October 29, 2011

A Look at Sitcom Halloween Episodes

I have always loved the way sitcoms celebrate Halloween. It’s one chance a year to get silly, dress up, and have some fun. Since Halloween is just two days away, this seemed like he ideal time to take a look at some of my favorites.
The 80’s Halloween show’s were always cute, but there was always something missing. They never went all out with things like decorations, for example. They would be light and silly, not scary or creepy. Take The Cosby Show Halloween episode as a good episode. This is a good episode, but it feels so fake. In fact in the first scene of the episode about a Halloween party we see Clair telling Cliff he can’t put a pumpkin out that Cliff had carved a typical jack-o’-lantern face into. The argument being that their daughter wanted this party to be “adult”. Ok, what teenager wants a Halloween party with no decorations? In the episode the lights are always on, the costumes are generic, and all the kids do is dance to some bland music. What kind of Halloween party is this exactly? I don’t mean to pick on this show because I liked it, but it is a great example of Halloween in the 80’s on TV.

Show’s that weren’t centered on a family tried harder. Take the Benson episode about a strange person visiting the mansion. They tried to make it scary, but it’s more depressing (though William Marshall is great in this episode). Though for an early 80’s show it was good, at least it tried. What was it about the family shows from that time? Even if they did do scary they always had to have it be a dream, like Perfect Strangers when they did an episode about Balki becoming an alien, or they use Halloween as dressing for a larger story like Punky Brewster which started as a good Halloween show but turned into another story altogether about seeing the good in people, or they would have to do the whole show as a silly made up ghost story or in a haunted house.80's saw Halloween episodes for Alf, Facts of Life, even Mr.Belvedere and they all fell into this same formula.

October 28, 2011

The Worst of Trek-Part 5

I have been doing these worst of trek articles for awhile now, and had planned on finally diving into the Next Generation movies. The problem is that these movies have been reviewed online several times. Like I had said about a previous review, there is nothing else I can really add to it. I also don’t want to waste the time of you guys who probably have heard all there is to hear about these films. So rather than a review or a silly top 5 list, I will just discuss my feelings on these movies briefly. Unlike the original series movies which had one bad one out of six (if you give the 1st a break) all of these were bad (well, three out of four anyway).
It all started sometime in 1993 or 1994, when Paramount realized that doing movies with the regular cast just didn’t make sense anymore. They had a brilliant idea, take Next Generation and start making movies about them. They neglected to figure on one very important thing, and this cannot be stressed enough. It was ten years after the original series ended we got the first Star Trek movie; fans were hungry for more Star Trek. When it came out, they lined up in droves and cheered everything even though all the movie really was was a special effect showcase. Did they really think that fans had that same feeling for Next Generation? The series had just gone off the air, plus there was Deep Space Nine and the forthcoming Voyager. I mean, talk about not reading your audience.
Then they made an even bigger mistake. When the series went on to the movies, they took Rick Berman and crew along. Nothing wrong with them being part of the process, but they also should have brought in people who knew how to make movies. All they really did was make four bloated episodes. So it’s no wonder these movies did so poorly, and the worst part is they cancelled the series when it could have easily had an 8th season. I know the 7th season wasn’t all that great, but I would have rather seen an 8th season over these horrible movies. What they should have done is waited a few years to bring the Next Generation back, but they didn’t.
Star Trek-Generations. This sounded like a can’t miss. Kirk and Picard meet, finally! This was such a monumental thing that it even made the cover of Time Magazine. However, it didn’t work out that way. The script has enough plot holes to fly a starship through, the new sets and costumes are distracting, Data goes from charming to plain annoying, and the exciting moment when Kirk and Picard do meet…is the two of them making breakfast. The fact Kirk was getting killed was the worst secret in Hollywood, and as many have noted quite correctly it was an insult to the character and the fans who loved that character. All we could do when this ended was hope the next one would be better.
Star Trek-First Contact. This was good, there’s no other way to say it. Sure, you can be nitpicky about something’s. I mean, another time travel story? However, it had good actions, a great villain, and felt like a real movie.
Star Trek-Insurrection. I went into this knowing it was going to be bad. When I heard about how they were doing a “light” movie I knew it would suck. What we have here is another extended episode and not a good episode either. The worst part of this movie for me was that it reminded me of at least three separate episodes of the series. Take “Homeward”, “Who Watches the Watchers”, and “Journey’s End” put them together and you have this movie. The worst thing in this movie is every character is either silly or just not performed correctly. Were they even trying?  
Star Trek-Nemesis. I went into this one with higher hopes. The creators knew they had messed up the last movie, and they knew they had to make this a good film in order to keep the franchise alive. Alas, I was giving more credit than was due. This movie is so boring, and the villain is so uninteresting, that it was almost hard to watch. They had some real unnecessary things like the bit with Troi being raped by the villain. Riker and Troi's wedding is glossed over (although the cameos were neat) and the end of the movie had to be cut because it was just plain dumb (see the DVD, you'll see what I mean). To make matters worse was the way they handled Data’s death, which was an insult to the character.
After this horrible flop, Paramount pulled the plug on these movies. Of course we know what they did, they asked JJ Abrams to reboot the whole franchise which he did, in a movie I hated. However, that’s another story. That is my feelings on the Next Generation movies, just pure disappointment. It’s pretty bad when the series finale is better than your feature films.
I am going to do one more installment in this worst of trek series, and it is on an episode I haven’t talked about yet which was so bad that is was actually an insult.

October 27, 2011

Top 5 Halloween Specials

Well it’s that time of year again, Halloween is coming Monday night. I love Halloween; it’s just a fun time. Garfield said it best when he said it was his kind of holiday. No stupid relatives, just candy, candy, candy! Just throw a costume on and get some candy, simple as that.

Of course being an adult I don’t trick or treat anymore. However, there are ways to enjoy the holiday and one of those ways is by watching some favorite Halloween specials on television. So, I thought in honor of the holiday I would list my top 5 favorite Halloween specials of all time. I am just talking specials; I will talk about sitcom episodes another time.

#5. Saturday Night Live.
Call me crazy, but I love watching this every year on Halloween. This show did a great job of doing real Halloween themed sketches. They weren’t scary, of course, but they were funny and most are so much fun to watch year after year. My favorite might have to be Chris Farley’s motivational speaker sketch, where he talks to a trio of teenagers who have been causing trouble. Of course he is all over the place and winds up smashing the coffee table. When first aired this special was hosted by Wayne and Garth, and unfortunately their commercial intros have all vanished as the special has been reproduced many times. Their opening and closing is still there at least.