Television

Ninja Turtles Classic Collection Review

So today I’m going to tell you about my new late night obsession… The Aquabats! Super Show! I’d like to say that I’ve been living under a rock and that’s why I haven’t heard of the Aquabats before now, but truth be told despite the fact that this group has been around since 1994, I don’t know anyone who really knows who these guys are. I’ve seen posts about them on forums and then watched as hundreds of people post in unison responding, “who?” in relation to them.

That means it’s not just me, who hasn’t heard of them. I suppose if you live in So-Cal and are connected to the indie rock hipster scene, you’ve probably heard of these guys. They’re an underground band who do crazy pop rock songs. But let’s just put aside the music for a minute, because the music is irrelevant. Yes, the Aquabats are a real band who perform as superheroes, sort of like Gwar but without the mindless gore and gratuitous sexual repulsion. The Super Show is a much broader expansion of that concept and it’s freaking brilliant.

Aquabats Cartoon

I think the best way to describe the Aquabats Super Show is Space Ghost meets Scooby Doo meets Josie and the Pussycats meets Pee Wee’s Playhouse meets Adam West’s Batman meets 70’s Sentai. If that doesn’t sound appealing to you, check your pulse. Each episode features the band getting into hijinks with villains and monsters, plus a brief cartoon that has the vibe of an old Hanna Barbera superhero toon. There’s also funny fake commercial breaks advertising absurd products interjected in-between.

Seriously, it’s an insane show about this band of superheroes traveling around in their giant superhero tour bus (dubbed the BattleTram and it’s bigger on the inside) fighting giant floating eyes, mummies on motorcycles, ghosts who love burritos and just about everything else awesome you can imagine. It’s in the same vein as the 60’s Batman TV show, done with the same sort of camp, only turned up about 15 notches.

Aquabats Logo

The special effects are actually pretty awesome if you love old school Sentai-type stuff and despite the low budget nature of things, nothing actually looks cheap. As it turns out the leader of the Aquabats, the MC Bat Commander, is also the guy responsible for Yo Gabba Gabba, so the costumes are good and the irreverence is right along that same sort of mentality. Every scene has some kind of new sight gag and ironic homage to everything you loved if you grew up watching Saturday morning cartoons.

It’s just insane, in the most awesome of ways. The show currently airs on The Hub, Hasbro’s TV network. I discovered it late one night by staying up too late and flipping through the channels. I thought it was going to be dumb, you know like kid’s dumb, but instead it turned out to incredibly entertaining. The first season has 12 episodes and I’ve only seen a few so far, but each one is just trippy, awesome and zany.

The Aquabats Super Show!

Apparently there hasn’t been a second season confirmed yet, because Hub isn’t sure on it. This show is a million times better than any of the goofy live action stuff that Adult Swim has produced and is right up there with the Venture Brothers in managing to parody a genre and still be creative and original on it’s own. I almost think the show is missing it’s target audience by being marketed to kids. It’s definitely okay for children, but it’s a show that’s humorous to adults.

Hub, if you have any souls, you’ll renew this show for a second season. It should be paired up with reruns of Batman or something. Seriously, check the show out when it reruns on Saturdays and see if you dig it.



Are You Afraid Of The Dark (Season 2)
The Tale of the Midnight Madness
1993
Directed by D.J. MacHale
Starring Eddie Robinson, Melanie Wiesenthal, Christopher Heyerdahl, Aron Tager
Available on DVD

I decided to dig up an old favorite of mine from the Niceklodeon series, “Are you Afraid of the Dark?” which featured iconic horror character, Nosferatu. I remembered watching this episode when it originally aired and thinking it was quite creepy. Largely because of the Nosferatu character which appeared throughout.

The premise is that Count Orlok escaped the film and began terrorizing those who worked in the theater showing his film. Years later when I saw Shadow of the Vampire, I was reminded of the episode. So for the 31 Days of Halloween I decided to track the episode down and see how it stood up to time. Many fans of the show consider this episode one of the best. There are some good and bad elements to it, so let’s take a look!

We begin as always with the Midnight Society, a group of kids who gather around a campfire every week trying to scare each other. I have no idea what it’s like in Canada (where this show was made) but these kids would get their butts kicked in my neighborhood. I love the idea though, who wouldn’t want to do this once a week?


Gary is the leader, but you’d never know that from this episode. He was in like, most every episode and I always thought it was the same kid who played Vinnie Delpino from Doogie Howser, but in glasses. Turns out it’s not him at all. This guy went on to become a “weather personality” in Canada and the Weather Channel. See he’s an old school weatherman, which means he has no meteorological experience and basically just reads a script.


Anyway, some of the kids are about to head to the theater to watch some midnight madness marathon of scary movies. Before they go, they do their meet up and this jackass in the jean jacket says he’ll never go to the theater again after what happened to those other kids… What kids? Well here’s his story, submitted for your approval, the Tale of the Midnight Madness!

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Doctor Who
Classic Series DVD Review
The Mutants


Starring Jon Pertwee as the Doctor, Katy Manning as Jo Grant
Written by: Bob Baker and Dave Martin
Director: Christopher Barry

I must be crazy. As I settled in to write my review of the Mutants (not to be confused with the original serial about the Daleks also called the Mutants), I wondered what other folks thought of the serial. As I’ve mentioned before, the Third Doctor’s era is definitely not my favorite. While there are some real gems in Pertwee’s time as the Doctor, there are several recurring things that I just don’t care for… And yet, I find myself at odds with the Mutants. While I quite enjoyed it, it seems nobody else does.

There’s a lot going for this serial, despite being a 6 parter (which are always hard to pull off) and it avoids some of the pratfalls that typically annoy me about the era. Sure the music is still pretty intolerable at times, but I found the score much more muted and almost non-existent at times. So let’s break it down, is this serial and the DVD worth checking out?

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If you like giant Japanese monsters (and chances are you do if you’re here!) then I’ve got a great new, FREE service to tell you about. Goohead.com is a new internet “TV” channel that offers up a variety of old school Japanese TV programs and movies, streaming online for free. No tricks, no sign ups, absolutely legal, absolutely free! Perhaps the coolest of which is Super Robot Red Baron, which is about a group secret agents, their crazy inspector friend and of course, their giant ass kicking robot. Red Baron combines a lot of typical Tokusatsu and Henshin Kaiju elements, but does so in a crazy LSD induced 1970’s way.


The show actually isn’t that bad, aside from the over the top 70’s elements and the “comedy”. Of course if you know anything about the genre, that sort of stuff is par for the course. This makes for great Saturday morning or late Saturday night fun. Invite your friends over and do your own Mystery Science Theatre! Goohead has the entire run of the show to watch in high quality streaming using AWS S3 and Cloudfront technology.


It’s a great way to get introduced to the craziness of Japan and see some cool giant robot/men in rubber suits fights along the way. Super Robot Red Baron managed to do some really interesting stuff during it’s run and even introduced some new elements to the genre. If you like it, the DVD of the series is available to purchase online for pretty cheap and this is a great way to sample before you buy (or just watch the whole thing if you’re poor).


That’s not all they have though, Goohead also has rights to air Iron King! This is another giant monster battle show, albeit a little more direct in it’s Ultraman homage. Iron King looks like an Ultra, although he is not. He too is a giant robot. This show is equally as good and focuses on a pair of heroes instead of an entire team. One guy, Gentaro Shizuka who dresses and acts like he just walked out a Clint Eastwood spaghetti western, who uses his super powerful whip and his goofy partner Goro Kirishima who dresses like a 1970’s ladies man. Goro also happens to control the powerful Iron King, using of all things, his pimp hat!


Iron King has a lot of fun elements and if sort of like Supernatural… If Supernatural was made in the 1970’s, by the Japanese, on acid and about giant robots and aliens! Once again the entire show is also available on DVD, but Goohead allows you to watch it for free.


They also have a couple other more kung fu fighting type TV shows and pretty much all of the old and new Gamera movies to watch as well. The quality is quite good for all the programs, although no remastering has been done on the old TV shows. However, everything is offered in it’s original (but subtitled) form. You can watch full screen on your computer, phone or sling it to your TV. Two crazy cool 70’s Japanese giant monster shows, a bunch of giant monster movies and it’s all for free! Can’t beat that!

In the interest of full disclosure, the Goohead.com website is quite difficult to navigate and looks a bit bare. It’s best to use my links here for the Television Section and the Movies Section. Go to “older content” to keep viewing episodes. It’s totally free and pretty cool if you’re into that sort of Tokusatsu programs. Supposedly they’re going to get some Ultraman eventually, but I don’t know if it’ll just be what’s been released here or not.


Welcome to TV Breakage, an InfiniteHollywood.com exclusive, covering all the latest television industry news. Be sure to check out the bottom of the column this week as we have some exclusive C2E2 video content with Jon Bernthal from the Walking Dead. As always if you have a television show or channel that you’d like to see brought to attention here, feel free to comment and let us know.

Networks
Right off the bat, NBC is canceling Perfect Couples, but will be reviving a pilot from last season, The Paul Reiser Show. The latter was passed on but is now getting a second chance. I’ve always liked Paul Reiser, so it should be interesting to see if his new show works. It’s more or less like Curb Your Enthusiam as it’s a fake “real” look at his life.

Perhaps the best news on NBC is that Community, Parks & Recreation and The Office were all renewed. Of those shows, I only watch Community but I know they’re all fan favorites. The Office is in a bit of transition, with Steve Carell leaving. As for the show I do watch, I think Community is one of the funniest shows on television some of the time and at other times I think they go too far into the absurd to really be funny as they could be. I much preferred the show when there was some actual pretense that this was a show about adults in college. While this Thursday night comedy block is clearly the best thing NBC has going right now, every show was down this past week, including a new series low for the aforementioned Community. Ouch!

America’s Next Great Restaurant isn’t doing great on NBC, but I actually think it’s a fun show. Maybe it would have been a better fit for the Food Network. The new season of Celebrity Apprentice is doing fairly well, but I think perhaps NBC should have put it as the lead-in to ANGR.

ABC’s Mr. Sunshine has bounced up and down in the ratings and in quality, but was up quite a bit this past week in terms of numbers thanks to a big lead-in from Modern Family. I’ve been watching Mr. Sunshine now for several weeks and I don’t think it’s terrible. It’s nowhere near as good as Modern Family though and if the former didn’t come on after it, I doubt I’d waste my time DVRing Sunshine. Modern Family may be my favorite sitcom of all time, for the record.

Law & Order: Criminal Intent will begin it’s final season on May 1st, with NBC showing the first episode. NBC has been off and on with showing the program, but USA will also air the program as well. Vincent D’Onofrio and Kathryn Erbe will be back as Detectives Goren and Eames when it begins to air again. I quite liked Jeff Goldblum during his brief stint on the show and I think USA is to blame for the downfall of the program with their constant tinkering more than Goldblum. Of course I’d be lying if I didn’t say that every time I saw Goldblum on L&O:CI I was really wishing he was still on Raines. Goldblum was brilliant on Raines and that was a show that NBC should have invested in for a few seasons.

Cable
Torchwood: Miracle Day is the official new name for the next season of Torchwood, set to debut on Starz, Friday, July 8th. I guess I’m going to have to order Starz. I need me some Torchwood and I suspect ordering Starz just for the program might help the show get a second season.

Fox has renewed Fringe despite the fact that the show’s ratings are on the decline. That’s good news for fans of the JJ Abrams show. I’ve never watched it, but I hear good things. Once I heard it was getting a 4th season, I put it on the Netflix queue and will be watching starting from the beginning this weekend. Some are already speculating that it’s been renewed only so it can be put into a impossible ratings position and then can be quietly canceled next season without outrage. We shall see.

I mentioned a while back about SyFy doing a show about Houdini, but this year they’ve also got some other interesting shows on their plate. Three Inches will be a comedy about superheroes who have lame super powers… Like the ability to move objects with their mind, but only about 3 inches. Me and Lee is about a young guy who is repaired by bionics by Lee Majors. Both of those shows are comedy programs, which to my recollection is pretty new to the network. Unless you count WWE: NXT as comedy. Because it was hilariously, terrible.

FX continues to be one of the best cable networks on TV with shows like Justified and now Ryan Murphy creator of another former FX show, Nip/Tuck will be making a new show called American Horror Story. It’s being billed as “completely original and shocking exploration into the darkest depths of the American heartland”, which sounds interesting enough. Perhaps even more interesting is that each season is supposedly going to be an entire new cast of characters. Few other details are available. This project is being kept, hush-hush.

Anyone else watching Chopped: All Stars? I love the regular Chopped show and have been enjoying the “celebrity” chefs do battle. This weekend is the episode I’m most excited for as the regular judges will be entering the fray.

SUPER BONUS CONTENT
We had a lot of coverage of C2E2 this past week, but one of the highlights was the Walking Dead panel where stars Laurie Holden and Jon Bernthal discussed a lot of what goes into a project like that. The panel was entertaining and not too heavy handed, which made it much more enjoyable than some panels out there which focus too much on trying to tell you how important their work is.

There wasn’t a ton of new information, beyond the Stephen King rumor and news that Frank Darabont will write, but not direct the premiere episode. However the most interesting tidbit came via Jon Bernthal as he discussed Shane’s motivations as a character. Shane has become one of the most interesting characters in the TV adaptation and given that his comic book character was pretty much one note, it’s fascinating to get an inside look at him. Here’s some video I took with Bernthal basically summing up why he thinks Shane is the way he is:


Sources for this column include Travis Yanan, Daily Variety, TVBytheNumbers, Entertainment Weekly, TV Guide, C2E2 IGN Panel.

Another week down. Don’t let the discussion stop here, feel free to leave me feedback and comments, as well as any programming notes you might want to extend to your fellow man. With that, the remote is yours.