TV Review: Arcadia of My Youth: Endless Orbit SSX (1982-1983)

Original Run: October 13th, 1982 – March 30th, 1983
Created by: Leiji Matsumoto
Directed by: Tomoharu Katsumata, Masamitsu Sasaki
Written by: Leiji Matsumoto, Hiroyasu Yamaura, Hiroyuki Hoshiyama
Based on: Space Pirate Captain Harlock by Leiji Matsumoto
Music by: Shunsuke Kikuchi

Discotek Media, Toei Animation, Tokyo Broadcasting System, 22 Episodes, 22 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

This second Captain Harlock series served as a loose sequel to the Arcadia of My Youth feature film that came out in the same year.

Following the events of the film, Harlock and the crew of the Arcadia are exiled from Earth, which has been taken over by the Illumidas, along with several other planets.

For much of the series, Harlock explores space while also having battles with the Illumidas. He’s also searching for the mythical “Planet of Peace”, a place where all intelligent species can live free of war and interplanetary conflict.

The show was originally planned to have double the episodes that it got. It struggled in the ratings due to competition from new series like the original Gundam, which was a quicker paced, more action oriented show.

Still, this did have a proper and good conclusion, even if production was cut short.

I also liked this show a hair bit more than the earlier Captain Harlock series. I enjoyed the stories, the characters and the overall style of it.

Rating: 8.75/10

Documentary Review: American Experience: The Bombing of Wall Street (2018)

Release Date: February 13th, 2018
Directed by: Susan Bellows
Written by: Susan Bellows
Music by: Joel Goodman
Cast: Oliver Platt (narrator), various

PBS, 53 Minutes

Review:

I usually like these PBS American Experience documentaries, even if they’re a bit dry at times.

This one was kind of slow but the story was still interesting as it doesn’t just talk about the bombing of Wall Street but it also discusses the fallout from it and how it sparked a heated debate, across the country, about the federal government’s role in protecting Americans from acts of terror and how much overreach should they be allowed to have in combating acts of political violence. Even though this now happened 101 years ago, we’re still having this debate in America and the government has certainly pushed the envelope in regards to their use of power.

For those who don’t know, a cart loaded with dynamite exploded in front of Morgan Bank on September 16th, 1920. The bombing killed 38 and injured hundreds.

It’s a pretty compelling story and an event that seems somewhat forgotten in history. I remembered initially learning about it in high school but haven’t thought much about it since. Strangely enough, they never did find out who was behind the bombing and it remains unsolved.

Overall, this was full of a lot of information about the event and how it sent shockwaves through the country. There were a lot of details I didn’t know previously, so that alone made this a worthwhile watch.

Rating: 6.25/10

TV Review: Elvira’s 40th Anniversary, Very Scary, Very Special, Special. Especially For You! (2021)

Original Run: September 25th, 2021
Created by: Scott D. Marcus
Directed by: Jim Kunz
Written by: Eric Kornfeld
Cast: Cassandra Peterson (as Elvira)

Shudder, 4 Episodes, 80-106 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

For Elvira’s 40th anniversary, she returned for a four episode special on Shudder.

Like the television series that first made her famous and all the other revivals of it, this features her hosting old school horror flicks.

I thought this was a perfect return to form for her and man, she hasn’t lost a step or missed a beat.

Elvira is as entertaining, hilarious and witty as ever and it’s just great seeing her in her element once again, as the woman is by far one of the greatest horror hosts of all-time and beyond that, she’s a national treasure. I mean, who the hell doesn’t love Elvira?

I also enjoyed the four films, even if some of them are far from great. But it’s these kind of movies that helped make her original show what it was and also added the right kind of fuel to her commentary.

My only negative with this special is that it should’ve been bigger. I would’ve loved a dozen or so episodes but I also know how much work goes into these things and honestly, Elvira can do whatever the hell she wants at this point. The fact that she is still game to do these things is a real treat.

Rating: 8/10

TV Review: Squid Game (2021)

Original Run: September 17th, 2021 (all episodes)
Created by: Hwang Dong-hyuk
Directed by: Hwang Dong-hyuk
Written by: Hwang Dong-hyuk
Music by: Jung Jae-il
Cast: Lee Jung-jae, Park Hae-soo, Wi Ha-joon, Jung Ho-yeon, O Yeong-su, Heo Sung-tae, Anupam Tripathi, Kim Joo-ryoung, Lee Byung-hun

Siren Pictures Inc., Netflix, 9 Episodes, 32-63 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

I couldn’t avoid watching this any longer because of two reasons: the hype and because everyone was talking about it that if I didn’t watch it, the show would’ve been spoiled for me. So, this leapfrogged other shows I had in my queue first because I wanted to see it without it being ruined.

Overall, I did enjoy this but it didn’t blow me away. It’s become a mega-phenomenon almost instantaneously but I found it to be derivative of several things I’ve seen before. And I don’t mean that as a knock but those seeing this as a fresh concept, probably just haven’t watched enough movies.

Hell, in a lot of ways, this is Saw sequel with a much larger group, more appealing surroundings and a cash prize instead of just winning your right to continue living. Then again, that’s also exactly what the prize allows the winner to do, get a fresh chance at life with a new outlook, regardless of how fucked up the journey was.

There’s a big “twist” at the end too, where you discover who is behind this game and why they created it. None of it is all that shocking or surprising and if you’ve digested enough stories similar to this, you can arrive at these answers on your own. It’s honestly, lowest common denominator stuff and I was pretty disappointed in this reveal, as I had hoped the show would’ve thrown a legit curveball, knowing that many probably already thought that this was just a game to entertain the richest people, as the players are just disposable cattle or as the show puts it: race horses being gambled on for kicks.

All that being said, I still mostly enjoyed this because of the characters and their personal stories. Sure, I knew good people would do bad things and that terrible people would be the absolute worst. However, the show does make you care about these people and that’s really the only thing that holds it all together.

In the end, I hope that this stays a miniseries and that Netflix doesn’t try to convince the creator to make more. It’ll just go downhill from here and it’s always best to quit while you’re ahead. But c’mon, man… this is Hollywood. We’re definitely going to get more based off of how this show exploded in popularity, almost immediately.

Rating: 8/10

Documentary Review: Kirby at War (2017)

Also known as: Kirby at War: La Guerre De Kirby (original French title)
Release Date: November 20th, 2017 (France)
Directed by: Marc Azema, Jean Depelley
Music by: Raphael Gesqua

Metaluna Productions, Passe Simple, 52 Minutes

Review:

This was a neat little television documentary made in France about Jack Kirby’s life in World War II and how that experience inspired some of his artistic work in comics.

I found it pretty interesting and the host of the documentary actually went to some of the locations where Kirby and his company fought the Nazis. It was cool seeing these locations and having some of the battles explained.

However, this was choppily edited at times and it also felt like a lot of it was rushed through. I felt like it needed more detail and more time to let certain things marinate. But it seems like this needed to fit within the running time of a one hour format.

This would’ve benefitted from not having television constraints. Something over an hour would’ve made this a more enriching experience.

Still, if you like Jack Kirby’s work and war stories, this is a good mashup of the two.

Rating: 6/10

TV Review: Stargate SG-1 (1997-2007)

Original Run: July 27th, 1997 – March 13th, 2007
Created by: Brad Wright, Jonathan Glassner
Directed by: various
Written by: various
Based on: Stargate by Roland Emmerich, Dean Devlin
Music by: Joel Goldsmith
Cast: Richard Dean Anderson, Michael Shanks, Amanda Tapping, Christopher Judge, Don S. Davis, Corin Nemec, Ben Browder, Beau Bridges, Claudia Black, Ronny Cox, Lexa Doig, Robert Picardo, Morena Baccarin, John de Lancie, Louis Gossett Jr.

Double Secret Productions, Gekko Film Corp., Kawoosh! Productions IX, MGM Television, Sony Pictures Television, Showtime (1997-2002), Sci-Fi Channel (2002-2007), 214 Episodes, 44 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

Nearly a quarter of a century later, I finally gave Stargate SG-1 a shot after a friend of mine was recently talking to me about it and over the years, others have tried to sell me on its greatness. However, 214 hour long episodes plus two movies and three spinoff series is a lot of stuff to watch if I happened to actually be into this.

Due to my schedule and the immensity of this franchise, I looked up an episode guide that pointed out which episodes were the key ones and those are what I watched with the intention of going back and watching the ones I missed, if I ended up liking this show. It’s a method I’ve used for other long-running shows and I like doing it that way.

I also liked the original 1994 Stargate movie, which this show is a direct sequel to. The two main male characters on this show are the same characters played by Kurt Russell and James Spader in that film. However, Kurt Russell is recast with Richard Dean Anderson, MacGyver himself, and James Spader is recast with Michael Shanks, who would go on to do a ton of sci-fi television work.

The cast is then rounded out by three new characters played by Amanda Tapping, Christopher Judge and Don S. Davis. These five core characters are all pretty damn great and their chemistry is on the same level as the casts of the first three Star Trek shows, especially as they grow in these roles over ten seasons and beyond.

The two-part story that kicked off this show was a worthy successor to the 1994 film and from there, this show branched out in ways I couldn’t have expected. As it rolls on, we see new threats, new alien species, many of whom are allies, and the show itself evolves and changes every couple of seasons. However, it never gets too far away from what it started out as. Basically, it stays really grounded and it’s pretty consistent throughout in spite of major shifts to the formula. With that, it doesn’t become formulaic and redundant and reinvents itself just enough to stay interesting over its 214 episodes.

My only really issue, at first, was that some of the special effects look bad or cheesy. This is due to the limitations on television sci-fi in the ’90s but your mind does adjust to it within a few episodes and you don’t really notice it too much.

Besides, these characters and these stories are so good that the special effects are really secondary and not that important.

In the end, I’m glad that I gave this a shot. I haven’t seen every episode but I plan to work my way through them all, as I have time. Additionally, I’d like to watch the key episodes of the other series that were born out of this one.

Rating: 7.75/10