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Sep 212016
 

Although I’m not hugely into The Brady Bunch, I found the animated series The Brady Kids: The Complete Animated Series (1972-1973) rather interesting. It’s about the adventures of the Brady siblings, Greg, Peter, Bobby, Marcia, Jan, and Cindy. Whether it’s about traveling back in time to ancient Greece or encountering superheroes like Superman and Wonder Woman, the adventures are more magical than the sitcom.

The original actors who played the six children on The Brady Bunch (Barry Williams, Christopher Knight, Mike Lookinland, Maureen McCormick, Eve Plumb, and Susan Olsen) voice their characters on this show. However, Mr. and Mrs. Brady along with Alice the housekeeper do not appear.

What are also different are the story lines being more watered down. For example, the often mentioned jealously Jan has over Marcia’s popularity is never an issue. You can really tell it’s a kids show that way.

Many of the mishaps that occur are often caused by Marlon the talking mynah bird. He is a wizard who can cast spells but they often go wrong.

Other animal characters include Ping and Pong the pandas. They can speak also, but only in gibberish. I’m sure that it was meant to sound like Chinese since panda bears are from China.

Then there’s Mop Top the dog. I can’t help but think that he has a very striking resemblance to Hotdog from the old Archie cartoons.

Image result for the archie show

Speaking of the old Archie cartoons, the animation style is very much the same. I can especially tell during the musical numbers. The repetitive movements the Brady Kids make when they perform are just like in The Archie Show and Archie’s Funhouse. It’s really quite interesting if you think about it.

There are a few other human characters created for this show, like reoccurring antagonist Chuck White. He’s very self-absorbed and tends to cheat and sabotage others on many occasions. Chuck also acts macho, but the sound of his voice, as well as his mannerisms, remind me of Yogi Bear.

The other characters are Fleetwood, who is easygoing, and Babs a pretty redhead who likes Greg. Oddly, Greg doesn’t feel the same way about her.

I enjoyed this series, mainly for its catchy songs and similarity to The Archie Show. Now if I were to compare The Brady Kids to The Brady Bunch, I would always prefer the animated version because it’s so much easier to follow.

Sep 142016
 

Sometimes when I go DVD shopping, I find a group of DVDs that are very cheap, which look like a good deal. They’re usually old movies I never heard of before, or a series of cartoons from as early as the 1930s. On a rare occasion I find old Anime features that look interesting. One such feature is Solar Adventure.

The story line is a little hard to follow, but here’s what I can make from it. The country is divided into two zones, the North and the South, and the two sides are always at war with each other. The North wants to live under communism and the South doesn’t. After the way some of the North soldiers beat on a couple of kids, you can tell that they mean business.

The main focus is on a group of young students and their teacher on a nature study field trip, caught in the middle of things. Oddly, none of their names are mentioned, which makes it hard to identify the heroes.

Originally, this movie is featured in live action, but then goes to Anime without notice when a couple of alien children arrive along with a group of spaceships that transform into robots.

That’s right. These robots are like Transformers, but have to be piloted using emotional wavelengths. I’m not kidding. These robots look like they were taken straight from The Transformers animated series from the 80s. It’s hard to see past that.

The main villain is Siporta the space conqueror. He has teamed up with the northern communists as a way to take over the universe. Siporta may only be a one-dimensional villain, but at least his name is revealed unlike the other characters.

The action is nothing more than what you would find in a war movie, even with the robots, which is unfortunate.

This wasn’t a bad movie. The music was good, along with its level of adventure. As a war movie, it’s okay, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Much of the dialogue is very blunt and the pacing is so slow that it makes the feature feel longer than it really is. On the plus side, it’s always interesting to explore Anime titles. You never know if you’ll find a gem among them.

Sep 072016
 

It’s true that there are quite a few movie versions of Snow White, but there are seldom any versions that take place after the events of the classic fairytale. One such feature is Happily Ever After.

After the Wicked Queen’s death, the demonic creatures that served her run amok as though they are glad to not have a ruler anymore. Then who would expect that the queen had a brother? He’s a wizard named Lord Maliss, who is just as evil if not worse. It seems so strange that he just popped in at the castle when he did.

Image result for happily ever after 1993

For added comic relief, another villain that’s commonly featured is Scowl the Owl (voice of Ed Asner) and his friendly companion Batso. Scowl tries to help out Maliss, but ends up bumbling everything. It’s like he’s trying too hard to be evil. Of course the real distraction is that Scowl is always smoking a cigar. It’s so annoying. Who ever heard of an owl that smokes all the time.

As for Snow White, she and her Prince (who is unnamed for some reason) are on their way to get married only to be attacked by Maliss, who has the ability to turn into a dragon at will. By the way, Maliss desires revenge for what happened to his sister.

You might expect the Looking Glass to be creepy, but it really isn’t. That’s mainly because Dom DeLuise, who I can always expect to be funny, voices the role.

With the Prince captured, Snow White seeks out the seven dwarves for help. Unfortunately, they’re no where to be found. Instead, Snow White finds their cousins, the seven Dwarfelles, who are female dwarves with magical powers related to nature. They are Muddy, Sunburn, Blossom, Marina, Critterina, Moonbeam, and little Thunderella. Like the dwarves, these ladies are named after their personalities as well as their powers.

The Dwarfelles’ power comes from Mother Nature (voice of Phyllis Diller). I’ve seen versions of Mother Nature on The Smurfs and on Christmas specials about the Miser Brothers and I’ll tell you, this version is not one to take lightly, especially when she threatens to take away the Dwarfelles’ powers for making mistakes. Since Mother Nature does make mistakes herself, it sounds a bit hypocritical.

Along the way to Lord Maliss’s castle, Snow White finds a strange humanoid called the Shadow Man, who looks like he could be a character from He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. Snow White believes he’s good, but the Dwarfelles don’t. Could it be because he looks different, or that he doesn’t speak? Either way, I think the Shadow Man could be a good guy that’s just misunderstood.

This was an interesting movie with its level of fairytale adventure. You can really tell that Snow White has grown in skill since her previous adventure in the woods. She’s braver and more resourceful, but could there be any other relatives wanting revenge for the Wicked Queen?

Aug 312016
 

It’s nice to look back on old game shows on occasion. One I haven’t thought of in a long time was Remote Control (1987-1990), which was MTV’s first original non-musical show. It was hosted by Ken Ober and featured Colin Quinn as the announcer/sidekick. This was long before he became a cast member on Saturday Night Live.

The object of the game is simple. Three contestants sit in lounge chairs and select one of nine channels on a big screen TV answering questions about TV trivia from shows that were from the 60s and 70s. Looking back now, it feels outdated, unless you grew up watching shows like Bewitched, All in the Family, and Hogan’s Heroes.

Some categories were performance-driven with reoccurring characters. For instance, in the category Celebrity Square (Parody of Hollywood Squares), a celebrity (often played by John Ten Eyck) was asked a question and the contestants won points by agreeing or disagreeing. This version only used one square because MTV supposedly couldn’t afford all nine, as is always mentioned.

You might find this interesting. Adam Sandler used to be on Remote Control, before Saturday Night Live, as reoccurring character Stud Boy. He was a heartthrob who dated many famous women. As he describes one, it’s up to the contestants to guess who she is.

The most popular category is Sing Along with Colin, which focuses on music trivia. Colin Quinn would sing the lyrics to a song and once he stopped the contestants would guess the next line. It sounds awesome because what’s an MTV show without referencing music videos. However, you should keep in mind that Remote Control was from the late 80s, long before stars like Eminem, 50 Cent, and Britney Spears became a huge part of the music scene. So this would be more old school material.

Occasionally a contestant would run across a negative channel, which takes away points. Ones like Home Shopping Zone that sells useless products and reoccurring character Ranger Bob, who is a thickheaded park ranger offering camping safety tips. That is some funny stuff.

The part I remember best is Off the Air. After the two rounds end, the contestant with the lowest score is out of the game in a very elaborate setup. Each chair moves backward. The one on the left flipped upside down, the one in the center went through a brick wall leaving a hole, and the one on the right went through a revolving wall showing a garden hose hanging. There were times when the chair returned with a skeleton in place of the contestant, which freaked me out at first. Then I wondered what became of the contestant. Eventually, I came to the conclusion that they were riding back to the audience, like a Disney ride. That may not be entirely accurate, but one thing is for sure. The contestant was unharmed.

After a lightning round, the winner has a final challenge. The one I remember best was the Wheel of Jeopardy, when the contestant is strapped to a horizontal wheel with ten monitors all around. Each monitor has a TV question. Depending on how many questions are answered correctly increases the chances of winning the grand prize. When the wheel stops spinning, his/her head is the pointer. It’s so much better than identifying artists in nine different music videos playing simultaneously.

Like many game shows, after the series ends, the repeats are very hard to find. (There are some on YouTube.) However, I didn’t get the full grasp of the show until I found Remote Control the NES game. I’ll admit that it’s not as exciting as the game show itself, but for NES standards the game is quite good, even though there is no end round.

This was a good game show for its comedy and creativity. However, it was hard to keep track of since it never had a steady time slot. Looking back now, MTV programming has changed a lot since the 80s.

Aug 242016
 

Shortly after I became interested in Vincent Price movies like The Raven and The Comedy of Terrors, the next one I saw was The Fall of the House of Usher, which is a much darker drama in the ways of horror.

It’s about Philip Winthrop (Mark Damon) who travels to the House of Usher to see his fiancée Madeline (Myrna Fahey). This house is a desolate mansion near a murky swamp past a dark forest. As creepy as the scenery is, Philip intends to take Madeline away from all that.

The only problem is Madeline’s brother Roderick (Vincent Price), her only living relative. He believes that the entire Usher bloodline is tainted since every relative was an evildoer consumed by madness and it must not continue.

Roderick also has sensitive hearing, which is why even the tiniest loud noise is too much for him to handle. I can remember this being spoofed on Elvira’s Haunted Hills. Looking back now, I’m actually surprised that Roderick never put pillows over his ears, among other things.

Roderick tries to warn Philip and get him to leave for his own safety, but Philip refuses. Now throughout the rest of the movie, Phillip struggles to deal with the haunting disasters of the house and being able to get Madeline to go with him. That even includes making Philip think she’s dead, even though she’s really cataleptic.

The pacing slows down at this point. All that really stands out, other than the climax, is when Philip falls asleep and dreams that he’s in the lower level of the house that’s all foggy. Then enters a room filled with ghouls.

This was a good movie with an interestingly simple horror story. There was a remake but it was nothing like this one. The early 60’s certainly were a great time for Edgar Allan Poe based moves.