Thursday, January 26, 2017

Thursday Movie Picks Television Edition: Science Fiction


The Final Frontier.
These are the voyages of the Starship Cinemaprise.
Its five year mission
To explore new sites
To seek out new writers and new realizations
To boldly go where no blog has gone before.

Okay, so I geeked out a bit, right there. I think it's okay because this is a Thursday Movie Picks first. Our host, the wonderful and talented Wanderer at Wandering Through the Shelves, has seen fit to designate the last Thursday of each month going forward as a time to step away from the big screen and go to the kinda big screen you have sitting way too close to your couch. Yup, we're talking about television shows. Unless just skipped the title of the post, and/or somehow have no idea what I was doing with that opening, the first topic for us to tackle is science fiction. I'm all in. Let's do this.

And, as much as I love it, I'm not picking Star Trek.

Or, any of the knock-offs spin-offs.

Knight Rider
All I wanted as a teenager was a black t-top Trans-Am. This show is the reason why. It was the coolest show, and is the show that gave us The Hoff, for better or worse. I made sure I was parked in front of the TV every week to see this. Before I forget to tell all you youngsters who might be reading this what the show was about, let me get to it. A cop got shot in the face, but doesn't die. He's given a brand new mug, and identity: Michael Knight (The Hoff). He then goes to work for a super-secret law enforcement agency and is given a prototype vehicle to drive, a fully self-aware, talking, nearly indestructible car that goes by the name KITT, short for Knight Industries Two-Thousand. The episodes where KITT had to face off against KATT, his evil twin, are the stuff of legend. They rebooted the series in 2008. Yeah, but no.

V: The Miniseries
Talk about some tense sci-fi viewing. The title is iconic these days, but I feel like enough people haven't really seen it. As the story goes, one day some mysterious intergalactic visitors show up on our little 'ol planet. They look human, and seem to be all sorts of friendly. Before you know it, we find out they're really lizard-like creatures, and only here to take over the place. Every aspect of it intrigued me. The images of a human woman having an alien baby are the stuff of nightmares. I've never forgotten that scene, and it was over thirty years ago. I was glued to this thing for the three nights it was on, and so was most of the country. Since it's been so long you, I, and everyone we know needs to go find this. It ended on a dark note, which I love, but of course meant this had to be stretched into a full-blown series that ran for a couple seasons. Meh. Then there was the sequel mini-series, dubbed The Final Battle, which I don't even remember. Finally, the series was rebooted in 2009. Yeah, but no.

The Six Million Dollar Man & The Bionic Woman
(1973-1978 & 1976-1978)
Obviously, I abused the opening of the original Star Trek to create the beginning of this post. I could've done something similar to this also iconic opening:

Steve Austin, astronaut.
A man barely alive.
Gentlemen, we can rebuild him.
We have the technology.
We have the capability to make the world's first bionic man.
Steve Austin will be that man.
Better than he was before.

Those words, from the original The Six Million Dollar Man got me hyped every week. That's pretty much the plot, by the way. After being rebuilt, like Michael Knight, he goes to work as a super-secret agent. By rebuilt, I mean both legs, his right arm, and left eye are all replaced with bionics. So, yeah, better...stronger...faster. This series was THE thing to watch, at the time. Period. If you're a child of that time, you almost certainly did your very own version of bionic running. This was, of course, you running in slow motion while humming the iconic score and occasionally saying "beh-neh-neh-neh" to simulate bionic sounds. You also had the Steve Austin action figure (not "Stone Cold," cuz screw that). This is the most special action figure ever because it had clear plastic wherever he was bionic. There's been talk of a big screen version of this for years. One is currently "in development." Hate to admit it, but I'm down for this. Well, I will be until they inevitably get Michael Bay or one of his flunkies to direct. Then I'll just cross my fingers and hope for the best.

Because, The Six Million Dollar Man (Lee f'in Majors, by the way) needed a mate, the powers that be gave him, and us, Jaime Sommers (Lindsay Wagner), aka The Bionic Woman. She was a star tennis player who suffered a sky-diving accident. Just like Steve, she is rebuilt with two bionic legs and a bionic right arm. The difference is that instead of a bionic eye, she has a bionic ear. I'm fairly certain my mother had one of those, too, but that's another story. Anyhoo, I loved this show, too. The episodes of either show where the other character made an appearance is the stuff of marketing genius. If you want legend...and nightmare... find the episodes The Six Million Dollar Man where he had to face off against Bigfoot. Andre the Giant donned the suit, by the way (speaking of wrestling). They rebooted The Bionic Woman as a series in 2007. Yeah, but no.

├ćon Flux
Imagine a woman running around a future dystopian society, armed to the teeth, dressed like a dominatrix, who is a secret agent trying to infiltrate the neighboring city. Now make the episodes very short, five minutes or so, have her kick lots of ass and die a lot. Yes, I said die a lot. This showed up as a series of shorts on MTV's Liquid Television and was easily the best part. Each short was largely mono-chromatic and hyper-violent, yet thought provoking. And yeah, she died at the end of each one. Yes, Aeon Flux was the character's name. The shorts were expanded to become a regular show with thirty minute episodes. Meh. In 2005, it showed up as a watered down, technicolored PG-13 movie with Charlize Theron in the lead. Yeah, but no.

Okay, so last week I didn't get in on TMP. That's partly because it was a depressing topic: Movies Featuring Actors Who Died in 2016. I mean, I really wanted to get over that. Since, well, I figured I might as well give my two cents on the matter. I'll be brief. I promise.

Larry Drake in Dr. Giggles
It's a slasher flick with Drake in the eponymous role. What makes it work is one of the finest performances in the history of the genre and a script full of wonderfully dark, and perfectly corny, humor.

Doris Roberts in Grandma's Boy
A thirty-something video game tester moves back in with his grandmother after some issues with his roommates. He also smokes tons of weed. It's a stoner comedy that's better than it has any right to be. One of the things making it that way is Roberts as the Grandma of the title.

Alan Rickman in Galaxy Quest
Since we started by referencing Star Trek, yet I refused to pick Star Trek, we might as well end with the best Star Trek spoof ever made. Rickman shines as the Spock-like member of the cast.


  1. I've seen Aeon Flux... underrated show. Awesome animation. Too bad the live-action film version sucked. I went on a sort of a different route w/ my picks as I haven't seen a lot of sci-fi TV though it would be criminal to diss Lee Fuckin' Majors. That dude is awesome. I haven't seen any of those shows which I'm ashamed to admit but you have to have no taste if you don't love the theme to Knight Rider. I fucking love that theme and David Hasselhoff. How can you not love that man?

    1. I was so disappointed in the Aeon Flux movie. Maybe one day they can get it right.

      Can't diss Majors. Ever.

      Yes, the Knight Rider theme is awesome.

  2. I haven't seen any of the shows, but I've seen the Aeon Flux movie and it's an interesting concept that I wish was expanded more. I've always liked Doris Roberts in Everybody Loves Raymond, she was funny in that along with her TV husband. Galaxy Quest is one of my favorite Alan Rickman movies; it's pretty much awesome.

    1. The Aeon Flux TV show is so much better. They botched that film. Grandma's Boy definitely ain't ELR. And I love Galaxy Quest.

  3. Oh I love Knight Rider! That show is amazing! Not to mention that car. I still wish I could have one.

  4. I never watched any of those shows you picked but I know what Knight Rider is at least.

    Grandma's Boy was hilarious and I thought it was going to be so stupid when I started watching it.

    I love Galaxy Quest. I miss Rickman so much.

    1. Glad to see someone else enjoyed Grandma's Boy. And Galaxy Quest is wonderful.

  5. Do you think Knight Rider holds up? I've never seen it but it sounds like so much fun!
    Too many people have told me how good Galaxy Quest is, I need to watch it :)

    1. Knight Rider definitely drips with 80s cheese. Not sure if that answers your question, though. And yes, see Galaxy Quest.

  6. I was never much of a fan of Knight Rider, mostly because of Hasselhoff who I find annoying though I'd watch it from time to time but it was very popular there for a while.

    The original V mini was scary and chilling and Jane Badler was kickass as the lead woman. I vaguely recall they tried to reboot it but never bothered with that version.

    Again I was never a regular watcher of either Six Million Dollar Man nor Bionic Woman but I've seen numerous episodes of both over the years. I preferred the first mostly because of Lee Majors but I definitely remember everyone doing the running!

    I never watched Aeon Flux, neither TV show nor movie.

    I'm not much of a sci-fi guy but these three are favorites:

    Firefly (2002)-A ragtag group of astronauts tour the galaxy in their rust bucket ship Serenity lead by cheeky leader Mal Reynolds (Nathan Fillion). Often not functioning as a harmonious whole due to squabbles between the opinionated crew they pull together when the going gets tough and manage to emerge from their scraps banged up but unbowed. Serio-comic sci-fi series with a strong cast was regrettably brief but did lead to a big screen sequel “Serenity”.

    My Favorite Martian (1963-1966)-Somewhat zany comedy of a stranded Martian (Ray Walston) taken in by young reporter Tim O’Hara (Bill Bixby) who uses the cover of being his Uncle Martin as he tries to repair his spaceship in an attempt to return home. While he works away the pair are confronted with many situations where Martin is constantly at risk of exposure. What could be idiotic is kept from being so by the skillful playing of Walston & Bixby as well as Pamela Britton who is simply aces as their charmingly addle-brained landlady Lorelei Brown. Adapted into a wretched decades too late feature in the 90’s.

    The Twilight Zone (1959-1964)-Trend setting anthology series created, hosted and largely written by Rod Serling. Generally but not always with either a science fiction or supernatural theme this weekly series was consistently eerie with a cavalcade of future stars, including Robert Redford, Elizabeth Montgomery, Charles Bronson and Robert Duvall, and top flight character actors-Agnes Moorehead, Gladys Cooper, Burgess Meredith etc.- in strong stories. For the length of time it ran the series stayed uniformly high in quality but has some episodes that have remained justly more famous than others…Eye of the Beholder, The Invaders, The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street, Nightmare at 20,000 Feet, Time Enough at Last, Nothing in the Dark, and my personal favorite The Hitch-Hiker among them.
    A small addendum: A moderately successful reboot of the series was done in the 80’s with varying results but there were some excellent episodes produced especially in the first season. Two directed by Wes Craven: the series’ first “Shatterday” starring Bruce Willis and “Her Pilgrim Soul” with Kristoffer Tabori and Anne Twomey are exceptional.

    1. No love for The Hoff? Truth told, I watched for the car.

      The mini-series for V was fantastic. I didn't bother with the reboot, either.

      I kinda feel like you had a deprived life if The Six Million Dollar Man was not a weekly influence, lol.

      I've never seen Firefly, but watched Serenity not knowing the two were attached. Didn't work for me because I felt totally lost.

      I've been aware of My Favorite Martian for my entire life, but I can't recall ever seeing an episode.

      I love The Twilight Zone and used to watch it often. That was damn good TV. Never bothered with the reboot.

  7. About your picks for last weeks theme. I've only seen one but I like that you chose two performers who weren't mentioned last week. It was a sad subject but it was interesting to see what everyone pick and how the different performers connected with everyone though different films.

    I loved Doris Roberts and have seen her in tons of stuff but never Grandma's Boy. I'll have to check it out. I won't be seeking out Dr. Giggles though! I remember Larry Drake from his long run as Benny on L.A. Law-he was great on there.

    The one I have seen is Galaxy Quest. Love it! Everybody, even Tim Allen, is fantastic in it with Alan Rickman making an art out of being both bemused and acerbic.

    These were my four:

    This Happy Feeling (1958)-When her boss makes a pass at a party in the Connecticut countryside New Yorker Janet Blake (Debbie Reynolds) dashes into the rain just as Bill Tremaine (John Saxon) is passing and offers a ride to the subway. When she misconstrues a comment Bill makes as a come-on she jumps out and makes her way to the nearest house which belongs to retired star Preston “Mitch” Mitchell (Curt Jurgens) which he shares with his live-in housekeeper, the tippling Mrs. Early (a hysterical scene stealing Estelle Winwood). Stuck and soaked to the skin she stays the night in his guest room but when Mitch’s lady friend, the droll Nita Hollaway (a standout Alexis Smith) stops by in the morning she assumes the worst. Mitch sets her straight and hires Janet as his secretary beginning a charming romantic comedy with Debbie falling for Curt while John falls for her and she being pulled one way and another while Alexis makes caustic remarks from the sidelines. Little known Blake Edwards comedy is a hidden gem and a first-rate showcase for Debbie’s special magic.

    Sense and Sensibility (1995)-When the Dashwood sisters Elinor and Marianne (Emma Thompson & Kate Winslet) and their mother are forced to move out of their home by their brother’s rotten wife they move to a cottage on their cousin’s estate in the English countryside. There Marianne becomes enamored of the dashing Willoughby (Greg Wise) while the more sedate Colonel Brandon (Alan Rickman) pines for her. Meanwhile Elinor yearns for the unavailable Edwards Ferrars (Hugh Grant). There’s so much more in this top flight Jane Austen adaptation directed by Ang Lee but this is a great example of Alan Rickman’s versatility. Best known as the suave but ruthlessly evil Hans Gruber in Die Hard he is the complete opposite here and makes both characters fully formed people.

    Me, Natalie (1969)-Natalie Miller (Patty Duke) is an average looking Brooklyn teen who has a developed a complex from her mother always telling her she’ll be beautiful someday so don’t worry about being plain now. Her traditional father’s no help, he’s bribed a nerdy family friend (Bob Balaban) to marry her so she can be the housewife he thinks is all she should or can be. Encouraged by her jovial Uncle Harold (Martin Balsam) she breaks free. Renting an apartment from the dotty Miss Dennison (Elsa Lanchester) in Greenwich Village she embarks on a sometimes rocky journey of discovery where she finds that being comfortable with herself is more important than how she looks. Somewhat heavy with late 60’s trappings but aside from The Miracle Worker this is Patty Duke’s best big screen performance. Al Pacino makes his screen debut in a short scene at a dance.

    Silver Streak (1976)-While traveling to his sister’s wedding on the Silver Streak train easy-going George Caldwell (Gene Wilder) falls smack dab into murder and intrigue when he becomes smitten with Hilly Burns (Jill Clayburgh) the secretary of seemingly innocuous Professor Schreiner. When he thinks he sees a dead body thrown from the train it’s the start of a wild ride both on and off the train during which he partners up with escapee Grover Muldoon (Richard Pryor) who gets him in and out of one crazy situation after another. Mix of comedy, slapstick, thriller and adventure was the first and best pairing of Wilder and Pryor.

    1. Just a warning on Grandma's Boy: you definitely have to appreciate stoner humor. I've seen two of your picks: Sense and Sensibility and Silver Streak. Jane Austen bores me to death in print, and on the screen. Didn't like the book or the movie. I like Silver Streak, but didn't love it. I almost went with another Wilder/Pryor collaboration - Stir Crazy. That's my favorite of their outings.

    2. I have trouble with Jane Austen novels as well. It's not that I don't think they are well written but the language is often so arcane and verbose it took me forever to read them as I deciphered exactly what was going on. However I generally love the film versions, the history, visuals and acting pull me in but just as every film isn't for everybody every genre is for everyone.

      I thought Stir Crazy was okay but perhaps because I saw Silver Streak first and in a packed theatre with a very responsive audience I lean more towards it of all their films together. I also think it has the best story and supporting cast of their pairings.

    3. That's exactly the problem I had with the of them, at least. I can't get into the films, either...unless zombies are introduced. Yes, I'm referring you to my review of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies...

  8. I've seen bits and pieces of episodes of Knight Rider from time to time in syndication - it's VERY 80s "cool". I really want to see the original V mini-series but I can't help but feel like it's blown since I already know what happens. I haven't seen a second of Six Million Dollar Man OR Bionic Woman and I feel kinda bad about it.

    GalaxyQuest is love.

    1. 80s cool is a perfect way to describe it. The original V is awesome. Still watch it.

      You should feel bad.

  9. I used to call it Nut Rider-hahahaaa. I could never get into that show but the Six million Dollar man and the Bionic woman-Hell yeah! I loved the slow motions scenes with that sound effect and, yes, I actually will still do the slow motion. Every time I see a phone booth (still around) I think of poor Jamie going nuts due to the ear and what she hears. V was a great mini series and freaky with Robert Englund as a nice alien. I actually did watch the short lived series and the evil gal was on David Letterman plugging the action figures. I was the guilty party who suggested last week's theme but you can't beat Alan Rickman in this movie which is hilarious!

    1. Nut Rider, lol. Glad to see somebody loves The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman. Thank you!

  10. I had some memories of Knight Rider, but I think not this one. Is there an incarnation of Knight Rider? A more recent version of it.
    I didn't watch the Six Million Dollar Man, but there's a comedy ripoff of it in my country and I loved it!
    Seeing you picked Aeon Flux makes me wished I picked Ghost in Shells or Evangelion as well. They're great anime series with the same frequency as Aeon Flux!

    1. Yes, there was a Knight Rider reboot in '08. I didn't bother watching that one. I'm know of both those anime, but I haven't watched either. I need to get on it.

  11. I really want to watch Galaxy Quest again now.

  12. I enjoyed Knight Rider as teenager and it has a certain nostalgia. Stand-alone adventures isn't my thing anymore, I prefer TV now where the characters and story progress each episode. KITT was a fun gadget though, and like you, I wanted to drive. Cool music too.

    1. Not a big TV guy, anymore. Those old shows were largely standalone adventures with the same characters. Now, the quality of the shows is great with how each episode really does build on the last. It's just too much work for me to keep up with them.

  13. I did see the recent V remake series. It was ok, wasn't memorable.

  14. Ah man Aeon Flux the TV show sounds damn awesome - the film looked crud and everyone in the cast was ashamed to be in it. Hahahahaha Michell Ryan (former Eastenders cast member) was the Bionic Women - failed completely. Thats what you get for casting a soap star....

    1. Skip the AE movie and go to the TV show. It is far better. The Bionic Woman remake...ugh.