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Great if you're a fan, good even if you're not...
You really can't have too high expectations for a made-for-cable TV movie. And made-for-VH1 at that. With that in mind, Hysteria: The Def Leppard Story was a decent little bio-film. Yes, its too short and sometimes plays fast & loose with the facts, but it gets its main point across pretty decently. Namely, that Def Leppard were always best friends first and a great rock band second.
Although the film opens with Rick Allen's accident and then flashes back from there, it doesn't overly dwell on just the negative. It makes it clear that these were stand-up guys devoted equally to their friendship as to their music.
And even though the actors were obviously chosen based on their strong physical resemblance to each band member, all of them give really strong performances. They all come across as real people, and not at all as mere hired lookalikes. And even though the role is severely limited, Anthony Michael Hall gets the gist of producer Mutt Lange's role (although they made him American when he's actually British).
A few time-line errors: They show the band working on Pour Some Sugar on Me while Rick is in the hospital and before Mutt Lange rejoins them in the studio. In fact, Sugar was the last song on the Hysteria album to be written and it was in fact Lange who recognized it as a potential smash hit and insisted on its development & inclusion (even though they were already way behind schedule).
Also the final concert scene where Rick plays live again for the first time, this was actually at an outdoor concert in Germany. But there actually were people grumbling about a "freak show" in reference to a one-armed drummer (not fans, but members of another band that was also playing that gig). It does also accurately portray that Allen performed without a hitch that day and was warmly welcomed back by the audience.
The real members of Def Leppard themselves have gone on record saying that even though they had no input to it, overall, they were reasonably satisfied with this docudrama.
The Daily Show (1996)
This show has become what it set out to mock...
Namely, this show has become 'info-tainment'.
When it started this show had the perfect attitude for the news/entertainment media. It was cynical, mean-spirited, sarcastic, and prudently self-mocking.
Craig Kilborne was an absolutely perfect host. He was a dumb-blonde version of Dennis Miller. He wasn't a real journalist but he played one on TV. With a knowing nod you knew he knew that entertainment (and network news) was all bullsh*t.
But now, Jon Stewart with his lost puppy-dog face and his "Aw shucks" attitude have completely ruined this show. Gone is the fake smarminess that Craigers knew was necessary to make a show like this funny. Stewart thinks he's a real anchor, giving some kind of alternative newscast for "the kids". Instead he's just become a big ass-kissing phoney like everyone he's making fun of.
The show has become what its creators set out to skewer, just another cog in the great info-tainment media machine.
If you want to see how funny this show used to be watch Joel McHale on E!'s weekly The Soup. Sarcastic, self-knowing, mean-spirited, its all there. Including _real_ laughter from the on-set stage crew (something The Daily Show had in its first, and best, season).
Alien Resurrection (1997)
One of the worst films I've ever seen
Alien Resurrection is more than just a bad installment to the Alien franchise. It is a horrible, horrible, HORRIBLE film from top to bottom. The script, the effects, the cast, and especially the acting are all unbelievably bad.
The script: The whole concept is contrived, disjointed, and completely 'deux ex machina'. Bringing Ripley back from the dead via cloning, even 350 years in the future, is ridiculous. She wouldn't retain any memories of her past life, and the alien parasite inside her at the time of her death could not have 'inserted' itself into her DNA allowing it to be cloned with her. Bringing her back any of the other ways, making it her grand daughter, making her an android, even making all of Alien3 having been a hypersleep hallucination, any of those would have been better.
The effects: Not only were they not used to the advantage of the story in any way, in some ways, they were downright bad. Everyone always goes on about how 'cool' the swimming aliens were. Number one, it was little more than a neat little gimmick. And two, it was poorly executed. The CGI aliens looked, well, like CGI aliens. In other words, they looked fake. They weren't quite photo-realistic in their appearance & movements. And they were on screen for all of about 3 seconds. Also the final scene reentering Earth's atmosphere was awful. It looked like they ran out of money and hoped no one would notice. And most of all the, ahem, newborn. The achieved something here alright. They found a way to make H.R.Giger's alien, the scariest movie monster ever, look like something out of a Lucy skit. When that thing appeared I sunk in my seat in embarrassment.
The cast: I really like Winona Ryder, but she never was & never will be an action heroine. It should have been obvious from the start that she was a completely wrong choice. And Sigourney, well, she got her 10 million dollar check and sleepwalked thru the role, if not deliberately sabotaging the film because she's sick of her association with them. As far as the rest of the cast, they were all completely forgettable. So I've completely forgotten them. Other than Dan Hedaya and Ron Perlman, who serve as nothing more than comedy relief.
The performances: I can sum them up thusly- The director didn't speak or understand English. And it shows. Didn't it occur to anyone that that might be a bad idea?! In all seriousness, I've watched lots of MST3K and Roger Coreman has made better movies than this.
Alien Vs. Predator, a seemingly more derided film, just came out on DVD and while not up to the standard of either Alien or Aliens it was about a million times better than this one.
My long national nightmare is over!!
Not to just repeat what others have said, but memories of this show have been floating around in my head for some 30 years now!! I must have been no more than 5 or 6 and I only remember tiny bits of it. I often started to wonder if I had just dreamed the whole thing! But this is most definitely it.
I remember the people telling the guy in the cube, "This is my door, you can't use it", so much so that when somebody does offer to let him escape he protests, "I can't, that's your door!". I also seem to remember that it was shot on videotape, not film. That's about all I can picture. I must have missed the ending.
It seems so appropriate to find out that this show was done by Jim Henson! Because I also have memories of watching 'Hey Cinderella' and 'The Musicians of Bremen' at about the same time (early 70s).
Battlestar Galactica (2003)
"Get a life, will you people!"
Anyone who says that this new version is in any way not as good as the original should heed Mr. Shatner's advice, "For cryin' out loud, its just a TV show!" Because, the thing is, the original Battlestar Galactica was nothing more than a silly, campy, Star Wars rip-off. Even totally unlike (any of) the Star Trek series, it was first and foremost a kid's show. It was practically a live-action cartoon. I mean I loved it when I was 12, but it does not have any adult appeal what-so-ever! Period. End-of-discussion.
Having said that, this remake perfectly presents the original concept in a very entertaining, adult, and respectable way. From the very first scene there is almost no clunky exposition. Just enough (if you pay attention) to set everything up. And it continues this way. It doesn't spoon-feed the viewer plot points. In fact it leaves a lot of things hanging until they're casually revealed at the appropriate time.
Much has been said about changing the sex of some of the original characters. Even if you did see & enjoy the original (like I did) as long as you have an ounce of maturity this will not bother you at all. Rather, it makes complete sense to have female soldiers here.
What also makes sense (and prevents much of the goofiness of the original from reoccurring) is that the dumb, pseudo-Greek names (i.e. Apollo, Starbuck etc.) are explained away by being fighter-jock call signs here instead.
As for the special effects, they are phenomenal! They found a way to make the tired, old, clichéd, motion control/CG spaceship battles look new by adding a hand held, documentary style to the camera movement. And it works! It does not come off as 'gimmicky' but makes you feel like you're really watching futuristic 'gun camera footage'. The fighters use particle weapons (i.e. machine guns) and guided missiles, not goofy orange laser beams. There is a fantastic moment during one of the first battles when a soldier/tech on the Galactica looks at his display and yells, "Radiological warning!" (in other words, the Cylons just launched a missile with a nuclear warhead).
Suffice it to say that this is not your misspent youth's Battlestar Galactica. Don't blow $100 on that dorky Cylon-head boxset unless you really want to reminisce (and find out just how stupid looking 'Muffy' was). Wait for this pilot (and now greenlite series!) to come out on DVD.
The New Treasure Hunt (1973)
Pre-cursor to The Gong Show
It all makes sense now, knowing that this show was produced by Chuck Barris. Because it wasn't just a normal game show. This show was weird.
Starting with its host Geoff Edwards. I guess actually seeing Lee Harvey Oswald get shot in person (he was a Dallas reporter) must have whacked his brain a little. Although 'Treasure Hunt' was similar to 'Let's Make a Deal' Edwards wasn't snotty & subdued like Monty Hall, he was goofy and off-the-wall (much like Barris). He did a great job hamming it up and stretching out the excruciating time the contestant had to wait to find out whether they'd made the right choice (this was essentially the core of the show). He always kept you guessing by engaging in double and even triple false finishes (i.e. "Sorry you lose- Wait! What's this?! Oh, its nothing, you really did lose" etc.)
Plus he would always do this often hilarious little bit at the end of every show with the (supposed) "Bonded Security Agent, Mr. Emil Autouri". He would try and get him to break his stone-faced, emotionless demeanor by telling a risqué joke, trying to tickle him, or even pretending to break down crying that he just wanted him to like him!
But all Mr. Autouri would ever do is, when Geoff finally just asked, "Mr. Autouri can you verify that you hid a check for $25,000 in one of these boxes?", he would respond, "Yes I did" and then he'd give Edwards the piece of paper with the box's number on it and slowly go get the box to prove that the check was in there.
A real innovative show for bleak 70s television!
Basically a California version of SNL
"Fridays", which ran for two seasons on ABC, was a live sketch comedy show with a celebrity guest host & famous guest band. It aired at 11:30ET on, duh, Friday nights. So yes, it was ABC's version of Saturday Night Live. But more importantly, it was done from Los Angeles, so it was a West Coast version of SNL. And it showed.
Too many of the sketches were simple, 'one-joke' bits. The Rhasta-man for example, consisted of nothing more than the audience waiting for the jamaican guy to finally say, "ganja!" so they could hoot & holler (picture Married with Children's or Arsenio's audience). The same thing would happen during the Weekend Update-style newscast. Melanie Chartoff, who was the show's sex kitten, served as news anchor and the audience would howl at her thru most of the bit. Mark Blankfield's "I can handle it" pill-popping pharmacist was also little more than that, him acting whacked-out on speed and trying to deal with customers.
The show did have some bright spots:
Michael Richards 'Battle Boy' for instance. He was this psychotic kid who did terrible things to his army men (set them on fire & scream horribly). Plus he had a white trash mother who would just yell at him all the time. Richards also did a great 'Record Critic Guy' where he basically trashed everything (and early 80s music deserved some serious trashing!)
John Roarke was a very good impressionist, though his characters were too sterile and robotic. He had great technique but little flair for personal nuance.
Bruce Mahler not only did the memorable & weird 'dancing chickens' bit but also several good news skits opposite Chartoff such as having removed his brain and holding it in his hands still connected to his spine via a cable. And a simply yet funny bit with the two of them inhaling helium.
Also Rich Hall started out on this show (great trivia question: Who's the only person to be a regular cast member of both Fridays & SNL? Him!)
And I did indeed see the Kaufman show. And it was disappointing to find out the next day that the whole fight thing had been fake.
I also saw one of the last shows on March 5th, 1982 (John Belushi had died earlier that day).
Howard E. Rollins from the "In the Heat of the Night" TV series hosted and did a very funny bit about an insane morgue attendant who made the corpses act out little sketches with him.
And William Shatner, some 5 years before his infamous 'Get a life' bit on SNL, showed his gift for wacky comedy for the first time hosting Fridays.
Overall it was a funny show. Not groundbreaking in the least, and a complete ripoff of SNL, but still funny and worthy of more than just two seasons (I don't remember hearing about its cancellation, it just wasn't on anymore).
The Blair Brown Show...
An endless list of reviews have called The Days & Nights of Molly Dodd an 80s version of either Mary Tyler Moore or Ally McBeal, in that the show centered on a single, quirky, professional woman living alone. A key difference however is Blair Brown.
No disrespect towards MTM or Calista Flockhart, but Blair Brown brought a very unique difference to her character. Mary always seemed to be on the edge of total embarrassment and Ally on the edge of total emotional meltdown. Molly Dodd on the other hand, while often not knowing what she really wanted, was always able to handle whatever life threw at her. She wasn't socially awkward like Mary Richards nor was she emotionally bipolar like Ally McBeal.
Consequently Molly Dodd was someone you'd not just want to go out with, but would want to be friends with. Blair Brown made Molly not only attractive, but fun, lovable and most of all, trustworthy. Not to be too sexist, but she made Molly 'one of the guys'. So never played relationship mind games, and instantly saw (and laughed) when someone did. She valued people totally on their character & personality.
If you woke up next to Mary Richards you'd see her silently & guiltily sneaking out of bed. Ally McBeal would either be planning your wedding or putting a knife in your back. But Molly Dodd would just be there.
And again, while MTM is (or was) attractive enough, she had a very standoff-ish, patrician, repressed kind of look. And Calista Flockhart is just, well, very cute. But Blair Brown, on the one hand she blends unnoticeably into a crowd, but on the other she is a gorgeous, drop-dead classic beauty.
The Beast (1996)
Jaws - Spielberg = The Beast (i.e. crap)
"The Beast" is exactly what Jaws would have been without Steven Spielberg. Anyone who's read Benchley's novel "Jaws" knows what I mean. Unlike the movie, which is pure Spielberg, "Jaws" the book is a tawdry, cliché littered bit of boilerplate pulp fiction, with a big shark. There's sexual liaisons, mob threats, political schenanigans etc. And this is what "The Beast" TV movie comes down to. A generic soap opera with some giant squid scenes.
And the squid is very lame looking. Granted, a realistic giant squid isn't an easy effect to pull off. But as others have mentioned, Disney managed to do it pretty well in "20,000 Leagues Under The Sea" and that was in 19-freakin'-54! To achieve the hack-kneed plot device of "they think its dead but, oops, its still alive" their giant squid is even given eyelids (which looks really ridiculous)!
I saw Peter Benchley promoting this TV movie on the Today Show. It was embarrassingly pathetic because rather than spending much time talking about "The Beast" he constantly kept referring to "Jaws" and dropped Spielberg's name at least a half dozen times.
Be a man Frank goddamn it!!!
This is quite possibly one of the funniest movies ever made.
It succeeds not simply thru its humor but in the way that it takes the plot seriously. That is, the characters avoid doing anything cliché or 'movie-like'. They react to an amazingly unusual situation in a very logical, sensible way (even as things become more & more desperate). Consequently none of the humor is forced. It all comes from the combination of having to deal with all the insane things that are happening to them in the sanest way that they can. The contrast of these two makes for absolutely brilliant comedy.
» They have to kill an already dead guy so they put a pick axe thru his head.
» This doesn't kill him so they saw his head off.
» This still doesn't work so they decide to incinerate him in the neighbor's crematorium.
» In order to do that they make up a "rabid weasels" story to tell the neighbor.
All of these things, as hilariously ridiculous as they are, actually make sense in the context of trying to deal with the situation. In other words, if you found yourself confronted with re-animated corpses you would probably do exactly what they do to try and stop them. And even as the situation slowly progresses from bad to worse to desperate the film maintains this idea.
In fact, the film quite brilliantly maintains this idea at the very end. As over-the-top as the ending seemed I can completely picture the military wanting to do exactly that!
The Keep (1983)
Very 80s, very dated, very silly, Michael Mann flick
The only reason I saw this was because my TiVo suggested it...
To be fair, The Keep is very much a film of its time, the early 80s. But also, to be fair, it does not AT ALL transcend its time! Unlike other films of this era, like Ridley Scott's Alien, Blade Runner and Legend or even Michael Mann's phenomenally great Thief (which strangely he made first) The Keep today comes off as bad and often just downright silly. Mystery Science Theater silly!
The main problem is its all flash and no substance. The film tries to rely on its visuals and atmosphere to make up for its lack of plot and characters. But even for 1983 The Keep's effects are pathetic. They're all hand animated optical effects, streams of colored light & electricity & mist etc. They don't enhance or even fit in with the situations at all. Rather, they draw excessive attention to themselves. And even though the demon is actually kind of creepy looking he's shown on screen in such long medium shots that his appearance quickly goes from scary to just 'a-guy-in-a-suit'.
And while Tangerine Dream's music was used to great effect in Scott's Legend, their synth-electronica sound is completely out of place in a WWII setting! It constantly makes you feel that you're watching _an eighties movie set in WWII_ not that your in any way actually there.
As another user said the scene where the actual 'Keep' is first found is pretty cool. A Nazi soldier sticks his head thru an opening and the camera keeps pulling back and back and back... until an underground cavern the size of the astrodome is revealed! But then its just Whoosh! Magic flying light beams & one charbroiled Nazi.
Scott Glenn literally sleepwalks thru his role: obligatory mystical calling, obligatory mystical blue contact lenses, obligatory mystical journey, obligatory un-mystical sex scene, and obligatory triumph over evil.
Ian McKellen is such a fantastic actor that I'll more than forgive him this little detour. And he does what he can without embarrassing himself too much.
Gabriel Byrne is surprisingly ok (and, at first, unrecognizable) as a nasty SS officer.
Everyone and everything else in the film varies from just background scenery to camp-ishness.
The best show MTV ever ran
Most of what should be said about Daria has already been (in previous reviews) so let me just add a few things.
First, contrary to what everyone keeps saying Daria was NOT canceled by MTV. Glenn Eicler, the creator & exec producer, decided to stop at five seasons (actually five 13-episode half seasons & two 90 min episodes). MTV would have ordered a sixth, but he felt the show had run its course. And to MTV's credit they didn't hand the show over to someone else just to try and milk some more money out of it with what would have undoubtedly been inferior episodes.
Not to MTV's credit however, Daria reruns were yanked from the schedule almost immediately after the series finale. I guess its just the nature of the beast. MTV just doesn't 'do' reruns. They're so last season...
What really annoys me though is that they decided to rerun Daria on Noggin', a cable channel which is a joint venture between PBS & Nickelodeon. Nickelodeon is owned by Viacom which also owns MTV. Which means Daria reruns were essentially 'dumped' there (i.e. since they own Noggin' they didn't sell it to them and since Noggin' is non-commercial it isn't generating any revenue for them). A very indignant way to treat a show that was both a critical and ratings success, to essentially treat it as worthless filler material.
And to really add insult to injury Noggin' is absolutely the wrong place for Daria. Yes it features a very smart, semi-realistic, teenage girl lead character, but again contrary to what others have said, Daria is not and never was a show for teenage girls (let alone pre-teens)!! It was always aimed at a 20-something and up audience. And not just female. Its true that most of the main characters were women (and a lot of the male characters had 'interesting' eccentricities) but the show never, EVER pushed any kind of feminist agenda (or any other kind of agenda except for maybe 'damn what others think, just be yourself').
And since Noggin' IS aimed at pre-teen girls Daria episodes have not just been edited, they've been emasculated. They've been stripped of all the adult wit and gritty, biting satire that was the essence of the series. Airing them this way is, IMO, worse than not showing them at all. In fact at least a half dozen episodes are so adult that Noggin' has never shown them. Please, PLEASE Viacom sell the series to Cartoon Network. They'd buy & air it (unedited) in a heartbeat!
If you've never seen Daria I beg you, don't watch it on Noggin'! A few episodes are out on video & DVD (search for 'daria DVD' on eBay).
Zazoo U (1990)
This show ran about 13 episodes in the fall of 1990 on Fox on Saturday mornings. It was a kid's cartoon, but it had some pretty creative plots & characters including a cockroach who talked like Jack Nicholson and an elephant that sounded like Nixon.
The show was very 'artsy' and I mean that in a good way. More effort was put into the scripts and voices than the animation. Each episode would revolve around some type of 'life lesson' but didn't cram it down your throat.
Way back before the internet I asked about this show on a CompuServe forum. Apparently it was created & bankrolled by a sort of hippie guy who inherited money from his family's mannequin empire(!) He was listed in the credits, Shane McSomebody, I can't quite remember. Each episode was based on a poem he had written and each poem was read by the narrator at the end of each show.
Anyway, apparently the show was so different and 'artsy' that most of the Fox affiliates refused to air it. A few even demanded that Fox drop it, they though it was so weird and annoying. Remember this was the days before The Powerpuff Girls, Samurai Jack or Dexter's Lab. This was still the time of The Smurfs, Muppet Babies and Ninja Turtles.
Don't bumble or fumble the Fingal Dopple!!!
Like everyone else I saw this 'movie' on MST3K. Oh the humanity...
What I'll add is that if you've ever been involved in any kind of low-budget filmmaking this thing is great fun to watch. It's shot on videotape so it looks like some community college media class' final exam. Like so many others they use a modern mall as a bland future-scape. They obviously spent a huge amount trying to look 'high-tech' and it all just comes off looking silly (even, I think, back in '85). And add in the inexplicable presence of A-list actor Raul Julia (who had already appeared in John Cassavettes "The Tempest" and Francis Coppola's "One from the Heart" in 1982) and you've got a 'wriggle-uncomfortably-and-embarrassingly-in-your-chair' masterpiece!
Try and not shudder as:
o Raul Julia does a bad Bogart impression!
o Raul Julia does a voiceover while pretending he's a drunk monkey!
o They repeat the phrase 'fingal-dopple' over & over!
Think Matrix meets Brainstorm meets Casablanca meets Rollerball meets Dr. Who!!!
Family Guy (1999)
My one-word-review: Lame
I love adult animation. I loved The Simpsons since Tracy Ullman. I also think Futurama, King of the Hill, South Park, Daria and especially all of Cartoon Network's Adult Swim shows are some of the best things on TV!
However, The Family Guy is not in the same league. Not even close. I don't even berate it for being a Simpsons rip-off (which it quite obviously is) but for being an incredibly lame, poorly written, poorly voiced, sophomoric effort. Notice several things about it:
> The way 50% of the jokes begin with, "Remember the time you..." In other words they're flashbacks or fantasies rather then being integrated into the plot (a hallmark of bad writing). Yes, The Simpsons often do this, but only once or twice an episode. FG totally relies on it.
> How all the characters are completely flat and one dimensional. They have no personality at all. They all have very exaggerated, schtick-ey voices and mannerisms. The dog always speaks in a dry monotone, the father says "Aw jez" every 5 seconds, the mother says "Now Pe-ter" every 10 seconds, the teenage son is a poor man's Bobcat Goldthwait, and the baby is just evil. It would be like if The Simpsons made Disco Stu, the Sea Captain, Professor Frink and Bumble Bee Guy the main characters!
> The stories have no pacing. It goes from dumb slapstick to pop-culture references to sappy melodrama and back with abandonment. And it doesn't come off as zany, wacky madcap-ness. It comes off as badly written scripts where several half-baked ideas are crammed into one hoping no one will notice.
I saw the Seth McFarland short this was based on (the talking dog at the pound). It was on Cartoon Network's What a Cartoon Show along with the pilots for Dexter's Lab and The Powerpuff Girls. And even the underdeveloped pilots of these two kid's shows where much, much funnier.
Groundbreaking, but hasn't aged well
I was in my early teens when this show was on, and it was one of my favorites. In fact, I specifically remember thinking at the time that it was the funniest show on TV (remember of course, that this was in the days of the 3 networks and not much else). And I was really p***ed when it went off the air because I think it was canceled by ABC just because of its risqué content, not because of low ratings. And because, as every fan will remember, we'll never know what happened to Sheriff Burt when he went into that room full of hitmen (every season, including the last, ended with a big cliffhanger episode).
But after catching it on cable years later I found that the humor really depended a lot more on the shock value than I thought it did (and on the fact that I was in my early teens when I first watched it).
Much like the way the concept of a guy living with two girls was scandalous for a TV show in the 70s made Three's Company seem funny, the outrageousness of the characters and their behavior was really the core of Soap's humor.
But 25 years later, now not being the least bit outrageous, Soap doesn't seem that funny. It's humor just seems silly & slapstick. I remember the two sisters & others having a discussion about being "horny" and it being utterly hilarious. But only because, in 1979, just saying the word horny on TV, let alone discussing it, couldn't help but get a huge laugh.
Compare this with something from today, like oh, South Park!
To be fair, Soap did have characters that were funny beyond just content. Richard Mulligan in particular. His performance in Blake Edward's S.O.B. is still hilarious today, and he was basically just doing his Burt Campbell character in the film.
Others have mentioned ventriloquist Chuck & Bob. While they did have some of the biggest laughs, the writers never developed Chuck's character or ever involved him in the plot much at all. He was just used for some sure-fire comedy relief.
Watching both today, I can see how much the humor in Soap had in common with a show from that era which I didn't think was funny, it's spin-off Benson.
TV Funhouse (2000)
People couldn't see the forest for the trees!
Those who didn't like or didn't 'get' this show simply suffered from a lack of imagination. They didn't like it for the same reason they don't like The Simpsons or, even more so, South Park.
People see a cartoon or a puppet show and a switch in their brain closes. There are only certain things they expect from a cartoon character or puppet and they are incapable of accepting anything else.
And the vulgarity of TV Funhouse (or South Park) seems so out of place in a puppet show (or cartoon) that they think that's all there is to the humor. Cartoon kids or puppets getting bleeped saying f---.
And if that was all there was to the humor these shows wouldn't be funny. But its not all there was. The scripts for TV Funhouse were very well written, intelligent, complex and witty, and actually gave the puppet characters somewhat realistic personalities.
The scripts were also, however, extremely warped, twisted and dark. And that's the other problem. Some people not only can't accept these kind of things coming from a traditionally kid's form of entertainment, they just refuse to accept the idea that humor can come from these things at all! When in fact, this is where the best laughs almost always come from. And TV Funhouse was no exception.
So if your idea of humor stops at a drunken Lucy slurring, "Veta-viga-vega" a hundred times over and over then no, TV Funhouse is definitely not for you.
But if you're not put off by a little (or a lot of) vulgarity and appreciate original, very politically incorrect satire then check out TV Funhouse. You won't be disappointed.
The TV Wheel (1995)
Joel, Joel, Joel - What were you thinking?
Rest assured that, much to his chagrin, Joel Hodgsen will forever be remembered as the creator & original host of Mystery Science Theater 3000, one of the top ten TV shows of all time!
TV Wheel, on the other hand, wasssss... an interesting idea which should have been abandoned early in pre-production. Unfortunately it wasn't. Fortunately almost nobody saw it.
The idea was simply to put a rotating camera at the center of a stage so that several comedy sketches could be performed consecutively without any edits or breaks. The camera would simply rotate and point to the next set as each previous one ended. Or maybe it was the stage that rotated and the camera stayed fixed.
Either way though, big deal? This was hardly anything innovative. Multiple-group concerts have used rotating 'playing/tearing down/setting up' style stages for years. Ok, so maybe it was a new thing to use for sketch comedy.
But even if it was, a-rotating-stage-does-not-a-comedy-make. The performers and their material were at best, sophomoric, and at worst, really, really, terribly unfunny. So in the end the whole thing was kind of a waste of time and effort.
Oh well. Like I said, even most of the fans of MST3K never saw this flop. And believe me, you don't want to. TV Wheel made the KTMA MST3Ks look like a Kubrick film.
Space: 1999 (1975)
Season one good, season two bad...
Actually, when I first watched this show in the 70s I was all of ten years old. So I thought the 1st season was terrible and the 2nd great!
Watching it years later I saw things a bit clearer. The first year had an effective, original, dark, creepiness to it. The whole idea of the moon being blown out of orbit and traveling to other worlds is so ridiculous that you just had to ignore the (lack of) hard science and concentrate on something else (i.e. very atmospherey scripts). The first season pulled this off, mostly.
The second season, well, the title should have been changed to 'Lost in Space: 1999'. The whole dark, forboding theme was completely dumped in favor of a guy-in-a-rubber-monster-suit theme. The totally focus-group derived, action-figure-ready character of Maya was introduced. She was a super-hero for the kids, a strong female role for women, and (most importantly) nice eye-candy for the guys. Mostly though, she was just silly (as was the show in general at this point).
The only real value the show has now is as nostalgia for people who saw it as kids and to see how different it is (worse or better) from how they remembered it...
Aqua Teen Hunger Force (2000)
One of the funniest things on TV!
This cartoon, like most of Cartoon Networks 'Adult Swim' block of non-kid animation, is, as Carl of Aqua Teen might say, "Freakin' hilarious to the bejesus!"
Ostensibly they're superheroes in the form of a McDonalds' Happy Meal. Frylock is the brains, Meatwad is the heart, and Shake, well, Shake's just a jerk! They spend little time actually fighting crime. Mostly they just argue with each other. And with Carl their white trash neighbor who refers to them variously as, "Mr. food monster" or just "you freaks!"
Some of the villians have been: The Ra-bot, a giant mechanical bunny out to avenge animal testing (sort of), leprechauns who try to steal gold from people via the Internet, Mothman monster, who just wants Shake to turn the Shake-signal back on, Atari 2600 aliens from the moon(!) who think they're bad-ass but are just incredible jerks (Shake likes them!)
Some people just won't get it, but if you like Spaceghost Coast to Coast you will love this show! As I said, one of the funniest things on TV right now (which means it will probably get canceled).