Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Three Stooges--Three Little Beers

Three Little Beers is the final stooge short made in 1935.  As with the final short of the previous year, Three Little Pigskins,  the title is a play on an old children’s story and features the stooges playing a sport they know nothing about.  They managed to pull this one off without any injuries, however, so there is a bonus.

The stooges are gainfully employed for once as deliverymen at Panther Pilser Brewery.  Panther Pilser is a play on the old phrase that bad beer is “panther p*ss.”  Stooge shorts had a way of slipping in some off color stuff, no?  The trio fin a flyer announcing a golf tournament in which the top prize is $100.  Even though they know nothing about golf, the stooges sneak into the country club to play in the tournament.

You can guess the results.  Moe creates a field of divots with his inept swings.  Curley decides to do his laundry in the ball washer and chops a tree down in order to get his lost ball out of it.  Larry begins pulling up a seemingly never ending root blocking his swing until he tears up a huge chunk of the green.  In response, they are chased off by management and security. 

The stooges escape in their delivery truck, but lose the barrels of beer when they reach a steep hill.  The three wind up battered by beer barrels in some impressive stunt work, particularly larry’s fall from a tree, and wind up stuck in wet cement.

The 1935 series of shorts started out slow, but end on a high note.  Three Little Beers has funny moments throughout, but the end sequence with the beer barrels rolling down the street after the stooges is the hilarious highlight.  The stunt work is extremely impressive.  How the boys did not get hurt performing them is beyond me.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Kaley Cuoco

Thursday is (usually) Kaley Cuoco Day.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Three Stooges--Hoi Polloi

Hoi Polloi, an ancient Greek term for the masses, is one of the most famous Stooge shorts.  It is the first of several homage to George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion.   The idea of taking some lower class citizens and turning them into gentlemen is a natural fit for the Stooges.   So natural, in fact, the story idea was suggested by one of their wives.  Moe’s wife, Helen, came up with the idea.  She was offered money or story credit for its use.  She shrewdly chose the former.

Professor Richmond makes a $10,000 bet with Professor Nichols that he can turn three low class individuals into gentlemen in the belief that environment trumps hereditary.  They run into the Stooges as inept garage men and Richmond has his three subjects.  He also has his work cut out for him. 

The Stooges demonstrate their usual lack of grace at the dinner table, in polite conversation, reading, and at dancing lessons.  The dancing lesson with Geneva Mitchell is considered one of the funniest stooge moments.  Mitchell informs the trio to do exactly as she does. But when a bee flies into her dress, the stooges mistake her exaggerated attempts to et rid of it as dance moves.  With the camera sped up, they twist, jump, and flip their way under until they wind up jumping out a window and landing in a fountain outside.

The make or break point is a dinner party at which the stooges are a disaster.  Along with the usual slaps and eye pokes, Curly rips Moe’s coat via loose thread, moa and Larry collide with each other and their partners on the dance floor, curly gets stuck in a spittoon, shaves in front of a guest, and swipes a bottle of champagne.  The most famous bit is when Curly gets a spring attached to his rear end on the dance floor.

Richmond concedes his bet to Nichols.  Nichols in turn mocks the Stooges.  His wife becomes offended and slaps him.  When Richmond laughs at the slap, Nichols pops him.  Soon, everyone is beating up on everyone else in Stooge-style slapstick.  The Stooges themselves are about to depart in disgust over the behavior of the hoi polloi when Richmond and Nichols get the final drop on them. 

Hoi Polloi is full of famous scenes and big laughs.  It is the best short they have filmed thus far.  It might very well be their best short period.  The Stooges knew this.  They essentially repeated the short twice more over their careers.

Rating: ***** (out of 5)    

Kate Upton


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Three Stooges--Pardon My Scotch

Pardon My Scotch, both a reference to liquor and a now rude word for the Scottish nationality, is one of the timeliest Stooge shorts.  Filmed four months after the end of prohibition, the plot centers around a drug store unable to get a stock of liquor prior to the repeal until the Stooges accidentally create an explosive  concoction.

The Stooges are carpenters ineptly installing a door in a drug store when the esperate owner leaves them in charge while he goes to meet with his unable to deliver liquor distributor.  A representative of the distributor comes into the store dejected because he either has to come up with a supply or he is out of a job.  The stooges go in the back and randomly mix together a dangerous drink the guy winds up loving.  He invites the trio to a dinner party if they will bring another brew.

The Stooges have been mistaken for Scotsmen, so they come dressed in full Highland gear.   Typical antics ensue, including a mini-food fight and awful table manners.  The latter include Curly being attacked by a submarine sandwich for the first time.  The gag will be reused several more times in future shorts.   There is also a bit in which the Stooges are talked into doing theit native ance, prompting Curly to quip, “I ain’t taking my clothes off for nobody!”  The Hayes Code must have been more lenient than I thought.  The short ends with the keg exploding when Moe taps it.

Speaking of Moe, he is visibly injured onscreen in Pardon My Scorch.  There is a bit in which he is standing on one end of a table while Curly is sawing a board in the middle.  Naturally, curly accidentally saws the table in half in the process.  The table snaps in half, sending moe crashing to the floor.  He hit’s the right side of the table hard enough to break three ribs.  Moe is visibly in pain as he gets up and works Curly over.   Moe went to the emergency room immediately after, stopping production for a few days while he recovered enough to resume filming.

Pardon My Scotch is not exactly loaded down with laughs, but it is decent.  Why the stooges are mistaken for Scotsmen is never really explained.  They are not faking accents or making a traditional Scottish drink.  Apparently, the idea is solely to put them in odd costumes.   One woul anticipate a bigger smack down at the dinner party, as well, but the Stooges have not quite gained their reputation for massively ruining the wealth’s get togethers.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Olivia Munn


Monday, February 25, 2013

The Three Stooges--Uncivil Warriors

Uncivil Warriors is the first of many shorts in which the Stooges play soldiers.   Quite a few are set during the Civil War.   The Stooges will wind up fighting for both sides when it is all said and done.  Unfortunately, they are spies for the Union in this one instead of representing the Glorious South.  

The Stooges are enlisted Union soldiers assigned to pose as captured Confederate officers in order to gather intelligence about Confederate forces.  Designated Capt. Dodge (Moe), Lt. Duck (Larry), an Maj. Hyde (Curly),  they go behind enermy lines and infiltrate the mansion of Col. Butts.  

The Stooges manage to hide their identities cleverly for once.  Curly snatches a message away from Butts informing him of spies in the ranks and holds it over a candle while “reading” it aloud to conceal its true contents.   Larry is forced to pose as Dodge’s uncle add Curly in drag as Dodge’s wife   The gags are more like something Bugs Bunny would pull off than the usually brainless Stooges. 

The most famous sequence from Uncivil Warriors is the scene in whih Curly accidentally bakes a torn potholder into a cake.  The Stooges force themselves to eat it as best they can, but the effort ends in a mass coughing up of feathers.  The joke will later be reused in a Shemp short.   Get used to reading that statement. 

Uncivil Warriors may be famous for the potholder cake scene, but it is infamous for a racial joke.  Moe has to run off to find a baby in order to maintain his cover.  Unfortunately, all he can find is a black infant.  With the stooges now exposed as spies, Moe hands the baby to butts and quips ‘He gets really sunburned” before the Stooges dash off.  The sunburn joke is usually edited out of the televised version, but it is left in the DVD version here.  It is one of the very few race related jokes in the Stooge shorts.

Uncivil Warriors stands out as of the best Stooge shorts.  The Stooges show a rare mix of both cleverness in dealing with the antagonists and their usual brand of dumb slapstick.  The shorts in which the Stooges are battling spies or are spies themselves always seem to be a cut above the rest.

Rating: **** (out of 5)

Kelly Brook

One of Kelly Brook's best photos.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

List of Stargate Atlantis Reviews


First Season

 Rising
 Hide and Seek
 Thirty-Eight Minutes
 Suspicion
 Childhood's End
 Poisoning the Well
 Underground
 Home
 The Storm
 The Eye
 The Defiant One
 Hot Zone
 Sanctuary
Before I Sleep
The Brotherhood
 Letters from Pegasus
 The Gift
 The Siege, Part I
 The Siege, Part II

Second Season

 The Siege, Part III
 The Intruder
 Runner
 Duet
 Condemned
 Trinity
Instinct
 Conversion
 Aurora
 The Lost Boys
 The Hive
 Epiphany
 Critical Mass
 Grace Under Pressure
 The Tower
 The Long Goodbye
 Coup D'Etat
 Michael
Inferno
 Allies
Third Season

 No Man's Land
 Misbegotten
Irresistible
 Sateda
 Progeny
 The Real World
 Common Ground
 McKay and Mrs. Miller
Phantoms
 The Return, Part I
 The Return, Part II
 Echoes
 Irresponsible
 Tao of Rodney
 The Game
 The Ark
 Sunday
 Submersion
 Vengeance
 First Strike

Fourth Season

 Adrift
 Lifeline
 Reunion
 Doppelganger
 Travelers
 Tabula Rasa
 Missing
 The Seer
 Miller's Crossing
This Mortal Coil
 Be All My Sins Remember'd
 Spoils of War
 Quarantine
 Harmony
 Outcast
 Trio
 Midway
 The Kindred, Part I
 The Kindred, Part II
 The Last Man
Fifth Season
 Search and Rescue
The Seed
Broken Ties
The Daedalus Variations
Ghost in te Machine
The Shrine
Whispers
The Queen
Tracker
First Contact
The Lost Tribe
Outsiders
Inquisition
The Prodigal
Remnants
Brain Trust
Infection
Identity
Vegas
Enemy at the Gate

The Three Stooges--Pop Goes the Easel

 Pop Goes the Easel helps establish a common theme among Stooge shorts.  The trio start out as unemployed or underemployed, get into trouble somehow, and wind up among the upper class, often because of mistaken identity, where they eventually show up the elites.  The theme resonated well during the Great Depression when their earliest shorts were filmed.

The Stooges begin as vagrants.  When they have no success at finding employment, Moe suggests they take brooms from a storefront and start sweeping.  Hopefully, they will be offered a job for their hard work.  They get chased into an art school by a relentless cop for their trouble, but they hide away for a while posing as art students.

The three manage to ruin various legitimate art projects while evading the cop.  The stooges appear in drag for the first time as a disguise.  The short ens with a massive modeling clay fight involving all parties in the art school, from the Stooges to the students to browsing patrons.  The fight is reminiscent of famous stooge pie fights to come.  The shorts ends as the third in a row in which the stooges are knocked unconscious.  Not much on originality, no?

In the initial scene in which the stooges are running from the cop, all four engage in the classic gag of stepping through wet cement in front of an exasperated worker.  They also run by two little girls playing hopscotch in which they play as they pass by them.  The two little girls are Moe’s daughter, Joan, an Larry’s daughter, Phyllis. 

Pop Goes the Easel is famous for its climactic clay fight, but little else.  But that is still enough to make it one of the better shorts out there.  It introduces gags like Moe holding out his hand an asking Larry or Curly to hit it, causing his hand to spin around and bonk them on the head.  That gag never gets old. 

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Kristen Stewart


Saturday, February 23, 2013

Full Metal Jacket Reach Around #175

It is time once again to round up all the bloggers gracious enough to link to me this week.

 Randy's Roundtable links to Jennifer Lawrence.
Proof Positive links to Bar Refaeli, Kaley Cuoco, and Helena Mattsson.
Motor City Times links to Herman Cain Joins FOX News.
Pirate's Cove links to Amanda Seyfried and FMJRA #174.
The Other McCain links to Amanda Seyfried.
Woodsterman acknowledges the Rule 5.
Sport Balla links to Danicka Patrick Wins Daytona 500 Pole.

A sincere thank you to all who linked this week.  If you linked to me in the last week, but I do not have you here, you unfortunately fell through the cracks of Technorati, Google Blog Search, and Sitemeter. Please drop me a note in the comments and I will update with your link.

Stargate Atlantis--"Enemy at the Gate"

“Enemy at the Gate” is the final episode of Stargate Atlantis.   We finally arrive at it months later than originally planned.  Darn that burst diverticula, no?   There is a general feeling I have been doing little more than phoning these in for three weeks now, so why do we not hurry up and get it over with, all right?

Todd, who has cured himself with an Iratus bug, contacts Atlantis with the news a rival Wraith has swiped a ZPM from him, modified a Hive ship, and has learned the location of Earth from the signal sent from the alternate Las Vegas.  Our heroes have no choice but to trust him.  The ZPM Hive makes short work of Daedalus and Apollo on its way to Earth.  Sheppard is called back to Earth as part of its efense as Atlantis uses another of Todd’s ZPM to pursue.

Sam and Maj. “Disaster” Davis gather in Earth’s deense.  Lorne joins AR-1 in sneaking aboar the Hive ship when it drops out of hyperspace halfway to Earth for…refueling?  I do not know.  They make up an excuse because the Hive cannot engage in a cullin or dramatic reasons.  Firefights ensue.  Ronon dies only to be revived by a Wraith for interrogation.  X302 fighters engage in a special effects laden dog fight.  Atlantis arrives in the nick of time to destroy the Hive ship before crashing into san Francisco Bay.

That, folks, is the end.  A straight to DVD film was supposed to wrap up the Wraith culling Pegasus storyline, but that is not going to happen at this point.  Use your imagination.   

As a digression, you really have to wonder about Todd.    A few episodes back, he jumped to the wrong conclusion about being betrayed and stole Daedalus.  he gets his entire crew killed working with Michael’s genetic modifications.  Then he hands over a ZPM  to another Wraith in order to modify a Hive ship.  The other Wraith promptly screws him over and steals the  uber-Hive ship.  In seeking revenge, Todd winds up stranded on Earth where he is going to starve to death as a prisoner because no one is going to give him a human to consume.  Todd is pretty much an idiot, is he not? 

It is funny how the episode features virtually every major character in at least one scene to the extent it is almost funny how much credibility is stretched to justify the cameo.  Keep this in mind when realizing we do not catch even a limpse of the Wraith attacking earth until the final act and then he is on screen for less than a minute beore being killed by AR -1.  Kind of bad form, that.

Nevertheless, “Enemy at the Gate” is a worthy conclusion to the series.  I would call it a much better send off than SG-1 received from its final episode.  The story is sufficiently large and, unlike most of the season, not lost in an ocean of overwhelming special effects.  Some of the character appearances are forced, but that is a minor complaint. The biggest flaw?  Ronon should have died.  His sacrifice would have given the episode some emotional punch.

As far as series conclusions go, “Enemy at the Gate” is satisfying.  This show should have been treated better than only being allowed five seasons.

Rating: **** (out of 5)

The Three Stooges--Restless Knights

Restless Knights is obviously another Stooge period piece.  It is set in in the 17th century.  It is also the first of their shorts that I have not enjoyed.  For whatever reason, Restless Knights just does not click.

The stooges are brothers called into their dying ather’s room to hear a confession--they are of noble blood.  Moe is the Fife of Drum, Larry is the Duke of Mixture, and Curly is Baron (Barren) of Brain.  They are charged by the father to protect the Queen of Anesthesia, who is being plotted against by the evil prime minister.  The Stooges become her royal guard, but she is kidnapped anyway when they are distracted.  They escape execution and save the queen from her imprisonment in the wine cellar.

Barren of Brain is an appropriate title for Restless Knights.  There is not much here to keep the viewer interested.  There is a wrestling sequence in the middle that rags the short with its lack of amusing antics.  The short ends abruptly with the rescued queen and the stooges knocking themselves unconscious.  Not the most creative conclusion, no?

I will give props to some jokes featured, however.  Or once, they top the slapstick.  For example:

 MOE: Hold on a minute, now! Ain't there another way we can die?
 ARCHER: You may either have your head cut off, or be burned at the stake!
 LARRY: Cut my head off!
 CURLY: Not me, I'd rather be burned at the stake!
 LARRY: Why?
 CURLY: A hot steak is better than a cold chop!

Now that is funny.  But it is one of the only funny bits.  Restless Knights is considerably shorter than previous Stooge offerings.  Consider the smaller length merciful.

Rating: * (out of 5) 

Christina Aguilera

Genie in a bottle? 

Friday, February 22, 2013

Stargate Atlantis--"Vegas"

I have said numerous times before I am a sucker for alternate reality stories.  I do demand they have some implications, however--witness my distaste for the DS9 Mirror Universe stories or some otherwise interesting hook.  “Vegas” is an homage to the CSI television franchise.  While I am not a fan, it appears the powers tat be got the look and feel down pat.

In this reality, Sheppard is a loser Las Vegas detective investigating nine murders that the viewer immediately recognizes as Wraith feedings.   There is a wraith on the loose.  He is playing poker in order to win enough money to buy parts for a long range transmitter he is building in a trailer out in the middle of the desert.  Sheppar is recruited by Rodney, who has left this reality’s Atlantis for Area 51 after a wraith ship crashed on earth, to hunt the poker playing Wraith down.

If that all sounds weird, believe me, it is.  “Vegas” is a serious case of a series having been cancelled, so the writers are fulfilling fantasies onscreen.   Most of our regulars are playing different roles.  Woolsey is an FBI agent, for instance.  Keller is the las Vegas coroner.  The episode is odd, but something I felt compelled to pay attention to, anyway.

I bet if I were a big CSI fan, I would like “Vegas” more.  Instead, I like it for the curiosity of it all.  It is very different, yet not so out of whack as to not be as entertaining as the series normally is.  The loud soundtrack is obnoxious.  I assume that is a CSI thing.  Learn a little about mood setting with music from Miami Vice, folks.  I do think the Wraith rocking out to Marilyn Manson is funny considering fan complaints the early wraith make up resembled Manson’s.

Tomorrow--the final episode.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

The Three Stooges--Horses' Collars

Horses’ Collars is the first of many Stooge shorts set in the Old West.    It makes sense.  Not only were horse Operas extremely popular American entertainment for many decades, but there were, in fact, a number of Jewish cowboys.

The stooges play detectives who are sent out west to recover an IOU from Double deal Decker on behalf of the beautiful Nell so she will not lose her ranch.  After an unsuccessful attempt to snatch the IOU from Decker at a saloon--the stooges wind up nearly lynched--they go to his hideout where Curly breaks into the safe for the IOU and beats up decker and his men after going crazy over seeing a mouse. 

As noted, Horses’ Collars is the first short to feature curly going crazy when he sees a mouse.  The gag is similar to him hearing “Pop Goes the Weasel” in the past.  Curly beats everyone up in a fit while shouting “Moe!  Larry! The Cheese!” until they feed him a piece to calm him down.  The gag occurs three times here.  Once as an introduction to it, once to save them from hanging, and finally to defeat Decker.

Horses’ Collars is not notable for much other than introducing the cheese gag.  There are some funny bits, particularly Curly’s sped up fistfight with Decker and his gang,  but this is an average short otherwise.  The Stooges sing a few bars of “You’ll Never Know What Tears Are” barbershop style.  That is pretty cool. 

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Jennifer Lawrence




Part of The Other McCain's Rule 5 Sunday.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Stargate Atlantis--"Identity"

It certainly seems like every Keller-centric episode has her big, brown eyes in desperate need o rescue.  “Identity” is no different.  “Identity” is not different in a lot o ways, starting with those communication stones from the parent show serving as a plot point.   The fifth season is not big on originality.

A thief named Neeva is stealing a set of communication stones shortly after Keller has touche another set found in Janus’ lab a few episodes back.  The wo find themselves in each other’s body.  Neeva has a difficult time pretening to be Keller.  Stabbing Zelenka contributes to the problem.  Keller is in prison about to be executed for Neeva’s crimes.  Neeva leads AR-1 to the planet, but her cohorts have rescued Keller thinking she is Neeva before they get there.  Everything is straightened out, but not before Keller is shot and Neeva is killed over the mistaken identities.

What can I tell you?  It is a passably enjoyable episode of Stargate Atlantis without much frills to raise it above that bar.  As with a couple episodes back, Jewel Stait shows off ample cleavage to compensate for any script shortcomings.  It works for me. 

Rating: *** (out of 5)

The Three Stooges--Three Little Pigskins

Three Little Pigskins is the final Stooge short filmed in their inaugural year at Columbia Pictures.  The stooges later declared it was the most difficult short for them to film because each got hurt.  Curly fractured his leg doing the dumbwaiter stunt.  Larry lost a tooth on a mistimed punch.  Both accidents make it on screen.  Moe got off relatively easy with a few bruises.  The trio take some serious lumps here from thugs, the thugs girlfriends, and a professional football team.

The Stooges are vagrants who get hired by a local college to promote their football team in full uniform.  After doing a good deed for an attractive woman, they are mistaken for the Three Horsemen, a parody of the famous Notre dame Four Horsemen.  She brings them back to her home as a solution to her boyfriend’s  a professional football team owner,  need to replace three of his players injured in a drunken car accident.  Trouble ensues when the Stooges are caught flirting with the three girls.  They claim to be the Three horsemen to avoid being beaten up by the boyfriend and his cohorts even though they know nothing about playing football--and it shows. 

Three Little Pigskins features a very young and naturally blonde Lucille Ball.  Larry is flirting with her.  Ball winds up squirted in the face with a water bottle for her trouble. 

As mentioned above, this short is particularly injury filled.  Curly an Larry are clearly injured onscreen.  Presumably, Moe is, too.  Bruises are less obvious than landing awkwardly on one’s leg or taking an actual punch in the face.   But the stooges were not the only ones to suffer injury.  They refused to do a stunt in which the opposing team, played by the real Loyola Marymount University football team, would dog pile on the stooges as they posed for a photo.   Stunt doubles had to be used because the Stooges refused to risk it.  Good thing, too.  Only Curly’s stunt double escaped injury because of all the padding used to make him appear to be the same size as the rotund Curly.

Everyone might have taken some undue lumps, but the finished product is one hilarious short.  The antics on the football field are great, but the highlight is the dumbwaiter gag.  Sure, it was painful for Curly, but watching the three of them fall down the shaft separately is still hilarious nearly eighty years later.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Kaley Cuoco

Thursday is (usually) Kaley Cuoco Day.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Stargate Atlantis--"Infection"

“Infection” features the end of Todd the Wraith’s story arc amid a Zombie Wraith movie.   That is pretty much the episode in a nutshell.  Like many in the fifth season, there is a lot of energy spent on eye candy, but not much on the script.  The eye candy is pretty cool, though.

Todd’s Hive ship appears in orbit with the entire crew in hibernation pods.  It turns out the serum that eliminates their need to feed on humans causes cancer.  As our heroes work on a cure, they become trapped as the ship creates new walls blocking their way in an attempt to fix the cancer.  If that was not bad enough, Wraith begin awakening with carnivorous intentions.  Ourt heroes are forced to kill them all except Todd, who remains alive to manage a crash landing on the ocean.  He departs freely as thanks and goes off in search of an Iratus bug to hopefully cure him.

A Hive ship as a floating tumor is a gross, but neat idea.  The sets and special effects are the highlight of the episode, especially the ocean splashdown.  The Zombie Wraith aspect could have been a bit more exciting.  Instead, it feels like action sequences thrown in there at the last minute out of obligation.   “Infection” is not all that bad, but it is clearly a quick storyline wrap up from a cancelled show.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

The Three Stooges--Men in Black

Men in Black is the only Stooge short to be nominate for an Academy Award for Best Short Subject-Comedy.  It is only their third short.  How is that for peaking early?

The Stooges are meical students who have been allowed to graduate because they have been in the senior class too long.  They can remain anonymous as long as they devote themselves to “duty and humanity.”  The short is a series of gags in which the stooges make mistakes treating patients while growing more annoyed at the intercom’s constant paging of “Dr. Howard! Dr. Fine! Dr. Howard!” culminating in them sewing up tools inside their supervisor after surgery and shooting the intercom with pistols.

Men in Black features the premiere of several recurring stooge gags.  First, the habit of swinging a glass door behind them, shattering it.  Second, requesting items like liquids or tools authoritatively by a nonsensical name.  Finally, the huddle in which they plan their next move.  These will happen throughout the entire 24 year run of shorts.

I think Men in Black is hilarious in many places, but do not understand the high praise for it.  There are a dozen more shorts I can think of right off hand more deserved of accolades.  The most inspired bit is the stooges returning to a storage closet before answering every call for a new method of transportation.  They use a three man cycle, a horse, and finally go carts.  It is so weird, you cannot help but laugh.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Helena Mattsson

Helena Mattsson is a swedish born actress known for science fiction and horror films. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Stargate Atlantis--"Brain Trust"

Jewel Staite wears that outfit through 98% of “Brain Trust.”  The episode also features Neil deGrasse Tyson and Bill Nye the Science Guy taking jabs at Rodney’s arrogance.  You would think with that combination, we would have a winner here.  We do not.  What is the problem?  A dumb plot and a preachy global warming lecture.

Rodney invites Keller to join him at an unveiling ceremony of the latest project by one of his rivals, Malcolm Tunney.  Tunney is played splendidly by Kids in the Hall and NewsRadio alum Dave Foley.  He is about the only highlight.  Rodney is ready to head for the hills after being needled mercilessly by Tyson and Nye, but not only stays, but becomes incensed when he realizes Tunney has stolen some of his work.

Tunnry has created some space/time techno babble device inadvertently based on one of Rodney’s Pegasus projects.  It is designed to cool the Earth down on a massive level.  Tunney demonstrates it on the building in which the scientists are currently gathered,.  In so doing, he ignores Rodney’s warnings space/time cannot be controlled.  Long story short--everyone is trapped and going to freeze to death.

It looks like it is up to Rodney to save the day, but he runs off to rescue Keller from a flooding room.  They share their first smooch ater she declares him her personal hero.  The day is actually saved by Tunney and Nye--yes, the Science Guy--by turning the darn thing off.  Well, there you go.

Staite is hot, Foley, Tyson, and Nye are funny, but “Brain Trust” just does not fly.  I am not big on global warming alarmism, nor can I get into meaningless techno babble solutions to problems.  I suppose if one is a big David Hewlett fan, seeing him in a pair of tux smooching Jewel Staite might be a thrill, but it is not enough to save “Brain Trust” from its too many dumb ideas.

Rating: ** (out of 5)   

The Three Stooges--Punch Drunks

 Punch Drunks is the second Stooge short.   The dynamic still is not quite set as the Stooges do not star out as a trio, but come together through circumstance.  However, once the three join together, typical Stooge antics ensue.  Punch Drunks establishes two famous recurring themes.  One, larry is a skilled violinist.  Two, Curley goes crazy upon hearing “Pop Goes the Weasel.” 

The short begins with Moe as a struggling boxing manager having lunch with three of his less than stellar pugilist clients.   Curly is their meek, bumbling waiter.  He remains weak only until musician Larry begins plating “Pop Goes the Weasel” on his violin.  Curly knocks out the three boxers and the restaurant owner in an uncontrollable fit.  Recognizing a sure thing, Moe becomes Curly’s manager and recruits Larry to play “Pop Goes the Weasel” at every bout.

Curly, fighting under the name KO Stradivarius, becomes the number one contender for the world championship.  Unfortunately, when he meets the current champ, Killer Kilduff, in the ring, Larry breaks his violin.  Larry goes on a mad dash through the city to fin a radio and then a truck playing “Pop Goes the Weasel” before Curly is beaten to a pulp.

There is a short detour during a less than up to rocky Balboa standars training sequence in which the stooges meet up with Dorothy Granger.  They help her get her car unstuck from a ditch.  Curly runs off with her rather than stick around for more training.  The sequence is either an excuse to show Curly going crazy yet again or to watch granger bat her eyelashes.  Either way, good job.

Best exchange:

DOROTHY: I’m in a terrible dilemma!
MOE: I don’t care for these foreign cars, myself.

Punch Drunks is the only Stooge short in which they received writing credit.  It is also the only Stooge short to be preserved by the American film Institute for its artistic and cultural merit.  Yes, really.   It is, after all, one of the most famous Stooge shorts.

Punch Drunks is one of my favorites.  It utilizes the unique talents of each one of the Stooges for full comedic effect.   The production is one of the most ambitious.  For a low budget short, everything is maximized to full effect.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Danica Patrick Wins Daytona 500 Pole

Danica Patrick raised expectations for her competitiveness against the boys of NASCAR this season by winning the pole position for the 55th running of the Daytona 500. Patrick edged out Jeff Gordon for the spot with a speed of 196.434 mph. Gordon quipped that at least he was the fastest guy. Insert the Jeff Gordon is gay joke of your choice here, should you deem it necessary.

Winning the pole does not guarantee victory. The last driver to win the Daytona 500 pole and go on to win the race was dale Jarrett in 2000. But it does have its strategic advantages and makes history. Patrick is the first woman to win a pole in NASCAR.

 I avoid any and all accusations of bandwagon jumping, so I do not want to imply I am Patrick’s biggest fan now. But I would not mind seeing her win a race like the Daytona 500 this season so she can make history. If nothing else, watching feminists’ heads explode at the prospect of the first woman to win a NASCAR race being sponsored by the risqué GoDaddy.com would be amusing.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Mindy McCready (1975-2013)

Mindy McCready was a promising young talent when she debuted back in 1995.   Her mental and emotional state subsequently took so many tragic turns it was impossible for even the people who loved her most to save her.  It was a sad thing to watch.  Yesterday, her long ordeal ended in suicide.

“10,000 Angels” was her first single and it remains my favorite.  

Stargate Atlantis--"Remnants"

The fifth season has featured many corrections of past mistakes.  These corrections have been met with varying degrees of success.  Should not have killed of Beckett?  Bring him back as a clone.  Cannot convince Torri Higginson to reprise her role?  Hire a new actress to represent her in a Replicator body.  Want to bring back the decease Kolya?  Now he is an hallucination.  It is that final one that happens in “Remnants,” and it is a pointless exercise.

The plot is that the artificial intelligence representative of a long dead silicon based civilization causes Rodney, Woolsey, and Sheppard to hallucinate zelenka, a potential love interest, and Kolya for each respectively to convince them to preserve a pod containing the knowledge of said civilization.  Such is the tall and the short of it.

Robert Davi gets to play Kolya again in all his sadistic glee, so that is a plus.  As with the last couple seasons of VOY, Robert Picardo is required to do a lot of heavy lifting.  This time,  he is in love with a fiment of his imagination.  Davi and Piaro are about the only two saving graces in an episode that does not mean muh passed the shock value of seeing Sheppard’s left hand get chopped off.  Ouch.

I am not a fan of “Remnants.”  It is nothing more than an excuse to bring back Kolya, but it is ultimately too flimsy an excuse to be worthwhile. 

Rating: ** (out of 5)

The Three Stooges--Woman Haters

The Eye has been awfully dreary over the last few months, so I am going to lighten the mood the best way I know how--with The Three Stooges Collection.  It is a boxed DVD set of all 190 shorts the stooges did for Columbia Pictures from 1934 to 1958.  One cannot expect a brainy analysis of these shorts, but we are going to have a good time writing about them regardless.

Woman Haters is the first official Three Stooges short.  As such, it is a bit unusual.  For one, the stooges are known as Tom, Jim, and Jackie rather than Moe, Larry, and Curly respectively.  ( I am going to use their real names from now on for the sake of simplicity.) The short is the fifth in a series of musical comedy shorts, so there is a jazzy theme played throughout an all the dialogue is in an AA BB CC rhyme scheme.  These elements make Woman Haters an amusing novelty, but I am glad the Stooges got to do more of their own thing in subsequent shorts.

Moe, Larry, and Curly join up with the misogynistic Woman Haters Club, thereby swearing off women forever.  Later that night over drinks, Larry says he is going to quit the club because he has found a woman he wants to marry.  Moe and Curly convince him to call of the wedding.  Before he can let Mary down easy, her father tells him that he and his two sons beat up the guy who refused to marry his fat, unattractive daughter.  Larry is forced into nuptials with Mary in order to save himself.

When the newlyweds wind up on the same train with Moe and Curly, Larry tries to pretend he is not married.  Mary overhears him, and begins flirting with Moe and Curly to disroupt their friendship.  Finally, Mary demands to be with Larry in the train’s sleeping car.  Moe and Curly take a tumble out the window as a result.  The Stooges meet up again at the woman haters club in the far future to swear off women yet again. 

The first stooges fight begins when Moe mistakenly believes Curly has given him an eye poke.  Moe retaliates.  Larry jumps in to defend Curly and gets whacked for his trouble.   Later on, Larry and Curly get into a fight on their own without Moe, which is highly unusual.

Woman Haters features a young Walter Brennan as the train conductor.  He suffers an eye poke, as well.  It goes to show starring with the Stooges is a painful experience.  It can be worse, too.  Marjorie white, who plays Laqrry’s wife, died in a car accident a year after this short was filmed.

Woman Haters has some amusing bits, but the Stooges do not feel like themselves yet.  Larry takes center stage, something that will virtually never happen in the future.  Curly is as aggressive as Moe, something else which rarely happens in the future.  Take out the two fight scenes, and this could have starred any comedy troupe.  Woman Haters is not bad, but the Stooges are too subdued in it.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Bar Refaeli

She is hot.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Stargate Atlantis--"The Prodigal"

I might have been disappointed by the inclusion of a clip show this late into the final season, but “The Prodigal” more than makes up for it.  Stargate Atlantis wraps on loose ends in spectacular fashion here.  More specifically, Michael meets his final fate after challenging our heroes with every skill at his disposal.

Michael lays seige to atlantis, cutting off power by way of a stolen jumper, in a plot to kidnap teyla’s baby for experimentation.  The episode is good, not only because it is action packed and exciting, but because each of the main characters contributes to Michael’s defeat by doing what he or she does best.  Rodney and Zalenka are the scientists attempting to regain control of Atlantis.  Ronon engages in a brutal fistfight with Michael.  Sheppard is ready to sacrifice himself in a suicide mission to prevent Michael’s escape.  It all flows beautifully.

The best part is that Teyla is the one to put an end to Michael.  Granted, she kills him in cold blood, which is not very heroic, but you know what they say about a woman scorned.  Never try to kidnap a mother’s newborn. 

I have to give major credit to writer Carl Binder for placing every character in his or her exact element.  Binder has been my favorite writer for the series.  ’The Prodigal” is a fine example why.  There are some implausible bits.  For one, Ronon falls off a balcony and endures a backbreaker on a handrail. But winds up perfectly fine.  Torren also sleeps through the entire ordeal, including during a fight in which Teyla is holding him!  Talk about a heavy sleeper, no?

“The Prodigal” is one of my favorite episodes of the season based purely on its entertainment value.  That Michael, who is as good a villain as Kolya, gets a worthy send off is icing on the cake.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Emilie de Ravin

Emilie de Ravin can look a little too punk or even goth at times, but I like her.  It is the Australian accent, methinks. 

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Full Metal Jacket Reach Around #174

It is time once again to round up all the bloggers gracious enough to link to me this week.

 Proof Positive links to Kaley Cuoco.
Pirate's Cove links to Emma Stone.
The Other McCain links to Emma Stone.
Randy's Roundtable links to Kaley Cuoco.
Woodsterman acknowledges the Rule 5.

A sincere thank you to all who linked this week.  If you linked to me in the last week, but I do not have you here, you unfortunately fell through the cracks of Technorati, Google Blog Search, and Sitemeter. Please drop me a note in the comments and I will update with your link.

Stargate Atlantis--"Inquisition"

A clip show.  Wow.  Seven episoes left, and Stargate Atlantis decides to go with a clip show.  Yet again, I see why the actors complain the writers were tired of them towards the end.  “Inquisition” barely even qualifies as phoning it in.

I will give “Inquisition” one kudo--at least the episode reasonably uses clips from past episodes.  It is still a lazy, budget saving move, but placing the Atlantis crew on trial and using old clips to illustrate their defense testimony at least reinforces the testimony.   Sp there is that.

As mentioned, the plot is that a new coalition of human worlds have captured AR-1 and placed them on trial for crimes against the Pegasus galaxy.  A strong case is made against them.  Sheppard did initially awaken the Wraith.  They did interfere with the Genii plan to destroy the Wraith.  They did create Michael.  They did spark off the Replicator-Wraith War.  The tribunal did not even bring up that Rodney destroyed an entire solar system.  All tolled, two million people have died due to these actions. 

The most amusing part about the charges is that they are so solid, the only way to avoid a guilty verdict is for Woolsey to secretly create an alliance with two of the coalition powers with the argument they cannot fiht of the Wraith without the power of Atlantis behind them.  The plan works, and our heroes are found not guilty.

Is there a jab at military tribunals for Gitmo prisoners here?  I expected one, but was pleasantly surprised that nothing jumped out at me. 

“Inquisition” is a neat idea.  If it had been more elaborate, it might have even made for a good final episode.  Maybe the writers decided against it because our heroes really were guilty of everything of which they were accused.  A little too Seinfeldian, perhaps?  The episode does feel extremely cheap.  I am surprised one of the few remaining episodes of the series would be wasted like this.  “Inquisition” is a disappointment because of how much potential is squandered.  Not even Robert Picardo as the defense attorney save the episode.  

Rating: ** (out of 5)

Catrinel Menghia


Friday, February 15, 2013

Herman Cain Joins FOX News

I claimed numerous times during his implausible run for president Herman Cain was seeking the office merely to boost his media credentials.  Well, here you go.

Cain does not get his own show on FOX News like Mike Huckabee, but he is a commentator.  That is the next best thing.  I cannot see Cain playing hootenanny songs and analyzing the tax code with Chuck Norris, anyway. 

I will bet he does not earn $15 a word like Sarah Palin did.  I suspect questions about foreign policy are also off the table. 

Stargate Atlantis--"Outsiders"

Beckett Clone returns for what could have been a compelling moral dilemma, but turns out to be a run of the mill adventure. Not that the result is bad, but the series has already been cancelled. The writers have nothing to lose by taking some chances, but they are merely coasting.

Beckett Clone is now a traveling doctor in the Pegasus galaxy. He comes across a planet that has taken in refugees infected by the Hoffa virus. They have been displaced because the Wraith destroyed their planet. When the Wraith come for the refugees, the settlement’s leader, Jarvis, plans to give them up in order to save his people. Ultimately, it does not happen because AR-1 relocates the refugees after defeating the Wraith.

“Outsiders” is a missed opportunity. Jarvis is faced with a tough leadership decision. Should he give up a group of people to whom he has promised sanctuary to certain death in order to save his own people or take a stand on general principle. It would have been a thought provoking ending had he gone through with the former, but there a relatively convenient ending so no one has to deal with any nasty moral implications for morally gray decisions. “Outsiders” might ave been elevated otherwise.

Which is not to say “Outsiders” is bad. The episode is a solid, but generic episode of the series. One would hope for something more special for the return of paul Mcillion, not to mention one of the final episodes of the series. Alas, no.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Amanda Seyfried



Part of The Other McCain's Rule 5 Sunday.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Listen to Your Heart

Since it is Valentine’s Day, how about a creepy video for an online dating service featuring an amorous talking heart that makes PePPe le Pew look chaste?

Zoosk: The smart way to date...supposedly.

Stargate Atlantis--"The Lost Tribe"


The virtue of watching a series or the first time years after it has been cancelled appear yet again.  I had no idea a surviving faction of Asgard were going to show up on Stargate Atlantis.   Raise a glass in salute to those long lost, pre-internet days when every revelation was not spoiled months in advance.  Days like those will never come around again.

I have much hih praise for “The Lost Tribe” beyond the surprise appearance of the Asgard in spite of some minor issues.  The cliffhanger resolution--Sheppard an Zelenka survive the tower explosion by moving away ten feet--is a cop out solution.  The Asard disappear 2/3rds of the way in because the CGI to animate Vanir is too expensive on a basic cable budget.   The Travelers also return, but Jill Wagner is not among them because she was serving as the eye candy for the brainless game show Wipeout at the time.  Bummer.  But these are only minor gripes in an otherwise excellent episode.  Particularly the bit about Wagner, as she is replaced by the equally hot Daniella Alonso.

“The Lost Tribe” is a fun, epic adventure that strikes the right balance between its two concurrent plots.  One, Ronon and Keller play Die Hard in sabotaging Daedalus to thwart Todd’s plan to attack Atlantis .  Two, Rodney and daniel have to stop the Asgard from using the device to destroy the Wraith because it causes every active stargate to explode.  That is quite a negative consequence.  The two stories come together when Sheppard recruit’s the Travelers to help save everyone.

Of particular note for those not primarily thinking with their gonads is the rationale of the Asgard for their actions.  They face the same problem as their Milky way brethren, namely they can only reproduce by cloning.   They need humans to experiment on, so those pesky wraith need to stop culling the fresh supply.  The survival of the Asgard justifies their actions according to spokesman Vanir.  Thor and company would not dream of destroying the stargate system and killing millions in the process just to save themselves.  However, Thor and his people are al dead.  Vanir and his are still alive.   As Vanir tells Daniel, it is difficult to argue with the results.       

But none of you care about a philosophical discussion on the ens justifies the means morality of Vanir’s effort to preserve the Asgard.  You all only want to see Daniella Alonso in a bikini.  Fine.  I can accommodate:
While we are on the subject of love/lust, Keller confesses to Ronon she is interested in someone else.  Presumably Rodney, but I am not taking that for granted.  Whatever the case, the competition between Ronon and Rodney for her affection was short lived.

I have said about all I can say about “The Lost Tribe.”  It is a great episode.  One that makes you wonder why the series was cancelled so unceremoniously.

Rating: **** (out of 5)

Kaley Cuoco

Thursday is (usually) Kaley Cuoco Day.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Stargate Atlantis--"First Contact"

“First Contact” is the midseason finale for the fifth and final season of Stargate Atlantis. As such, it features a lot of set up designed to convince us to come back for the remaining ten episodes. That is right. Only ten left. The nearly our month hiatus in reviews makes it feel like there should be many more episode in the bag since I bean these reviews such a long time ago.

A midseason finale needs something special, and what we get in “First Contact” is Michael Shanks reprising his role as Daniel Jackson. He has come to Atlantis to search for a hidden Ancient lab, which he and Rodney find. Some device in the lab alerts mysterious, armored aliens to attack Atlantis, take the device, and kidnap Rodney and Daniel. The aliens force Rodney to activate the evice. It causes Wraith hyper drive to explode, but the consequences of using it are so dire, the Ancients abandoned the project.

Meanwhile, Daedalus meets up with Todd’s Hive ship in order to work on the genetic alterations that will allow Wraith to stop feeding on humans. When Rodney activates the device, Todd thinks he has been betrayed and hijacks Daedalus. Ronon and Keller are the only ones free to stop him.

The big cliffhanger involves Sheppard’s team, who are preparing to head of for Daedalus, aborting the trip through the stargate as it overloads and explodes, taking much of the tower with it. Too be continued…

The alien invasion of Atlantis is one of the coolest action sequences of the series. “First Contact” is worth watching just to see it. The banter between Daniel and Rodney is fun, too. Why have they not sparred before? The big question is whether the cliffhanger compel the viewer to come back for the conclusion. In my case, yes, they do. Ergo, “First Contact” is a success.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Laura Vandervoort

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Stargate Atlantis--"Tracker"

The second Keller-centric episode of the fifth and final season is much better than the first. Then again, having a giant plant growing out of her is not a hard to top plot. “Tracker” is a solid character piece that transcends its generic plot.

Ronon and Rodney accompany Keller on an off world humanitarian mission to treat a contagion. Keller is kidnapped by a Runner named Kiryk who needs her to treat an injured little girl who has been in his care since her parents were killed because they gave hi refuge for a night. Why does Kiryk not just ask for Keller’s help? Too risky, he says. Kidnapping is a much safer idea. There is television logic for you.

Ronon and Rodney follow their trail while battling both Wraith that have followed Kiryk an each other, because they are both now competing for Keller’s affection. I cannot blame them. Who would not want Jewel Staite after them romantically?

The plot is fairly predictable. Kiryk is not really a bad guy. He bonds with Keller before sacrificing himself so the little girl can get to Atlantis for medical treatment. Ronon and Rodney flare up a rivalry to which keller is oblivious. There is lots of gunplay and fist fights with Wraith. Even Keller gets in on it after some training from Ronon. Finally, she is a woman of action. Totally cool. I will not say “Tracker” is a cannot miss, but it is not bad.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Morena Baccarin

Monday, February 11, 2013

Stargate Atlantis--"The Queen"

The Queen! The Queen! God save that old broad.

The entertainment value of that joke still has not worn off for me. With only twelve episodes of Stargate Atlantis left, the odds I will have another opportunity to run it into the ground are slim, so take heart, weary readers.

If you have even a marginally better eye than I do, you will notice the queen above is actually Rachel Luttrell. The plot of ‘The Queen” is Teyla must pose as a rival Queen in order to convince the big matriarch to accept the genetic alterations Michael used to eliminate the need to feed on humans. Unfortunately, Todd uses the opportunity to murder the matriarh, make Teyla the Queen, and put himself in chare of a lare faction of Wraith. Such is the status at the end of the episoe.

A couple points about “The Queen” are incredibly hard to swallow. One, the way things played out, you would have to be an idiot to not think Todd was planning a double cross. Good Lord, he flat out acknowledged he would miss te taste of humans to go through with the genetic alterations himself. All he wants is power! Two, and more importantly, Keller can surgically turn Teyla into a Wraith merely by following Tod’s instruction. Yeah, I do not buy that at all. Where does Todd get that kind of medical skill/ The writers really do not give a crap about the final season.

“The Queen” has some virtues. There is a lot of special effects eye candy on display. One suspects, as is seemingly the case with recently poorly written episodes, the special effects are there to compensate for poor storytelling. Luttrell looks like she is having a ball playing the vile villain. The palace intrigue is pretty cool, too. It is subtle, but I swear the former queen’s right hand man hints he is a eunuch by his mannerisms. But none of this stuff elevates the episode beyond mildly entertaining.

Rating: ** (out of 5)