Kathleen
Continuing with my superhero obsession I watched Daredevil, a visually gorgeous and superb adaptation of one my favorite and first beloved superheroes, rich in colors with a recurring theme of red. Rex Smith's sensitive and ninja take on the role will always be my favorite but Ben Affleck did a brilliant job as Matt, capturing the subtle nuances and inner struggles of the character. The story was more tragic and thought-provoking than most of the genre, and I loved the beauty of it, like how Matt can "see" with the rain, how he watches people's hearts, and the contrasting imagery of the church vs. his devil costume and darker side of his personality. I was surprised but a little glad that the film didn't take an easy way out and bring Electra back to life, even as sad as it made the ending. After that I saw X-Men Origins: Wolverine and it was stunning, an awesome and quite in character exploration of Logan's tragic past. I loved his early backstory with the idea of him going from one war to the next along with the ill-fated relationship with his half brother, even if I'm not quite sure how his brother fits with the same character in the first film. The idea of Wolverine having claws before the experiment was fascinating and unexpected to me, but I loved the idea as well as how he used his steel claws to free all the mutants on the island. I teared up at the brief inclusion of Xavier, as well as little!Scott and his first set of sunglasses. After that was X-Men First Class, and I loved seeing the beginning of everything. James McAvoy made a perfect Xavier, capturing the deep caring of the later version while including a uniquely youthful spirit, and for the first time I felt for Mystique - or Raven here - as well as the tragedy of what will become of her, even as shocked as I was that she choose Magneto over Charles in the end. Her early friendship with Charles was sweet, though, and surprising since I wasn't expecting it. Charles becoming paralyzed was incredibly haunting, as was his friendship with Erik and how he tries so hard to prevent Erik from turning evil. I loved the other characters, too, especially Sean/Banshee and his fascinating and fun gift.

I finally got to see The Man From the 25th Century, an Irwin Allen pilot that sadly never got picked up for a series but had a fascinating premise and awesome cast. James Darren stars as a man taken as an infant and raised in a technically advanced but emotionally bankrupt alien world with the sole purpose of turning him into a destroyer of earth. His target is a top secret base - The Time Tunnel! which made me desperately want a crossover - but he gets a change of heart - evidenced at the beginning when he protests the killing of an alien - and winds up helping protect the base which sends the aliens toward earth to kill him before his information can be revealed to earth. Unfortunately his most intriguing skill - telekenesis - was only briefly explored, and we never get to see what sort of character he'd become in his further adventures of helping earth and fighting aliens. Still it was a fun show and rich ground for crossovers and ideas.

I finally watched I Dream Of Jeannie: Fifteen Years Later and it was a mix of the surprisingly good and very disappointing. Roger and Dr. Bellows, both played by the original actors, were flawless, effortlessly slipping back into character and providing the vast majority of the few laughs in an otherwise strangely serious reunion. Barbara Eden took a while to fall back into the role, and never quite captured the bubbly personality or even some parts of Jeannie II's scheming personality, but it was wonderful to see her in the role again, and her being older gave me ideas of whether Jeannie would have traded her immortality for a normal, more human existence with Tony. Despite ignoring the twin children implied in one of the episodes, T.J. was quite good and believable as a mixture of Tony and Jeannie. I loved him slowly discovering his genie powers across the show while still retaining the realistic behavior of an '80s teen. The weakest part of the show was Tony, a different actor who lacks both the talent to pull off the part as well as the chemistry Larry Hagman and Barbara Eden had. Still the plot had some fun moments - my favorite was the hilarious scene in which Jeannie accidentally blinks everyone's clothes off in a restaurant and Dr. Bellows, upon arriving, assumes it's the thing to do and starts taking off his suit, and the final plot was surprisingly poignant, despite my confusion over why she simply didn't blink Tony home or in a different direction. Still her trading Tony's memories of their life together in return for his life was haunting, and I loved the hopeful, adorable finale when she bumps into him again, magically fixes his tie, and walks away with him following her.

I'm watching season five of Merlin now, and wondering what happened to my beloved, silly little show. Merlin has, in his own words, "grown up", and it's heartbreaking to see how jaded and even callous he's become. Merlin was once my favorite, until Lancelot took his place, Arthur grew on me, and I adored Gaius, but up until this season I still had a fondness for him, even in fourth place. Now I find myself annoyed and angry at him most of the time, and saddened at what the writers did to him, turning him into a twisted, dangerous person who won't even give Mordred a chance and has no one to blame but himself when everything falls apart. Almost everything he does is only for Arthur, with no thought to anyone else, and he's more than willing to kill for him, all of which gives the series a desperate yet hopeless feeling as Merlin struggles against the prophecy of Arthur's encroaching death, Gwen worries, and Arthur runs headlong into one danger after another. There's a new and older Mordred this season, and despite my reservations Alexander Vlahos completely won me over. He still seems too old to convincingly play opposite Arthur and Merlin, but he's a superb match for little Asa Butterfield, complete with the same vividly blue eyes and a disconcerting smile that flashes on and off so quickly I almost miss it. Yet he's softer and more endearing than little!Mordred who always send chills up my spine, and despite the fact that I thought I'd never love any Mordred except Hans Matheson in The Mists Of Avalon, I love his take on the character. The writers did a somewhat better job shifting him from good to evil, but his complete acceptance - with only one brief scene of hesitation - of the girl's evil seemed out of character. Despite that the scene where he yelled and his magic threw down the door sent chills up my spine. Alexander Vlahos was incredible in the episode. Merlin's betrayal of Mordred shocked me, and showed how very much he's changed from the days when he saved Freya, an almost parallel to "The Drawing Of The Dark". Bradley James is still excellent as Arthur, proving himself a just and honorable king who cares deeply for all his people, and even goes as far as to spare the life of a woman sentenced to die for sorcery. As the creepy "Death Song Of Uther Pendragon" shows, Arthur is about as far as his father as it's possible to be, and all for the best. Strangely enough I found myself disliking Gwen this season, both for the completely evil and murderous enchanted Gwen in the mid-season story arc, as well as the almost harsh way she rules. Also the writers, despite some promising hints in past seasons, have completely failed to convince me of Arthur and Gwen's romance which seems more tepid by the episode. Arthur says he loves her, but they behave more like two people sharing a kingdom instead of friends or family, and hardly husband and wife. The knights are a little underused, but still the best part of the season, and even Gwaine who I dismissed as a replacement Lancelot has finally won me over. However Elyan's senseless death gives me one more reason to hate how the writers use, or rather misuse, the knights. Elyan never got much of a role or chance to shine, but I liked him, and it seems pointless and cruel to kill him off just so the writers can try to infuse some life into their Arthur/Gwen ship. The Round Table is gorgeous, though, exactly as I imagine it should be. My favorite episode of the season is the superb opener "Arthur's Bane" which manages to craft a perfect blend of gently funny moments with tragedy and strong character building, reintroducing Mordred and even giving a dash of humanity to Morgana's twisted and usually over the top personality. There's a gloomy feel cast across the whole season, marked with disturbing, almost gruesome concepts such as the tragic crippling of the little dragon Aithusa, and the relentless torture and cruelty inflicted on the characters, making five an anti-climatic and sad end to what began as a fun and clever twist on the legends, and I can't help thinking the writers lost their way or rushed to the end without giving enough time for the important part. It's supposed to be the Golden Age of Camelot but it only crumbles more and grows darker by the episode, and I can only shake my head at all the wasted potential if the writers had given more time to plotting and pacing the series instead of falling back on the tiring and nearly sickening trope of Morgana vs. Camelot with some enchanted object and much throwing of people up against walls and trees. The problem, I think, was rushing everything instead of giving the series time to grow and fill the shoes of the legends. The first two years were perfect, three still had promise, and even four had some excellent moments and even whole episodes. Five sadly doesn't measure up, and only the season's opener and finale held my interest. "The Diamond Of The Day" was very good...not perfect, but close, breathing a little life and nostalgia into the series. Merlin seemed more his old self, the inclusion of him trapped in the cave was cleverly done, and Arthur's last "for Camelot" put tears in my eyes. I've grown to love Arthur over five seasons, warming to him as he grew from a hated bully to a prince with a good heart and finally the once and future king, but I was prepared for the heartbreak. The battle was epic, far more than the usual scene which focuses entirely on Arthur and Mordred, exactly as Camlann should be. Mordred stabbing Arthur and killing him was quietly underplayed, and I couldn't help tearing up for both of them, especially when Mordred gives that last smile before he falls. Gwen putting the pieces together and realizing Merlin has magic was beautifully done, subtle yet perfectly acted, and Gwen finally seems to be the sweet and kind character she used to be. Surprisingly I found myself shipping Leon/Gwen, mostly because of the talk about their childhood and the way he looks at her. It's adorable and I like to think after Gwen had mourned for Arthur that she eventually grew to love Leon, too. Avalon was beautiful, and I got a thrill when it first appeared, one thing I'd been looking forward to in the finale. I loved the magic reveal, somewhat anti-climatic - I'd hoped for a full season of Arthur coming to terms with it and magic returning to Camelot - but it was moving, and superbly acted by both Colin Morgan and Bradley James. I loved how Arthur gradually gains respect for Merlin and all he's done, eventually accepting him and not wanting him to change. Percival had a slightly larger part than usual, which I enjoyed, but I hated that Gwaine had to die. If he had to die I wish it had at least been a noble death like Lancelot, instead of the senseless and horribly cruel death he got. I must say I've never been more grateful to the writers for killing a character as I was when Morgana died. Five seasons late, but still good. Arthur's death was heartbreaking, perfectly filmed and acted, and if I wasn't crying before that I would have broken down and sobbed when Freya's hand came out of the lake for Excalibur, not to mention Merlin - the real Merlin and not the cruel one that's been here most of the season - crying; I can never have dry eyes when Colin Morgan cries. I liked the open ending somewhat - leaving room for imagination and fanfiction - but was saddened by all that wasn't shown - Merlin returning to Gaius, Gwen's acceptance, Gwen's reign, Leon/Gwen, and so on. But immortal!Merlin was tragically beautiful...if only the series had shown Arthur's return in the future. To cheer myself up I watched a different Arthurian film, The Last Legion, a unique and fascinating spin on the legends. Thomas Brodie Sangster was superb as young Caesar Romulus Augustulus, a child caught between killers and a small but loyal band willing to die for him. I found Aurelius the most fascinating of all..at first glimpse he seems a cruel, hardened warrior, but his friendship and loyalty to the child quickly won me over, as did the tinge of sadness around him. Mira was quite interesting, too, both warrior and woman with a caring for Aurelius. And Ambrosinus(Merlin) being Uther's teacher as well as Arthur's was unusual and an intriguing thought. The film was beautifully done, too.

I've discovered another silent film actor to love: the wonderful, handsome, and talented Charles Farrell. I gave a try to the film Lucky Star and fell in love with it - and him - at the same time. He played such a sweet character that I couldn't help loving him, and Janet Gaynor was adorable as the girl he falls in love with, both making it a lovely film with a perfect ending. My favorite so far is the gorgeous 7th Heaven, a beautiful and poignant romance that made me smile and sob and love them both dearly. Chico and Diane's relationship was realistic and so lovely, and their "wedding" brought tears to my eyes, as did the incredible and moving ending. I'm also learning to love his films with other actresses, starting with City Girl, a movie with some beautiful scenery, lovely photography, and an adorable scene where he and his co-star run through the wheat field, pausing for him to pick her up and kiss her. He played a very sweet character, too, who was impossible not to love. After that I saw The River, a sadly fragmented film with part of it only able to be told through still photos and inter-titles, but still highly unusual and lovely. It's quote "The river, like love, cleanses all things" sums up the film in which the river stands as a character, much in the same way of Our Mutual Friend, washing away the past of one of the character and redeeming them through another, as well as a character nearly dying and surviving through love. While I wasn't as impressed by the actress, Charles Farrell did an excellent job with the role, a mix of awkward country boy and determined man who wins her over and breaks her out of her hard shell when he nearly freezes to death and she's nearly unable to save him. It had a happy ending, too, that part, like the beginning and two other scenes, lost and told only in a photograph. I wish they'd find a complete copy, but still the part that exists was well worth seeing, since I love his films. Last was Liliom, a delightfully non-musical version of the lovely musical Carousel, with Charles Farrell in the title role. It turned out to be a talkie, so for the first time I got to hear his voice. He didn't sound like I expected, but his voice grew on me and I loved his accent. He was great in the role, too, and I grinned ear to ear at the carnival scenes. Charles Farrell has a lovely, nearly frail vulnerability, and cute shyness about his acting, combined with a tendency to get whumped that is exactly what I love in acting and characters. And on a completely shallow note, he's very easy on the eyes, too. Catching up on my love of Shakespeare, I saw the 1968 version of Romeo and Juliet and it was utterly gorgeous. Beautiful sets, lovely actors - Romeo especially - pretty dancing, and of course the glorious theme. I loved that it retained the original lines and setting, just a flawless film overall. After that I saw Flyboys, a gorgeous and sweepingly old-fashioned film about the men who fought in the skies of World War One. James Franco was wonderfully sweet as Blaine, and I adored his interactions with Lucienne and the children. Among other new films this week I saw the adorable Penelope and fell completely in love with it. James McAvoy was wonderful as Johnny, and stunning with those beautiful blue eyes. He had a perfect mix of sad sweetness and gentle humor, and my favorite scenes were the lovely ending in the park and the hilarious scene where he sings "You Are My Sunshine" out of key while attempting to play an assortment of instruments. Penelope was easy to like, too, and I loved that Penelope and Johnny got their happy ending. Then I saw the gorgeous and bittersweet fantasy The Odd Life Of Timothy Green which completely broke my heart and put it back together again. Timothy was adorable, and I loved how he touched each person and made them better. Next I watched Wrath of the Titans, the sequel to Clash Of The Titans, and surprisingly liked it even more than the first. Perseus, now a widower, has a young son, and finally Perseus/Andromeda became canon, much to my delight, even if I prefer the first actress who played her over this one. Hades finally got redemption in the end, and Zeus came across as a kinder and more loving god toward his son and grandson. Pegasus was back, too, just as beautiful as ever, and I found the plot easier to follow than the first. Next was The Crucible, a stunning, heartbreaking, and disturbing look at the motives of the Salem Witch Trials. Despite being somewhat fictionalized it was still a fascinating image of the events, both extremely well acted and directed, and incredibly powerful. By the end of it I loathed Abigail even more than I always have, since the film painted her as a scheming girl drunk on power and revenge, but the actress did a good job with a very difficult role. Little Betty, much more able to be pitied and sympathized with, was also quite good, and Daniel Day-Lewis did a superb job as John Proctor, one of the victims I've always had the most interest in. His scene of being accused as well as his moving final speech were stunning, tear-jerking, and should have won him an oscar. Joan Allen was also excellent as his caring wife, Elizabeth, and I sobbed at her final line. I happened to run across Daniel Day-Lewis again in my search for a good version of The Last Of The Mohicans, the 1992 version, and he had big shoes to fill as Hawkeye, since I love both the book and the tv series Hawkeye which remains my favorite version of the story. But he was excellent at the role, and as much as I adore Lee Horsley's more lighthearted and friendly approach to the role, Daniel Day-Lewis actually fit my image a little better - lighter and swifter on his feet, more woodman-ish, and a stronger, slightly rougher character while style having a kind and gentle tenderness beneath it all. Cora was also a great character, a strong match for Hawkeye, and I loved their relationship. The film seemed a little too short, but maybe that's just because I enjoyed it too much so it felt like it sped by, and Uncas wasn't shown as much as I would have liked but it was a beautifully filmed and acted adaptation, with the gorgeous backdrop of North Carolina against impressively accurate sets and costumes. Duncan's redemption was haunting, turning a character I disliked into one I admired in the ending. Alice was frail and lovely and I wish her hinted at romance with Uncas had been shown more, but still their tragic and earlier foreshadowed deaths broke my heart, as did the words of Chingachgook in the last scene. The theme was pretty, too, and familiar to me for some reason. On a shallow note, I also loved Hawkeye's hair...the tv version's got nothing on him there! I finally watched the film version of Highlander, and as I'd suspected from the pilot of the tv show, I quite enjoyed Christopher Lambert as Connor, a different, more world-weary, but still fascinating and easy to sympathize with hero. He's a unique, more unusual sort of handsome, too, with a little bit of Robert Lansing's eyes and forehead with an awful lot of Misha Collin's lower face and build thrown in. In fact, between his looks, expressions, and trenchcoat, I kept having flashes of some sort of awesome Supernatural crossover. But his looks make him appear more old-fashioned and non-1980s which helps make it more believeable. The flashback scene of him finding little Rachel and later, with her much older, were precious and made me wish for more scenes or fanfiction of him raising her. Likewise, the love story of Connor and Heather was heartbreakingly beautiful, against the song "Who Wants To Live Forever" that I've always had a weakness for, even though it makes me tear up. But the resolved, happy ending was perfect, exactly what I'd hoped for. In other new films this week I watched An Old-Fashioned Christmas, and despite the fact that it didn't measure up to the original, the very sweet An old-Fashioned Thanksgiving, it was still enjoyable, even if I kept wanting to shake some sense into both Tilly and her grandmother. Gad was still the same loveable character of the first film, and despite everything I felt a little sorry for Cameron. I wish he'd had some redemption in the end beyond his new-found ability to stand up to his mother, even as much as I appreciated that. His accent, despite attempting to be Irish, sounded a lot more English to me, no matter how hard he tried, which made me giggle everytime he spoke. I loved Tilly's grandfather, though, such a feisty and colorful character, and her relationship with him. I saw the cute fairytale Ever After, a perfect and beautiful version of Cinderella, and fell in love with it. The Prince had far more personality than he ever has, and I loved how headstrong and bold Danielle was, even saving him from the gypsies in a clever and hilarious way. Then I saw the underrated and fun The Last Airbender. The concept of bending the elements and fighting with them was original and fascinating, and I loved the characters, especially the believing and good-hearted Katara. Aang's tragedy of being alone in accepting his role as the avatar, and Yue's death were especially moving, and I felt for all the characters. Following that was The Indian In The Cupboard, a gentle and lovely adaptation of the book I loved as a kid. Little Bear and Boone were perfect, exactly as I imagined, and I loved the ending. Next was the fabulous Night At The Museum, a fest for a history and that sort of fantasy geek that I am and I loved every second of it and all the characters; followed by the even zanier and more hilarious Night At The Museum: Battle Of The Smithsonian. I giggled through all the oldies songs, and loved the cupids, the octopus, and, of course, Jedediah and Octavius, even better than in the last film. After that was the remake of The Day The Earth Stood Still and was happily surprised to discover as much as I enjoy the original, I actually loved this version more. Keanu Reeves was more believable as Klaatu, alien yet learning to be human, and I loved how he changed slowly and with the most subtle moments over the course of the film. Helen also had more personality, even if the sparks of a romance were stripped away, and little Jacob was adorable and an incredibly good actor. Also the plot was more coherent than in the original, with a better conclusion, and I loved the idea of the "arks". Next was the wrenching and poignant The Flowers Of War, a deeply moving character study of a diverse group of people in China during the midst of the Second-Sino Japanese War. The historical setting drew me to the film but I fell in love with the violent beauty of it, and the incredible acting from everyone, especially the always amazing Christian Bale. The ending, along with many other moments, made me cry, and I loved how vividly realistic everything seemed, from the small moments such as John hugging Shu to the Chinese soldier's sacrifice. After that was The Confession, the sequel to The Shunning, and in some ways, although I really enjoyed the first film, I liked this one even better. Surprisingly the cast changes all seemed to be equal or for the better, and the story was intriguing and touching. I loved seeing more of Daniel than simply flashbacks, and the last scene gave me hope for his and Katie's relationship. I don't mind Justin, though. I loved that Katie finally got to meet her mother in the end, if only for a little while, and the ending left me waiting patiently for the final film, hopefully coming soon. Next was the haunting and offbeat Desire Me with the surprisingly delightful pairing of two of my favorites, Greer Garson, who I've adored since seeing Mrs. Miniver as a small child, and Robert Mitchum. Next was the excellent Bend of the River with an excellent cast and final twist. Next was two childhood favorites Miracle On 34th Street and Meet Me In St. Louis, both of which I loved. Then was the poignant Goodbye Mr. Chips Which I loved as a child and hadn't seen in years. Next was the fabulous and hilarious Christmas in Connecticut which I adored. Last was the beautifully sad Love Is A Many Splendored Thing, the theme of which I've loved for years.

I watched the fascinating Peter Pan prequel Neverland which offers an intriguing and poignant backstory for Peter, Hook, Tinkerbell, and the Lost Boys. The boy who played Peter was quite good, impressing me despite not looking exactly how I imagined, the orb was an unusual and interesting addition, and I liked the explanation for the Indians and pirates being in Neverland. Tiger Lily was wonderful, given much more personality than in most versions, and I ended up surprisingly shipping Peter and her. The origins of Hook and Peter's hatred for each other was also a fascinating twist, and I liked the ending with the tied-in elements to Peter Pan including the watch being swallowed and Peter leaving his shadow behind in England.

I've been on a roll of animated films lately, starting with the flawless The Emperor's New Groove this week, definitely the most zany and hilarious animated film I've seen yet. I couldn't stop laughing, and I loved the colorful characters, especially the endearing Kronk. The animation was perfectly done, especially the llama, and I loved the slightly steampunk design of Yzma's lab and the lever that drops into an alligator pit. Following that was the sequel, Kronk's New Groove, nearly as hilarious and just as adorable as the first. I loved all the clever nods to older Disneys, as well as the "Gollum moment", and the cute Disco sequence. The ending was wonderful, and I loved how Kuzco inserted himself into the story, I only wish he'd been in the film more. Next I saw Atlantis: Milo's Return, the fun sequel to the wonderful and underrated Atlantis: The Lost Empire. While I missed the original Milo's voice, everyone else was the same, and the story, a series of three adventures, was a lot of fun. I loved the fairytale-like ending, too. Following that was the precious The Adventures of Tom Thumb and Thumbelina, a completely adorable version of the stories with a different twist here and there. I loved Tom and Thumbelina's relationship, as well as the side characters like Albertine and the mice, and the lovely ending. Then I watched the beautifully animated The Rescuers, a gorgeous and adorable film with loveable characters, especially the darling little mouse heroes of the title. Last was the delightfully French and utterly precious Ratatouille which made me giggle and restored my faith in modern animated films with it's big heart and loveable characters, especially the too cute for words Remy. After that was The Hunchback Of Notre Dame II, and despite the fact that it didn't rival the original, I still enjoyed it. It was sweet, and lovely, and Quasimodo finally found someone to love and be loved by. I also liked that Phoebus and Esmeralda had a son, cute little Zephyr, and his friendship with Quasi was precious. Then I saw Atlantis The Lost Empire, a fun, steampunk-filled adventure that has to be one of the most underrated Disney films ever. It was beautifully done, though, a perfect blend of humor and action with a loveable and geeky hero in Milo.

I've been binge-watching Gomer Pyle USMC, a childhood favorite, and loving it. The Sgt. and Bunny are always a treat, and the guest stars are delightful.
 
 
calliope tune: "Dream Weaver"-Gary Wright
feeling: sore
 
 
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