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Before resident Evil there was Yvette!
Who could be hotter than Kelly Bundy? French exchange student Yvette played by Milla Jovovich in one of her earliest roles years prior to the "Resident Evil" series. The always hungry Bundy's get the bright idea of sponsoring a foreign exchange student for $500 a month. As long as Al and Peggy are eating, they could care less about Yvette who sleeps next to the Dodge in the freezing garage.
Kelly plays big sister and gets a shock when Yvette reveals herself a bombshell stealing Kelly's thunder. Naturally Bud is agog especially after Yvette informs him it is okay to peep at her. What is astounding is Jovovich is just 14-years-old here and blows away a then 18-year-old Christina Applegate. One actress became a movie star while the other basically stayed in television.
Funny episode featuring some good banter between Marcy and Steve.
Zorro's Black Whip (1944)
Typical Republic serial
Why Republic titled this "Zorro's Black Whip" is a mystery except perhaps for name recognition. The studio did produce several Zorro serials. There is nothing Zorro here. Name is never mentioned and setting is Idaho not California. The black garbed hero is known as "The Black Whip." There is a gender bender as Linda Stirling is quickly revealed the Black Whip. The heavy lifting (meaning fisticuffs and shooting) is performed by top billed George J. Lewis as an undercover federal agent.
Cast is packed with familiar faces from Republic's stock company of character actors and stuntmen. Locations are those same distinct rock formations at the Simi Valley movie ranch that Republic used over and over. Western fans will recognize those well worn trails and even the cave. Solidly made entertaining serial as you would expect from Republic.
Maigret was running out of steam
This episode comes near the end of the long running French series adapted from the mystery novels of Georges Simenon and it is apparent the show has worn down and star Bruno Cremer merely going through the paces seeming to be bored.
Neither story nor Cremer exhibit any spark. Most of the action takes place inside the police station giving it a static stage feel. Maigret often wordlessly walks around sucking on his trademark pipe as if killing screen time. Other characters carry dialogue in sometimes pointless yak yak yak. Procedures are drawn out and little interest is aroused by the crime mystery. The entire final season has steadily deteriorating.
Inspector Morse: Happy Families (1992)
Inspector Morse meets Doc martin
The local PBS channel has been running the classic UK series "Inspector Morse" and one never knows what interesting guests stars may appear. This 1992 episode features a young Martin Clunes now famously known as Doc Martin. He plays the smirking smarmy son of a wealthy Sir who is murdered. Clunes has more hair and it is fun spotting those familiar Doc Martin expressions.
This particular supporting cast is loaded. A young Rupert Graves plays a scumbag journo hassling Morse which is a unique situation in this series. The episode moves faster paced than usual. Morse can be slow and talky at times. Good twisty plot that has Morse on the ropes as to whether or not he can solve it.
Christina on the Coast (2019)
So easy on the eyes
I am a converted Christina fan. Despite being a Barbie doll with a heavy reliance on makeup and hair extensions, she is an extremely attractive woman. However in the original "Flip or Flop" when still married to Tariq, Christina was so caustic and abrasive being an argumentative princess who would not get her fingers dirty. A turn off overshadowing her looks.
She is reborn in "Christina on the Coast" presenting a calmer more down to earth likable version of herself. The Barbie doll image has been somewhat diminished and she even pokes fun at her girly girl persona. Christina is far more easy going and real here.
Is "Christina on the Coast" good HGTV fare? Not in the usual sense which is why so many seem to dislike the show. Emphasis is on herself, the kids and romance and subsequent marriage to second husband Ant. Many dislike that and Christina herself. Perhaps a little jealousy of Christina's beauty and new dream life.
The Shadow (1940)
Anyone a fan of the classic radio series will be mightily disappointed by the movie serial version. Columbia made the error of adapting the pulp fiction Lamont Cranston/The Shadow rather than the more exciting radio incarnation. Absent are such famed taglines as "Who know where evil lurks. The Shadow knows." Even the legendary laugh rings hollow.
The radio Lamont Cranston learned in the orient the power of clouding men's minds thus becoming invisible. That was the key ingredient. The serial Lamont Cranston is a scientist (not a wealthy man about town) wearing black mask and cape engaging in fisticuffs. Nothing special. Instead the evil "Black Tiger" is invisible. "The Shadow" is routine serial running too long at 15 chapters instead of the standard 12.
Midway to Love (2019)
Very dreary viewing
What a snoozefest. One has to wonder if Hallmark produced "Midway to Love" or it was just a pickup to fill in virus depleted new title fare. There is the basic formula. Female doctor psychologist in New York City is unhappy over changes to her TV show. She retreats to her old Kentucky hometown and rekindles with former high school sweetheart. Lackluster in not even having routine tension like the big city jerk boyfriend who is Mr. Wrong. Actors are bland and unfamiliar. Not even the usual Canadian faces. Even fans of this genre will nod off during this one.
Behold the new Wildcat
The show continues improving. The episode tells the back story of how Yolanda fell from popular girl to school pariah. She made a dreadful mistake concerning selfies. The sad part is being harshly shunned by her own parents. Yes, she made a grievous error in judgment but to receive no parental support or compassion. Courtney maybe her salvation as Stargirl has selected Yolanda to be the new Wildcat. We get to see what the Wildcat can do. Stargirl now has a sidekick and more importantly, a friend. Who will she recruit next? A new villain is introduced as well as three important story points.
This is a Homer episode. Mr. Burns sells the nuclear plant to a German group for $100 million leaving a brokenhearted Smithers. Naturally lazy Homer is the only employee laid off. A few minor amusing moments but nothing particularly exceptional. However, there is an all-time memorable Homer moment. Homer trips outs into Chocolateland fantasy sequence where it rains chocolates. He tiptoes with chocolate bunnies and takes a bite out of one, Everything is made of chocolate including poles and dogs and Homer takes a chomp out of both. A chocolate lover's dream.
R.I.P. Fred Willard and Edd "Kookie" Byrnes
Watching this episode now has a sad effect as guest stars Fred Willard and Edd Byrnes passed away in early 2020.
It's the Bundy's 20th wedding anniversary and Peggy has one thing on her mind: the deed Al fears most. Meanwhile Bud has won a radio contest Dinner with Anthrax where the heavy metal band will entertain a party of 50. Bud and Kelly scheme to get the old folks out of the house by sending them on a "free" Florida vacation.
Classic Al moment. To prepare himself for the amorous Peggy, Al brought a briefcase full of Big 'Uns to reach the "Let's Rock" moment. Just as the Bundy's get down to business in bursts condo salesman Willard and celebrity sidekick Byrnes who tosses out combs. Funny stuff from the always humorous Willard and Byrnes playing off his "77 Sunset Strip" fame.
Chicago's worst blizzard ever ruins the party leaving a bored Anthrax stuck with Bud, Kelly and Macy (who has a few good Marcy moments). The band dares to eat Peggy's mystery package in the fridge. Oh, the colors!
A wild and funny episode with a great ending.
Late Extra (1935)
An inauspicious screen debut for James Mason
This totally forgettable British relic is notable only for being the film debut of a then 26-year-old James Mason fresh from stage training. The routine story has young go-getter reporter Mason on the trail of a bank robber who killed a constable. All predictable in a short running time. Leading lady Virginia Cherrill (passed off as Canadian) is best known as the blind flower girl in Chaplin's "City Lights." The great character actor Alastair Sim (the definitive Ebeneezer Scrooge) plays Mason's editor. You would never guess from the movie or Mason's performance that he would become a Hollywood and international screen star.
An early glimpse of Keri Russell
This episode was a lame pilot for a projected series about two smart aleck students running an off the wall college radio talk show. They run afoul of new college dean Steve (a returning David Garrison) which in turn brings spiteful former wife Marcy into the fray spouting free speech rights. Al, Peggy, Kelly and Jefferson are virtually non-existent here.
Bud is at the forefront romancing April who has broken up with none-too-bright tall hunky Russian college basketball star. You know who will win that contest. Bud's case for April is "accidentally" broadcast. Not a particularly good episode in lacking the familiar MWC style of humor.
The saving grace to watch again is a teenage Keri Russell playing April. She is gorgeous with her flowing wild mane of hair that she would later cut during "Felicity."
Never mess with a man's throne!
We all know the "destruction" Al can wreak on a bathroom. You do not dare enter after Al emerges hitching his pants with newspaper under arm. Peggy learns the hard way not to mess with Al's garage bathroom and his mighty Ferguson toilet.
She spends a fortune for an interior design class and redecorates his inner sanctum into a girly frou frou disaster complete with a framed photo of herself much to Al's horror. He will not take this sitting down! Crank up "Bad to the Bone" as Al loads up on Mexican food while Peggy entertains her snobby instructor and class. "Let's rock." What Al does in the bathroom sends the class running in terror. A classic Al moment.
Married with Children: Dance Show (1990)
A classic MWC episode
Among the best MWC episodes and rare for its time in featuring a gay male couple. Peggy wants to go dancing while Al would rather stay home hungry with Peggy out of the house. She goes with Marcy and meets a partner in suave and charming Andy who is a great dancer. They dance night after night.
Imagine Al's shock when Andy's "wife" Pete comes knocking at the door. He is soon impressed Pete holds a great job and is a fabulous cook who feeds Al. Pete is the perfect wife that Peggy is not as Al stuffs his mouth with Pete's cooking.
After Al berates Andy for ignoring such a fine wife, Andy responds with one of the show's greatest lines: "You ate Pete's potato?" The episode concludes with Al making a tremendous comeback when Peggy thinks he is jealous of Andy's attentions to her.
The voice of Homer Simpson Dan Castellenetta plays Pete. A hilarious episode.
A fabulous episode
Al has sweated Elvis and Peg runs with it. Classic outrageous absurd episode. Funniest moment is when the "Elvii" enter.
Al is berated by an old battleaxe of a librarian and berated as a loser. So poignant of how awful school employees can be.
Flawed writing mars episode
You would think Lynda La Plante would know her way around police procedure being a crime novelist and creator of Prime Suspect. Her flawed teleplay damages the credibility of the 6th edition of Trial & Retribution.
This is a busy story. Walker isn't running an investigation as he's busy preparing for the commander's interview. Pat is lead on the murder of a young mother but that case is secondary. Emphasis is on the disintegrating relationship between Walker and Pat which comes to a head because of his family issues.
Ex-wife Lynn's new boyfriend Eric is a nutjob gone off the deep end on a terror campaign. Walker's brother Jimmy arrives after a 10-year absence and he's bad news being a conniving creep and criminal. The trial at hand is Walker accused of murdering Eric. He shot the crazed man as he advanced with a broken bottle after breaking and entering and terrorizing Pat.
All the Crown prosecution cares about is Walker used....gasp....a gun, the most forbidden act in the liberal UK. In their eyes Walker was to allow himself to be possibly killed rather than pull the trigger. Walker had minutes before taken the gun off Jimmy when searching for Pat's stolen jewelry.
Here's where La Plante's writing is poor. How did Jimmy come into possession of the gun? Was the gun traced? Was it checked for Jimmy's fingerprints? A cab drover witnessed Walker taking the gun from Jimmy. Why wasn't he tracked down to testify in Walker's defense? The glaring omission of these police basics seriously undermines plot credibility.
All that matters is the liberal obsession over guns. It doesn't matter Walker's action was entirely justified as Eric was a dangerous and violent threat. To validate her anti-gun statement, La Plante tacks on an unneeded "surprise" revelation. What La Plante forgets is you don't require a gun to follow through on threats of murder.
Zombie Strippers! (2008)
Zombie Strippers is bad bad not good bad
With a title like Zombie Strippers with porn legend Jenna Jameson, it has to be cinematic garbage. The best you can hope for is something so ineptly bad that it's funny entertainment. Zombie Strippers is just plain bad. There's lame humor basically supplied by Robert Englund that falls flat.
Somehow a zombie experiment gone wrong infects Jameson turning her into a super stripper driving customers wild. The other strippers follow suit. The men in the audience don't seem to notice the blood and wounds and eagerly line for lap dances which are zombie feeding sessions. There's plenty of blood, gore and exploding heads not to mention Jameson and her cohorts frequently baring their surgically enhanced assets which no doubt accounts for the enthusiastic reviewers. Zombie Strippers is disappointing at being dreadful.
The Virginian: Nightmare (1970)
Check it out for guest star Joan Crawford
The main attraction of viewing the Nightmare episode is the presence of special guest star Joan Crawford. The screen legend was nearing the end of her career. Like fellow aging movie stars Bette Davis and Barbara Stanwyck, Crawford had limited job offers and accepted guest shots on quality TV series like The Virginian. That's another reason why 60s TV is superior to contemporary fare lacking that kind of star power.
Story is basically routine. Crawford marries a wealthy man with a jealous ne'er-do-well brother. The husband is paralyzed in an accident then dies in a fire. Crawford suffers a breakdown and stands trial for murder. The Virginian helps to uncover the truth. Trampas is absent in this episode.
Crawford's performance is surprisingly low key. By this point, her style had become over-the-top grande dame movie star and don't you forget it. She is heavily made-up though the camera isn't gauzed as some of her other roles of this period. You can snicker a bit at the 66-year-old being with Michael Conrad whose 21 years younger and there's no mention of younger man-older woman.
It's always worthwhile checking old TV shows when featuring a star of such magnitude.
Children of Pleasure (1930)
"Children of Pleasure" is a 1930 curio turning up on TCM. The film is a very minor early MGM musical you can label low budget B picture. However, any MGM B looks first class compared to Poverty Row cheapies. "Children of Pleasure" arrived during the first wave of sound musicals and isn't as stodgy and crude as other musicals of the time period. In fact, there's a slight hint of how musicals would evolve in a few years hence under Busby Berkeley.
The film is pre-code but the only risqué thing is the title. Story is simple and basic. Songs are forgettable. The actors are long forgotten names never achieving any kind of notable stardom. Songwriters and choreographer don't ring a bell. Director Harry Beaumont was a prominent name in silents and directed MGM's first sound musical "The Broadway Melody" (1929) winning a Best Picture Oscar.
Danny (Lawrence Gray) is a hot shot songwriter. Partner Emma (Wynne Gibson) loves Danny who only has eyes for spoiled heiress Pat (Helen Johnson). Will Danny end up with Pat or Emma? That's a pretty thin storyline serving as framework for several production numbers, Gray at the piano singing songs and Jewish schtick by comedian Benny Rubin.
There are delights to be found in "Children of Pleasure." Yes, that's a not yet really famous Jack Benny in a cameo. Also Cliff "Ukulele Ike" Edwards. The music has the real deal syncopation bounce never successfully imitated in later films set in this era. Some nice chorus girl line tapping. The politically correct police will demand the film be destroyed for its black face line of tappers.
The pleasure in viewing even a film this obscure lies in details. The sleek women with marcelled hair wearing great fashion. Gibson wears a dress that flows with her movement during her number. Set decoration is littered with art deco design showing on chairs and piano and distinct art deco objects.