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Tuesday, September 25, 2018

'Ancient Aliens' S3 V1 DVD: History Channel Doc. Series Proves We Are Not Alone

The Lionsgate September 25, 2018 S11 V1 DVD release of the History Channel docuseries "Ancient Aliens" amazingly adds more credible evidence to the mountains of proof that "Aliens" uncovers regarding humans (and household pets) not being the only highly sentient beings in our universe and that visitors from other planets (and perhaps Pluto) are among us. The Unreal TV review on the recent MASSIVE S1-10 DVD set discusses the prior seasons of this popular program. 

The overall theme of "Aliens" is that there is ample direct and indirect evidence of aliens coming here and helping us at least since King Tut was born in Arizona and moved to Babylonia. This extends well beyond sonogram-quality images of fuzzy glowing objects in the sky. The "Aliens" teams present their findings in a manner that makes anyone whose mind is at least ajar wonder about the existence of brothers from other planets. The bigger picture is the validity of the theory that it is unlikely that earth is the only planet on which a perfect storm makes a developed civilization possible.

The first of six episodes in the S11 V1 set is titled "UFO Conspiracy;" it opens with dramatic POV footage from a fighter jet. The small blurry object is relatively clear, and we hear the excited utterances of the pilot regarding this odd sight. The focus shifts to the history of the federal government funding investigations into UFOs; one can see the humor of the honesty related to using tax dollars to probe Uranus. 

We soon getting a smoking gun in the form of a report on a 2017 New York Times  article on the federal Advanced Aviation Threat Identification (AATI) program. Clinton Chief of Staff John Podesta, military brass, and MANY other talking heads discuss AATI,predecessors that go back decades before that program. 

The analysis expands in a manner that evokes thoughts of the "Stargate" scifi franchise. That 'verse centers around the titular U.S. Air Force team that explores strange new worlds and that seeks out new life and new civilizations. That group often finds itself allied with or battling a private aerospace firm that helps create space-worthy tech. or utilizes or abuses the tech. of proverbial little green men. 

An "Aliens" segment discusses the UFO-oriented work of Bigelow Aerospace. The scope of this coverage includes head honcho Robert Bigelow fully going on the record to assert that UFOS exist. 

The second episode speculates about aliens influencing the work of Leonardo Da Vinci. The scope extends beyond the oft-discussed topic of Da Vinci being ahead of his time regarding modern inventions that include the helicopter. We get looks at his paintings from the perspective of an alien influence. This includes one work that speculates about the origin of Christ, 

We additionally get a study of the "Last Supper" painting by Da Vinci. Tying this masterpiece into a Spielberg film is great fun. 

The self-explanatory title of the third S11 V1 episode is "The Alien Protocols" This one studies the preparedness of the U.S. and the rest of the world for formal first contact. The spoiler is that we are not very prepared.

The other central focus is on close encounters that range from the region of the moon to the side of a rural highway, One of the more compelling tales is that of an Apollo astronaut reporting an odd craft accompanying him on solo lunar orbits.

The titles of the remaining three episodes in this set are almost as self-explanatory as the third. We get "Earth's Black Hole," The Desert Codes," and "Area 52." "Area" most likely expands on the segment on Area 51 in "Protocols."

As mentioned at the beginning of our program, "Aliens" makes a good case for "visitors" interacting with humans. Assuming that the films and other evidence is accurate, the rest of the story is that we simply do not know the truth about aliens and likely will not until a thoroughly independently verified "E.T." goes public. 

A not-so-absurd alternate explanation for at least modern encounters is that hush-hush military or private projects literally or figuratively come on the radar or that scientists crack the pesky time-travel problem in the future and come back to check us out. The good news either way is that the tech, and/or help from the stars is a good thing until otherwise proven. 

Monday, September 24, 2018

'The Carol Burnett Show 50th Anniversary Special' DVD: Comedy Stars Come Out to Honor Mother of Television Sketch Comedy

One of the most awesome things about the Time Life September 25, 2018 DVD release of the 2017 CBS prime time special (from the original "Burnett" set) "The Carol Burnett Show: 50th Anniversary Special"  is that this Stephen Colbert hosted event fare exceeds fairly high expectations. Sofa spuds who are old enough to fully appreciate Burnett by watching the show during its 1967 - 78 run are old enough to recall the cheesy tribute and reunion specials of the era that are little more than clip shows and vanity appearances by has-beens. The Burnett special is notable for learning from history, rather than repeating it. 

The following YouTube clip of the Colbert introduction on the special speaks for the aforementioned Baby Boomers and Gen Xers. It also helps Millennnials and Gen Yers a sense of the experience that this DVD and other "Burnett" sets convey.

The Unreal TV review of a Time Life 50th Anniversary compilation of "Burnett" episodes and a post on a Time Life release of lost "Burnett" Christmas episodes provides an additional sense of the literally timeless appeal of Burnettt and her co-stars. This gang consists of the uber-talented Vicki Lawrence, Tim Conway, Harvey Korman, and incredibly good sport Lyle Waggoner. (Lawrence and Waggoner participate in the special.)

A special note regarding Lawrence is that the segment in which she and Burnett discuss the girl power of the show with female comedians such as Amy Poehler and Tracee Ellis Ross includes discussing how a teen Lawrence comes to join the cast. This topic touches on Lawrence going from playing the younger sister of Burnett to portraying her mother. The reviewed Time Life CS DVD of the hilarious '80scom "Mama's Family" shows how that redneck matriarch endures in pop culture.

The lovefest that Carol has with the boys includes arguably the two most endearing moments in the special. Jim Carrey discussing being a 10 year-old applying to join the "Burnett" cast in 1972 virtually literally sets the stage for re-enacting his receipt of a response from Burnett. This leads to a couple of wonderful close encounters.

The interaction between Burnett and Martin Short in this segment arguably best showcases the current sharpness of the former. Short immediately launches into the celebrity insulting persona of his talk show host Jiminy Glick character. Although momentarily phased, Burnett plays along and lets Short run amok.

The poise and sharpness of Burnett evokes loving thoughts of a still gorgeous 80-something Barbara Feldon at a Paley Center panel for her '60scom "Get Smart" several years ago. The boys look their ages and have minor age-related cognitive issues, but Feldon is fully alert and makes a hilarious quip.

Another highlight has the woman of the hour and former "Burnett" show guest Steve Martin sitting in a set that looks like a darkened movie theater. The chemistry between them is so strong that one yearns for a film co-starring them. Additionally, Martin puts the wry version of his humor on full display. 

We do get clips, but they do not dominate the special; they do demonstrate the graciousness of Burnett by focusing as much (if not more) on her cast as on her. The finale to the special is equally apt for the series. 

The best way to wrap up this discussion of the special is to note Burnett channeling fellow '70s-era CBS star Polly Holliday of the sitcom "Alice." Holliday was know for responding to fan requests to state her catchphrase "kiss mah grits" by saying that the admirer has heard her utter that phrase many times and that Holliday wants to hear the other person do it. The Burnett twist is having her guests imitate her Tarzan yell.

The truly special features includes a booklet with a gracious note by Burnett and a printed selection of the adorations by modern-day comedians. The best filmed extra shows Burnett engaging the studio audience during commercial breaks in the special. We also get unaired video love letters from the aforementioned admirers. 

Friday, September 21, 2018

'The Illustrated Man' Blu-ray: Do NOT Call Body Illustrations Tattoos

The Warner Archive Blu-ray release of the 1969 scifi film "The Illustrated Man" aptly is a time capsule of that film genre from that era. It has the distinctive wonderful earth tones and surreal quality that makes classics such as "The Omega Man" so timeless.

"Man" is the film version of the book of the same name by peerless scifi author Ray Bradbury. This film about body illustrations (do NOT call them tattoos) with minds of their own is based on the novel of the same name by peerless scifi author Ray Bradbury.

"Man" simultaneously sets the scene by having young Depression-era drifter Willie arrive at a pond to bathe and swim while voice-over narration makes a prophetic statement regarding the nature of knowledge. Titular inked-up middle-aged drifter Carl (Rod Steiger) soon shows up with a bloodlust for the femme fatale who put him in this condition. 

The aforementioned tale is one of boy gets horny; boy goes on what he hopes is a booty call; boy meets girl; girl grotesquely inks up boy; girl puts out to persuade boy to let her finish the job; boy endures walk-of-shame marked torso to feet with tramp stamps.

The rest of the story follows the format of the anthology horror series "Night Gallery" in that Carl calling the attention of Willie to a particular living illustration on his body leads to a story that it represents. The theme of these tales either is the encounter of Carl with the woman who done him wrong or a futuristic story.

One of the best tales of the future is the Bradbury story "The Long Rain." This has Steiger playing the leader of a space expedition that gets stranded on a distant planet, Rather than fire, the quest is for the sun domes that promise shelter from the storm and longed-for pleasures. 

We also get two "Jetsons" style tales of a nuclear family with a husband (Steiger), a wife, and two children. The first installment has the kids in trouble both for using the tech, in a playroom to transport themselves to the African jungle and then lie about it. The lesson for 21st century teen boys is to ALWAYS clear your browser history and delete any incriminating texts and e-mails right before  logging off. 

The second installment of the "Jetsons" is a bit darker. It is the end of the world as the clan knows it and Dad does not feel fine.

"Man" has an epic ending on a couple of levels. A gap is filled, and the aforementioned prophecy comes true in a wonderfully graphic manner. One moral of this is heeding the wisdom of pop star Rick Springfield and not talk to strangers. 

The extra special bonus feature is the short documentary "Tattooed Steiger" that discusses the making of the film in general and the massive inking of the star in particular, 

Thursday, September 20, 2018

'Lucifer' S3 DVD & Blu-ray: Devil Raises Cain For Truth, Justice, and American Way

The Warner Archive August 28, 2018 separate DVD and Blu-ray releases of "Lucifer" S3 is part of the recent embarrassment of riches regarding such releases of the most recent seasons of procedurals ahead of the upcoming new seasons. Lukewarm off the presses examples include a review of the Archive BD release of "Riverdale" S2 and a post on this week's Warner Prime BD release of "Supergirl" S3. 

In the case of the Jerry Bruckheimer series "Lucifer," Netflix is resurrecting this Fox cancelled show. A downside of this bonanza is that it requires basing this review on 23 of the 26 S3 episodes. Things really heating up toward the season (and anticipated series) finale is prompting watching the final three during the next several weeks. All signs point to complete reveals and a satisfying climax that is worthy of The Prince of Darkness.

The underlying "Lucifer" premise of the titular literal handsome devil/night club owner (Tom Ellis) teaming with L.A. detective/former T & A  actress Chloe Decker (Lauren German) to solve the murder of the week makes the S3 episode "The Angel of San Bernardino" especially awesome. This one is notable for the somewhat similar long-running Fox procedural series "Bones" playing an integral part in solving  this "Lucifer" case involving a TFB who is found DOA. 

Having a civilian with a unique expertise and a law-enforcement officer of the opposite sex and temperament join forces (and ultimately naughty bits) is an increasingly common basis for shows such as "Bones." Lucifer seeing the similarities between that fiction and his reality leads to an "Angel" solution that demonstares that there are not any coincidences. 

The review of the S1 "Lucifer" BD release provides a good primer on this show that has the King of Hell come to Los Angeles for a vacation five years ago and decide to stick around. The series starts with a combination of our hero wanting to punish the guilty and having some form of Hell hound in the race. The post on the S2 BD shows how the lore expands. 

S3 opens in the immediate aftermath of the S2 cliffhanger that finds Lucifer half-naked, alone, and as afraid as the devil can get. The means by which he execrates himself from his immediate predicament sets the stage for the S3 theme of old foes, friends, and characters with elements of both reappearing in the lives of our main ensemble. Another throwback element is an episode that shows the early days of Lucifer on earth and proves that when he met Decker it was murder. 

The element of unwanted seeming divine intervention adds fuel to the hellfire in the form of the daddy issues that Lucifer has with God.

S3E1 also marks (hilarious pun for those familiar with these episodes) the addition  of "Smallville" Clark Kent Tom Welling to the cast. He plays tough new police lieutenant Marcus Pierce, Although Welling portrays Pierce well, a mid-season reveal regarding Pierce suggests that "Lois and Clark" Clark Kent Dean Cain may have been a better choice. 

The first few S3 episodes revolve around the hunt for the Sinnerman, who is a person of interest regarding a mission from God. This introduces a villain who gives truly bedevils our  hero.

Lucifer being an especially tortured soul during S3 provides entertaining irony. He struggles with showing his father essentially that he is not Little Nicky and will not eat his vegetables if he does not want to do so. He also has special and undisclosed reasons for objecting to Pierce and Decker dating. 

The efforts of Lucifer to impose his version of what is right on what he considers wrong drives his involvement in several S3 cases. A prime example of this is his frustrating inability to find an effective solution for a problem has him investigating the murder of the author of a successful YA book series so that he can learn the approach of the deceased to writer's block. Another case has him unsuccessfully presenting a facade of focusing on the needs of Decker for an allegedly altruistic purpose. 

A very clever standout S3 episode has a star newspaper reporter/ex-husband of group confidante therapist Linda Martin pursue a vendetta against Lucifer. The narrative technique and awesomely unexpected surprise ending earn this one its 9.4 rating on IMDb.

The prime time broadcast network version of edge (and the related elan of Ellis regarding his devilish role) is what makes "Lucifer" must-see TV. A hilarious sequence begins with Lucifer misinterpreting the purpose of the swear jar of the young daughter of Decker and ends with his showing the girl a loophole. Another episode has a demonic influence responsible for the elderly teacher of the daughter unwittingly eating pot brownies. This is on top of roughly one-half of the cast gleefully running  with the Satanic concept of the series.

"Lucifer" does equally well skewering the absurd L.A. lifestyle. Plot points include a company that kidnaps a "victim" for fun and profit, another business that allows hiring failed actors to play the real-life role of a friend or a family member, and a dating app. that only allows beautiful people to join. On a related note, the bright lights and the big city look fabulous in Blu-ray.

The special features include the Comic-Con panel that Archive faithfully provides in every set of a show that participates in such events. There also is a "Tom and  Tom" extra with Ellis and Welling, a Gag Reel, and deleted scenes. 

Owning "Lucifer" S3 on Blu-ray may not be your deepest desire but does merit a place on the Top 100 list of such wants. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

'The Naked and The Dead' Blu-Ray: Film Version of Norman Mailer Novel Proves Officers Make War Hell

The Warner Archive August 28, 2018 Blu-ray release of the star-studded 1958 Technicolor drama "The Naked and the Dead" proves that war pictures are far more than stories about groups of men shooting each other in the same manner that quality film and television westerns demonstrate that that genre extends beyond stereotypical action that includes saloon fights and cattle stampedes. "Naked" is based on a Norman Mailer novel that examines how an armed conflict can prompt a war of wills with intense collateral damage. 

The first note is that seeing a scene that highlights the beauty of Hawaii and another moment in which a grenade creates a large fireball eliminates any doubt regarding whether buying "Naked" in Blu-ray makes sense and as to the skill of Archive regarding restoring films. 

The second note is that this cast that includes Aldo Rey, Cliff Robertson, and Raymond Massey also has the lesser-known Jerry Paris, Paris is best known as the director of the classic sitcoms "The Dick Van Dyke Show" and "Happy Days;" he also plays neighbor Jerry Helper on "Van Dyke." All of this is a far cry from Helper playing Jewish WWII foor-soldier Goldstein in "Naked." 

"Naked" opens with the dogfaces enjoying risque entertainment at a Hawaiian den of ill repute. Hillbilly enlisted man/moonshine distiller Woodrow "Woody" Wilson is the life of the party due to his enthusiastic (and requited) love for star "exotic dancer" Lily. The hilariously rude, crude, and socially unacceptable behavior of Sgt. Sam Croft (Rey) clearly establishes that he not only is not one of the boys but does not work or play well with others. We do later learn why he is so bitter and believes that dames ain't nothin' but trouble, 

The party winds down as our excitable boys board a ship for a Japanese-occupied island. Their journey provides the exposition that establishes the characters. This essentially is the cross-section of young American men of that era.

The real drama begins on the group capturing a Japanese soldier on the island. The horrific manner in which Croft treats that POW and his brothers-in-arms justifies giving him the same treatment. However, his men remain loyal. 

Much further up the food chain, commanding officer General Cummings (Massey) is practicing his related philosophies of flaunting his power/privilege and making the enlisted men fear him more than they fear the enemy. His reasoning is that this will cause the soldiers to fight harder.

Lt. Robert Hearn (Robertson) first gets caught up in all this on getting the outwardly desirable assignment of being the aide to Cummings. The perks include some prestige and luxuries. The costs include an expectation that he will be completely loyal to Cummings and not challenge any of his decisions or way of thinking.

An aside is that messing with guys such as Cummings whom the military perfectly brainwashes can be great fun. A highlight of conducting computer training for Air National Guard soldiers was responding to a joking threat by recent OTC graduate that I might have been scared if he was a Marine. He immediately jumped up, and the guys on either side of him almost as quickly stood up ready to grab him. We all were laughing a second later, 

The inevitable absurd showdown between Hearn and Cummings PERFECTLY illustrates the military mindset and literally put Hearn on the front line with Team Croft. An exchange in which one soldier comments that the Army should have promoted Croft if it wanted his platoon to have a lieutenant is just as insightful. A comment in the film that the winning side in a war is the one that kills the most people echoes an oft-stated perspective of your not-so-humble reviewer. 

Hearn leads the group on a scouting mission that is intended to end a Japanese standoff; as predicted, the threat level escalates both regarding the mission and the differing styles of Croft and Hearn. One gist regarding this conflict is that Croft agrees with Cummings that a certain number of deaths are acceptable and that some risks are worth the probability of some of his men getting killed. 

The truly bittersweet outcome of that mission also reflects the flaws of military thinking. Achieving what arguably can be considered a success reinforces what most people deem to be a reckless risk. Hearn essentially gets the last word and is the true voice of reason; of course, no one listens to him.

The outward value of "Naked" is the seemingly overall realistic depiction of an experience that is foreign to most of us. At the very least, this is not a John Wayne War Hero film. 

Digging a little deeper., many of us have worked for someone like Cummings. This is the manager who has an employee get him or her coffee just to show that person who's the boss. On a literally and figuratively higher level, the man or woman in the corner offices generously doles out lavish executive perks while not issuing even COLA raises. Another aspect of this is laying off people to improve profitability and then being lauded as a corporate savior. 

The bottom line is that "Naked" provides an insightful that remains relevant 60 years after its release. An added note it that it will evoke thoughts of the classic television series and film "M*A*S*H."

'An American Murder Mystery' DVD: Documentary Series on Cases Ranging From Natalie Wood to Casey Anthony

National Enquirer executive editor Dylan Howard being both a producer and a host regarding the current Investigation Discovery series "An American Murder Mystery" is very apt for this equally entertaining and educational guilty pleasure. The September 18, 2018 3-disc DVD release "An American Murder Mystery Collection" provides a good chance to relish seven especially intriguing cases that that tabloid television series analyzes. These one-time national obsessions include the Natalie Wood, Scoot Peterson, and Chandra Levy cases. 

These offerings combine archival footage, talking heads that include investigators and prosecutors from the cases, interviews with ordinary folks with a relevant tale, and reenactments of key events. In at least one case, we also get a sit-down one-on-one with a prime suspect. 

"Collection" begins with a three-episode study of the Casey Anthony case; the synopsis of this one is that Floridian Casey is the early 20-something mother of illegitimate daughter Caylee. The drama begins with Casey telling parents George and Cindy with whom Casey and Caylee live that she has not seen her daughter for a month. In a variation of stating that the butler did it, Casey asserts that a nanny is the culprit.
The resulting wild goose chase gets the goat of the po po and puts them on the right track in ways such as poking a sieve worth of holes in virtually every aspect of the story of Casey. The concurrent search leads both to discovering the body of Caylee and to literally putrid evidence regarding the storage of the corpse in the interim between the killing and finding Caylee. 

The soap opera continues with Casey being arrested for the murder and with her trial for the offense, The clear theme is that there is a difference between the law and justice. Under the law, the weakness of direct evidence hinders prosecuting Casey. A related issue is the fact that the legal system does not require that Casey prove that she is innocent; the prosecutor must prove that she is guilty,

The tabloid aspect includes outrageous claims by Casey; one of the most memorable ones is her attorney graphically describing a teen-age Casey attending school as if nothing is amiss after being molested the night before. We also hear an absurd theory regarding the circumstances of the death of Caylee. More guilty pleasure relates to reports regarding the manner in which Anthony compensates her attorney. A clue is that he does not get "gas" or "grass" for his services. 

Refraining from stating the outcome of the trial and the public response to that verdict is for the benefit of folks who are unfamiliar with the case.

The similar JonBenet Ramsey case from a decade before the Anthony murder gets a comparable three-episode arc. The elements that make this mid-90s spectacle noteworthy include it occurring relatively early in our current era of 24-hour cable news networks that must find enough material to keep people watching for hours. It further shines a spotlight on the creepy world of beauty pageants for young girls. 

The tabloid-worthy elements begin with former Miss West Virginia/current trophy wife Patsy Ramsey coming downstairs in her luxurious home the day after Christmas to find an oddly lengthy three-page ransom note. The ensuing investigation leads to Jon Benet father/Patsy husband John Ramsey finding the body of the little girl in the basement of the house.

This one is a tabloid production dream; we get a mother vicariously living through her young daughter having credible circumstantial evidence against her. We also have a pedophile Santa and other creepy men with despicable thoughts toward young girls, and a complete freak who claims to be an eye witness to the death. This odd-looking man who currently does not have any balls is the person-of-interest who grants  "Murder" an interview.

Just as a major theme in the "Murder" coverage of Casey Anthony is the lack of direct evidence, a primary aspect of the episodes on JonBenet is literally sloppy police work. The first cops to respond to the report of the kidnapping neglect to preserve the crime scene. Another surprising early bungle is to meet the demand of Patsy and John Ramsey that they be interviewed together. Sadly, that is not the extent of that part of the story. 

The concept of the national obsession cases and the manner in which the Anthony and Ramsey cases are presented strongly suggest that the other five stories in "Collection" receive similar treatment. The "ingredients" are well-known facts, new revelations, professional insights, and speculation. All of these are particularly suitable for the included story of missing intern Chandra Levy who ultimately is found dead in a D.C. park. 

Monday, September 17, 2018

'Supergirl' S3 DVD/BD: Worldkillers, Legion of Super Heroes, and 'Smallville' Oh My!

Including ALL FOUR episodes of the EPIC "Crisis on Earth-X" crossover of the CW Arrowverse series is the most notable of countless highlights regarding the Warner Brothers Home Entertainment (WBHE) September 18, 2018 separate DVD and Blu-ray releases of "Supergirl" S3. A former castaway on a tropic island nest tells us that the next crossover will center around Batwoman and Gotham City ahead of Greg Berlanti and his soccer stud spouse Robbie Rogers giving her a series. 

Watching ALL 26 episodes this past weekend to prepare for this review proves that "Supergirl" is marathon (rather than binge) worthy. These well produced tales looking vibrant and crystal clear and sounding just as good in Blu-ray (and comparing them with DVD versions of S1 episodes) proves that shelling out the extra $5 to get it in that format is well worth it.

The bigger picture is that buying an S3 set provides a chance to get caught up before the October 14, 2018 S4 premiere of this series starring 2017 Teen Choice TV Actress: Action winner Melissa Benoist ("Glee"). 

The following statement by a WB suit nicely conveys the "Supergirl" spirit. WBHE Senior Vice-President of Television Marketing Rosemary Markson notes that "the series incorporates diversity, fairness and empowerment, and our fearless female Super Hero is a perfect role model in today's time. Primetime examples of some of these elements in S3 are a kick-ass engaged lesbian couple. an openly gay superhero (and his "reformed" supervillain boyfriend), a black James "Jimmy" Olsen, a black man/brother from another planet director of the Department of Extranormal Operations (DEO), and two high-powered female executives who clearly show the boys that this is not their first rodeo and that they had better not fuck with them, etc. 

Bringing "Carrie" star and '70s TV mom/CONCURRENT 2010s star of stage, screen, and television Betty Buckley on as a tough but loving mother (whose best scene ends up on the cutting room floor) further reflects the strong spirit of empowerment in "Supergirl." 

Doing the S3 release justice (pun intended) is beyond the scope of a single online review. The combination of independent lore, connections with the DCU in general and Superman specifically, and the action-packed events is of a grand scale. This article will touch on each point and highly recommends folks whom this overviews entice to learn more by buying the Blu-rays.

S1E1 establishes the girl power aspect of "Supergirl" right from the start. 20-something Kara Danvers (nee Kara Zor-El) explains that her parents spend the final moments before their home world of Krypton goes boom blasting tween Kara off in an earth-bound pod. Her mission is to protect and guide her baby cousin Clark Kent (nee Kal-El) on this planet far from Krypton. Things quickly going awry for Kara literally changes everything and helps set the stage for the primary S1 action. 

The beginning of S3 finds Kara nursing a broken heart of her own making. Adopted sister/DEO colleague Alex Danvers (Chyler Leigh of "Grey's Anatomy") is doing a little better in the romance department in that she is planning her wedding with fiancee Maggie. The boys also are doing well, Former Catco tech. guy/current Kara close friend/boy with a dark past Winn Schott (Jeremy Jordan of "Smash") is a full-fledged DEO agent/lab nerd. Former sidekick/current corporate ladder climber Olsen (Mehcad Brooks of "Desperate Housewives") is a full-fledged superhero in his own right and only starts sleeping with boss Lena Luthor after scoring a corner office.

The S3 season premiere awesomely hearkens back to the pilot. The current threat to National City where Team Kara resides requires that the girl with something extra wrangle a submarine ala her bringing a plummeting jet under control in her first outing as Supergirl. (A later episode reveals potential global annihilation stemming from that first heroic act.) This S3 salvo also prompts a literal awakening that is a blessing and a curse for our heroine. 

The "Midvale" episode is a fanboy dream that provides a break from the season-long worldkillers story arc that is central to the aforementioned pending apocalypse at the hands of Pestilence, Purity, and Reign. The title of this offering refers to a heartbreak prompting the Danvers sisters to visit mom Eliza Danvers (Helen Slater of the '84 "Supergirl" film). A alcohol-influenced spar prompts Alex and Kara to go to bed angry, which sets the stage for a tale set in the high school days of those then rival siblings. One spoiler is that this flashback is directly relevant in a future episode,

The fanboy element enters the picture in the form of the CW Superman coming-of-age series "Smallville." The most direct homage is having "Smallville" Lois Lane actress Erica Durance (who also takes over the role of birth mother Alura Zo-El on "Supergirl") makes a cameo appearance. Further, the same building from exterior shots of Smallville High provides the facade for the high school of our girls. Additional goodness comes in the form of Cousin Clark friend Chloe of "The Wall of Weird" fame helping the sisters The true valentine is in the form of following the "no flights, no tights" policy of the earlier series.

Kara also is the at the true heart of the aforementioned epic crossover. The stated premise of this television event is that the wedding of Barry "The Flash" Allen and Iris West is bringing Kara and her "plus one," Team Queen from "The Arrow," and some of "The Legends of Tomorrow" to Central City for a joyous event turned Moldavian Massacre. Team Berlanti staging numerous battles in which many of the best DCU residents face off against super-powered alien Nazi doppelgangers gives the fanboys what they want, The interaction among this seeming cast of 1,000s is equally special. A request to the good folks at WBHE is to please offer the aforementioned "Batwoman" crossover as a seamless movie format in the next round of Arrowverse releases. 

All of the above provides a sense of the futility of giving "Supergirl" its due. An effort to keep this post to manageable length requires skipping ahead to discussing the S3 season finale. This one successfully juggles a multi-front battle against the worldkillers and wrapping up the season-long story involving The Legion of Super Heroes who travel from the past and the future to help team Kara. It also sets up the premise for the planned "Legion" CW series, makes changes that set the stage for "Supergirl" S4, and provides a cliffhanger that may require outfitting Benoist with a goatee.  This is not to mention an awesome nod to the Christopher Reeve '78 "Superman" film. 

The special features extend WELL beyond copious deleted scenes that will make fanboys weep regarding their exclusions. We also get a gag reel and a features on the crossover and on the wonderfully conflicted worldkiller Reign.

The bonus highlight is a full hour of clips from 2017 Comic-Con panels for the Arrowverse series. The elan and love of cast and crew alike both validates that all love his or her role and shows how they can make plots such as the aforementioned Super Nazis and a rampaging super landshark seem plausible. PLEASE keep it up Gregbie and company; we need this "unreal" entertainment in these highly toxic times. 

Saturday, September 15, 2018

'MacGyver' S2 DVD: This Season Its Personal

The Lionsgate September 18 2018 DVD release of the second season of the CBS 2016 reboot of the classic ABC '80s action-adventure series "MacGyver" allows catching up with the adventures of the titular resourceful do-gooder covert operative ahead of the September 28 2018 S3 season premiere. The Unreal TV review of the Lionsgate DVD release of S1 of this series provides s good sense of the lore. 

The literal opening gambit finds late-20s blond stud/quick-thinking brainiac Angus MacGyver (Lucas Till of the "X-Men" film franchise) and older brother figure/muscle/bodyguard Jack Dalton (George Eads of "CSI") in bright sunny Cuba. A hot pursuit requires "Mac" to literally think on his feet even more quickly and frequently than usual in this fast-paced series. A fun bonus feature about this segment points out the the Cuban people are MacGyver in that limited and outdated resources require that ingenuity regarding enjoying modern conveniences that include functional vehicles. 

Things quickly move to the primary mission of the episode, which is rescuing a Navy Seal being held captive in the Mid-East. This outing also introduces sexy interrogation expert Samantha Cage. He mad skills include both creative (and not always pleasant) ways of getting you to talk. She further can tell when you are lying ala Dr. Cal Lightman of the 2009-11 procedural "Lie  to Me." 

Fan favorite from the original and the reboot madman Murdoc shows up a couple of times and does not disappoint; the first one finds him getting the drop on "Mac" and providing a good twist at the end. His return is a fanboy dream in the form of having real-life rocker/original Murdoc portrayor Michael Des Barres appear in a key role. Another episode has Eads coming face-to-face with original Jack Dalton portrayor Bruce McGill. One can only hope that Mrs. Superman/"Supergirl" villain/Desperate Housewife/original Penny Parker on "MacGyver" Teri Hatcher shows up in S3. 

The modern incarnation of the Colton family of bounty hunters come in the form of their quest for "commerce" competing with the desire of Team MacGyver for "art" in the form of preventing a tech. expert from unleashing an especially lethal computer virus. The hilariously incompetent dirtbag is a nice bonus.

The two holiday episodes provide great "MacGyver" fun. The gang spends the Halloween season tracking both a modern Ninja and her captives on a deserted island in the Bermuda Triangle. A "very special" Christmas episode revolves around trying to spring "Mac" from jail after his arrest for alleged fallout from one of his desperate measures. Although not a holiday outing, an episode involving Area 51 and possible alien tech. is another occasion on which the writers give the fans a valentine. 

A season-long story arc has "Mac" searching for his father; related bases for intrigue are the clever clues that MacGyver senior leaves for his son and the figurative smoking gun that Phoenix Foundation director/Macyver handler Matty Webber (Meredith Eaton of "Boston Legal") knows the score but ain't talkin'. All this comes to a head in the cliffhnaging S2 season finale.

Best buddy/roomie/disguise expert/rookie operative/comic relief Wilt Bozer literally gets sent to school in S2. He spends several weeks in a training program that massively tests his endurance. The fun regarding this arc is a spy who loved me element. 

These episodes fully embrace the "Miami Vice," "The Rockford Files, "Knight Rider," etc vibe of "unreal" escapist Friday night fare that dates back at least to the '70s. Watching attractive guys who only do the wrong thing for the right reason is tailor-made for the end of a grueling work week. "MacGyver" keeping that spirit alive AND providing new adventures of a hero who proves that one man's trash is another man's world-saving device is a true public service.

The DVD extras extend well beyond the segment on Cuba. We get two seasons worth of demonstrates on how to MacGyver devices; this one comes with a "don't try this  at home" warning. We also get a look at the speciel effects, a gag reel, and deleted scenes. 

Friday, September 14, 2018

'Diane' Theatrical and VOD: Dead Singer Haunts Walking Wounded

The indie thriller "Diane," which premiered at the Arena Cinelounge in Los Angeles on September 7 and hits cable and VOD on September 17 puts several new twists on psychological dramas. The overall theme is that new angst in the life of one with a traumatic past can be the straw that breaks the back of the camel.

Central character Steve, who is the subject of the study in the film, is an Afghanistan veteran with physical and psychological scars from that war, The daily existence of this literal and figurative walking wounded man quirky involves performing engine repairs in his garage and regularly visiting local merchants. Beyond that, he mostly keeps to himself in his inherited house.

Steve seeing the corpse of a woman on looking out his bedroom window one morning changes everything. The po po arriving leads to Steve learning that his trespasser is the titular local singer. Hard-nosed Detective Bernard quickly determining that Steve is a person-of-interest, and the local media giving the story prominent coverage begins the Kafka-lite journey for this former soldier.

The concurrent trials of Steve consist of becoming obsessed with his uninvited guest and having Bernard dog him. An aspect of the latter is denying the request of Steve for an attorney at the police station during an intense grilling. The asserted basis for the denial is that the session only is a questioning of a witness. The correct answer is that any interrogation in which someone feels that he or she does not have the option of walking away triggers the right to legal counsel.

Steve also must deal with unstable neighbors and "tourists" both trespassing and creating mayhem. This is not to mention the recent widower of Diane coming knocking with his own agenda. These intrusions lead to fairly obsessive home surveillance. 

Meanwhile, Diane increasingly haunts Steve to the point of becoming a full-on tormentor. The awesomely unexpected payoff that writer/director Michael Mongillo provides is a highlight. Diane has a valid gripe with our boy; there merely is more to the story than the surface role of Steve regarding this chanteuse becoming compost.

The overall understated tone of "Diane" is a primary reason that the film succeeds; having our main character being among the 1,000s who return from modern combat heavily damaged adds another good layer. The "it could happen to you" aspect is a further bonus.

The ultimate conclusion regarding an analysis of "Diane" is that it is worth seeing in the theater if only to support indie film. For everyone else, this flick more than stands up against competing fare. 

Thursday, September 13, 2018

'The Toybox' Theatrical/Blu-ray/DVD: Mischa Barton Haunted Winnebago Screams 'Welcome to the RV, Bitch'

The joint Skyline Entertainment and Steel House Productions supernatural thriller "The Toybox" jointly proves that there is life left in old-school style horror films and that dilapidated Winnebagos never die, they just lure in new victims. Fans of this genre and/ or Mischa Barton of the Fox teensoap "The OC" and/or former Mrs. Charlie Sheen/current real housewife Denise Richards can check out the film in theaters starting September 14, 2018 and home-video retailers the following Tuesday. 

This aptly campy story about an RV with an evil mind of its own opens with it luring in its first victim the night before the road trip around which the movie is centered. Suffice it to say both that one boy was absent on the day of the "stranger danger" assembly and that his story will be an enduring urban legend.

The fun begins the next morning when widowed dad Charles shows that he is in charge by having elder "good" son Steve and younger "bad" son Jay accompany him on a family vacation in the titular "vintage" vehicle. Richards plays Steve's spouse Jennifer, who is along for the ride, 

"ToyBox" follows the rules by having the suspense slowly build. The weirdness begins with the windows acting oddly and things going pure old-school by having the radio dial move on its own. Young daughter Olivia learning the importance of keeping her hands in the vehicle at all times is the first escalation.

Charles stopping to play good Samaritan on discovering a disabled vehicle brings Mark and his sister Sam (Barton) into the mix. This leads to Charles fairly literally proving that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions when he offers Mar and Sam a ride to the next town. 

The driving force behind the movie takes our travelers down the aforementioned path by jacking their ride and stranding them in the desert. This leads to the real fun. 

Anyone who has ever seen a horror movie aptly can see much of what ensues from a mile away. One can understand a moderate amount of carelessness regarding sticking a hand in the engine of the central carnivore despite it not running at that time. Others putting themselves in the path of danger after that event is less believable (but makes for bloody good fun).

Director Tom Nagel and writer Jeff Denton do a little better regarding both the fleeting shadowy figures seen in the corner of an eye and the glimpses of relevant torment. They further nicely tie this together by revealing the equally relevant history of the literal deathtrap.
The concepts of a haunted RV and that vehicle facilitating stranding the whack-a-moles are clever enough to warrant watching "Toybox." The valid interpretation that decades of family drama that both travelling together and being confined in such a small and shabby space fuels the supernatural rage is a terrific bonus. The only thing that would improve on this would be the Partridge Family bus being the evil entity and the stress of that group touring for 40 years igniting the inferno.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

'Speed Walking' DVD: That '70s Danish Coming-of-Age Film

Best friend of edgy indie filmmakers Breaking Glass Pictures continues demonstrating compassionate good instincts regarding sensitive coming-of-age Euro films. The August 7, 2018 DVD release of the 2014 Danish drama "Speed Walking" roughly coincides with the reviewed MUST-SEE Breaking release of the 2017 French dramedy "My Life With James Dean." "Dean" tells the overlapping stories of an independent filmmaker having a comically horrific experience screening his first feature and a gayby experiencing his first true love. 

The international and timeless appeal of "Walking" stems from modern audiences from all over the world being able to relate to at least portions of the experiences of 14 year-old Martin in 1976 small-town Denmark. This credibility also reflects director Niels Arden Oplev stating in an interview on the DVD that the film is based on the real-life of the author of the memoir on which "Walking" is based. The strong acting by the main cast further helps sell the story.

An alternative context is that the coming-of-age, the large number of quirky characters, the role of death, and the moderate element of assorted forms of sexuality make "Walking" seem like a John Irving novel. 

The following YouTube video of the SPOILER-LADEN Breaking trailer for "Walking" provides a storng sense of the above elements. 

We aptly first meet Martin engaged in the titular sport with best friend (with benefits?) Kim. Raucous horseplay in the locker room subsequently ensues, and the boys then go on to have a typical school day. This all occurs in the period in which Martin is in the final stages of preparing for his confirmation.

Everything changes on a completely unprepared Martin arriving home; Family friend Lizzi tearfully tells the boy that his mother is dead. This leads to Martin facing his bereaved father and his 16 year-old brother Jens, who is almost completely out of his mind.

The rites of passage in the form of losing a parent and formally declaring himself to God while also having a range of sexual urges combine to prompt Marin in transitioning from a boy to a man. Anyone of either sex who fully shares a life with an adult male knows that the truth is that the inner boy always asserts himself.

The female object of the affection of Martin is classmate Kristine. Our grieving horn dog uses his recent loss to his advantage regarding his pursuit of this girl. Further, Kim is following a bros before hos attitude in giving Martin first crack at Kristine.  

The numerous memorable moments in"Walking " further make it notable. We get Martin showing his lack of game (but not necessarily lack of success) in trying to get some on multiple fronts, losing it in an unexpected (but very symbolic) manner at the funeral of his mother, and having a cute and loving intimate encounter with a terrific humorous element. Another highlight involves Martin and his crew trying to catch his father in the act. 

Oplev provides an especially good payoff in having the mayhem lead to the Confirmation;; young blonde Martin wearing an ascot and an open shirt makes one think that he has a mystery to solve. 

More fun, tears, and recriminations come in the wake of the Confirmation. A jealousy-fueled heartbreaking betrayal equally affects Martin and viewers, we get a moment in which we see Jens living one fantasy of teen boys, and Martin finds that he has one last rite of passage to endure.

The central theme regarding this eventful 108 minutes is that every male of every age needs a mother. This role often falls to someone other than the person who gives birth to you. She is who listens to your problems, supports you regardless of whom you love, and cleans you up without judgment when drinking too much results in covering yourself in a soup of every possible bodily fluid except blood.