March 27, 2016

Ten Great Superman/Batman Comic Book Stories

So I heard Batman V Superman:Dawn of Justice finally came out. How were the reviews?


Yeah….I may end up seeing this but I don’t know. I know I was positive about the trailer back in January but I was really just being real optimistic. But it feels like they tried to do much and accomplished nothing. Yeah the scene with Wonder Woman is badass but from what I hear it doesn’t last long. Also, I spoiled the ending for myself. I like doing that, it got me to see Into Darkness because I just had to see that stupid ending, and without giving anything away and based strictly on what I read (and heard from others)…it sounds really, really stupid. And what an opportunity too, having Superman and Batman together in one movie. Why is DC so determined to kill its own movie franchise?? Sigh……..

You know what, I need to take my mind off this movie. Even Angry Joe didn’t like it and after the way he praised Man of Steel that is a very bad thing! I think instead I will focus on good stories featuring Batman and Superman. After all, they were the World’s Finest long before this movie was ever conceived. They were a team way back in the silver age right though modern times. Oh sure, sometimes they’re friends and sometimes they’re not, but when these two are in the same story it’s always good (well, almost always anyway. Superman/Batman:Generations was awful). In the comic books at least. And sure the animated movies too but I haven’t seen those.


And it makes sense, Superman and Batman are polar opposites. Superman is the symbols of hope, bright and shining. Batman is the symbol of justice, dark and brooding. When they are together it just works beautifully. Now of course there are dozens of these, picking just ten is like picking the proverbial needle in a haystack. But here we go. Also I am trying to pick only stories where Superman and Batman are the focus, not just happen to be there. If I did that the entire run of JLA would be on this list.


March 21, 2016

A Look at Sitcom Bottle Episodes

According to Wikipedia, a bottle episode is “produced inexpensively and restricted in scope to use as few non-regular cast members, effects, and sets as possible. Most bottle episodes are shot on sets already built for other episodes, frequently the main interior sets for a series, and consist largely of dialogue or scenes for which no special preparations are needed”.  And very often, these are either the best episodes of the series or at the very least, my favorite episodes of a series. Why is that? Because the focus is tightly placed on just our main characters rather than on some unknown guest star of the week, and is usually a very character driven episode with everyone getting in on the action.

In my discussion of Star Trek this month several bottle episodes came up. “Clues” is probably my favorite, I love the way every character gets something decent to do in the episode and the mystery is pretty good. DS9’s “Duet” hardly leaves the brig but the intense scenes with Kira make it one of the best episode of the series (certainly season 1). And of course “Balance of Terror” which barely leaves the Bridge for the whole episode.

But sitcoms naturally do this a lot, and that’s what I wanted to overview today. There is one big exception, no clip shows. Very often clip shows are also bottle shows, They are just our character sitting around reminiscing, but that is another subject so I will leave those out. Also no “Locked in” episodes, I already discussed that trope in another article.

Here are some other examples of bottle episodes.

MASH, “Hawkeye”
Hey, an episode I’ve actually seen! In this one Hawkeye is confined to a Korean families hut after crashing his jeep. Not only does the episode never leave the hut, but not one other regular appears! If you’ve ever wondered if Alda was a good actor watch this one as he carries the whole damn episode by himself! Course that fact could make people not like this episode, just Alda by himself can get boring and MASH was an ensemble comedy, but I thought it was good. And yes there were other bottle shows on MASH including one that never left the surgery room.

March 17, 2016

The 12 Worst Star Trek Productions–EVER

After talking about the good stuff all last week it seemed only fair to see the other side of the coin. It’s always fun to discuss bad episodes, either the ones we like anyway or the one’s which are universally considered awful. When I first started blogging I tried to tackle this, but my inexperience produced a boring series of articles I am still embarrassed about.

But this is almost five years later. Nothing is perfect, even Star Trek, and for all the greatness to come from this franchise there was plenty of bad too.  Stuff that fans laugh at  and even the creators are ashamed of,  Today I wanted to present the absolute worst from each series (and movies and one other thing I want to mention, but we’ll get to that). While I am trying to be as universal as possible there is always the chance someone disagrees me and likes one or these episode,  so as always this is just my opinion. I was going to limit this to one per series but every show seemed to have at least two, so I expanded it so now we have twelve. Compared to 115 great episode, twelve bad episode doesn’t seem that bad.

These are episode that are just bad, I can’t even defend them as “underrated” or anything Simply the worst of the worst……


TOS-The Way to Eden
When it comes to the original series there are lots of contenders. Some say Turnabout Intruder, but that is so bad it’s good in a bad movie kind of way. Some say And the Children Shall Lead but it’s still watchable for me. So what is the worst? The one episode that I can’t even sit through much less remember? This is the only one for me. I guess some give this a small pass because it was reflecting the times, that being the 60’s hippie movement. But I’m sorry that’s not a free pass, and this episode is just dreadful. Not only is it full of boring and pointless songs, the story is just so blah. And I’m not kidding I have watched this but can hardly remember a thing about it.

March 15, 2016

My Tribute-Five Years of Nostalgia Critic and AT4W

Before I even start, yes I know that NC and AT4W have been around for more than five years. It’s closer to nine,that isn’t what I am referring to.

nostalgia critic  tumblr_m7gu9zpLI41rb2b2ho1_500

I wish I could remember the exact date, but it was right about this week five years ago. I know the general time because the first new episode I watched was the Airborn review.
I suddenly lost my job and had been very depressed. Things were about a bleak as they had ever been. Then one night I stumbled onto the Nostalgia Critic. Ive mentioned it before, how I couldn’t stop watching and laughing my ass off-to the point where I had to force myself to go to bed because it was after 1 in the morning. I have been a fan ever since.


March 13, 2016

Top 50 Episodes of Star Trek:15 Honorable Mentions

Les and I spent the last week talking about fifty episodes each that we consider the best Trek has to offer. Would you believe that between the two of us, after 100 episodes, we didn’t come close to covering every good episode?

Here now are a few more episodes, at least one from each series, which is pretty good but still didn’t make our list. To keep this from going on forever I am picking only fifteen episodes.

Balance of Terror (TOS)
I’m kind of surprised my friend Les didn’t pick this one. I talked about this episode briefly in my article slamming Season 1 for the stupid phaser control room. But if you take that silliness out there are some pretty tense moments in the episode. It’s sort of a submarine movie in space (hence the phaser control room as some kindly pointed out, it was analogous to the torpedo rooms on subs. Stupid but at least I get the reasoning). And Mark Lenard it pitch perfect as the Romulan commander, no wonder he came back the next year as Sarek.

Space Seed (TOS)
I alluded to this in the main article but figured it was worth another mention. I think this episode is a tad over rated. It’s really only good for on single reason, and yes that reason is Ricardo Montalban. He sells every scene he is in and makes this episode good. Especially the he manipulates McGivers. Aside from him, there isn’t much to offer. While the ending is a natural for a sequel I would bet that without The Wrath of Khan this episode would not be as lauded. To be fair, that fight scene between Khan and Kirk is pretty damn good.

March 11, 2016

Top 50 Episodes of Star Trek: Part Five (with Les)

Greetings, Manic Fans. Les here to finish our list of top 50 Star Trek episodes with my good friend RichB.

Hmm…again, he’s not here yet.  I wonder what amazing entrance he’ll make today…

*Without warning, and with a goofy sound effect, a geometric object and a device appear with a note. Les reads it*
LES: It says, hit the switch and aim the buckle at the object….alright.

*Les hits the switch, and with the same goofy sound effect, the object changes into RichB

LES: AW DAMN!…are the Kelvans back in town?…Better go reinforce my scotch supply….

RichB: I swear…it was nothing…I lost a bet…ahem! Ok, let’s get back to the list. I can’t wait I gotta see what our last twenty great episodes are!!


Let me start with an episode which is split down the middle….

#10.  ”Extreme Risk”
This episode is right up my alley. Oddly it’s another Torres episode (I didn’t think I liked her that much). This takes place after she has been told that the members of the Marquis still in the Alpha Quadrant have been slaughtered. We see her trying to do all sort of dangerous stunts at, well, extreme risk. Why is she doing this? It’s very psychological as she is trying to feel pain because she feels nothing at all. This is a perfectly valid thing that can happen to people sort of like denial only deeper. It’ called self Harm and is a real thing that happens to depressed people especially women. So yeah the B story is kind of lame about a space race (and the introduction of The Delta Flyer) but I love the A story. And the scene where Chakotay forces Torres to confront her feelings is grade.

LES: Yeah, episodes like this are the reason why Torres is such a great character. This concept has been done on other shows(Commander Sinclair did something similar on season one of Babylon 5, for instance) but this story told it better. OK, last 10 eps, huh? ALRIGHT!

March 10, 2016

Top 50 Episodes of Star Trek: Part Four (with Les)

Greetings, Manic Fans. Les here to continue our Top 50 Episodes of Star Trek list with my friend RichB….and, surprise, surprise…he’s not here yet…

*A flash of light and Q appears in full Judge’s apparel*
LES: Um….you’re not RichB….where is he?

Q: Irrelevant! I’m here to discuss more important things.

LES: Um…ok…what’s on your mind, my friend?

Q: You make a top 50 list of Star Trek Episodes and only include 5 with ME in them? And you believe it’s still a legitimate list?

LES: Nothing personal, Q. Most of your episodes were phenomenal…but there were a few that didn’t quite measure up to the rest, and we wanted to spread the love a little more for the fandom.

Q: WHAT? You think some of my episodes didn’t measure up? Impossible!

LES: “Q-pid,” “The Q and the Gray”…..


LES: Of course they weren’t….OK, I’ll make you a deal. Bring back RichB, and we’ll put another episode of yours on the list.

Q: Oh, very well…but I’m watching you, mortal.

*Q snaps his fingers and disappears to be replaced by RichB, who looks around, confused*

LES: Yep! You were right. This WAS an even better entrance, my friend.

RichB: RIGHT!…I totally planned…Let’s continue with DS9 with an offbeat episode that really really worked!!


#10.  “Far Beyond The Stars”
I didn’t want to put episodes on here I had already discussed, mostly because the majority of those episodes were not great, but I am adding this for two reasons. One, I did discuss it in my Underrated Trek series but that was an exception, it really is a good episode. Second, it’s just to good to not have it here. Man how do I explain this one? In a hallucination Sisko envisions his life as a sci fi writer working for a pulp magazine in the 50’s. While this about as offbeat an episode as you’re likely to get, you can’t deny how good the writing and acting is. The core is obviously racial tensions from that era and it works so well. There some great little touches to, like Benny (Sisko’s name here) getting flashes of the other characters in their 50’s look and their DS9 costumes. My favorite is when the two cops, played the by the actors who usually play Weyoun and Dukat, assault Benny. The scene is chilling wit the music and the flashes of the cops switching back and forth. Chilling scene…followed by some amazing acting by Brooks. I could do a whole article on it…oh yeah, I did. Les, where do you want to start?

LES: Far beyond the stars was an exceptional DS9 episode and an acting tour de force for Avery Brooks. Awesome pick, my friend. My first pick here will be my last DS9 episode from the whole list.

March 9, 2016

Top 50 Episodes of Star Trek: Part Three (with Les)

Greetings, Manic Fans. Les here to continue our top 50 favorite Star Trek Episodes with RichB.

LES: Hmmmm….where did that boy get to?….

*A wormhole explodes open and a Federation Runabout exits it, zips down and lands. Door opens and RichB steps out.

LES: MAN! you get all the best entrances…..Ready to continue our lists, my friend?

RichB:Wait till you see my next entrance….And yes, I’m ready.


RichB:  Anyway, I can’t wait so my #10 for today is:

#10.  “Timescape”
I wanted at least one entry for each season. With season 6 it’s a hard call since the season started shaky and then got good. Many would choose ”Chain of Command” but I hated that episode, too dark. Yeah I get that was the idea and it was a powerful episode, just not for me. And while there was other good stuff that year (including the one I talked about last time) I chose an episode that is just fun. Timescape is just a silly time travel story. Well ok not ”travel” exactly. But any episode where we can have the crew frozen in place is a winner for me.

LES: I was always impressed with the ”Freeze Frames in time” that they could do in TNG…whether it was time frozen, or a program paused in the holodeck…characters could be panned around and moved around….and to this day, I haven’t the faintest idea how they pulled that special effect off as it was done years before ”bullet-time” was invented for ”The Matrix.” Anyways, the episode was good…not great…but good. For my #10, I’m countering your last 10 list that included ”Unification” as the episode that got TOS fans onboard for TNG…that brought back Spock….my #10 brought back Mr. Scott.

#10.  ”Relics”
SO, Vulcans are long-lived and Mr. Spock survived into the 24th Century(So did Dr. McCoy, who had a great cameo in ”Encounter at Farpoint,” but I digress….). The way they brought Mr. Scott into the 24th Century was brilliant. He preserved himself in a transporter on a continuous pattern cycle. When the Enterprise finds his crashed ship, The Jenolan, on the surface of a Dyson sphere Mr. LaForge finds and re-materializes him. The rest of the episode is about Mr. Scott coming to grips with being ”Old School” in technical expertise and feeling useless in his old age. Captain Picard recognizes the problem and encourages LaForge to help him. Several wonderful scenes are in this episode, including the return of Captain Kirk’s command chair(the actual prop) in a holodeck scene, Mr. Data tending bar and producing a bottle of booze thats…um…*takes a sniff…”it’s green!” and a nail-biting scene of suspenseful rescue as Mr. Scott takes the engineering station of his ship one more time.

March 8, 2016

Top 50 Episodes of Star Trek: Part Two (with Les)

Greetings, Manic Fans. Les here to continue our top 50 favorite Star Trek episodes with my friend, RichB.

Now…where is he?….

*TNG Transporter sparkle appears with a buzzing hum and RichB materializes.

LES: AH! There you are LOL! Ready to continue our list, my friend?

RichB: That was weird. Hell yes I’m ready! I suppose we should take a second before going on to the revival to discuss the other series that came out in the 70’s. The animated series. Les, you are older and wiser than I (snicker) so why don’t you fill us in.

LES: “I’m not THAT old”(Monty Python voice).  Well, after Star Trek TOS was cancelled by really dumb executives at NBC in 1969, Paramount Productions attempted an animated revival to continue the voyages of the USS Enterprise and Film-A-Tion studios was hired to do the cartoon series. Getting the original cast to voice their respective characters(excepting Walter Koenig whose Chekov character was written out of the show and replaced by 2 additional characters, Lt. Arex, a 3 armed navigator and Lt. M’ress, a Catian communications officer). The setup was from the same guideline bible used for TOS. While the animation quality ranged from ok to fairly mediocre, the stories and character acting was every bit as good as the first show was. As we continue our lists, I still have 2 episodes from TOS, but my next pick after them will be from this under-rated animated cartoon. However, why don’t we start with your #10 pick, my friend.


RichB: I’m going to go ahead of you a bit and discuss the one episode of the animated series I like. You might be surprised by which episode that is. My #10 choice is:

#10.  “The counter-clock Incident”
I don’t think this is the best episode, but I put it on here because it’s the only one I kind of liked. Even if the premise is beyond stupid. Though not a stupid as Kirk and Spock turning into fish people or alien creating giant Spock’s Who here knows there was a captain of the Enterprise before Chris Pike? His name is Robert April and we meet him here. The story is about the crew entering a region of space where they grow young. And the idea of people who start old and become children has been done to death (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button for instance. Heck Voyager did a similar idea in an episode that made even less sense). I also like the moral that elderly people aren’t useless. The episode is far fetched but it still works, maybe due to the cartoon format or maybe because it happens to be the final episode so they put it a little extra effort into it. I don’t know but of all them this is the only one I didn’t think was jaw dropping stupid.

March 7, 2016

Top 50 Episodes of Star Trek: Part One (with Les)

In an empty room, the light sounds of Alexander Courage’s theme song for Star Trek waft lazily through the area. The door opens and RichB enters the room.

RichB: Les? Are you here, buddy?

*looks around seeing his friend hasn’t arrived yet. Then he notices the audience.

RichB: Oh, hello! In 1991 Star Trek turned 25, and I celebrated by watching every single episode of the original series back to back one a day for about four months, I wish there had been blogging then, I would have reviewed them for an audience also. This year, Star Trek is turning 50 and between Next Gen, DS9, Voyager, and Enterprise there are 703 episodes of Star Trek. Don’t think I could watch them all in a year let alone a month. So as one of many tributes that will be done this year, I asked my friend Les to help me count down the top ten best episodes of every series. Since I have spent a lot of time discussing bad episodes, the one rule there have to be episodes we love that are good. That’s funny…he’s supposed to be here and….

*a transporter hum drowns out the music and Les materializes next to richb.

LES: Ah, hi RichB. Sorry I’m late….there was a line to the transporter today. Are you ready to…..

*Les notices the audience too.

LES: AH! Greetings, Manic Fans. Glad you’re here as two Trekkers come together to tribute 50 years of Trek greatness.

*Les quickly scans the tricorder to see what rich already said.

LES: Great intro, my friend.

RichB: Thanks a lot. So, Les, ready for the challenge?

LES: Absolutely. In the light of what’s going on with current Star Trek…I think to honor the legacy of Gene Roddenberry, we’re going to have to look back and appreciate the groundbreaking series and the spinoffs that followed it in order to see the greatness in this show.

RichB:  So true, and since I could be here all day talking about what is wrong with the reboot movies and how they miss what made Star Trek so special, let’s not waste any more time. Let’s discuss the cream of the crop, the best episodes of them all, and hopefully as we go we can explain just what it is about this little sci fi franchise that has helped it endure for so long!

LES: There is much to recommend about Star Trek. The 2nd longest running science fiction television franchise(only Doctor Who is longer by 3 years), it broke down many doors in broadcast television. So many subjects formerly taboo or unacceptable by network censors were shown in clever ways that made us think about what the possibilities were in studying the human condition. Taking on hot social topics like racism, sexism, ethics and abuse of power, Star Trek showed us a bright future where mankind became greater from ending war and learning to work and live together without prejudice.

RichB:The list of topics goes on and on, you can throw anything from drug addiction to slavery to freaking 9/11 in there! And yet they knew how to be light and fun with sillier episodes. The best part was the characters, each series gave us characters that we love and adore (ok some more than others). Why can’t the reboot movies remember any of this? But I shouldn’t bash the attempt to turn Star Trek into Star Wars, I said I’d focus on what made it great these last fifty years.

LES: YEP…the less said about the upcoming ”Star Trek: Beyond,” the better. So, shall we list our respective top 50 episodes of Star Trek in it’s 6 series, my friend?

RichB: Sounds awesome! Let’s start with the classic series that started all fifty years ago!


LES: Ok, as any top 10 list I do with any chronological sense for Star Trek is going to start with the first filmed pilot of the whole show. My #10 pick is:

#10.  ”The Cage”
This tale of the first Captain(ok…technically 2nd Captain if you know about Captain Robert April…but he only appears in one episode of the animated series for canon…) Christopher Pike(Jeffrey Hunter) along with the only other character to survive into the actual series when it was picked up-Mr. Spock(Leonard Nimoy). The tale follows the Enterprise as they’re lured to Talos IV where captain Pike is kidnapped by the inhabitants who possess the awesome power of creating illusions in the minds of others. This story is a masterful study in human abhorrence of captivity, the notions of not judging a book by its cover and Captain Pike’s story arc to rediscover his purpose as the Captain of the USS Enterprise. Film clips of this episode make their way into the TOS 2-part episode, ”The Menagerie.”

RichB: The Cage is…not an episode I have ever watched entirely. I do find it curious to see the way that show worked and wonder what Trek would have been like if Hunter never left the role. The Menagerie I have a love/hate relationship with but that’s a story for another day.

March 6, 2016

A Special Look at “Fuller House”-Season 1


As I think everyone knows, the Full House sequel premiered on Netflix this past February 26th. I finally managed to watch the episodes the other day. What did I think? 

Um….let’s start at the beginning. Oh, and if you haven’t watched it and yet want to be surprised there are spoilers coming.

Full House was an 80’s series which was just corny and sweet and harmless. The premise was simple, widowed Danny asks his best friend and brother in law to help him raise his three girls. Yeah the writing wasn’t strong and the plots were basic, but the characters were charming. It kicked off ABC’s TGIF and was around for eight years. Last year a deal was finally  struck to bring the series back on Netflix, and at long last it has premiered.

The premise was a switch of the original show. This time Kimmy and Stephanie are living in the house helping D.J. raise her three boys (and Kimmy’s daughter). The rest of the original cast appears in the pilot and then stagger through the rest of the thirteen episode (except Mary Kate and Ashley, we’ll get to that). D.J. is widowed and a veterinarian (I can buy that), Kimmy runs a party planning company (Ok), and Stephanie….I’m not sure, they say DJ but to be honest, it’s kind of vague. Stephanie as a party girl who stays out all night is a little hard to swallow. Where’s the backstory? Even when they brought back old boyfriends in one episode they had to go allll the way back to the second season of the old show to find one for Stephanie. Would have made more sense to give her an old flame and, well, a backstory aside from she likes to party! Seriously after watching all episode I get where D.J. and Kimmy have been but what the hell happened to Stephanie? In the pilot she is ready to dash off and then changes her plans in a blink. She is a traveler but it’s also stated she is unemployed and poor??? Then she talks about launching a singing career? Ok Ok there is one major revelation but I’m not spoiling that.

Ok I am getting off track. As I was saying the was announced months ago and I was hyped, until I read a nasty review in Entertainment Weekly. Turns out they were a little harsh..but not that far off the mark either. So this brings ma back to my question, what did I think?  Well first of all, when did Jodie Sweeten get so hot? Actually all three look pretty damn good. I will say the chemistry between Kimmy, DJ, and Stephanie is great. Course it should be. It’s the same house and the same actors, even the same (recreated) set.  As far as nostalgia value goes, it was great to see the whole cast together again. Even supporting cast like Stephanie’s old friend Harry (played by a different actor so why bother?), Steve, and even Nicki and Alex all grown up. The problems begin when I take the nostalgia glasses off.

Fuller House

March 2, 2016

Five Comic Book Artists I DO Like

A year ago I discussed five comic book artist who’s work I have never been impressed with. For whatever reason, I never followed that up with a look at those artists I do enjoy. Let’s remedy that shall we.  I have never cared that much about artwork with comic books, so for me to love an artist says a lot. Here are five comic book artists who’s work goes above and beyond the norm, for me anyway.

Alex Ross
alex ross - 11
Ross is the kind of artist where even if you’ve never read a comic in your life, you’ve probably head this guys name. His style makes the characters ro realistic that it’s downright chilling. Ever wonder what Batman really looked liked? Ross has got it nailed down. I have never read anything he has drawn, but have seen enough of his work to know it is simply amazing.