Just forget the words and sing along

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Goofin' on NetFlix

Welcome back to Fishing in the Discount Bin, my weekly ramble about one of the many movies in my home video library.  Something very different this time out.  Back during the May long weekend, I helped my parents get hooked up for NetFlix, and wound up wasting the weekend going through the NetFlix catalogue.  This is my chronicle of that weekend.  Originally dated May 21, 2012.

Something different for Fishing in the Discount Bin.  I went home for the long weekend.  My mother had long been expressing a desire to try out this NetFlix thing that they always advertise on TV, so for her birthday a few weeks ago, me and my siblings pooled our resources and got Mom a NetFlix-capable Blu-Ray player.  I went home with a fistful of Blu-Rays, looking forward to enjoying some flicks on my parents hi-def TV.  (Gotta get me one of those.  Also, gotta watch American Graffiti.  Had that disc for almost a month now and haven't had a chance to sit and watch it.)  So, rather than chill out, finally watch American Graffiti and enjoy Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol in hi-def, I started messing around on NetFlix.   I stuck mainly to TV series, as I figured a half-hour or an hour would be easier to shut down and walk away from, should my parents walk in the room and go, "What the hell are you watching?"

Here's a chronicle of what I watched.

Futurama - Ah, the vintage Matt Groening sci-fi comedy.  Been a fan since the beginning, and figured it would be a good one to pop my NetFlix cherry.  I watched the season 2 episode "The Deep South," in which the crew of the Planet Express ship get stranded at the bottom of the ocean, discover the lost city of Atlanta, and Fry falls in love with a mermaid.  One of my favourites.  "Why couldn't she be the other kind of mermaid, with the fish part on the top, and the lady part on the bottom?" 

The Silver Surfer - Pleasantly surprised to find this one on  NetFlix.  The short-lived cartoon from the late-1990s, based on the classic Marvel comics character of the same name.  I remember it the most because it turned out to be one of those most torturous of inventions:  a TV show I was hooked on that ended on a cliffhanger!  Luckily, showrunner Larry Brody did post the script he wrote for Part II on his website, so the cliffhanger was resolved.  Anyway, this show was definitely more talky and philisophical than I remembered, with most of the outer space action taking a backseat.  It could be the one episode I chose to watch, "The Forever War," in which the Surfer encounters Adam Warlock trapped in a timeloop, forever fighting the same battle.

Knight Rider - The classic 1980s sci-fi/action show!  David Hasselhoff!  KITT!!  Man, the 1980s had the be the last great time for heavily-merchandised prime-time TV shows.  I remember all kinds of Knight Rider merchandise at the show's peak.  Even had the KITT Hot Wheels car.  Fond memories. of watching this on the couch with the family, all snuggled up on Sunday nights.  I watched an episode called "Junk Yard Dog."  This is one that was burned into my brain when I was a kid.  While investigating some toxic waste dumpers, KITT and Michael Knight battle thugs at a toxic waste dump, and the bad guys commandeer a front-end loader, and they manage to toss KITT into a pond full of acid.  KITT is recovered, and after round-the-clock repairs to this body and AI systems, KITT isn't quite ready for action yet, as he plays it safe and doesn't charge into danger as much as he used to.  But, after Michael Knight opens up a little bit and shares his own fears about facing near-death experiences in the line of duty, KITT recovers his nerve and they bring those illegal dumpers to justice!  I think I remember this one the most because it was so traumatizing seeing KITT sink into the pond of acid, slowly crying out for help.  And the acid burns his paint off, so he spends most of the episode a ghostly white colour instead of his trademark black.  It was a good one, and everything great I remember about the series as a kid.

Doctor Who: The Robots of Death - While I've been a fan of Doctor Who since the revival began in 2005, I have yet to watch very much classic Doctor Who.  So, when I spotted a few episodes of classic Who, I decided to give it a shot.  I watched the 4-part adventure The Robots of Death, which is apparently a beloved tale from the Fourth Doctor's era.  The Fourth Doctor and his companion Leela - who is some kind of sultry cavegirl - materialize on a "sandminer."  Take the Jawa sandcrawler from Star Wars, and make the entire thing a mining facility, strip-mining a planet made of sand.  The sandminer has a small human crew, and is largely staffed by robots.  But, someone on board is killing the humans.  The Doctor speculates that someone is reprogramming the robots to kill.  In his investigation, the Doctor discovers that one of the humans is actually a renowned robot expert in disguise, who is reprogramming the robots to kill in the hopes of sparking a rise of the machines.  Can the Doctor and Leela find the murderer and stop the robot army?  Of course they can.  I dunno...I had trouble getting into this.  I was never catching the character's names, and it seemed awfully dense on exposition.  That, apparently, is why this serial is so beloved.  While dense exposition fills out a universe, it does slow down the plot.

The Incredible Hulk - As I blogged many years ago, the 1990s Incredible Hulk cartoon has a very similar origin to Superman: The Animated Series.  Both premiered in 1996, both were based on beloved comic book characters, and both were designed to be the flagship program of a fledgling television network's Saturday morning line-up...the Hulk was on UPN.  But, whereas Superman: The Animated Series was a huge hit, The Hulk only lasted 22 episodes and limped its way through 2 seasons.  Apparently, the network felt the series was too dark, so things were lightened up in the second season.  She-Hulk was officially added to the series as the sidekick, and most adventures were self-contained, villain-of-the-week affairs.  I watched the second season episode They Call Me Mr. Fixit.  Bruce Banner and She-Hulk head to Chicago when an offer from a magnate named Allure turns out to be too good to be true.  Turns out Allure is a mob boss with the power to hypnotize people, and she uses her powers to get Banner to enhance her powers.  Eventually, Bruce Banner hulks out and  he becomes the Grey Hulk (something he occasionally did in season 2).  So, Grey Hulk and She-Hulk decide to take down Allure by posing as rival mobsters.  She-Hulk becomes the crime boss "Lady Green," and Grey Hulk becomes her enforcer "Mr. Fixit."  All I can say is, wow.  Legendary voice actress Cree Summer was the voice of She-Hulk in season 2, and she made the voice as sexy as you can get away with on Saturday morning TV.  I chose this episode to confirm if a half-remembered in-joke really was in this episode and yup, it was.  Bruce Banner identifies a piece of scientific equipment as a "unicron transformer."  I paid close attention to the opening credits, and this episode was written by Bob Forward, who was one of the showrunners on Beast Wars at around the same time.

seaQuest DSV - AHH!!  I loved this show in the 1990s!  Produced by Steven Spielberg, riding high of Jurassic Park.  Created by Rockne S. O'Bannon, who also created the cult classic FarScape.  The show got retooled a lot in its three seasons.  I liked the first season the best, when it leaned a little more towards science-fact and tried to be a realistic depiction of life in a world of undersea colonies.  In the second season, they ramped up the sci-fi, turning it into too much of a Star Trek knock-off.  In the third season, they tried to go back to that first season vibe, only instead throwing that world into a war, giving it a more militaristic tone.  In case you forget the premise...in the not-too-distant future that was envisioned in the 1990s (I remember commercials at the time giving the future date as 2018), the human race has colonized the oceans.  The UEO is the UN-like organization that polices these colonies and mediates disputes.  Their flagship:  the seaQuest DSV 400, a massive submarine that's exploring the seabed, resolving disputes, and boldly going where no one has gone before.  Again, because I liked the first season the most, I went for the one episode that was always a standout in my mind, "Treasures of the Mind."  Assisting the Government of Egypt on an undersea archeological dig, seaQuest finds the fabled Library of Alexandria, with all its treasures perfectly preserved on the ocean floor.  Of course, an international incident quickly pops up, as governments from all across the Mediterranean come to claim their treasures that Egypt pillaged and stored in the library all those centuries ago.  With warships on the surface, and tensions growing high, and a fantastic Indiana Jones style temple at the bottom of the sea, it's up to Captain Bridger to find a peaceful resolution to the situation!  I loved this so much, that I forgot the science fiction part of the plot:  the UEO sends a team of psychics to assist Bridger in the negotiations, thus leading to all kinds of moral and philosophical debates as to the ramifications of having one's mind read.  Yeah, that was lame.  I wanted more political intrigue meets Indiana Jones

But yeah.  That was my weekend.  Hopefully, next weekend, I'll finally get to watch American Graffiti.

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