Archives for January, 2011
Series Creator and Producer: Gerry Anderson
Starring: Ted Shackleford, Rob Youngblood, Simone Bendix
Remember Jon Stewart’s character in Half Baked, the pot smoker who continually asked “have you ever, insert banal everyday activity, on weed?” Well Space Precinct follows a similar trope except the question is “have you ever, insert 80’s cop show cliché, in space?”
Officer Patrick Brogan, played by Ted Shackleford, is a twenty year veteran of the New York Police Department and in case you might forget this fact he reminds you during the main title sequence of every episode. His partner Jack Haldane is also a former NYPD officer though originally from Tennessee. Along with Jane Castle, Simone Bendix they are the only human officers at Space Precinct 88 of Demeter City on the planet Altor. Demeter City is actually on the surface of Altor, but the police station for some unexplained reason is located on a satellite in outer space, maybe Demeter City got a good deal on a recently refurbished batch of police station satellites at Ray’s Surplus Police Station Satellite Emporium on Xchanky VII. Demeter city is inhabited primarily by Creons and Tarns and recently humans along with a myriad of other alien species from around the galaxy. They all seem to get along well enough, but not well enough that Space Precinct doesn’t have something to do every week.
Reading an episode guide is like looking at a list of worn out cop show clichés. In the first episode Brogan and Haldane are forced to protect an unpleasant murder witness until he can testify. Then there is the cold case episode in which Brogan and his son find a body on a derelict spaceship which launches an investigation into a twenty year old murder of an eccentric millionaire recluse ala Howard Hughes. These are joined by the loose canon jeopardizing the case episode, the new drug on the streets episode, the bad guy frames the heroes episode, the too deep undercover episode, the old flame interfering with the investigation episode I could go on but you get the drift. To be fair there is also the thwart the alien invasion episode and strange meteor taking over peoples minds and threatening the existence of the entire planet episodes which I don’t recall ever seeing on CSI or Law & Order.
I’m being harder on the show than I should. It never claims to be NYPD Blue; its heart is more Starsky and Hutch. There is B level melodrama, explosions, gunfights, brawling, good natured ribbing, bad one liners and after school special moralizing a plenty, it’s just all happening on an alien planet. Up to a point the show works, the characters start to grow on you and while the stories are derivative and predictable they are for the most part at least competently put together, but its easy to see why the show only lasted one season.
The one unique aspect of the show is the character and set design. As you might expect with Gerry Anderson, the creator of Supermarionation, producing the show the special effects featured miniatures and sophisticated puppeteer controlled masks for the aliens. The miniature work is quite good but it is often marred by the transition to live action. In countless scenes you will see a flying car, for the lack of a better term, buzzing around Demeter city quite convincingly only to cut to a scene of the actors stepping out of normal car with the shot framed so that you couldn’t see the wheels and tires. The alien costumes are similarly compromised. While the eyes blink and the mouths move convincingly they still put the actors behind a big glop of rubber and the performances suffer for it. Then there is the robot that roams around the precinct satellite that looks like it came out of a 1978 Heathkit catalog. Watching the episodes you would be sure that it came out in the mid eighties but it was the mid nineties. Star Trek the Next Generation, Deep Space Nine and Voyager were all airing at the same time. Still for all of that the show has a kind of charm all its own. The real effects and the earnestness make you want to give it a break.
The show is presented its original full screen aspect ratio. The transfer is okay, there is some aliasing and the colors are muted. It’s got that sort of mushy shot on video look, whether this is comes from the transfer or the source material the end result is kind of blah.
The audio is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo in English only. The dialog, sound effects and sometimes over the top score are always clear and undistorted, competent but nothing special. There are no subtitles.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
The packaging is quite nice. The five DVD set comes in a double sided clear box with an inner leaf. The rather striking black on chrome DVDs are all held snugly in place. The exterior artwork is simple, bold and effective. The clear case shows off some interesting concept art for the show which strangely seems to be printed upside down. Of course this is outer space so technically there is no up or down. There are no extras or bonus features beyond a link to the DVD’s website where you can find limited cast bios and an episode guide.
Overall (Not an Average) 5/10
Even for fans of the show this has got to be a little disappointing, yes it’s all there but zero bonus materials and a blah transfer really don’t do this interesting if flawed show justice.
The Movie 6/10
The Video 5/10
The Audio 6/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 5/10
Overall (Not an Average) 5/10
Written by Everett Soares
Art by Brian Brinlee
This time, Humans, elves, orcs, cyborgs and bears… and magic mechs all meet the sky for some good, old-fashioned… elven politics? …continue reading
This is the all Oscar edition of our show! We look at the winners and make our picks then give you prizes! We still manage to give you new comics and DVD’s too! To enter the contest all you have to do is check out the show, pick the host (Alan, Mike, Niko, or Stephen) that you think has the winners nailed and post it below. everyone who gets it right will be entered into a drawing to win a killer CineGeek prize pack featuring some fantastic prizes!
The USA network has built a surprisingly successful stable of shows led by Burn Notice, a series that’s still the top rated basic cable TV show. Close behind is the hit series White Collar. In that series an FBI agent and a con artist work with a bevy of unsavory types to solve cases and continue their own long running story arcs most notably the mystery of a music box. One of those gray area characters that are a series favorite is Mozzie played by Willie Garson. Garson has played a bevy of unique characters from his near iconic role on Sex in the City to smaller yet scene stealing roles in the X-Files, Stargate SG-1, and There’s Something About Mary. Garson sat down to chat about the upcoming season of White Collar and what we can expect from his character.
The last season of White Collar ended with Mozzie being shot. It turns out that Garson had no fear of his gig on the show coming to an end: “Oddly enough I was not in fear for my job. I thought it was going to be very exciting. I knew it was going to be really exciting for the fans and that’s, again, I said this before, that is who we make it for. I knew it was going to be a big deal. Luckily, Mozzie has become a very beloved popular character and I knew that was going to really freak our audience out, which is great and it really did. I mean certain things that I don’t understand like trending, Twitter and things happen so fast after the New York airing of that episode that it was very satisfying to us. It was like, “This is great that people enough about these characters.” So it was great. Anything that can throw them for a loop, obviously, if something—in certain shows you see like the lead character’s really in danger, but you know the lead character is not going away. I think there is always the possibility that a supporting character, like Mozzie, could go away to the audience and we have a lot of fun with it.” Willie also shares his experience with keeping his status on the show after his character’s shooting a secret: “Well this one was really hard. Also, we got a little ridiculous because obviously they were thousands of pictures on the Internet of me shooting scenes after it had been shot. So it got a little silly after a while. Also, the reality is that there’s not many of us on the show so it probably was not going to happen that they were going to get rid of the character of Mozzie. So, in general, when I’m shooting I’m kind of used to it from other jobs. Obviously, Sex and The City had very strong gag orders as to what we could say and not say. So I’m used to that. You play a little kind of cheeky game with the audience about what they know. It’s very hard now with the Internet. I mean everyone knows everything all the time. So it’s very hard to get away with. So if people were really paying attention they would have known that obviously I survived. “
While Garson had no fear of his character actually dying shooting the near death scenes were interesting to him: “It was very interesting. I have died a couple of times before on film but this one’s really interesting. I love the way—Kevin Bray was the director of the shooting and I love the way he shot that … what looked like my death was shot so beautifully. Then coming back was interesting mostly because those days my son was there on set. So it was very interesting. He kept on asking me who he’s going to live with now that I’m dead, which I … was fantastic. So, it was good fun and I love those days too because you get to be lying down a lot. So I’m all for being shot all the time.”
It turns out that the upcoming episode of White Collar is a flashback episode that will offer more information about Mozzie’s history and how he met Neal (the con artist in the series if you didn’t know). “In the upcoming episode, we do find out how we all actually meet each other. Most exciting to me, an earlier partner of mine, we will find, is actually my real life son, Nathan.” Garson explains “What’s great about the writing on the show, so far, is that they just give out little tidbits, slowly but surely. We found out last season just in the line that Mozzie was a foster child. So slowly, things will come up as we go along, as usual. “Garson goes on to share his thoughts on Mozzie and Neal’s relationship and what we can expect to see in the upcoming episode: “We’ll see in this upcoming episode how we meet and what bonds us, what brings us together. Then we can just assume as our closeness and certainly through the shooting and everything that we really, really need each other. So I think, as far as we evolve, we’ve been doing crimes together for as long as we’ve been doing them. We just now are doing them for the good guys. It’s not really that different. So I think we’re just lifelong partners, crime partners from the day we met, and we’ll see how that develops at the beginning in this upcoming episode.” It’s also now apparent how far back Mozzie and Neal’s relationship goes. Garson had felt like the relationship went back much further: I actually did, but then—when I—if I thought it out, logically, I just think everything’s farther because of my advanced age. I’m in my mid-70s now, so I … assume that I would have known Matt for a long time, but the reality is that Matt is a young man. So, eight years is about right. That puts Matt at about 24 or so, which is when he wanted to step up ….“
Garson also explains why he’s enjoying this particular character over others that he has played: “I said this before, and it’s become more true, what’s great about me playing Mozzie, for me, is that it’s the closest to myself that I’ve ever played. His world views and his wry sense of humor are very in tuned with my own. So that’s been really just a treat to play. And the collaborative effort of the show where they let us bring a lot of ourselves to our characters makes it really fun and very personal to us when we’re playing it. So it has a little more depth for us when we’re playing it. It’s not just this other guy. It actually comes from inside our hearts and that’s what I’m finding is great to play Mozzie.”
Garson also confirms that there will be more Mozzie centric episodes of the show: “Mozzie has turned out to be a very popular character with the audience and also with the world of the show. There’s something about Mozzie that Peter responds to as well. So, I think Peter’s going to find ways to use Mozzie more and certainly the show writers are going to find ways to center things around Mozzie and possibly where Mozzie will need some help again. I think those ideas work really well in the world of the show and we’re certainly very aware of it,”
Mozzie is a Jack of All trades type of character. If there’s a caper coming up he probably has some sort of talent or bit of knowledge that will make the plan possible. Some actors are very method in that they must literally learn the trade that they will be portraying on screen. It turns out that White Collar’s production schedule doesn’t leave time for Willie to get that deep into this aspect of his character. “What I do is I look at it and then I immediately walk over to the properties department and have a conversation about how is this going to work. Garson explains. The problem with the things that Mozzie does is that a lot of them are very prop heavy and so it’s like, “Really? How did this work? How am I going to do this?” They just kind of show me. The thing about television is that it moves so fast that the more important thing about learning how to do something is actually learning how to release the knowledge of doing it because you’re right on to the next scene right away. So, while we have specialists who come in and, obviously, this is there specialty and they want to work really hard and you have to be a master of this. It’s like, ” Just tell me what I need to know to do the shot because I have another six to eight scene right after this and it has nothing to do with this.” So, for me it’s about I want to fake it. I want to do a really good job, make it completely believable and then move on. So, they just keep doing throwing them at us and hopefully it can fall off of me, quicker than it would be learning everything about it.”
In comedy series the actors often get the opportunity to adlib or tweak their performance in some way to personalize their character. I asked Willie if he is able to make the same sort of impression on Mozzie: “Without getting in too much trouble, I would say every third or fourth line comes directly from my demented head.”
We’re all obviously sci-fi fans here at CineGeek so it was great to hear Garson discuss some of his favorite sci-fi roles: “Those shows are great. I love science fiction because of the fans. The fans are passionate and anytime fans are passionate, it makes our job much more delightful to do, which is the situation we have with White Collar. The X-Files was an absolute delight. I was friends with David. We worked together before and then I’m actually, for real fans, I’m actually the only person who guest starred on two episodes of X-Files as different characters, which was a big deal to the fans.”
“Then Stargate was just pure fun. I love Richard Dean Anderson a lot and we had a great time. Then they kept bringing me back every five years to bring the character back. And I thought that was great. Those episodes end up being fan favorites, which is very satisfying to me.”
Garson is one of those great character actors who just sort of pops in a wide variety of shows. He considers what shows he’d like to guest star on that’s currently on television: “Well it’s ending now but I love Friday Night Lights, but I think that ship has sailed for me. I would love to do Modern Family. I have a lot of friends on the show. And I’d love to do so many other USA shows. My dear friends show just got picked up yesterday by USA called Necessary Roughness. I’d love to see some kind cross over with Burn Notice. We’re very close to the guys on Psych. I’m very friendly with … McCormick …. So, I’d love to do some cross over if we can find any way to do that. And I’d certainly love to go out to the Hamptons with Mark. So, who knows? I’m a big fan of television. So, I like stories. I love characters. And we’re in a good place now. There’s a lot of good shows coming up.”
Many actors have desire to move from one side of the camera to the other and it turns out that Garson not only has that desire he is already working behind the scenes: “I actually developed shows with my—I have two partners and we developed and sell—we’ve sold a couple of reality shows and we have some scripted stuff that we’re working on. And I also am starting to explore directing, maybe in the future in the world of White Collar. So that is something that is talked about all the time and because I have a personal investment in White Collar I think it would be a good place for me to get my feet wet directing. So it’s something we’re talking about right now. As we speak it is being discussed.”
We’ll close with Willie’s thoughts on what should draw new viewers to the show “I would say that they’re really, really stupid for missing it. No, to draw them in, I’d say, “It’s fun, fun characters, real characters, solving really interesting capers that are not keen on television anymore.” We’ve all talked about this, the entire cast, it was about episode 5 or 6 of season 1 when we realized that we could be solving a caper of the missing tape dispenser and it would be interesting because they’ve written these characters so strong. I think anyone could jump in. Obviously, it’s a new caper pretty much every week. So while there is an on-going story line we don’t’ hit the audience over the head with it. Each episode has a standalone really, really great, deep caper, a la Colombo, or Mission Impossible and then you could easily catch up with the rest of the on-going story line. And I just think the writing is fantastic especially considering what else is on TV right now.”
Check out White Collar on Tuesday nights at 8:00 Central
Welcome to Retro-Active a new CineGeek column where writers from the site take a look back at the classic pop culture icons of our youth and the potential for their revitalization or the reasons for their staying power if they are still around. check often for updates abd strole down memory lane with us or discover a brand new addiction!
When I was a child and went to the store with my mom I would always sneak off to the magazine rack to flip through the latest issues. Those glossy pages with the behind the scenes pictures and interviews were the only way I could find out about things outside of my town. …continue reading
There’s tons of news this week including Dark Knight Rises casting, Golden Globes Garbage, Green Hornet discussing, Ridley Scott’s next sci-fi film, Redbox reduction, Captain America and Spider-Man movie images, and not the right flotation device!
Directed By: Gregory V. Sherman, Jeffery C. Sherman
Lennon and McCartney, Leiber and Stoller, Young and Young, Rogers and Hammerstein, Page and Plant, the Sherman Brothers belong on any list of the top songwriting duos of all time. The Boys takes a peek behind the curtain at the relationship that powered their genius. …continue reading
Written by Everett Soares
Art by Brian Brinlee
Humans, elves, orcs, cyborgs and bears all meet the sky for some good, old-fashioned piracy. …continue reading
Created by Will Ferrell, Adam McKay
Starring: Rob Riggle, Steve Tom, Paul Scheer, Zach Galifianakis, Tim Meadows, Chris Parnell, Ed Helms, David Koechner
The Funny or Die website was created in 2006. And since that time, it has grown in popularity, even getting a series on HBO to showcase the videos from the website. So, if you missed this phenomenon, here is your chance to play catch up with this DVD release. …continue reading
The green Hornet has to be one of the least anticipated super hero movie made in the last 10 years. Even the hardcore comic book audience doesn’t have as strong a connection to the hero as you might expect because he hasn’t been in a comic in so many years. Then this movie went through a bevy of delays and was over promoted to the geek audience prior to coming out. So the question remains; is it good?
The answer to that movie is yes and no. Is the story well written? No. Are the characters well developed? No. Is it entertaining? Well, yes it is. It didn’t make sense in the early days of this film’s production that Seth Rogan was picked to play a super hero. He’s a funny guy, but not particularly heroic. After seeing the movie picking Rogan makes more sense. In fact Rogan being himself in this character is part of what makes the film so entertaining. If you aren’t a Seth Rogan fan then this movie isn’t for you. It’s only recently in the ads that the film is being sold more as a comedy than an action/adventure film and it is most definitely a comedy. There are truly some gust busting moments in the film thanks to Rogan and to Jay Chou who plays Kato. Rogan can be a big presence on screen but Chou holds his own in most scenes and literally steals others.
The film tells the story of a waste of space son of a media mogul who decides to become a hero after the untimely death of his father. That’s really about all of the depth and character development there is. There’s not even a good arc of growth for the character and Kato, well we know little about him other than he can build gadgets and make good coffee. There are some other top notch actors in the film that are some really thankless roles. I have to believe that some of them appeared in the film out of some obligation to the director. Cameron Diaz can be really funny and she’s so horribly underutilized in the film that she feels barely more important than an extra. It speaks to the overall assembly of the film that it feels like she doesn’t even appear in the movie until nearly halfway in. Tom Wilkinson and Edward James Olmos are in the film too but similar to Diaz’s role they don’t really get to do anything of weight. The great Christoph Waltz is in the film and while he doesn’t get much development either he does demonstrate a great talent for comedic timing.
Michel Gondry is one of those directors that has a definitive and unique visual style that has impacted his career. A Gondry movie looks like a Gondry movie. Often when these artistic filmmakers take on a blockbuster level film their influence on the visual style disappears. One of the great things about the Spider-man films was that Sam Raimi still managed to inject some of his unique visual style and bizarre sense of humor into those films. The Green Hornet is definitely a Gondry film thankfully. There are many key scenes in the film that are executed only as Gondry what handle them including an over the top wink at comic books. Fight scenes in the film are also gorgeous and often hysterical.
Honestly had the script had a couple of more passes this movie could have been something truly special. As it stands the movie is a visual feast, it’s often hilarious, it’s long by 30 minutes, and the story is underdeveloped in nearly every way. So, it’s worth a look as long as your expectations are low. The 3-D experience is absolutely awful. If you see the film save your money and watch it in 2-D. The visuals will look better in 2-D. There’s very little 3-D in the film and when it happens it looks forced and ugly.
Created by Joss Whedon
Joss Whedon was responsible for a great deal of TV and film prior to the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series but there’s no denying that this smartassed teenage vampire killer really put him on the map as a creator. He first imagined her in a film that was eventually taken out of his hands and became something substantially different than he had planned. …continue reading
The gang’s all back together this week to talk gadgets from CES, Fringe Fridays, a Total Recall remake, the first fully 3-D network, and our upcoming trip to Green Hornet!
Directed by Nobuaki Nakanishi
Featuring Voices by Nami Kurokawa and Hiroka Nishizawa
Warrior women come together and spread fan service across ancient China, occasionally fighting some bad guys. …continue reading
Written & Directed By: Patrick Pacheco and Don Hahn
Starring: Michael Eisner, Roy E. Disney and Don Hahn
Did you ever wonder how The Little Mermaid or Aladdin came to be? Did you ever wonder what almost brought down the Disney animation studio? Well, this wonderful little documentary tells the tale, and does it well. …continue reading
Directed by: Guillermo del Toro
Starring: Ron Perlman, Federico Luppi, Claudio Brook, Tamara Shanath
Before the Lord of the Rings films, the Hellboy films and The Devils Backbone, an up and coming director Guillermo del Toro made a film called Cronos in 1993. How does the film stand up 18 years later? Criterion Collection has made the film available on Blu Ray. …continue reading