called Oblivion. It's run by innkeeper Buddy Ebsen and wife Virginia Christine and their two Rhodes scholar sons Rayford Barnes and Robert Ross. Courtesy of this family called Lyme folks check into their hotel and are never heard from again.

Suzanne Lloyd is another of the passengers on the coach and she's traveling to find out what happened to her fiance who was traveling west and carrying big cash. In the end she and Kelly are the only ones they can trust in.

One of the more serious Maverick stories and those always seemed to fall to Jack Kelly from the beginning of the series.
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Maverick: Diamond Flush (1961)
Season 4, Episode 21
4/10
What a rube
10 December 2018
The considerable charms of Roger Moore are put to the test in this Maverick story. I can hardly believe that a Maverick would fall for the scheme that Dan Tobin and Anna Lee get him involved in.

They sell him on the idea that the lovely Roxanne Berard, daughter of traveling Creole gentleman Carl Esmond has a diamond necklace of paste that they need a most discreet type to pull a switch.

But it's Beau Maverick holding the paste when it's all over and in the hands of law enforcement. Of course he comes out all right, but no Maverick should have bought this scheme in the first place.

Best thing in this episode is Sig Ruman as the diamond cutter.
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4/10
A diner New Year's Eve
8 December 2018
Luke Perry stops to help a stranded motorist on New Year's Eve and they get to talking about how back in his youth when his role is played by Alex Shaffer he goes out in search of his birth mother reputed to hang around a 24 hour diner called The Griddle House.

When there Shaffer meets some interesting, interacts with some drama with other people there as the clock ticks the year away.

Nothing really more to say. William Saroyan's great play The Time Of Your Life seems to have been the inspiration for this film. But in execution it falls woefully short.

An interesting try though.
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Rawhide: Incident in the Garden of Eden (1960)
Season 2, Episode 32
7/10
An English country estate in Texas
8 December 2018
I have to say this one really fooled me in terms of what direction the plot was taking. I was really expecting something quite different.

After a tally where the herd seems about 150 short, Clint Eastwood is sent to look for a spread willing to sell some to add to the drive. He comes to the Ashley spread where the owner is an English expatriate Robert Coote and his daughter Debra Paget. These two live in a ranch house that looks like the set from Random Harvest. Funniest thing is Clint Eastwood having to dress for dinner in a manner befitting Ronald Colman.

All very nice, but the whole operation is under the direction of a rather sinister foreman played by John Ireland. And there are secrets, oh boy are there secrets.

A very interesting Rawhide episode fans would be remiss to miss.
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Bonanza: Death on Sun Mountain (1959)
Season 1, Episode 2
6/10
Exploiters of all kinds
8 December 2018
Any kind of a mining boom will always bring out those like Barry Sullivan and Leo Gordon who will find a way to exploit the situation. In Sullivan's case it's food and he has Gordon and a crew of hunters killing off the wild antelope on which the Paiute Indians subsist.

Which brings Ben Cartwright into the situation. Lorne Greene on behalf of the Paiute chief Winnemucca confronts Sullivan and says he'll undercut Sullivan by selling beef cattle to the miners at reasonable prices. Something goes against the Cartwright grain concerning exploiting starvation for indecent profit.

Sullivan in the end has something of a conscience, Leo Gordon does not and that sets up the final confrontation between miners, exploiters, Cartwrights and Paiutes.

Also note a good performance from Jeanne Bates as an understanding saloon girl.

Good second episode of the series.
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Star Trek: The Next Generation: Attached (1993)
Season 7, Episode 8
6/10
The Hispaniola of space
8 December 2018
Watching this particular TNG story I was put in mind of the island of Hispaniola, the island in the Carribean Sea that has two countries, Haiti and the Domican Republic. Over the centuries two nations evolved on that island and on this planet the Enterprise is visiting there are two civilizations. One has applied for Federation admission the other hasn't. And they don't like each other much.

A dilemma for Captain Picard and Dr. Crusher when they beam down and land in the wrong country. A big dilemma for Commander Riker as he tries all kinds of ways to get his captain and doctor back.

For Jonathan Frakes he feels like a UN mediator negotiating between Robin Gemmell of one group and Lenore Kasdorf of the other. He has to take some drastic action to get the two in the same room.

As for Patrick Stewart and Gates McFadden some intimate thoughts are exchanged that were never meant to be voiced. Watch the episode to see what an why.
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5/10
Rachel Joy Scott 1981-1999 RIP
8 December 2018
Let me start by saying the death of anyone at the age of 18 is by definition a tragedy. Rachel Scott who was a committed Christian never got a chance to put her life and beliefs into a wider world. Who knows what a longer life experience might have made of her. Masey Mclain gives a most touching performance as Rachel, the first person killed in the Columbine High School massacre of 1999.

The larger issues of why such weaponry got in the hands of these two disturbed individuals Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold is totally ignored. We see a bit of what turned them into what they became, bullied kids who finally just snapped. I read with fascination the fact that a line was omitted from one of these characters where he admits to being gay and he's afraid of winding up like Matthew Shepard. As this is a Christian film it sure wouldn't do to admit homophobia might cause a person to snap.

The story of Rachel Scott is what is concentrated on in I Am Not Ashamed. But who knows if there had been less of a bullying atmosphere and no easy access to weaponry that tragedies like Columbine might not happen.

Hopefully a more intellectually honest film will come along and do just that.
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Fatal Beauty (1987)
4/10
Whoopi is fatal for a few
8 December 2018
I do love what Whoopi Goldberg does with her character Rizzoli as an undercover narcotics cop. But the term Fatal Beauty is for a certain deadly designer drug that she is tracking down the source of. Nevertheless Whoopi proves to be quite fatal to any number of the characters in the film.

But this film suffers from a really muddled script and the distinct possibility that the several bad guys who want this shipment of this nasty Fatal Beauty stuff are imbibing a bit too much of it themselves. Whoopi's target is Harris Yulin a big New Orleans contractor who is deep in the narcotics trade unofficially. But Yulin himself has troubles in his own ranks.

Sam Elliott's character as Yulin's bodyguard and enforcer is also a mystery. I couldn't figure out what his function is as he keeps saving Goldberg.

Whoopi is fun to watch especially slugging it out with rich society woman Jennifer Warren. But the film is just too murky.
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The Hard Way (1991)
5/10
An impossible role
7 December 2018
I feel a bit bad for Michael J. Fox in this film. The Hard Way casts him as an action hero star who has enough clout to get himself assigned to a New York City precinct and a real detective James Woods who is out trying to catch a very brazen serial killer. It's for a future role in a film and Fox attaches himself to Woods like a carbuncle and Woods spends the entire film almost to the end trying to get rid of him or at least keep him in place.

Woods is hunting Stephen Lang a killer known as the Party Crasher who goes to public events and shoots someone after calling the police and announcing there where and when. Lang gives an outstanding, no holds barred, totally overacted performance that is the height of the movie.

The problem is that you can't have a real action star like a Harrison Ford, or a Jean Claude Van Damme in the part because they do look like they know what they're doing. But Marty McFly or Alex P. Keaton as action star. Turn that one over in your mind.

A couple nice female roles are in this one for Annabella Sciorra as Woods's girlfriend who thinks Fox is just a cop who looks like that action hero film star and Penny Marshall, Fox's agent who is on the job 24/7.

I'm not sure anyone could have filled the role properly. Fox tries, but it's just not believable.
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The Twilight Zone: Static (1961)
Season 2, Episode 20
7/10
An unusual radio
7 December 2018
I remember my grandparents had one of those big console radios in their living room during the 50s when I was a little kid that is the object of this Twilight Zone story. It would be worth a fortune on today's market providing you could find parts to make it work. I remember it wasn't until the middle 50s that they got television.

The radio age in the USA was from the end of World War I until the end of World War II and it was an age of imagination because you heard the words and visualized the people all in your mind. It was an age that Dean Jagger grew up in and apparently let some chances pass him by back in the day.

So one is at the boardinghouse he stays in now and when others use it all they get is static. But when he uses it he gets things like Major Bowes Amateur Hour and a broadcast of Tommy Dorsey playing his theme I'm Getting Sentimental Over You. As there is a spinster woman played by Carmen Matthews also at the boardinghouse whom he might have married Jagger truly is getting sentimental.

This was a really fine Twilight Zone episode where only in a place like the Twilight Zone do you get a do over in life.
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7/10
A mission of reconciliation
6 December 2018
The Enterprise is on a mission of reconciliation in this story. A group of free booting space pirates have been pillaging a section of space. They are a group who never accepted peace on their planet and have existed as nomads in space.

The ruler of their world Nancy Parsons is willing to talk with the pirate leader Stephen Lee with Captain Jean-Luc Picard in a role as mediator. It won't be easy. Like the British and Irish they've got some centuries of hate working against peace.

There's a bit of romance going with Commander Riker and the Parsons's servant/cook Lisa Wilcox. But Wilcox is working her own agenda in this episode and it isn't a beneficial one.

Jonathan Frakes and Lisa Wilcox have some tender scenes together and there is also a great scene with the very proper Wesley Crusher and pirate emissary Joey Aresco. Wil Wheaton does not get this guy at all.

It all ends sadly for two of the cast. But it looks like peace may have a chance.
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8/10
Anthropology research gone wrong
6 December 2018
Futuristic anthropologists get to observe a culture in development by means of a camouflaged station. As anyone who took Anthropology one can tell you any contact with any culture will contribute to the development of same. It's the reason for the prime directive, leave relatively primitive cultures alone to develop.

Star Fleet's prime directive goes awry here when the station camouflage is down and a father and daughter from a cousin race to the Vulcans. One is beamed up to the Enterprise at Dr. Crusher's orders because her prime directive involves saving lives. The patient under sedation sees enough to convince him he's up among the gods of which Captain Picard is Jupiter.

Not wanting these people to develop some kind of religion around worship of the Picard Deity is Patrick Stewart's problem. He takes a potentially dangerous solution to solve it and to save Marina Sirtis's life when she is held hostage by the natives.

An anthropologist's episode if there ever was one.
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7/10
Grandma and Grandpa
6 December 2018
This episode has the Enterprise checking in on a planet that looks to have been devastated by futuristic war. That is except for a lovely house inhabited by an elderly couple John Anderson and Anne Haney.

These two look like everyone's ideal of humanoid grandparents. Why would war on a planetary scale spare them?

The Enterprise has to battle a large warship from an alien race as well and for one of the few times in the history of the Star Trek franchise it has to turn tail and run.

It is Patrick Stewart who figures out somewhat the cause of all this and it has of course to do with Anderson and Haney. It is quite a story.

Kudos to guest star John Anderson in one of his last roles as someone with quite a tale to tell.
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6/10
A Klingon tradition
6 December 2018
There's a cultural exchange program going on with Star Fleet and the Enterprise welcomes several new crew members including some alien races on board. One of them is played by John Putch and apparently one of the characteristics of these folks is an overeagerness to please. For Worf who is in charge of Putch that amounts to butt-kissing something that Klingons find loathsome.

But there are bigger problems. Commander Riker is sent aboard a Klingon vessel and he is serving under a captain played by Christopher Collins who is a belligerent sort. Getting a few pointers in Klingon culture from Michael Dorn, Jonathan Frakes learns that assassination is a tradition from a subordinate if one things the superior officer isn't doing the job.

I'm an agreement with another reviewer because I can't see how that would lead to anything but chaos. Still when a rust like virus infects the Enterprise and the Klingon ship Frakes uses some Klingon rules to save both ships as Collins is hell bent on a fight with the Enterprise.

I'll tell you one thing. After observing the Klingon Mess Hall scene I'm never having them cater anything.
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9/10
What makes Data tick
6 December 2018
This TNG story concerns Brent Spiner as Lt.Commander Data and an order that Captain Picard has received to have Data report to Brian Brophy a cybernetics professor with Star Fleet. Data is to report to be disassembled to find out just what Dr. Sung did that makes Data the unique creation he is. The theory is that if we can build a race of Datas, the Federation would be invincible.

From Patrick Stewart on down the Enterprise crew regards Data as one of them and don't like him being dissected like a lab rat. Brophy throws the whole matter into the Federation's futuristic JAG office in the person of Amanda McBroom.

Every player out there loves courtroom scenes and that is no less true in the Star Trek franchise. Patrick Stewart is Data's Counsel and Jonathan Frakes is dragooned into prosecution.

Ironic as all get out in that Data's never ending quest for humanity he should be put through a procedure like this to prove him worthy of being treated like a living being. Not Clarence Darrow, not F. Lee Bailey could have done a better job of defending him than Captain Picard.

Of course a little advice from Guinan helps which occurs in a key scene with Patrick Stewart and Whoopi Goldberg.

One of the best episodes in the series.
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Maverick: The Ice Man (1961)
Season 4, Episode 20
7/10
One really cold case
5 December 2018
The Maverick series takes a serious turn in this episode as Bart Maverick is assaulted and robbed of a night's poker winnings. He gets aided by rancher Andrew Duggan and taken to the Duggan home to mend.

As he's cleaned out Jack Kelly as do the rest of the Maverick clan when forced to work do do some physical labor. For a stake and gratitude for his hospitality Kelly agrees to be part of a crew to haul ice from a mountain glacier for food storage.

It's more than ice they bring back. Kelly finds one very stiff and preserved 20 year old corpse with a bullet in him. It's Duggan's old partner who's been missing all this time.

There's a lot at stake here as Duggan is running on a platform of reform for state governor against a corrupt and ruthless opponent Bruce Gordon who sees a chance to put his rival down permanently.

This is a good episode as Bart Maverick helps the cause of good government and cleans up a 20 year old mystery.
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