Saturday, September 19, 2020

space: 1999 -- season 2 episode 21 -- dorzak

Season 2, Episode 21: Dorzak
This blog comes with the generalized warning that any post may contain spoilers. That is especially true of these Space: 1999 posts. So if you haven't seen this episode, intend to watch it, and therefore don't want spoilers, then don't read.

Plot Synopsis
The moon encounters a ship that's signalling it has a plague. Despite the plague, its captain signals she must land. It turns out that the "plague" is a Psychon -- presumably the only surviving Psychon other than Maya -- who is being held in stasis because of his criminal nature and his hypnotic ability to control others.

My Thoughts
There's too much in this episode that doesn't make any sense. From the way Dorzak is portrayed, to the unexplained fact that Maya's perception of him is so terribly wrong. Perhaps if there were some action, then the logical flaws could be forgiven. But as it is this is just slow-moving and boring. It's supposed to be a kind of three-way chess match between the Alpha crew, Dorzac and Sahala (the alien ship's captain). But the twists and turns are largely predictable.

I suppose that if I want to find something good to say about this episode (which I don't, but what the hell), I'll note that I like the way they worked Tony's beer-brewing into the story-line. In fact, a part of the plot turns on Tony's beer. Still, though, no follow-up on Helena's sculpting.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

cinema history class: frogs

Session: Aquatic Horrors, Week 3
Movie: Frogs (1972)
Directed by George McCowan

As always, there may be spoilers here. And the trailer may be NSFW and/or NSFL

Swamp critters start exacting revenge against a family of polluters. Hilarity ensues.

Our in-class discussions have often turned to the topic of Joe's wheelhouse -- those movies that are his cinematic comfort food. Having mentioned that, I'll note that it seems to be the 1960s vividly colored horror movies, often starring Vincent Price. And if Joe is reading this post and I have that wrong, I am sure he will comment to that effect. Unlike Joe, I never really thought of myself as having a cinematic wheelhouse; I did the most movie watching in the 1980s and liked a lot of those films, but I don't think I feel the same attachment to them that Joe does to the Hammer horror films.

I bring that up because, before class last week I watched the trailer for Frogs, and realized that my wheelhouse -- if I can be said to have one -- is the 1970s action/adventure/disaster movies. Watching the Frogs trailer, I could tell that we weren't exactly in for Citizen Kane*, but I also realized that this was the kind of movie that I would love.

Frogs does a really good job of making the titular animals seem menacing. Almost from the beginning, they're everywhere -- watching, waiting. And the camera  makes them seem sinister and calcu8lating in a way that I realize -- or at least I hope -- they aren't in actuality. There may be some false advertising at work here, since the frogs don't actually kill anyone. They're the ringleaders, leaving the killing to their allies, including (but not limited to) spiders, snakes and Spanish moss. And the slow progression of menace brings the movie slowly to a boil, so the viewer has trouble even realizing when things went off the rails.

Oddly I found the penultimate scene puzzling. The way it progressed and ended, I thought it was the end of the movie. But then the final scene, following closely on its heels also felt like a perfect ending. It appears to me that they wrote and shot two final scenes, before deciding which to put last. Both endings are well-done, and either would be worthy. But it's kind of jarring when we go from the first ending back into the film.

Frogs is a much better movie than it has any right to be, and is probably the best killer amphobian movie I've ever had the pleasure of seeing.
Me: 9
Christina: 9.3
Ethan: 6
Sean: 2 out of 4

*By coincidence I just recently watched Citizen Kane with Sharon on a Saturday morning.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

happy tunesday: a fifth of beethoven

 I read an article online today that argued that Beethoven's Fifth Symphony is exclusionary because reasons. I'm not goinfmg to share a link to the article and thereby support the online publication with clicks. But I will share this disco-ized version.

Saturday, September 12, 2020

space: 1999 -- season 2 episode 20 -- the seance spectre

Season 2, Episode 20: The Seance Spectre
This blog comes with the generalized warning that any post may contain spoilers. That is especially true of these Space: 1999 posts. So if you haven't seen this episode, intend to watch it, and therefore don't want spoilers, then don't read.

Plot Synopsis
The moon is on a collision course with a planet, so they have to blast it off course. Meanwhile, a messianic-type is leading a mutiny to prevent any moon-saving action.

My Thoughts
After the exciting two-parter, we get right back with a regular ho-hum episode. How many times has an episode hinged on the moon being on a collision course with something? At least this time it didn't end with some kind of weird existential mumbo jumbo like a couple of season one episodes whose names mercifully elude me. This time things are complicated by the messianic (and mentally ill) Sanderson who is convinced that the planet is habitable. In some ways it seems like an interesting character study. He's charismatic, and his followers are torn.

There are a couple of plot devices that seem unnecessary and implausible. Why did Sanderson and his followers hold some kind of seance to come to his determination that the planet is habitable? Surely the writers could have leveraged his charisma on that front. Related, as the episode opens, there is restricted access to the Command Center because Koenig is hesitant to raise the crew's hopes in case the planet turns out to be uninhabitable. After all these episodes, now he decides they can't handle it? I don't buy it. Especially since Alpha has gradually become more and more of a military outfit this season.

I continue to be of a mixed mind regarding Maya's shape-shifting. She does another one of her strong creature transformations, which look like someone went into the prop room or Party City looking for any weird costume. Of course, at another point, when Maya was trapped behind a chair after her eagle crashed, I found myself screaming at her --"Just turn yourself into a bird and fly away!" Instead she turned into child-Maya, which was actually a disturbing sight. Of course, turning herself into a tree when she did was actually a very clever plot device which I applaud. It also had the added benefit of being a fresh use of her ability.

I suppose I should acknowledge that if I was screaming at the screen (as I admitted to in the last paragraph), then the episode does have at least some suspense.

I note that we haven't heard mention of Tony's beer-brewing in quite a while, and there's been nothing about Helena's sculpting since it was first introduced. And, while we're onto random observations, it seems odd to me that, according to Helena's log entries, we are now in the sixth year since they left earth's orbit.