February 22, 2010

Review - Columbo: The Complete Second Season

 Season 2 of Columbo brought us some great episodes, guest stars, and plenty of memorable performances.
 I wanted to get this set for two episodes, "Requiem for a Falling Star" and "A Stitch in Crime". I'm happy to say "Requiem" did not disappoint. Anne Baxter's terrific as faded screen star Nora Chandler and plays off the other cast well. The other guests in the episode include Mel Ferrer, Kevin McCarthy (it's hard to look at him seriously after watching UHF), Pippa Scott (who, by the way, was one of the people who founded Lorimar), and legendary film costume designer (and longtime friend of Baxter) Edith Head in a cameo.
 "Stitch" was good too, though I thought Columbo would've become suspicious of murderer Dr. Barry Mayfield (Leonard Nimoy) sooner since in quite a few scenes Mayfield yells at Columbo to stop visiting the recovering Dr. Hidemann (Will Geer), but that's minor. As many have said, Nita Talbot is memorable in a small role as victim Sharon Martin (Anne Francis)'s roommate. Dr. Mayfield is probably one of the coolest, calmest murderers on the show (an effect of Nimoy playing Mr. Spock for three seasons, possibly?), and is one of the only murderers to incite a loss of temper from the normally super-polite Columbo.
 "Etude in Black" is a good episode to start off the season, as John Cassavetes gets the job done well as symphony conductor Alex Benedict, who murders his mistress, a talented pianist. An amusing goof is present in this episode: When Columbo and Benedict's wife (Blythe Danner) are talking about the musical term said by Benedict, she says it's Latin. Of course, nearly all people who play music know that musical terms are in Italian. This episode also marks the debut of Columbo's beloved bloodhound, Dog.
 I found "The Most Crucial Game" to drag on too long to maintain my attention (I'm sure someone my age in the early '70s would have a way longer attention span), plus it didn't help that I was sick when I first watched it, so my attention was already semi-diverted.
 I did not get that with "Dagger of the Mind", one of the more infamous episodes due to its portrayal of the British that, according to British fans, is inaccurate (accents, etc.). Not being British, I don't really sense a lot of that. Wilfrid Hyde-White is amusing as the victim (John Williams, not the composer)'s butler, only appearing in scenes at their house (filmed in the U.S. due to White being a tax exile from Britain).
 "Double Shock" excellently finishes off the season, with Martin Landau playing twins who detest each other and are persons of interest in their wealthy uncle's murder. This episode is a bit of a whodunit, since we have to figure out whether which (or both) twin(s) committed the crime. Julie Newmar puts in a good turn as the murdered man's free-spirited, much-younger fiancee who breaks the gold-digger mold when she asserts that she did not want the man's money. Jeanette Nolan is worth mentioning as the victim's neat freak housekeeper who gets clearly angry when Columbo's cigar drops ashes.
 As with the first season, these episodes are excellently restored, with rich colors and little distracting grain.  Music works well here, introducing new themes as well as bringing back some of the old ones from the previous season. A favorite theme of mine is the one near the beginnings of "Etude in Black" and "Requiem for a Falling Star". Very hypnotic in a way.
 As well as the ones aforementioned, this season sees great guest stars like Myrna Loy, Ray Milland (in his second appearance), Robert Culp (in his second of many Columbo appearances), Valerie Harper, Dean Stockwell, Bernard Fox, Richard Basehart, Honor Blackman, Laurence Harvey, and Kevin McCarthy.

Alex Benedict (John Cassavetes) and Jenifer Welles (Anjanette Comer) in Columbo: Etude in Black

Lizzy Fielding (Myrna Loy) in Columbo: Etude in Black

Columbo (Peter Falk) in Columbo: Double Shock

Lillian Stanhope (Honor Blackman) in Columbo: Dagger of the Mind

Frank Simmons (Kevin McCarthy) in Columbo: Requiem for a Falling Star

Emmett Clayton (Laurence Harvey) in Columbo: The Most Dangerous Match

Lisa Chambers (Julie Newmar) in Columbo: Double Shock

Dr. Barry Mayfield (Leonard Nimoy) in Columbo: A Stitch in Crime

Marcia Dalton (Nita Talbot) in Columbo: A Stitch in Crime

Columbo (Peter Falk) and Dexter Paris (Martin Landau) in Columbo: Double Shock

Nora Chandler (Anne Baxter) in Columbo: Requiem for a Falling Star

I heartily recommend this to any mystery fan. Cheers!

February 8, 2010

Videos: A Couple of "Batman" Episodes

 Last week I stumbled upon episodes of the classic Batman series on YouTube. I'll help you get it out of your system. Yes, it's the show with the campy music, the Batusi, the BIFF! and OUCH! sound effect cards, and Burt Ward as Robin going "Holy _________ Batman!" I'm not as much of a Batman fan as I'm much a pop culture junkie who likes to see where parodies got their stuff.
 The first one I saw was the arc "The Ogg and I / How to Hatch a Dinosaur", featuring Vincent Price as Egghead, and the lovely Anne Baxter as Olga, Queen of the Cossacks. I've heard that later episodes like these are more light-hearted and campy than earlier episodes (I know the show overall is supposed to be campy, but the tone's definitely more serious in the first season).
 Price and Baxter definitely get into their roles here, Price peppering his speech with egg puns ("egg-ceptional", "egg-squisite", egg-cetera) and Baxter putting on a great Bessarovian accent that reminded one YT user of a character from The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Here's the first part of the two-eppy arc:

Thanks to michelle66 for uploading this video
Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6

 Wanting to sample the variety of villians, I next watched Frank Gorshin as the Riddler in the arc "The Ring of Wax / Give 'Em the Axe". Riddler is definitely one of the better villians on the show and, between riddle clues and fits of cackling, lives in his own little world.

Thanks to michelle66 for uploading this video
Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6

 The show had a boatload of guest stars throughout its run, including Jill St. John, David Wayne, Roddy McDowall, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Ida Lupino, Howard Duff, Shelley Winters, Liberace, Victor Buono, Maurice Evans, Van Johnson, George Sanders, Art Carney, Ethel Merman, Milton Berle, Lesley Gore, and Joan Collins.

 If you're familiar with the show, then hopefully this brought back childhood memories. If you're not, I highly recommend you check some of these out!

February 1, 2010

A Few Tips for Saving a Few Beauty Bucks

Since "In these dire economic times..." has been overused, I'll start that saying everyone can save a few bucks making small substitutions in their beauty routine.

*Abrasive items in your kitchen pantry like sugar, sea salt, and baking soda make excellent exfoliators for the face and body. Be sure to use extra care in how hard you scrub, especially if your skin is dry or sensitive.

*Fruit and vegetable juices like lemon, potato, and cucumber are good for exfoliating, calming, and reducing scars of the skin. Lemon juice works similar to glycolic acid in unclogging pores and brightening the skin.

*Drugstore brands like Clean & Clear have many of the same ingredients as many high-end brands, like glycolic acid, cucumber extract, and chamomile extract. Read the ingredients list carefully if you have allergies or adverse reactions to harsh ingredients like sodium laureth sulfate and alcohol.

*If you haven't heard by now, Vaseline is great for many uses, like lip balm, cuticle moisturizer, and eye makeup remover. Plus, it's cheap for a regular-sized tub of the stuff, and it lasts a long time.

*Honey is great for lifting dirt from pores when applied to the face. Make sure not to let it drip. Rinse off after at least 20 minutes.

*Egg white is good for shrinking zits, tightening pores, and reducing oil. Let it dry and rinse off. Egg yolk is good for moisturizing the face if your skin needs a boost. Use one, or a mix of both, to see a difference.

*Websites like makeupalley.com have reviews on not only the best products, but the best products for the best value.

 Hopefully, you've gotten a few ideas for your beauty and skincare routine. Happy trails!