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
 
 
Kathleen
Recovering from the claustrophobia of being jammed into a theatre with too many people, I just got back from The Hunger Games! I had very high expectations for the film and it filled them all and still blew me away, especially the bread scene even if it missed the dandelion moment. Peeta was incredible. I expected as much from the other films I've seen with the actor but he pulled every emotion possible out of every scene and was even better than I'd imagined, and so vulnerable I kept wanting to hug him. Prim was sweet, Gale was surprisingly sympathetic, I actually felt for him, and Haymitch made me love him even though I didn't like the book character. The other Tributes were very much as I'd pictured, especially little Rue. The scene where she died hurt, and then when the district saluted Katniss I don't think there was a dry eye in the theatre. My favorite scenes were the chariots, Katniss finding Peeta by the river, and that final hug when they think the Games are over. I was slightly disappointed that Peeta healed up so quickly after the medicine arrived, since I wanted the scene where Katniss is pounding on the glass screaming, but the whole film was beyond perfection, especially this line: "I think about it all the time. How I tossed you that bread, I should have gone to you, I should have gone out in the rain. I remember when I first saw you. Your hair was in two braids instead of one, and in music assembly when they asked who knew the valley song and your hand shot straight up. After that I watched you walk home everyday...every day."

So apparently most Les Miserables fans hate Marius. I'm beginning to suspect somethings wrong with me when my favorite character is always the least popular with other fans, still this surprised me because I always assumed Marius would be a popular character. He's certainly a romantic and tragic revolutionary and, even though I adored him years before I ever saw the fantastic 1998 movie or any other version, he's pretty. I have a weakness for high cheekbones and he has the highest ever.

I'm working my way through the complete 1978 series Battlestar Galactica and I adore Starbuck with his hilarious womanizing, gambling, cigar-smoking, and gorgeous hair, even CORA, his computer, wants to flirt with him. On the flipside I feel sorry for poor Athena; she starts out as one of the leads and after a few episodes the writers seem to have no idea what to do with her, and she spends the rest of the series staring at a computer screen or eating dinner. I love how detailed the world is from the viper fights to the "space Las Vegas", and Apollo, Boomer, and Starbuck's friendship, as well as Apollo and Boxey's relationship, is heartwarming. Rick Springfield turned up in the pilot, which was a treat, even if he had a tiny and tragic role. Starbuck gets to show his caring side in the dream-like "War Of The Gods" when he offers his life to save dead Apollo, even in payment after Apollo has been brought back to life, and his crying shows how much he really does care about his friends. "Fire In Space" showcases Boomer as a hero, as well as showing the loyal heart of Starbuck when he jumps off the ship into outer space to grab onto Apollo who's lost his grip, and continues holding onto him, floating without ropes, until help arrives. Starbuck gets some nice whump in "Greetings From Earth" as well as "The Young Lords", both of which have cute scenes with him and kids. The beautiful and moving "Lost Warrior" features an incredible and fun western showdown between Apollo and a cylon, as well as a lovely backstory and star-gazing finale. While there's no real finale the last episode was superb, and I love the broadcast being the moon landing as well as the adorable "waggling the wings" part.

I'm up to "The Seige" in A Man Called Shenandoah and by now I see the writers enjoy tormenting him. Here he comes closer than ever with the hope of a family, a name, and a hometown only to have it all snatched away. On the bright side Charles Aidman was in it! I adore him, no matter what role he has he's excellent, and he got to have a cute little daughter in this one which is always a sweet bonus. I'm still not convinced on the ending, though. Since the doctor said in the pilot that some people with amnesia forget to read I think it's possible that his handwriting was forgotten and relearned (or at least I'd like to think so), not to mention the fact that little Nora sort of looked like him, enough to put a doubt in my mind. It would have made an excellent finale, too.

I'm infamous for ignoring special features on DVDs so it's taken me all this time to notice my The Time Tunnel set came with a bonus movie, Time Travelers, and watch it. Clint, a doctor desperate to find a cure for the outbreak of an extinct disease, and Jeff, a former astronaut, join forces to travel back to the 1800s and speak to the doctor who found a cure for the deadly virus but lost the records to the Chicago Fire. At the last moment something goes wrong and the men arrive a mere 29 hours before the fire, with Clint contracting the virus, leaving it up to Jeffrey to get them back in time to save both their lives. With Rod Serling's story of a doomed love and poignant endings and Irwin Allen's colorful touch to lend a bit of fun to it all, the two leads have a good and believeable friendship with strong similarities to Tony and Doug's friendship in The Time Tunnel. I would have loved to see Tony and Doug in the Great Chicago Fire but there's enough of both of them in Jeff's character to not feel too wistful. It's a shame they didn't make this into a series as it would have been interesting to see what other adventures Clint and Jeff could have had, and I really liked Jeff as well as the focus being on the travelers.

I saw "The Bounty Hunter", the Trackdown episode that spun-off into Wanted Dead Or Alive and it was interesting to see how much rougher Josh was compared to the series, quick to fight and shoot while later it shakes him up everytime he has to kill someone. He and Hoby worked well together and it would have been nice to see Hoby in Wanted Dead Or Alive. Along the same lines, I also saw a hilarious Boy Meets World episode with the Monkees, being different characters but with many in-jokes and an adorable ending, and the Make Room For Daddy that spun-off into Andy Griffith Show. Andy's character was more goofy, and Aunt Bee was an entirely different character, but it was cute and I can see the makings for the series, especially with Andy and Opie's relationship. While I was working on "Dust Off The Moon" I kept noticing the overlap between the real John Ringo and the tv version, especially the holes in John Ringo's life that could have been filled by someone like Cully. That eventually led to my considering the opposite: if Johnny would become like the real person if Cully was taken away. But I never thought about what would happen to Cully without Johnny. I saw The Rifleman episode "Mark's Rifle" where Mark Goddard played a character very much like Cully, a trick shot artist with a carny background and a likeable smile. But underneath all that is a world-weary, bitter thief, a dark mirror of Cully, or who Cully could have been if he'd shot Johnny or if Johnny had never met him. It would have been fascinating if Johnny Ringo had done an It's A Wonderful Life styled episode for each of them.

I saw an amazing Marcus Welby M.D. episode "A Matter Of Humanities" with Pete Duel as a man with aphasia. He only said one word over and over throughout the episode but it was an incredible acting job, one of the most impressive I've seen. I also discovered the excellent sci-fi series Journey To The Unknown and am working my way through it. I'm also binge-watching the fun sci-fi Gemini Man - I really want a watch like that - and it's clone, the '70s version of The Invisible Man, the catchy Fame, the jazzy detective series T.H.E. Cat, the quirky Jack of All Trades, and the excellent western Branded. I'm also enjoying the '90s sci-fi Roswell.

Heidi, the little Swiss dreamer, and Peter, the young goat-herder with issues have held my heart since I first saw the 1993 movie Heidi as a young child, and even then I knew they had to get married someday. They were so adorable together; Heidi needed someone to look after her, and Peter seemed to come out of his shell only with her help. The moment he saved her on the cliff I was in love with them forever. I recently heard of the not official but good enough for me sequels to the book: Heidi Grows Up and Heidi's Children, which find Heidi and Peter marrying and having twins.

I managed for almost the entire first season of The X-Files to not ship Mulder/Scully. It was "Beyond The Sea" that did me in, right at the scene where Mulder is on the ER table, dying, and Scully is standing there. She's not even crying but that look on her face, like her world is falling apart. And then when she lies for him in "Tooms", and the whole "only trusting him" and the way he panics when she's kidnapped and oh.

I'm watching S.W.A.T. season one. There's enough closeness among the team to make me happy and I love Luca; he's hilarious, adorable, and such a flirt. "Blind Man's Bluff" is my favorite episode so far, with a wound leaving Harrelson deskbound and a new, harsh officer in charge of the team, leading to sweet moments as Harrelson undergoes surgery to get back to his job, Hilda brings him a giant sandwich in the hospital, and Luca goes to his office to visit him.

I've been working through The Big Valley season two and I'd nearly forgotten my childhood love for this gloriously overdone western. It's a colorful soap opera packed with enough brothers h/c to make me squee like a teenager. And it has Richard Long. I don't know what it is about him but I adore him completely. All he has to do is make that amused, crooked smile of his and I'm instantly in love with whatever character he is. It must have started with Jarrod Barkley of the quirkily spelled name, noble character, and gorgeous blue eyes. Not that Jarrod's the only looker, as it has possibly the best looking cast a western ever flaunted. There's Heath, occasionally troubled by his past and constantly troubled by hair that can't decide what color it wants to be. It was bottle blond last season and now it's inching into the brown zone more by the episode. I'm assuming it will be black next season at the rate it's going. He has a crooked, meltable smile and that western accent that always endears me to a character as soon as he opens his mouth. Even Nick who unnerved me seems better now, even if he could use his big brother's ease at controlling his temper. He's such an incredibly different character from Black Saddle it's amazing, mark of a good actor, I guess. Poor Audra doesn't get to do much but be pampered by her brothers and lose the latest object of her affections but she cries nicely and has lots of bright clothing so I suppose she can't complain. In all seriousness, though, it's a fantastic show, surprisingly deep for such a pretty series, with lovely amnesia episodes. I've also been watching Green Acres and fallen in love with it's adorable way of breaking the fourth wall as well as it's homespun humor. I love how ditzy Lisa is, the fancy furniture and clothes against the rundown farm, and the telephone on top of their house. All of the townspeople are hilarious, too, such characters. I've also been rewatching a childhood favorite in Leave It To Beaver. I've been on a cop show spree too this week, watching all the series I used to and loving them all: the fantastic Baretta with Fred and Baretta's disguises, Patrick Swayze in The Renegades, Dan's ability to be anything in David Cassidy Man Undercover, Doyle's curls in The Professionals, David Janssen in Richard Diamond, Mark Goddard in The Detectives, and my favorite Kojak. I'm loving the spy/detective series Hawaiian Eye, and best of all, the jazz-flavored Johnny Staccato, too.

I'm working through Cheyenne and watched the excellent "The Long Winter". Cheyenne's comment about the "tame flowers" was adorable! It makes sense, too, if people call wildflowers "wild" why not call flowers tended in a flower bed "tame"? I saw Paul Brinegar playing a trail hand in another episode, "Lone Gun", about a cattle drive, and one of the other characters was named Rowdy, so he got to keep calling him by that name while I kept expecting to see Clint Eastwood answer. He didn't have his usual whiskers, though, so I recognized him by his voice alone. Then Sheb Wooley turns up two episodes later. This series is like Rawhide before it started. Speaking of which, I finished the new season of Rawhide including Pete's final episode "The Deserter's Patrol". I'm always a little worried when I know a character I like is leaving a series for fear they'll kill him or he'll disappear without a word, which is almost worse. Thankfully if he had to leave they gave him a good send-off; he takes a job as an Army scout and takes the son of his dead friend as his. I miss Pete terribly, though. Clay lacks the warmth and clarity of character, too many shades of grey. This season did give me an unexpected gift by having Pete in the episode "Reunion". It's wonderful to have him back, if only briefly. In the last episode "Devil and the Deep Blue". Teddy turned back up! I'd been wondering where he was this season. Poor Teddy, I rather like him and he never seems to get a main role in any episode. Also, be still, my childhood heart, I watched the adorable "Grandma's Money", and "The Pitchwagon", a feast of hilarious moments where the drivers stage an impromptu talent show, both of which made me remember yet again why I adore Rowdy from his drawstring hat to that sugar sweet and oh so gullible heart. Let's just say when he sings and the girls in the crowd shriek, I'm silently doing it, too. There must be something magical about tv cowboys...they can steal your heart again and again, no matter how old you think you've become.

I adore Barney Sloane, the down-trodden character in Young At Heart, so I was thrilled to discover the film was a remake of another movie, 1938's Four Daughters, and that Frank Sinatra's role (called Mickey) was originally John Garfield's. With four sisters instead of three, the plots are still very similiar, of the women marrying men who they don't completely love yet. Into this walks a piano-player with neither self-confidence or hope compounded by a firm belief that his fates are out to destroy him. Almost the same until you reach Mickey's first scene and everything changes. Expecting the instant pull Barney had on me, I found myself recoiling from John Garfield's portrayal. Barney is such a tragic and emotionally-fragile character you bleed for him; Mickey comes across as sarcastic and bitter, enjoying feeling sorry for himself. It's the most subtle things that seem to change everything: the way they look, the tone of voice, and Frank Sinatra's unique, soulful eyes and world-weary delivery of the lines give a depth to Barney that Mickey doesn't have, and I never truly bonded with the character. It's a shame because it would have been fascinating to see John Garfield tackle the role the same way, including the final scene. Four Daughters has Mickey die shortly after in hospital, and the next scene finds Anne smiling, seemingly having forgotten all about him, and returning to the original man she loved. Young At Heart takes a far more hopeful and beautiful turn as Laurie's desperate attempts to convince Barney that she loves him and needs him finally gives him the strength to pull through surgery. The last scene finds the couple, now with a baby, Barney having finished the song that haunted him through the film. Despite a last cute moment Four Daughters left me saddened and confused, Mickey seeming like an out of place part that was worked in at the last moment and removed without anyone noticing. Young At Heart is so romantic and hopeful that I grin ear to ear at the ending. John Garfield, in his first role, has that brooding sarcasm that he'd use so well in later roles, but his approach is so opposite from Frank Sinatra's that I felt I was watching a different character completely, and the ending only confirmed that idea. The change of the character surviving, I understand, was Frank Sinatra's request that Barney be given a second chance, and I not only agree with his choice but adore him for it. More than Mickey, Barney is the backbone of the film, and the original ending would have defeated the point of the story.

I love sword-and-sandals films and among my favorites is The Robe. Victor Mature was an excellent actor when given a chance at a good role, like Demetrius, requiring an emotional depth pouring out of his eyes. It's always saddened me how there's no real ending for him, so it was with great excitement that I discovered the sequel Demetrius and the Gladiators. Picking up a while later, Demetrius is living with a potter and his daughter Lucia, a young woman he loves from afar, never guessing she also loves him. His world comes shattering around him when Caligula launches an empire-wide search for the robe, believing it will grant him immortality. When they arrive his attempts to protect Lucia from the soldiers sentence him to the gladiator fights, and near death, the conniving Messalina saves him and sets her eye on him at any cost. Demetrius forced to watch as the gladiators attack and appear to kill Lucia. Demetrius lashes out, turning his back on his religion, friends, and even pacifism. Freed and given a position as Tribune, he sets out to recapture the Robe when he discovers Lucia is still living and in possession of it. It's is a well done what if?, interesting in that it isn't a single event that sets him off but more the last straw, implied that it began when Marcellus died for him. I wondered how Demetrius would feel when it sunk in. He's been through torture to the brink of death, rescued moments before dying, and healed, even as his friends knew that bringing Peter there would cast suspicion on themselves, and then Marcellus turns back and gives himself up to allow the others to have a chance to escape with Demetrius. Surely all this would haunt Demetrius, and I would have liked the sequel to touch on this more. His loss of faith, violent anger, and later change of heart, are sudden but believable but I found it somewhat out of character for him to instantly rush into a relationship with Messalina the moment he thinks Lucia is dead. Victor Mature gets center stage in the sequel and he's wonderful, equally convincing as his usual kind-hearted character and the embittered transformation mid-way through the movie. The film ends on a hopeful note but another sequel would have been perfect although the loose ends are tied up. In other new films I watched the 2010 Clash of The Titans which was surprisingly better than the original, even if I was broken-hearted that Ixas and Eusebius were killed. Hans Matheson was wonderful as Ixas - saving Perseus's life and going around with fantastic bows and arrows - and the actor who played Eusebius looked so much like Krycek I couldn't believe my eyes. Perseus was an easy to sympathize with hero, and I liked his relationship with Io even if I was hoping he'd end up with Andromeda in the end. But the special effects were all amazing, and it was quite fun. Next was The Andersonville Trial, a fascinating and moving film of Henry Wirz's trial. The cast was amazing and I was intrigued by the fact that the entire film takes place in the courtroom. William Shatner was superb as Chipman, the prosecuter whose moral convictions and deep sense of caring for those who died drives him to prove Wirz's guilt, and Michael Burns had a achingly tragic role as a nineteen year old survivor of Andersonville who remains lost in the war in his mind. The film dug deeply into the implications of following or disobeying orders and ended with a sobering, thought-provoking comment. I finally saw Because They're Young, and it was superb. I love old "teen rebel" films and couldn't resist the fantastic cast. Dick Clark is an idealistic teacher at a rough school who believes any student can be reached if he tries hard enough, at odds with the hardened principal who wants to go by the rules, teach the good students, and throw away the bad ones. Both are put to the test when he gets Michael Callan in his class, a rough kid with a chip on his shoulder who gets involved in a robbery and finds himself caught against a switchblade. Even as a bad boy he still has that impish grin that makes me smile back. Roberta Shore and cute, towheaded Doug McClure were adorable high school sweethearts in the movie and made me remember how I used to ship Trampas/Betsy before Randy showed up. Throw in some radio music by Bobby Rydell, Duane Eddy at the dance, and James Darren with his million-dollar-smile and very glittery hair and eyes and I was in love. Next I saw the lovely film The Winning Team, a biography of a star baseball pitcher and his devoted wife whose strength helps him overcome a brain injury and gives him the courage to make not only a comeback but win the world series for his team. Then I discovered the film Stolen Women Captured Hearts. Anna is a new bride, married to a man she barely knows when the Lakota capture her, her life spared by the mysterious warrior Tokalah. Forced to adjust in order to survive, Anna finds her heart strangely warmed by Tokalah's kindness as well as confused by the way he seems to have met her before, as she finds herself falling in love for the first time. But her newfound happiness is threatened when Custer takes an interest in returning her, a simple task that quickly turns tragic. It's one of those lovely romantic films that are just pretty to look at, along with the benefits of a clever backstory of Tokalah having seen Anna in a vision, the Indians actually played by Indians, and a unique final choice. Next was Splendor In The Grass, a haunting film that's been on my "must watch list" for ages. Set in the '20s and quite accurate to the time period, the story centers on Bud and Deanie, two star-crossed teenagers deeply in love who only want to get married in their small Kansas town. But Deanie's out-of-touch parents and Bud's ambitious, harsh father threaten their relationship, and finally drive them apart: Bud to alcohol and other women and Deanie to the brink of insanity. With poignant photography, incredible acting (especially Bud's tormented, wild sister) and an aching study in social standards and heartbreak, it's a superb film. Second was Magnificent Obsession, about Bob Merrick, a playboy millionaire with no direction in life who recklessly crashes his motorboat and almost drowns, saved thanks to a resuscitator borrowed from the local doctor, who at the same time suffers a heart attack and dies. Guilt-ridden, Bob attempts to make amends to the widow, Helen, but his efforts result in a tragic accident that leaves her blinded. He begins joining her on the beach where she sits, befriending and falling in love with her. Not knowing who he is, she returns his feelings but fate intervenes when she disappears, leaving behind only a note breaking off the relationship. Flash forward to years later and he's now a talented neurosurgeon when word comes that she's been found, dying in a hospital. In a strange twist of fate he becomes the only person who can save her life and give them another chance at happiness together. It was a rich and lovely soap opera in the grand style only that era could do. The casting is unusual but grew on me, the theme is stunning, and it's a glorious movie to look at. Bob grows over the film and the transformation is fascinating as his conceited, devil-may-care ways turn into a man who gives everything of himself and asks for nothing. Next was All That Heaven Allows, a gorgeous and moving film that's one of the best happy-ending romances I've seen in a very long time. Cary is a lonely widow caught in an endless routine of country clubs, artificial friends, social standards, and the cold glitz of a wealthy, privileged life. Ron is her garderner who's starting his own tree farm, a genuine, loving man who refuses to let little things matter and lives life to the fullest. When a shared breakfast draws the two together they find themselves falling in love, a romance which tests Cary's relationships with her friends and her nearly-grown children as well as shaking the core of her orderly lifestyle. Unable to deal with social convention, she breaks their relationship off, and it takes a season of loneliness and a tragic accident before Cary discovers that what she's wanted all along isn't money or people to think well of her, only the kind of love Ron can give. It was a beautiful movie, both heartwarming and poignant, rich and gripping. Last was the quirky but fun musical The Pirate with Gene Kelly in all his swashbuckling glory as an actor who pretends to be a pirate in order to win the woman who has a crush on the pirate. More Victor Mature's films, too, and the past two were the best so far. The Egyptian tells the tragic story of a man who rises and falls through the ranks from an abandoned infant on the Nile to a wealthy doctor to Pharoh. Victor Mature played a soldier and childhood friend to the doctor who rises with him and changes as he does. The film had gorgeous scenery and sets, a haunting theme, and an incredible, heartbreaking scene where the soldiers kill the worshippers on the outskirts of Egypt. The best scene, I think, is the Doctor's inspiring speech toward the end. Million Dollar Mermaid was a sweet, wonderful film with Victor Mature being fabulous as the carny drifter with his head in the clouds, such a colorful character. I've never seen him play that sort of role and he pulled it off beautifully. The swimming scenes and the technicolor were glorious, and the setting was richly detailed with the silent movie sets, flying machines, and carnival. I've also been on a nostalgic kick and watched all the Ma & Pa Kettle films. I had a couple as a kid and saw them over and over but I hadn't thought of them again until recently. They're every bit as hilarious and fun as I remember.
 
 
calliope tune: "Together Forever"-Rick Astley
feeling: stressed