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May 202011
 

“Aarrgh!” With the premiere of the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean film, I decided to post a list of my top ten favorite pirates in pop culture, who have all left their marks as top plunderers of the sea.

#10) Pirate Ghosts from Garfield’s Halloween Adventure: Very little is known about these characters, only that they buried their treasure inside a house and vowed to return in 100 years to retrieve it. The pirates did come for the treasure and chase Garfield and Odie because they witnessed it. Those pirates were never seen or heard from again after that.

#9) Divatox (Hilary Shepard Turner) from Power Rangers Turbo: This female pirate and her crew come from outer space to raid riches and reign terror on the galaxy. Divatox’s pirate ship is actually a submarine with torpedoes that are used to make her henchmonsters giant-sized, which is a signature tactic with every Power Rangers arch villain. Divatox is highly emotional. Whatever the outcome of her evil plans, she gets very angry, very joyful, or very smug. Divatox never fights her own battles, but she has her ways.

#8) Black Jackson the pirate (Glenda Jackson) from The Muppet Show: In season five when Glenda Jackson made a guest appearance, she somehow becomes a pirate captain who takes over the theater. With the help of her pirate crew, Black Jackson turns it into a ship and they search for buried treasure. While out at sea, Black Jackson and her crew also like to sing and dance, even while battling with cannons.

#7) Long John Silver (Tim Curry) from Muppet Treasure Island: He was a ship cook, who befriends Jim Hawkins throughout the voyage to Treasure Island, only to find out that he is a dangerous pirate. Yet, Long John has a soft spot for young Jim, which makes him a pirate with honor.

#6) Captain James Hook from Peter Pan: There are quite a few versions of this pirate that I remember well. On Disney’s Peter Pan, Hook is as suave as he is wicked. What really stands out is his fear of the crocodile that loves the taste of him after Peter Pan fed Hook’s hand to it. Hook really freaks out whenever that crocodile arrives for a handout. In the sequel Return to Neverland, an octopus craves him. What is Hook flavored with, that sea creatures love so much?

Then in Peter Pan and the Pirates, I thought Tim Curry did a great job voicing the role of Peter Pan’s arch foe. This is also the only version of Hook who would use Shakespearean references to express his emotions.

Shortly afterward came Dustin Hoffman’s version on Hook, who is more merciless than ever. He kidnaps Peter Pan’s children for his own and he actually kills those who oppose him. How low can a pirate get?

And lastly on Shrek the Third, Hook is a piano player at a tavern called The Poison Apple. He has a pirate crew, but they prefer to attack on land instead of the sea, equipped with cannons and a piano that the captain plays while the crew fights.

#5) Captain Bones from Crashbox: Normally pirate captains, even dead ones, would have a crew but this one is a loner on a ship that’s been marooned for a long time. Captain Bones doesn’t haunt the ship. He merely tries to occupy his time by making math puzzles out of his own bones. As Captain Bones presents them, he insults those who can’t figure them out. Now there’s a pirate who has to pull himself together frequently.

#4) Davy Jones (Bill Nighy) from Pirates of the Caribbean 2 and 3: The name “Davy Jones” is often mentioned among pirates and sailors alike as a term for drowning at sea. In this franchise, Davy Jones is a cursed pirate captain that’s half-man and half-squid. He’s a soul collector, who likes to play the organ with the tentacles on his face. Now I understand the term better, which includes Davy Jones’s locker. Pirates don’t come any creepier than this character.

#3) Long John Scarechrome from Ghostbusters (1986 version): This pirate ghost is known as the sailor of the seven galaxies. Unlike other pirates, Long John is crafty with his high-tech weapons in his walking stick and steel leg. Even his ghost ship has satellites on the sails, laser cannons, and rockets to travel through space. It makes you wonder what kind of pirate Long John was when he was alive.

#2) Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) from Pirates of the Caribbean: Here’s a pirate who is like no other. He is both roguish and charming, despite that the ladies keep slapping him. Jack pillages and plunders, but he also has honor and a sense of humor. Sometimes it’s difficult to figure out which side he’s on, but you gotta love this guy.

#1) Morgan Adams (Geena Davis) from Cutthroat Island: This resourceful pirate is my most favorite. She is highly skilled and knows how to take charge, like a warrior woman. Morgan is also witty, even in a dangerous situation. She has killed many pirates in battle, but Morgan is tougher than most and fights with honor. It would’ve been nice to see this classic heroine on some of her other adventures, as great as she is.

May 182011
 

Part of The Banana Splits Show (1968-1970), which is now on the Bommerang channel, includes the pirate adventure saga Danger Island. Archeologist Dr. Edwin Hayden (Frank Aletter), his young assistant Link (Jan-Michael Vincent), and pretty daughter Leslie (Ronne Troup) search in the uncharted South Pacific for the lost city of Tobanya, only to end up captured by Captain Mu-Tan (Victor Eberg) and his pirate crew. They also want to go to Tobanya because there’s a lost treasure there.

Link manages to escape, but the pirates blow up Dr. Hayden’s ship. As Link swims for shore, he wrestles a small shark and gets away. I’m impressed that Link showed no fear. Then when he makes it to shore, he fights off a cheetah with his bare hands without any scratches. Now that’s unrealistic.

After that, Link meets two other castaways, Elihu Morgan (Rockne Tarkington) and Chongo (Kim Kahana). Now Chongo is a funny character. He can only speak with a series of wild birdcalls and is highly mischievous. That’s what usually leads to the catchphrase, “Uh oh, Chongo!”

Later, Morgan explains to Link that he and Chongo were merchant mariners before a typhoon caused their ship to go off course, then Mu-Tan and his pirates raided them. Unfortunately, they’re not the only enemies to worry about. Headhunters also inhabit the island. They always attack as a group and surround their victims. Surprisingly, they’re easier to fight off then the pirates are.

The battle scenes are more comedic than violent. Occasionally, when there’s an exciting stunt, it reverses and replays several times. It takes away the impact a little bit, but still makes for a neat effect.

Meanwhile, Mu-Tan and his crew bring Dr. Hayden and Leslie to the island so they can lead the pirates to Tobanya and the treasure. Luckily, Link, Morgan, and Chongo find them all at the shore. The pirates retreat for now and Dr. Hayden and Leslie get rescued. Later, it’s revealed that the reason behind Dr. Hayden’s expedition is not about the treasure. Dr. Hayden’s brother went to look for Tobanya five years ago and never came back. Now the five of them work together to go find him, if he’s still alive.

While following a map, which belonged to Dr. Hayden’s brother, Morgan, Link, Leslie, Chongo, and Dr. Hayden face several different perils, which include a deadlier group of natives called the Skeleton Men, and of course Mu-Tan and his crew are not far behind.

After even more perils the island has to offer, Morgan, Link, Leslie, Chongo, and Dr. Hayden find Tobanya and what happened to Dr. Hayden’s brother. Unfortunately, the Skeleton Men along with Mu-Tan arrive also. The only way the natives will set them free is for Link to win a tug-a-war match against Mu-Tan over a lion pit. Link does win in a clever way and the Skeleton Men free the heroes with a warning. If they ever return, they die.

The adventure doesn’t end here though. Mu-Tan and his crew recapture Morgan, Link, Leslie, Chongo, and Dr. Hayden and force them to take them back to Tobanya for the treasure. This also means that the Skeleton Men will keep their promise to kill them for returning. So this makes how many times the heroes have been surrounded?

Danger Island was only featured in pieces at a time, (36 parts at 5 minutes each to be exact). Altogether it’s a great saga with Hanna-Barbera style adventure. The reason I say that is because it has plenty of cartoon sound effects and I recognize the musical score from other Hanna-Barbera shows.

May 162011
 

We all know the story of Peter Pan. I first heard about the story with the Disney movie version. Then when the series, Fox’s Peter Pan and the Pirates (1990-1991) came along, I came to understand the characters and story line so much better.

The Peter Pan in this version is quite a bit different from others, mostly that he wears no hat and the scabbard for his dagger is strapped to his ankle instead of his belt. However, Peter is still the same when it comes to adventure. He’s headstrong and a total showoff with his flying ability.

Peter Pan’s allies include Wendy, John, and Michael, along with the Lost Boys, who are much easier to recognize because they only wear animal hats instead of full animal outfits.

And of course, let’s certainly not forget Tinkerbell. She’s Peter’s trusted sidekick and is highly knowledgeable when the others are facing a new dangerous threat in Never Land. However, she usually doesn’t go along on the missions because she chooses not to.

The archenemies are Captain Hook and his pirate crew. Tim Curry voices the role of Hook, who is more complex in this series. Oddly, the hook is on the wrong hand. Of course he’s well known for losing sword fights against Peter’s little dagger, but Hook also tends to share his interest in Shakespeare.

Then the battles usually end with Peter crowing like a rooster and addressing Hook as Captain Codfish, Admiral Anchovy, or Commander Kipper. That only makes Hook angry and determined to plot his revenge, even though Peter is never worried.

Usually the only pirate in Hook’s crew that’s well-known is First Mate Mr. Smee, who is the most loyal. In this series, the other pirates become known more easily. They include, Mr. Mullins who has a Brooklyn accent, Mr. Cookson the ship’s cook, Mr. Mason the carpenter and strongman, Mr. Starkey the sophisticated gentleman, and Mr. Jukes the ship’s gunner.

Peter isn’t much for memory when he has adventures because he always forgets them after they’re over in order to prepare for the next one. I guess part of never growing up means not learning anything from experience. I don’t know if that’s just sad or foolish.

Never Land has many amazing places. I’m not just talking about the mermaids and Indian tribe. There’s also ice caves, the Cavern Wherever which snatches misplaced items of all sorts, and others.

This is a good show filled with adventure and excitement. One thing I don’t understand with the sword battles is that the Lost Boys fight with swords made of wood, which are usually no match for real pirate swords. It’s strange enough that Peter only uses a tiny dagger.

Apr 252011
 

Now here’s a clever game show that features classic video game titles on a completely different level. It’s called Nickelodeon Arcade (1991-1992), hosted by Phil Moore.

Two teams of contestants move Mikey, the video adventurer, across a game board on the screen one square at a time. I think he was based on Mike, the young hero on the NES video game Star Tropics, who had a yo-yo as a weapon.

Each square contains puzzles, trivia, prizes, points, video challenges, and an enemy. Depending on which land Mikey goes to in Mikey’s World is the enemy Mikey has to face, who could be hiding anywhere. However, the enemy attacks are very mild and repetitive, but I still find them interesting.

Those enemies include a Witchdoctor who blows Mikey up like a balloon with a voodoo doll, a Dragon that burns Mikey’s butt, and Smooch Aliens that like to kiss on Mikey.

Then there are more intense enemies like a Ghost that scares Mikey away, a Djinni who turns Mikey into a chicken, and a Hammerhead Shark that pounds Mikey into a coin with his big nose.

And let’s not forget the more lame enemies like Game Over the Bully who creams Mikey with a pie. (Real bullies are more brutal than that.) Blackboard the Pirate who threatens Mikey with a ruler. (No, not as a paddle.) And Silly the Kid who is a baby cowboy with baby bottle pistols. (Need I say more about this character?)

The video challenges are also great because they feature video games from Generation X like, Sonic the Hedgehog, Super Ghouls and Ghosts, Battle Toads, and others.

In the final round, the winning team goes into the video zone. That’s when the contestants are the characters in a video game, which really sounds like fun. There are three levels. Each contestant goes through one, then they both take on a game wizard. It could be Merlock the lighting wizard, Scorcha the fire sorceress, or Mongo the armored strongman. (Not to be confused with Mongo from Blazing Saddles.)

To defeat him/her, all you have to do is steal the wizard’s three orbs floating around, which sounds simple. Even though there’s a life meter and unlimited continues, the only true “Game Over” is the time limit because the contestants only have 60 seconds to get through it all.

Video games have really changed since the 90s. That’s probably why I still find this game show a classic. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was considered retro now.

Mar 252011
 

The Dungeons & Dragons game hasn’t looked more adventurous than on The Gamers: Dorkness Rising. A group of friends, Cass (Brian Lewis), Leo (Scott C. Brown), and Gary (Christian Doyle) struggle with a gaming campaign with Lodge (Nathan Rice) as storyteller. Lodge has the story module figured out, but he doesn’t know how to put it together based on how the characters keep dying. I have never seen anyone take these role-playing games so seriously before.

The four of them decide to make new characters and add a fifth player, Cass’s ex-girlfriend Joanna (Carol Roscoe). Joanna is Daphne the charismatic warrior, Cass is Brother Silence the kung fu monk, Leo is Flynn the perverse bard, Lodge is Sir Osric the noble warrior, and Gary is Luster the wild sorceress. He inspires the look from his hot math teacher (Jennifer Page).

The quest begins with King Erasmus (John Frank Rosenblam) telling the heroes about the evil Mort Kemnon (Geoff Gibbs) and intending to use the Mask of Death to take over the world. Their mission is to kill Kemnon and retrieve the mask so its evil won’t spread. It sounds simple enough. However, Joanna seems to be the only one, who is true to her character, which is exactly what Lodge looks for in his campaign.

I must say that this quest is not only adventurous, it’s also hilarious. Flynn likes to seduce every attractive woman he can find and Luster is chaotic and gender confused. She also tends to use strong spells against N.P.C.s (non-player characters) when they’re not necessary. Even Brother Silence has his comedic moments. Don’t you just love these guys?

One major disadvantage for Flynn on this quest is that he’s not a warrior, which means he gets killed… many times. Luckily, the heroes have the staff of resurrection. Leo should have thought of that before choosing to be a bard. On the other hand, he has become a character that you just can’t get rid of.

The battle scenes are exciting. After fighting off a group of goblins, which Daphne practically killed single-handedly, the team stops at an inn to rest, where they face Kemnon’s zombie ninjas. What Dungeons & Dragons adventure wouldn’t have that kind of a scene? It feels more complete that way.

The heroes camp for the night and the adventure is on hold. Meanwhile, a group of pirates fight ninjas with pizzas in an office building. At first it looked like a random scene that was just thrown in. Then it’s revealed that Lodge was merely showing Joanna a different kind of board game. “Everything’s better with pirates.” Not bad for an intermission.

The next morning, the adventure resumes. The only one who can find Kemnon is the death demon Drazuul (Tallis Moore and voice of Steve Wolbrecht), who has taken over the town of West Haven. The heroes go there to investigate. They soon find Drazuul and zombies of the dead villagers. Luster decides to do a spell to stop them, but it takes concentration. So the others try to keep the zombies at bay, including Flynn’s 50 clones.

After going through a creepy mine, it all comes down to the ultimate showdown against Kemnon. However, he’s not alone, which makes the battle more intense. Kemnon has bodyguards who look extremely familiar. Other new surprises are also featured, including… a light saber? And a giant cat?

This is a terrific movie with Dungeons & Dragons fantasy. Although the story tends to go in and out of the quest itself, the hilarity is great all the way.