December 11, 2011

Video: The Carol Burnett Show - Smile

Things have been pretty busy lately, so here's a little holiday gift from me to you, courtesy of both The Carol Burnett Show and Glee. Enjoy!

October 15, 2011

Video: The Mary Tyler Moore Show - Hello

Here's the latest from my YouTube channel. Enjoy!

September 14, 2011

Video: Vicki Lawrence - She's a Lady (Funkstar de Luxe)

 Here's a remix of my "She's a Lady" video from YouTube. Enjoy!

September 3, 2011

Video: The Dick Van Dyke Show and The Carol Burnett Show - Moves Like Jagger

 Here's a vid I just finished, though YouTube is just gear-grinding when it comes to copyrights and everything. So for now, this one's blog-exclusive Thankfully, YouTube let me upload this time with very little restrictions. Enjoy!

August 12, 2011

Video: Frankie Laine & Blu Cantrell Mash-Up - "Hit 'Em Up (Rawhide Style)"

 A mash-up I threw together, combining Blu Cantrell's "Hit 'Em Up Style (Oops!)" with Frankie Laine's iconic "Rawhide" theme. It should be noted that "Hit 'Em Up Style (Oops!)" samples Frank Sinatra's "The Boys' Night Out", so in some ways it's three songs being mashed together. Enjoy!

August 9, 2011

Video: Vicki Lawrence - She's a Lady

 Another fanvid of mine, centered around the "natural redhead" herself. Enjoy!

Video: Carol Burnett - Who's That Chick?

 Here's a fanvid I made recently and I'm just so proud of it. Enjoy!

July 29, 2011

MORRICONE / DELL'ORSO - "Uno Che Grida Amore" (1969)

 Another great tune from the uploaded arsenal of MorriconeRocks. Edda Dell'Orso, whose voice graces numerous Italian film soundtracks, just hits it out of the park. Enjoy!

July 20, 2011

Video: "Mama's Family" - Best of Seasons 5 and 6

 Here's the last of my Mama's Family compilations. Hope you enjoy!

LUIS BACALOV - "La Bambolona" (1968)

 Here's a great cut with catchy guitar and a great sax part, uploaded by MorriconeRocks. Enjoy!

RIZ ORTOLANI - "Beat Fuga Shake" (1960s)

 Here's a totally 60's cut from Riz Ortolani, uploaded by confuzzsion, from the compilation Beat at Cinecitta, Volume 1. Enjoy!

July 18, 2011

NORA ORLANDI - "I Robot" (1968)

Another tune from the illustrious world of Italian cinema, the great Nora Orlandi, and the uploads of MorriconeRocks. With a head nod-worthy beat and a killer organ part, Il Dolce Corpo di Deborah brings us "I Robot". Enjoy!

ALESSANDRONI - "Spiagge Azzure" (1970s)

 It's been a real dry spell in terms of music featured on this blog, so here's a catchy offering from Alessandro Alessandroni, from his CD collection Music for Strange Situations. It sounds like a mix of 70's giallo music, 70's country music, and the drive of good old classic rock. Thanks a million to MorriconeRocks for uploading.

Video: "Mama's Family" - Best of Seasons 3 and 4

 Notice a change? Unless you've come upon this post years after the fact, this blog's under new management... kidding! In actuality, "Straight From Chynna's Head" is now "The Chick in the Middle", not to mention the title change comes with a brand-new unblemished web domain. But who's counting?

 Anyway, here's the second of my Mama's Family "best of" compilations. Special mention goes out to actress Heather Kerr, who absolutely nails it as young Eunice Higgins. Enjoy!

July 17, 2011

Video: "Mama's Family" - Best of Seasons 1 and 2

 Hello, all! Sorry for the long delay in posts, but I've been quite busy (for what, you'll find out). Since YouTube hasn't been all that friendly towards me posting compilations of my favorite scenes from Mama's Family, I decided to just post them here. Hence, here's the first of these. Enjoy!

June 4, 2011

Review - Power Rangers Samurai Episode 14 "Team Spirit" and Episode 15 "The Tengen Gate"

 I don't have all that much to say about "Team Spirit", except that I'm glad Antonio's Clawzord transforms into a full-fledged standalone Claw Battlezord, rather than be another measly megazord attachment. I also found it cool that it had four modes, one for each direction on a compass - East, West, North, and South.

 "The Tengen Gate" has one important question arise in the wake of the mass Mooger arrival: If the rangers have defeated every Nighlok so far, why is the Sanzu River now rising more than ever? Grant McFarland, who played both Sensei Watanabe and Lothor on Power Rangers Ninja Storm, returns as Daisuke, guardian of the Tengen Gate, and becomes just the latest Disney-era Power Rangers actor to guest on Samurai.

 The battle at the Tengen Gate has several firsts (for Samurai, at least). Octoroo proves that he can hold his own in a fight, and Arachnitor, the Nighlok-of-the-Week, manages to defeat four of the rangers at once. Although the mutiny within the villains is nothing new, it's interesting in this case because Master Xandred simply took a break from commanding on his own, rather than be seemingly defeated by the new villain. Also, the usual punishment for a traitor in a series' group of villains is to either simply destroy them, or reprogram them into a mindless state. Here, Xandred gets creative and deals his newfound power upon Arachnitor in the form of torture (ouch).

  Anyway, as an episode that ups the ante, similar to the MMPR "Doomsday" two-parter, "The Tengen Gate" certainly marks a change in routine for Samurai. Let's hope the stakes stay this high.

May 21, 2011

Review - Power Rangers Samurai Episode 12 "Room for One More" and Episode 13 "The Blue and the Gold"

  "Room for One More"'s beginning highlight's Kevin's mistrust of Antonio's abilities outside battle, as he's not had any formal samurai training. Jayden, despite wanting to see Antonio succeed, also knows full well his cocky unprofessionalism outside battle in addition to his cockiness in battle.

 This episode's Nighlok, Steeleto, is probably the only Monster-of-the-Week that battles the rangers to avenge his friend, in this case Vulpes from the previous episode. I did like the scene when all six rangers arrive at the construction site, and Antonio can't find a place to stand between the others.

 I was a bit disappointed that Antonio's fitting in with Mentor Ji and the team didn't take up more than one episode, since in Sentai a sixth ranger's redemption can take many episodes, but since many of the plotlines are happening in such quick succession, I wonder how quickly they'll happen in relation to the two-year run announced by Saban.

 "The Blue and the Gold", at least, doesn't totally write out Kevin's doubt concerning Antonio's seriousness about being a samurai. The unique thing here is that rather than just attempt to be a samurai and fail miserably, Antonio uses his tech-savvy and installs hidden cameras to observe Kevin and his daily samurai habits.

 In the American footage, Octoroo's mouth moves a lot more than in scenes from the Sentai. Here, his ears and coloring are more apparent, since he's in the daylight. Even more, he resembles Finster somewhat. I'm a bit flabbergasted that the Nighloks' evil plan was to take and destroy only thirty toys to fill the well with tears. You'd think that even in the past, there would be a lot more toys than needed to steal, and a lot of kids they'd want to cry. I mean, why target only the kids with favorite toys when you can target them all?

 Antberry, the Nighlok-of-the-Week, reminds me of Needlenose from the MMPR two-parter "Wild West Rangers", though here it's worth noting that he's voiced by Barnie Duncan, who played Piggy on Power Rangers SPD and Toby on Mystic Force. Oh, if only Piggy could have appeared! Still though, it's great to see past Power Rangers actors return in these numbers. It's probably a record already for the most in a series.

 Last of all, it's good to see Antonio lose much of the cockiness he initially had in favor of putting his focus on samurai training, as he was making Mike look incredibly humble by comparison.

Review - Power Rangers Samurai Episode 10 "Jayden's Challenge" and Episode 11 "Unexpected Arrival"

 The first series two-parter conclusion, "Jayden's Challenge", after the opening credits, starts off with Spike dreaming about Mia, a likely shout-out to Skull having a thing for Kimberly back in the day. It's probably the most ridiculous character dream in Power Rangers history, save for when Bulk and Skull dreamed they were rangers and had to pilot the Megazord ("BURGERSAURUS!" "DOGASAURUS!"). That dream, of course, was because of Goldar's spell in that episode.

 Several have wondered why Bulk and Spike haven't crossed paths with the rangers all that much. The main reason is that Bulk, long out of high school, doesn't see the rangers on a regular basis, as they're in samurai training and presumably older than high school age.

 On the Battle Wing Megazord, the mecha additions now make the megazord look like it has breasts. I know this probably wasn't the Sentai people's intention, and the Battle Wing's appendages had to fit somewhere, but still, it's rather strange to look at.

 "Unexpected Arrival" marks the debut of Antonio, the Gold Ranger. His inital battle with Nighlok-of-the-Week, Vulpes, and his Moogers mirrors Rito Revolto's first appearance, as he pretty much singlehandedly beats them pre-growth, and Rito singlehandedly destroyed the Thunderzords. I should mention that Antonio's Octozord looks a lot closer to a squid than an octopus, but I'll let that slide. The Gold Ranger's gold-and-black Mega Mode reminds me a lot of the Gold Ranger from Zeo, interesting since Antonio's regular ranger mode is gold and blue.

 Vulpes' powers include mirror attacks and invisibility, and the mirror abilities make me wonder whether the rangers' powers are strong enough to destroy them, as Vulpes reflects their powers and injures them enough to at least de-morph them. Checking Wikipedia, I found that he's voiced by Ari Boyland, who played Flynn on Power Rangers RPM.

 The flashback near the end with Jayden and Antonio was about average for me, though I'm glad the child actor for Antonio's younger self didn't speak with a noticeable accent, since Jayden's was pretty thick.

 All in all, a fitting, if not decent, introduction for the series' sixth ranger.

April 26, 2011

Happy Birthday, Carol Burnett!

The originator of Eunice Higgins, Stella Toddler, Nora Desmond, and Rhoda Dimple turns 78 today.

 I'm a bit sheepish to say I only recently discovered The Carol Burnett Show on YouTube. I quickly made up for lost time, though. As great as the comedic skits are, it's the seriocomedic skits that are truly brilliant. The most famous recurring sketch, "The Family" and the Eunice special come all the way back around to the tragedy of Eunice's life, as she's forever stuck the cycle of her dead-end life, and because of her family, is a resentfully bitter woman through and through. And that's the short version of it! Eunice especially runs the mood straight into a heartbreaking denouement that reminds us that despite the events that have happened, nothing has really changed in Eunice.

 For now, though, here's a video of a seriocomedy number from The Carol Burnett Show, with Carol singing "Send in the Clowns". Happy Birthday, Carol. We salute you!

April 18, 2011

Review - Power Rangers Samurai Episode 8 "Forest for the Trees" and Episode 9 "Test of the Leader"

 The last time Mike the Green Samurai Ranger had the episode focus was in the first episode "The Team Unites". So here, it's interesting to see both the student and the teacher admit their mistakes and come to an understanding. The Nighlok-of-the-Week is pretty average here, but the best part of this episode besides Mike and Mentor Ji is the Samurai Battle Wing, probably the first time newly acquired accessory mecha has combined into something other than a megazord formation. All in all, a well put-together episode.

 "Test of the Leader" introduces a much-needed change of pace with Xandred launching a large mass Mooger attack right away, aiming to capture Jayden. Though not the first Power Rangers episode to have a villain scheme aimed directly at the Red Ranger, this is probably the first occasion of the villains consulting a past battle between them and the previous rangers to this vast of a degree. The Nighlok-of-the-Week, Robtish, is reminiscent of an early Kamen Rider monster, looking like a combination of a bat, a moose, an owl, and a set of speakers. Thank goodness he wasn't adorned with swastikas, because then he'd have no chance whatsoever of appearing on our shores. Robtish's strong Scottish accent is the last voice you'd expect from a monster looking like that.

 It's not very often the Red Ranger, or any ranger for that matter, takes on two villains, whether they be temporary or Big Bads, by himself. It helps, of course, that Jayden has two swords, a rarity among ranger weapons.

 Although "Test of the Leader" is one of two parts, they're technically seperate episodes according to the episode list, so I'll cover "Jayden's Challenge" in the next review.

March 29, 2011

Review - Power Rangers Samurai Episode 6 "There Go the Brides" and Episode 7 "I've Got a Spell on Blue"

 "There Go the Brides" is one of the better episodes so far, combining the twists from the Shinkenger episode with great editing. Deker is formally introduced, and Dayu takes the role usually reserved for the Nighlok-of-the-Week. I admit, the many twists the rangers use to fool the villains in this episode are reminiscent of the cheesy escape methods from the old Batman series, but used in Power Rangers it's actually pretty refreshing, since usually the solution to the episode's problem is either a rare power source, a new power-up for one of the rangers, or a new attachment for the megazord.

 Ricardo Medina as Deker is pretty decent considering the somewhat bad reviews he got back when playing Cole. Here, Deker's demeanor is noticeably subdued compared to Cole's. We'll see how the character develops as the series goes on.

 Bulk and Spike get more than their usual number of scenes in this episode, and it's pretty good to see Bulk not getting distracted by his own metaphor involving cake. It's a fair guess that if such a metaphor was said to Bulk back in the Mighty Morphin' days, both he and Skull would immediately get hungry.

 The Moogers growing giant are an example of villain footmen growing to fight the mecha, which is rare even in Super Sentai. Dayu and her troubled past keeps in the tradition of female villains having a dark past motivating their evildoings. The few exceptions to this include Trakeena from Lost Galaxy, Divatox from Turbo (it's well-known she had a long-lost twin, but not much else was revealed), and last but not least, Rita Repulsa, though the latter case was due to limitations of the Sentai footage, not the writing itself.

 Although the plotline of a ranger under an evil spell is nothing new, "I've Got a Spell on Blue" brings up the fact that the rangers cannot entirely avoid putting each other at risk. The usual bad puns are present but fewer in number. I found it great that in the forest, Bulk and Spike were afraid of two different possible threats (bears and mosquitoes), rather than running away from every harmless animal they encountered, like Bulk and Skull in "The Wedding", when they wandered around the Australian outback. A couple of YouTube commentors from Australia pointed out that there would be more dangerous animals in the outback than just koalas for Bulk and Skull to be fearful of.

 Deker's commentary on Jayden and Kevin's fight was a breath of fresh air for a battle scene. Ricardo Medina's beard reminded me of the "Mirror, Mirror" episode of Star Trek, and it helps to convince the audience that even in human form Deker is very much one of the villains, albeit a rogue one.

 Both episodes are certainly more firmly placed with both feet on the ground than earlier episodes, and I'm hopeful this upwards trend will continue.

March 7, 2011

Review - Power Rangers Samurai Episode 4 "Sticks and Stones" and Episode 5 "A Fish Out of Water"

 "Sticks and Stones" was an interesting episode in terms of progressing the story. Through her sister, Emily is immune to the Nighlok-of-the-Week's taunts, but is insecure in all other areas of her life. It was cool seeing the rangers' faces inside their helmets, the closest the franchise's ever come to that before being in an early episode of Ninja Storm, when the rangers' faces are shown through their helmets, which are badly damaged after their zords are damaged in battle.

 It was great to see Bulk and Spike finally involved in the action (at least a bit, anyway), despite failing to subdue the Nighlok. It's not said whether or not Emily's sister Serena passed away, though it's likely the storyline will be visited again later on in the series. Jayden's supposed secret is hinted at by the Nighlok Negatron (not Megatron, Negatron). Could it be similar to the one from Shinkenger? I guess there's only one way to find out...

 "A Fish Out of Water" bucked the trend of starting the episode post-credits with a scene of the villains on the Sanzu River, instead almost literally "cutting to the chase" and giving Kevin a solo mission to retrieve the lost Swordfish Zord. And about the brief flashback sequence with him and his father, am I the only one who thinks the father sounds like Sensei from Ninja Storm?

 Anyway, it was definitely unusual for Kevin to use a fishing rod to find the zord, given how we've grown accustomed to characters just happening upon new zords by chance or having new ones be created. In this case, the rod is too weak to support the zord's weight and the line breaks.

 Bulk and Spike beachgoing reminds me of the MMPR episode "A Star is Born", when Bulk, in preparation for a commercial audition, tries to get a tan and Skull, after spilling all the suntan lotion, uses TIMMY P.'S REAL BRAND MAYONNAISE! as a substitiute. Naturally, this gives Bulk a nasty sunburn that shows the next day. This time, Bulk's beach activity is more creative, being torn on what to build a sand sculpture of.

 Back to Kevin, who uses every symbol on his fishing rod's disc to try and lure the zord. The sequence of this is edited excellently to illustrate his frustration and tiredness in the task. When he collapses, he's aided by a man (doing a good American accent lol), who helps him to finally catch the zord and save the other rangers from the stench effects of Yamiror, the Nighlok-of-the-Week.

 The megazord battle adds to the number of forms for the mecha, but having the swordfish zord's point as a helmet spear for the Swordfish Fencer Megazord? Pure awesomeness right there.

 All the while, a mysterious figure is shown, who welcomes the return of the Samurai Rangers, but has an agenda of his own...

February 21, 2011

Stats, Stat!

 I'm not going over my lines lol. I'm presenting the statistics of this very blog. 

 In the nearly year-and-a-half since I started this blog in the last truly summer days of 2009, I've found many surprises in the statistics of who visits, who comments, from where, and about what.

 Where are my visitors from? As of this posting, I've had over 3,000 visitors from the U.S., my near-second home, over 700 from my native Canada, nearly 400 from the U.K., over 200 each from Indonesia and Brazil, around 170 each from Germany and Russia, 145 from France, and nearly 110 each from Poland and Italy. I've also had many visitors from Spain, the Phillippines, the Netherlands, Malaysia, Portugal, Slovenia, and Singapore.

 Most of the referring URLS for my visitors are from Google, though quite a few come from my comments on Rangerboard, and some have clicked from Henshin Grid.

 Popular posts include the Columbo season reviews, Trademarks of Giallo Cinema, and my post on consumer product differences between Canada and the U.S.. But the most viewed post of all time on Straight From Chynna's Head is (drum machine roll)...

 I am immensely proud of this post. I spent many, many hours crafting a comprehensive comparison between the two very different series for those new to either can understand. Nailing down the main differences but being fair (hopefully) to both sides, this is probably the longest post I ever published. A couple have said that this comparison wasn't top to bottom, but that wasn't my intention anyway. The fact that the villain and fight footage taken from a very dark and serious show (save for "The Bandora Song", of course) was used for a light-hearted-but-still-awesome show is itself pretty amazing, since it all (and then some) worked out in the end. To this day this post still usually gets the most visits per month via Rangerboard.

 The best thing about the Zyuranger footage in MMPR is the late, great Machiko Soga as Bandora/Rita. Both voices are great, Soga's own voice being a dark take on the "grandmotherly" voice that works wonderfully with the character, and Barbara Goodson's putting the epicness into "Make my monster grow!", along with spawning the numerous jokes associated with the line. Just watching the Bandora footage with the sound off will give you an idea of how expressive Machiko Soga's face is. Ironically, Soga would overdub Goodson's voice when voicing Rita for the Japanese dub of MMPR. That's right, folks, Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers was dubbed back into Japanese with the American characters of Jason, Zack, Trini, Billy, Kimberly, Tommy, and even Bulk and Skull. From the Japanese perspective, though, it makes sense, considering Zyuranger was just another Sentai in Japan and not the smash hit MMPR was in America. Here is a snippet of the Japanese dub of the "Green with Evil" saga:

Thanks to Necroc for uploading this video.

And here's the pilot, "Day of the Dumpster" dubbed in Japanese as well. Enjoy!

Review - Power Rangers Samurai Episode 3 "Day Off"

 "Day Off" and its lesson of the day is something I take great joy in. Firstly, the setting at the amusement park is a shout out to the MMPR episode "No Clowning Around". That, and Bulk and Spike pigging out on their cotton candy (the original is in MMPR's first opening sequence!). I have said before that Spike doesn't seem to be a carbon copy of Skull. The scene with the Whack-a-Mole-like contraption sees Spike fly off the handle in trying to win the game. Skull, on the other hand, pretty much said what Bulk said and laughed all the time until the second season of MMPR, when Bulk and Skull, in an ongoing arc, try to discover the identities of the Power Rangers.

 The lesson of balance in life can very well resonate with myself. Being a workaholic who relaxes for a long time after long periods of work, I can pretty often find myself burnt out after a particularly long period of work. Like several Red Rangers before him, Jayden runs himself ragged trying to master a new power-up or weapon. With Jayden, however, his new beetle disc is the ultimate multitasker: a Cannon
Blast mode for his Fire Smasher, a new Beetle Zord, and therefore the Beetle megazord attachment to make the Beetle Zord. People have accused newer Sentai of mecha overload, but this case is quite a cutdown so far compared to numerous animal crystals of Wild Force, as well as the Power Spheres of Ninja Storm.

 Many fellow bloggers have commented that Samurai has followed Shinkenger very closely, though when we look at Wild Force staying close to the source material, there's such a thing as too close. Some of Power Rangers' most beloved seasons were those who created a whole new backstory and events than the original Sentai (Power Rangers in Space, Power Rangers Lost Galaxy, and even MMPR). Other greatly loved seasons, like Time Force, followed the basic story not too closely, and made changes that would befit American audiences (like letting Eric live even though his Timeranger counterpart Naoto was killed). Since Shinkenger was basically regarded as a more serious season in recent years, it'll be interesting to see what Power Rangers will do with the source material, especially considering how dark they went for RPM in taking the footage from one of the sillier Sentai series in years, Engine Sentai Go-Onger.

 With "Day Off", we see the series get in the groove of things, following the basic formula of any Power Rangers episode, and introduce a lesson never before brought up in the series.

February 19, 2011

Review - Power Rangers Samurai Episode 2 "Deal With a Nighlok"

 Episode 2 of Power Rangers Samurai is a good follow-up to "The Team Unites", this time putting its focus on Mia, the Pink Ranger, and Kevin, the Blue Ranger. The two take it upon themselves to keep the Nighlok of the week, Doubletone, from making a boy named Ryan give up on his baseball dreams. This episode introduces Kevin's dreams of swimming in the Olympics, which are put on hold for him to fight as a Power Ranger. Mia's bad cooking, in keeping with her Shinkenger counterpart Mako, is also introduced here. Mia's chopping of a squash with her Spin Sword doesn't prevent it from tasting awful, either.

 The bad puns present in the previous episode are lower in number here, thankfully. I noticed that the sake used to, in a way, "sedate" the leader of the bad guys was changed to medicine for this episode. Bulk and Spike had more scenes in this episode, and I found it a nice touch when Bulk cheered for Ryan near the end of the episode after Spike got hit on the head with Ryan's home run ball. Ryan's semi-hidden accent doesn't really bother me at all, it adds to the character quite a bit.

 The first half of the episode sees how the team and Mentor Ji are alerted of a Nighlok's presence in the living world, featuring a cool table map that shows where exactly the Nighlok is.

 Overall, this episode advanced the series well despite not yet detailing how the team came together. Happy trails!

February 9, 2011

Review - Power Rangers Samurai Episode 1 "The Team Unites"

 The first episode of Power Rangers Samurai is a mix of both the old and new. Rather than describe the plot, I'll just run down the list of my thoughts on the episode.

 Being based on the third episode of Samurai Sentai Shinkenger, the episode puts its main focus on Mike, the Green Ranger. This is understandable, as having seen the first two episodes of Shinkenger, they, like many early episodes of Sentai, don't immediately establish the series' hallmarks such as the megazord. This series has already established the team's formation and the acquiring of their megazord. This placement in time is quite a refreshing change, though. This would definitely allow for flashbacks and such later on.

 Most other seasons of Power Rangers start with its focus on the Red Ranger, who is usually the leader of the team. Some Red Rangers are like Mike, being the inexperienced newbie who's suddenly put on the team, often in place of the truly intended person. Jayden, the Red Ranger in this series, is serious and highly dedicated to the way of the Samurai, much like his Sentai counterpart Takeru. This, being only the first episode, doesn't look that much into the rangers' personalities, but hopefully this series will delve more as the series goes on.

 Bulk and his nephew Spike only have a short scene, which made me think a bungee cord (that accidentally attached a shelf to Bulk's robe) would take off the robe. Instead, the cord pulls that shelf down, and the bowling ball that was on it falls on a skateboard. The skateboard, acting as a seesaw, launches a paint tray into the air, and throwing paint on Bulk's face. Bulk's underwear is not comically shown, however. That honor goes to Kevin, the Blue Ranger.

 With Spike, it's the voice that gets me, but not in a good way. I don't want to unfairly compare him to Skull, but Spike seems a little too old to have a cracking, high-pitched voice that usually indicates the early onset of puberty. That said, since this is only the first episode, I'll let it slide just this once.

 The villains are, like many in Power Rangers, mainly courtesy of redubbed footage from the original Sentai. Master Xandred and the Nighloks are pretty close to the original (at least so far), intending to generate tears from human misery to flood the Sanzu River and allow them to enter the living world. The choice in voices are rather interesting to hear after years of Disney ownership had rendered most of the villain voices to be generic, since those voice actors were New Zealand natives trying to hide their native accent. The lone female of the group, Dayu, speaks with an airy tone that will remind many die-hard fans of Astronema from Power Rangers in Space, while Octoroo, the elder of Xandred's followers, has a voice that is incredibly close to Finster from MMPR.

 On the subject of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, the same iconic theme song, with some minor alterations, makes a triumphant return here. Zeo was the last time the theme got a facelift, and let's face it, as much as we love the song, it would have to be updated again for it to be used here. Thankfully, Noam Kaniel, the composer for this series, did the near-impossible to recharge Ron Wasserman's theme, and IT KICKS ASS!

 Kaniel plays a large hand in establishing a similar feel to the early days of MMPR, mainly in the background music. The villain scene after the opening has the music from Rita Repulsa's plotting scenes on the moon. The MMPR theme has a firm place in the background music as well, but Kaniel also introduces new incidental music that goes well with the show and the older theme, not making that look older by comparison.

 MMPR (aw hell, Power Rangers in general), is infamous for over-the-top bad puns in battle. The first encounter between Mike and Rofer, the series' first Nighlok, is riddled with these, an obscene amount even by Power Rangers standards (though I gotta admit, it's not everyday a monster-of-the-week tells his footmen to "get their daily greens"). These are more or less ditched in the latter part of the episode. Hopefully, they'll cut down on those.

 With the episode's pacing and light-hearted humor, this is about as close as it gets to the tone of MMPR. You can tell Saban, after doing the impossible in buying back Power Rangers, has made a real effort in putting its famous stamp back on the franchise. To those unfamiliar with the good ol' days of the franchise, these homages are all-new, but to us, the die-hard fans, it's a sign that things ought to be looking up from here.

January 22, 2011

Film Review - "On Her Majesty's Secret Service"

James Bond in On Her Majesty's Secret Service

'My name's Bond. James Bond.'

"My name's Bond. James Bond."

George Lazenby stars as James Bond in On Her Majesty's Secret Service

 First of all, forget everything you've heard about On Her Majesty's Secret Service. Then try to see this film with fresh, unbiased eyes and see what you've been missing.

 Let's face it, the James Bond movies have never been known for deep, complex emotion. They've also maintained a rock-solid air of sophistication. Until this film.

 One of the many ways this breaks the pattern is obviously Aussie George Lazenby as Bond himself. As a former model and having no previous acting experience, he does a great job filling the impossibly big shoes of Sean Connery. For the film's final scene, Lazenby said he read the final scene in Ian Fleming's original novel and was able to express the emotion needed for that scene. He matches the emotional needs of the script, which puts much more emphasis on Bond's fears and humility.

 Another way the film breaks tradition is cinematography, most notably the scene where Bond returns to bed at Piz Gloria, and encounters Irma Bunt (Ilse Steppat) hiding under the sheets instead of the "Angel of Death" he bedded. Right after, a rather psychedelic visual follows, and Bond is captured. The Sixties are alive and well.

 As I mentioned, this is one of the more emotionally-driven Bond films. Bond and Tracy (Diana Rigg)'s chase through Murren and Grindelwald, as well as a local carnival and ice rink, illustrates Bond's fear and fallibility, in stark contrast to the other films up to that time. The mere thought of Bond getting married is a step out of the usual, though the film's ending tragically brings Bond's marital status (as well as his usual infallibility) back to the series' status quo.

 As a story, this is one of the more faithful Bond films in relation to the original novel. Other films, of course, changed origins and backstories, renamed or added characters, and especially downplayed what would be perceived today as political incorrectness (Live and Let Die being one of the prime examples of that). Since the films are far better known than the novels, there isn't as much as an uproar over the changes made for film as other film adaptations of books. Most agree the changes to downplay the novels' racism are for the better.

 Action and the exotic locales are in top form here. Switzerland and Piz Gloria illustrate the story's beauty as well as its loneliness and confusion, with Piz Gloria and the Swiss Alps adding isolation and the chase through the carnival adding much chaos for Bond. The ski chase with Bond and Blofeld's henchmen is pretty unforgettable, especially when one of the bad guys falls into a snow machine and makes red snow.

 All in all, does On Her Majesty's Secret Service really feel like a Bond film? Yes and no. There's enough of the usual features of a Bond film to not feel totally different, but the emotion makes it stand out, though it tends to alienate more of the hardcore Bond fans than it impresses, similar to Licence to Kill and its emotionally-driven plotline.

 I should mention that everyone who's seen this film will feel absolutely sorry for Miss Moneypenny at the wedding. I even captured the shot. Awwww...

Miss Moneypenny (Lois Maxwell) at Bond's wedding.

 I personally liked this because it takes a risk in terms of what should and what shouldn't go into a Bond film. George Lazenby does well despite the challenge in the role, and makes James Bond both sympathetic and humanly flawed.

Bond (George Lazenby) and Moneypenny (Lois Maxwell)

Marc-Ange Draco (Gabriele Ferzetti)

Bond (George Lazenby) meets the Angels of Death.

Irma Bunt (Ilse Steppat)

Bond and Tracy (Diana Rigg)

Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Telly Savalas)

Tracy (Diana Rigg) steps up to the plate.

Don't let the ending get you down. After all, it is just a movie. But what a movie!

Film Review - "Thunderball"

James Bond in Thunderball

James Bond in Thunderball

 Imagine you're about to walk onto a stage. The performer before you has received overwhelming applause and a loving reception, and this heightens your nervousness. Now then, let's imagine this scenario in terms of the James Bond series. The act who is about to come onstage is Thunderball, and the act before who has won the great admiration and popularity is none other than Goldfinger.

 The James Bond series flew to new heights with Goldfinger, thus becoming the "tough act to follow" for the following installment, 1965's Thunderball.

 James Bond heads to the Bahamas to get back two warheads that have been stolen by none other than SPECTRE, which holds NATO (probably the only organization in the early Bond films that's not become hilariously out-of-date) hostage for £100,000,000 (cue inflation joke from Austin Powers). Soon enough, he encounters main Bond Girl for this film Dominique "Domino" Derval (Claudine Auger), whom Bond uses to get to her "guardian", SPECTRE Number Two Emilio Largo (Adolfo Celi).

 Like any Bond film, there's a scene with M (Bernard Lee), one with Q (Desmond Llewelyn), and one with Bond's CIA equivalent Felix Leiter (Rik Van Nutter), who has a bit of a bigger role in this film. Leiter also had a good chunk in Dr. No, and would figure prominently in Licence to Kill.

 The locales, of course, are shot beautifully. It's also pretty awesome when Bond uses his Bell Rocket Belt to make his escape in the pre-title sequence. The character of Fiona Volpe proves to be just as wily as Bond, seeing right through Bond's ruse and managing to have him tied up before he regains consciousness. Luciana Paluzzi is probably one of the only foreign-born Bond girls not to have her voice dubbed by another actress. Her voice, of course, adds to the allure that for a short time traps Bond.

 You're probably wondering about what my opinion is on the "shot in the back" scene when Bond turns Fiona in time for her to be shot by her own bodyguard. Personally, the scene makes it clear that Bond sees the shooter, and in my eyes he purposely kills two birds with one stone.

 For me, the only notable thing about this film that seemed to drag on was the final underwater fight between the Coast Guard and Largo's henchmen. Still though, Thunderball is by no means a terrible Bond film, or even a film in general. There are certainly worse Bond films out there (*cough* A View to a Kill *cough*), and not watching Goldfinger before this one will probably help your opinion on this film. Sean Connery continues his winning streak here as Bond, though I'm more of a Roger Moore fan overall (not because he and I have the same last name, that's a total coincidence). 

 So by all means, check it out, even if you're totally biased against it because of Goldfinger. What this film doesn't accomplish, You Only Live Twice does, so enjoy it for what it is. Like I said, there are worse Bond films out there.


Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Anthony Dawson)

Miss Moneypenny (Lois Maxwell) and Bond (Sean Connery)

M (Bernard Lee) at Whitehall

Francois (Paul Stassino) and Domino (Claudine Auger) Derval

Fiona Volpe (Luciana Paluzzi)

Q (Desmond Llewelyn) demonstrates the latest gadgets.

Domino(Claudine Auger) and Largo (Adolfo Celi)