Kathleen
Since I first heard his voice on the old radio series to films and tv series glasses-wearing Clark Kent never fails to steal my heart away, lately in Smallville, a series I somehow missed and spent the past week catching up on, one that's very similar to another series I love The Powers Of Matthew Star, with a teenage alien survivor of a destroyed world coming into his powers while he's struggling with high school. I was skeptical at first because the cast is outrageously pretty, but if all aliens look this good I'd like to discover one in a cornfield, too. What I always love best is the early scenes with Martha and Jonathan (Daniel from Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman!) since I've always felt that they must have been wonderful parents to have brought up a son like Clark, and here I finally get what I've wanted, to see all the family moments, the homespun life, the "were you ever afraid of me?" moment, Clark's powers being unable to save his father, Clark throwing a wild party while his parents are away (he's so human at times), and Jonathan's adorable comment about Clark's temper tantrums punching holes in the wall. Clark is remarkably similar in appearance and mannerisms to the films' versions, and he convincingly pulls off the struggling teenager already shouldering the weight of the world in addition to every kid's problems of growing up and falling in love for the first time, and I really like Whitney who gets pushed to the background but deserves better. Lex gets depth, a backstory, a first meeting with Clark who saves his life, and a redeeming side which makes it even more of a tragedy to know what he'll become. The cape on the school's mascot, a painted red S on Clark's chest during an end-of-year hazing, a kryptonite necklace, and a vision of Lex's future set the stage for years to come. At it's heart, despite the thrills and lightning speed, Smallville is an uncomplicated look at the events and people that would shape the boy with powers into the superhero. I skipped ahead a bit to see Oliver Queen, and still haven't gotten off the floor. Where do they find these unearthly gorgeous people?

I'm in the final season of Daniel Boone where the show turns into a musical. Daniel sings. Josh sings. Mason sings. Guest characters sing. And the theme's singers conclude that they're the Lovin' Spoonful and transform it into a western rock n roll song. To think Mingo was in four seasons and sang, what, three times at most, and the instant he's gone they decide to become musical? I miss Mingo, he's been my favorite since the first episode, such a compelling character and I wish they'd at least given a reason for his disappearance. Jimmy Dean is now renamed Josh, Gideon and his son Little Dan'l from last season and young sailor Mason, reintroduced the second time as if he hasn't been there before show up now and then. It's a good but darker season so far, especially the opening episode "Flag Of Truce" and the delightful east-meets-west tale "The Dandy".

I spent most of the week skimming through The Virginian season 5 and was left confused, due to the fact I think the writers forgot which season they last did over the summer. For one the sheriff is not only mysteriously alive again but Ryker is his deputy instead of being sheriff as he was last season after the sheriff died. Ryker is gone from the first half of the season which makes it even stranger. The writers also forgot both Morgan Starr and Jennifer, beginning the season as if Betsy and the Judge have just left (and they've left everything they owned too), and giving no reason for Randy being gone without a mention, almost as if season four never existed. On the bright side that's a happy thought, if four was only a dream season than perhaps Betsy married Randy instead and the two of then are living happily back east. Liz is sweet but overtly an attempt to replace Betsy with the same hairstyle, same clothes, a bond with Trampas that doesn't feel as natural as Betsy's, and Stacy, who seemed the most promising at first, was reduced to spending half his episodes in jail by the season's end. I don't like John Grainger, he's too harsh to warm to like the Judge and lacks the dark complexity that makes Morgan Starr intriguing. Several episodes are near copies of the first seasons and only a couple have the series' trademarks: emotion, light moments, and guest characters you care about. Trampas gets the couple good episodes, the gorgeous "Sue Ann" and the incredible "An Echo Of Thunder", both of which recapture the feel of the original seasons, but he's only in about a third of the season if that, and even the Virginian is gone more than he's around. It doesn't even feel like The Virginian anymore and I desperately miss Randy's accent and little songs to cheer me up. I'll hope for better things from season six, I suppose. The final season came out before six so I gave a try to nine, another year of changes, surprisingly all for the better. Now called The Men From Shiloh, appropriate since it works more on the rotating stars format, there's a whistling, spaghetti-western melody and title sequence filled with 1800s-looking photographs. I've never been a fan of the ride-in and haven't liked the intro since three but this one grabs me instantly. There may not have been a lot of westerns in the 1970s but what there were are stunning. Stewart Granger is Alan MacKenzie, Englishman and final owner of Shiloh, and at last there's a lead who measures up to the Judge, a firm but kind man, and easy to warm to. Trampas, complete with an unflattering mustache that's one of the very few regrets this season, and a somewhat tougher antihero version of The Virginian are the only familiar faces, but unlike five I never find myself longing for others. New is a ranch hand in the form of Lee Majors, bringing with him all the charisma of Heath and pulling off his own mustache with somewhat more finesse than Trampas, as Tate, a mysterious drifter with a troubled past who Alan saves from a lynch mob and gradually learns to trust. If his name wasn't enough to endear me to him, Tate is a mix of quiet sensitivity with a dark side, a strange man prone to answer every question with a question of his own. After a couple seasons of bland, carbon copy characters, Tate is a welcome jolt, unique and impossible not to love. Nine comes as a breath of fresh air, going back to it's long-forgotten roots and drawing all the things that made the series' early years so great: a jaw-dropping list of guest stars (including the wonderful and underrated Monte Markham as a good-hearted gun for hire), fascinating characters, intricate plots, movie quality filming, and an authentic western feel. I'm at a loss to understand why this was the final season but I'm grateful that the series went out on such a high note.

I finally got Maverick season one! I had a crossover moment with "Rope Of Cards" when Bret made "five pat hands" and since Maverick came before Alias Smith and Jones I'd like to think Heyes learned the trick from him. I saw a trivia note that every deck of cards in the US sold out the day after the episode aired, so other people must have wanted to try it out, too. My favorite episode was the incredible and complex murder mystery "The Naked Gallows" in which Bart gets to shine as well as show off his skill of observation, and I like the backstory of the debt with wounded Bart saved by Clete. Bart, serious and more unique, has always been my favorite and I love him even more now that I'm seeing his episodes instead of only the ones with both brothers. There's a tv version of King's Row with Jack Kelly as Paris and Robert Horton as Drake that I'd love to get my hands on, but it seems to have vanished into the 50s. Still the idea of the casting makes me very happy.

I'm watching the two pilots of The Six Million Dollar Man and there's quite a difference between them. Steve Austin is an astronaut test pilot who lost an arm, both legs, and an eye in a crash, along with his will to live. But his second chance at life comes from two very different people: a compassionate nurse who stops him from pulling out his oxygen and is determined to help him regain his hope, and the head of the OSI who sees Steve as an expendable project he can always replace. Between them, Steve becomes the first cyborg, part human, part machine, far stronger and faster than he was before, and owned body and soul by the OSI who've sunk six million dollars into rebuilding him, and demand he pay back that debt by doing assignments for the government, work in which no ordinary human could survive. The first pilot delves into Steve's reaction to being little more than a machine, showing how people fear him when they find out, and how he's unwilling to begin any relationships. There's also a chilling bit at the end where the man comments that it would be interesting if they could keep Steve asleep all the time and only wake him up for each assignment. He says it like a joke but it comes across very dark. The second pilot takes an entirely different route and has Steve quickly accepting, even delighting, in his newfound abilities as he jokes about them, flirts with several women, and tricks a guard by crushing his gun. Oscar, played by a different actor, is now less mercenary and even has a line he won't cross, and the story morphs into a superhuman spy saga instead of the character study it could have been. Of course, there's so little of Steve before he's injured that it's hard to know what his personality is but I felt there should have been more transition scenes where he gets used to everything as opposed to the sudden acceptance. It's fun, but I can't help wishing they'd stuck to the original idea.

I went on a marathon of all things Camelot, starting with the miniseries Merlin, an odd spin on the tale but one that deserves praise for it's poignant look at Merlin's memories and the events that shaped him. The opening and ending were especially sad and beautiful, and the sword in the stone scene was exactly as I'd pictured. Next was First Knight, a unique and lovely take on the legends. While Arthur isn't how I picture him looks wise he's the exact personality I've always imagined, a deeply kind and just king his men would follow anywhere, a good man who gives everything and doesn't mind lowering himself to the simple act of giving Lancelot his shirt after it dried. Lancelot, too, isn't exactly the noble knight of usual, but he has a good heart and a tragic past that drives him to care nothing about his life. There's a beautiful and haunting scene where Lancelot is forced to face his demons when he comes across a burning church like the one in which his family died, and he's able to save the people inside. The knights are mostly background but very believable, I loved the unusual armor, the sword fighting is stunning, there's a breathtaking jump off a waterfall, some pretty scenery, and the church is perfect to what I imagine. Following that was Merlin. I've always had quite a different picture of Merlin, a strong, older warrior teaching and guiding Arthur, yet this version greatly surprised me, with a fragile vulnerability in looks and mannerisms but somehow inner strength shining through, contrasting with a frail appearance and adding a lot of quiet depth to him, and he has high cheekbones and ears, oh, yes. Season one so far and officially took over my life, reading my mind and giving me everything I want and then some, all with a '90s vibe that leaves me in a nostalgic, grinning stupor. There's whump, thatched-roof cottages, quests, accents, neckerchiefs, magical glowy eyes, plenty of swordfights, and the hilarious Children In Need special featuring Merlin's microwave dinner, Arthur's teddy bear, and Uther on a cell phone. I'm not sure if Arthur is improving or if I'm just getting used to him but he's steadily growing on me; scrape the surface off and there's a golden heart underneath. I get the feeling that he never had friends so he simply doesn't know how to form relationships with anyone, but he's learning, slowly but surely. Somewhere between where he lets the thief leave with the food and when he drinks both goblets to save Merlin in "The Labyrinth of Gedref" I realized he was awesome. Who can resist that infectious laugh, even if somebody should put that boy in the sunshine, he's pale as a ghost. Merlin is getting sweeter with every episode, so self-sacrificing, dorky, and gentle that it's impossible not to love him instantly and melt at his smile. His little speech about being happy to be Arthur's servant until the day he dies tears me up. He needs to get more credit for what he does. Merlin and Hunith's relationship is one of the most beautiful relationships ever; she needs to be in more episodes. I finished season two now and I'm even more in love with it than before as I spend half the time laughing and the other half in tears. Arthur has become my third favorite, kind heart underneath the attitude more evident now, and he's got quite a flair for the comedy moments; even his expressions can put me in stitches. Merlin and he have a quirky sort of friendship, for all the way Arthur bosses him around, and I love how Merlin can sneak his magic around him from stealing food right off his plate to overheating his bath, and get away with teasing him. I ship Lancelot/Gwen, but I like the direction Arthur and her romance is taking. I was skeptical of Mordred because of the storyline changing from Arthur and Morgana's son to a Druid boy, but he's coming along, with enough eerie powers and disconcerting glances to make me shiver. Merlin and Gaius's friendship is beautiful, and I love how they're willing to do anything to save each other. My favorite episode of the season was the heartbreaking "Lady Of The Lake". The first romance episode of a series always remains my favorite, because I never expect it as much as the later ones, but this one was the best one I've ever seen. Freya was so perfect for Merlin and I imagined that when Merlin fell in love he'd use his magic to make beautiful things for the girl, and I was right, with the flames and adorable rose. "The Last Dragonlord" made me bawl my eyes out for Merlin. He never fails to break my heart everytime he tears up - man, can that actor cry - and I just want to hug him when he looks so sad and frail. Last was The Mists Of Avalon, the haunting and heartbreakingly beautiful look at the women behind Arthur's destiny. Lancelot was wonderful, and the music is exactly as it should be. From Arthur's crowning to the poignant final scene there's so much depth in this version that I'm still reeling, and finally a perfect Mordred, both villian and pawn, used and tormented by fate and the people around him. The scene where he reveals his identity is incredible and when he kills Arthur with his cheekbones of doom I couldn't help crying.

I finished season two of The X-Files and Mulder keeps breaking my heart. He comes across as the strong one at first with his dark, quick humor and answers for everything but he's so wounded that I keep wanting to hug him. Scully and he spent the first part of the season apart, followed by a handful of episodes where she was taken and returned dying. Even her family was giving up on her and Mulder still stuck it out, fighting to keep her alive. Their relationship keeps slowly growing, and it's to the point where they exchange all these gentle hugs or a pat on the head.

I saw "Muted Rifles, Muffled Drums " in A Man Called Shenandoah and now the writers are just being mean. If it wasn't bad enough he can't remember who he is, was almost lynched, shot twice, and left to die in the cold wilderness, now he's being court-martialed. In the end if he wasn't the officer than why wouldn't he have paid attention to his uniform in the photograph? At least he finally has a list of names to work from. I'm doubtful there's a conclusion but I keep hoping and sticking by my theory that Shenandoah is actually Flint McCullough and that's what became of him after he left Wagon Train. I'm on "Aces and Kings" now where another piece of Shenandoah snaps into place as it's revealed he was once a gambler or cardsharp from the way he handles a deck, more to his own surprise than anyone else's. At the end he's off to visit a man named Frank McCulloughm. I heard it fast as "McCullough" and I like to think the m was only a slip. He's got to be Flint, there's so many ways in which they overlap. Branded "Call To Glory" was amazing! It would have been an excellent final episode since it tied everything up and gave Jason some absolution, even if it didn't clear him. I loved how he managed to convince the commander of his mission.

I started the second season of Laredo which picks up the misadventures of Reese, Chad, and Joe, and tosses a new ranger into the mix, silky accented, devilishly charming Erik Hunter whose talents are only equaled by his atrocious sense of fashion. He's delightfully proud of his style of dress, though, and nothing outrages him more than a torn sleeve on his new shirt. In all fairness - hot pink smoking jacket, lavender shirt, and blue paisley vest and hat aside - his peculiar wardrobe is oddly endearing. Any other man would look downright ridiculous. Erik somehow manages, despite appearing like he borrows from a circus clown, to pull off the look, and fits like a piece I didn't know was missing into the group. As much as I love westerns their perpetuity for introducing fantastic characters in the final season and then cancelling the series before I really get to know them frustrates me to pieces, but they're a treat for the time they're there.

I've been rewatching Lawman and noticing all the parallels with Johnny Ringo: a young deputy taken under the wing of an older lawman, Cully's father being dead and Johnny burying the marshal being the introduction between lawman and deputy, the first episode starting with the two at odds before growing into a friendship, a little brother-big sister relationship between deputy and each lawman's girlfriend, and a close friend of the lawman being killed partway into each series. It makes me wish there'd been a crossover where Johnny and Dan were injured or unable to leave and Cully and Johnny had to join forces to bring someone in.

I finished seeing each era of Doctor Who with the last three. Four's was "Logopolis", picked out of wanting to see Tegan's introduction as well as Five's, who doesn't speak at all but smiles beautifully. Four doesn't appeal to me, as much as I like his fashion sense, and he's a bit too detached for what I like. I can't fathom Five ever snapping at his companions when they offer advice, he depends on their ideas and help far too much, and they seem to fit much better with Five which proves my theory that each companion is tailor-made for only one doctor (Rose for Nine). I can't wrap my mind around Four and Turlough being in the same TARDIS together, Four would never have given him the patient trust Five gave. Five is my Doctor and I love him to tiny bits. But the plot was quite interesting even if all old Masters annoy me. For some reason Ten-era Master is so brilliantly diabolical and tragic that I love him. Four has something of a let-down as far as regenerations go, since Five died for Peri, Nine died for Rose, Ten died for Wilfred, and Four dies because his scarf gets tangled up. Well, not quite, but still it's all a bit anticlimactic. But I did a little cheer when Five's face started to appear in those early, swirly-fade-in regenerations. Then came Seven, with the serial "Battlefield", and, whoa, trippy retro intro, I love it! Seven's clothes are awesome, especially the question mark sweater. Seven is an odd mix of goofiness and near-violent outbursts, but by the end of it I liked him. He's got a quirky style - the part where he walks through the middle of the swordfight and tips his hat cracked me up - and he's sweet as can be to Ace, not one of my favorite companions but he works well with her for the most part, and the Brigadier was in it which more than makes up for anything else. Ancelyn and Bambera were hilarious together; they should have been recurring characters. The premise of the Doctor dealing with Camelot and mysterious hints to his future raises as many questions as it does answers as it happily plays with time in the scenes where the Doctor finds instructions in a rune and a written note from a future regeneration of himself. I wish they'd film that as an episode to tie it all together. Then there's the moment where Ancelyn mistakes the Doctor for Merlin and as the episode goes on I start thinking that it's not a mistake after all. There's hints that in some future regeneration the Doctor becomes him since the voiceprints programmed to respond to Merlin's voice answer to the Doctor, Morgaine's mind commands to Merlin are heard and answered by him, and even the Doctor supposes at the possibility. "Are you Merlin?" "No. But I could be. In the future. That is, my personal future. Which could be the past." Three was my last "new" Doctor. I grew fond of him while watching "The Five Doctors" so I was looking forward to actually seeing a serial, "The Time Warrior", a Middle Ages invasion where the Doctor and Sarah Jane meet. While I have a pairing for each Doctor, Sarah Jane is the only companion who I ship with nearly every Doctor, and if ever there was a companion that was a soul mate for him it's her. I would happily have seen her travel with every regeneration. Three is a superb Doctor and fourth in my favorites, behind Five, Ten, and Nine. He's got a lovely warm and in-charge personality, and I adore how he isn't afraid to throw himself into a fight, knock guards out, and even shoot a crossbow. I liked the offbeat intro, too, goes with him, and his era has a steampunk feel, with his ideas, gadgets, and style of dress. Plus he's got one of the best companions ever so he has everything going for him. I'll have to watch more of his episodes. I adore oldWho. Anyone who didn't grow up on it is missing something special as nothing can compare to the warm fuzzies from the old painted props, slow-moving plots, old-fashioned special effects, and, of course, the colorful and cheerful way the TARDIS used to look, like a candyland labyrinth. It's like nostalgia with a cherry on top. I saw The Sarah Jane Adventures "The Death Of The Doctor" and was surprised by how good it was, a great plot and the right mix of drama and humor. I could like Eleven if the series was still under the same production as Nine's and Ten's excellent eras; I didn't like SM's view of Ten in the episodes he wrote, too much cold glitz and not enough emotional heart, which comes out even more in Eleven's era. And a change of companions would make a world of difference. Sarah Jane, Jo, and the kids smooth all the rough edges off the egotism and rudeness and there's far more emotion and tenderness in his speeches here than in any episodes of his I've seen, as well as vision of his character. I loved the beautiful moment when he says he went back and saw all of his old companions and was proud of them; that seemed like the doctors I love and not a stranger using the name. I haven't seen much of Jo before but she's hilarious here, and she and Sarah Jane make an awesome team, convinced the Doctor was alive even when everything seemed to prove he wasn't. The best part was when Sarah Jane talked about some of the early companions, especially Tegan because if only she had gotten to see Ten or any of the new Doctors again I would never want another thing from Doctor Who.

I saw the adorable film Her Highness And The Bellboy which plays like a 1940s fairytale. Jimmy is a sweet, rather naive bellboy at a hotel who spends his meager tips on making Leslie, the fragile and invalid young woman who lives a floor above his room, laugh, the only medicine that seems to help her. And when he's not doing that he has his hands full keeping his pal, Albert, out of trouble with the law, as well as holding down his job. Jimmy's life takes a sudden detour, however, when he mistakes the visiting Princess Veronica for a maid and takes her on an impromptu tour of the city, delighting her so much she hires him as her personal bellhop for the length of her stay. Jimmy instantly gets stars in his eyes, failing to see that she's secretly pining for a reporter, and mistaking her kindness for love he begins neglecting his friends, blind to the fact that Leslie is in love with him. When Veronica finds herself queen and Jimmy mistakes her invitation for him to be her servant as a marriage proposal, both of them must decide who they truly love and whether duty or the heart should lead their decisions. It's a delightful and sweet film, highlighted by the heartwarming talents of June Allyson and Robert Walker, always wonderful and playing off each other beautifully, and Jimmy's hilarious way of clearing a room, complete with that mysterious old lingo kids used to speak. I saw Tangled! I adored Eugene, such a hilarious and colorful hero. I was a bit surprised to discover they'd changed the prince into a thief but after about five seconds I couldn't imagine it any other way. Rapunzel was adorably overactive, and despite my misgivings about the animation style I warmed up to it quickly due to the beauty of the dancing and lantern scenes as well as the heartbreaking moment with Rapunzel's tear. The end was magic. I also saw Tangled Ever After, the adorable short film sequel, and it was even more wonderful and hilarious than the original, if that's possible. I loved how absurd everything was, how everything possible went wrong, and yet Eugene and Rapunzel were almost completely unaware of anything. Also the wedding was perfect, leaving me wanting a sequel where they have children.

My library turns up some incredible stuff from it's basement, including A Fall Of Moondust, with the feel of old paper, and that wonderfully musty smell. It's a disaster epic, with a romance and lovely imagery, on the moon about a ship buried beneath moondust and the people hoping for a rescue as those outside attempt to locate them before the oxygen runs out.
 
 
calliope tune: "Gypsy Woman"-Brian Hyland
feeling: busy