Archive for November, 2008

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Best Stephen King TV Series

November 26, 2008

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There is a monster terrorizing the town of Derry, Maine, and the Losers club, having encountered It as children, return to Derry as adults to do battle once more.

This series is extra creepy and worth a look, if for no other reason, than for the overwhelming scariness of Tim Curry as he plays Pennywise the clown. The rest of the show has it’s moments, like the end of dinner in a Chinese restaurant that goes horribly wrong (no fortune cookie eyeball for me please), or the talking severed head in the library refrigerator!

Don’t let your children watch this one folks. A clown with filed teeth would give almost anyone nightmares.

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The Stand

 

The plague, generally referred to as the Superflu or Captain Trips, wipes out a large number of people in the entire world. But that’s only where the story begins. Many of the remaining populace begins enduring prophetic dreams that gravitate them to the “good” camp, led by Mother Abigail in Colorado, or the “bad” camp, led by Randall Flagg in Las Vegas. The final showdown awaits, who will rule the world in the aftermath of devastation?

The book is a lot more detailed and makes a bit more sense, if you bear in mind that, well, it was meant as a story of dark Christianity. (As quoted by Stephen King in the long intro to one version of The Stand.) Regardless, the tv series is still pretty good. Watching what Captain Trips does to a lot of people is pretty scary, and the visions exclaimed by the mildly retarded Tom Cullen (“M-o-o-n, that spells Tom Cullen!”) with childlike innocence that works to defeat the encroaching evil, is always worth a cheer!

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Rose Red

A haunted house with a long history of eating people, Rose Red is a modern day psychic phenomenon. Joyce Reardon, psychology professor and a devotee of the occult, takes a team of known psychics into the house, which of course wakes it up, and Rose Red is always hungry for more company.

This is one of my favorites. Each psychic that goes into the house has their own power, and each is needed to actually get themselves OUT of the house, when the time comes. And the story of how the house came to be this way, involving a lot of back history with it’s owners Ellen and John Rimbauer, is thrown in a lot as a kind of explanation for why the house is acting that way. Plus this miniseries explores the idea of a haunted house as a matter of conscious vengeance. Go watch it, you’ll see what I mean.

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Kingdom Hospital

So we’ve gone from haunted houses, to haunted entire hospitals!

Built in Lewiston Maine, the New Kingdom hospital is built on the site of the Old Kingdom hospital that burnt down some years ago, and before that the site was home to a mill that used child labor to manufacture military uniforms for the civil war. Can we see where this is going? Lots and lots of room for angry ghosts and tortured buildings, along with the regular protagonists of the Hospital. This is a rather odd series, even for Mr. King. I like the strange anteater monster that turns out to be a kind of animal totem for the most pivotal ghost, Mary, the little dead girl with the bell around her neck. The anteater monster gets even cooler when they reveal who he really is and why he was mistakenly named.

Each protagonist gets his own story that generally continues apace of the rest of the main storyline, the hauntings. I think that’s why the series was a bit long in the tooth.

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Desperation

The insane Sheriff of the mining town Desperation, possessed by an evil released from it’s well-made (oh what a pun!) prison that calls itself Tak, abducts potential sacrifices under false pretenses along Highway 50 in Nevada. Inspired from a story of Chinese workers trapped in a collapsed mine and abandoned to their fate, King adapted the story as a background plot note for Desperation. Collie Entragian, the insane Sheriff with that manic grin, is played by the wonderful Ron Perlman (of Hellboy fame), and boy does he throw himself into the part.

I especially enjoy the beginning of the show, which is exactly, almost word for word, like the book. The Sheriff has just picked up a couple and is taking them back to the station, and is oh so calmly reading them their rights, only to intersplice it with a deadpan, “I’m going to kill you,” and then finishing the Mirandas. Awesome!

 Written by Alicia Glass

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Smallville

November 25, 2008

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Reviewed by Alicia Glass

Director: James Marshall, Greg Beeman, Various

Studio: Warner Bros. Television
Age: 14+

Review Rating: 8 out of 10

 

The early years of what led the secretive farm boy Clark Kent to become the mighty world savior Superman, beginning in, where else, Smallville Kansas!

 

Most of us know the backstory of Superman, how his home planet of Krypton was being destroyed and his parents sent the baby who became Clark Kent via spaceship, to earth, to end up being raised in farm central Kansas by the loving Kent family. And this show actually does stick exactly to that story, beginning with Clark Kent about to enter high school as a freshman. Which of course makes the series a little geeky in the beginning, but believe me, it does get better.

 

So we have Clark Kent, farm boy with amazing powers and a big big secret he has to keep under wraps at all costs, despite wanting to be a normal human and play high school football. His pivotal love interest, Lana Lang, of course has a boyfriend in the first season. Why they started off with Lana Lang instead of Lois Lane I’m not sure, but it makes for interesting emotional tensions later on when Lois Lane does indeed show up. Clark is surrounded by friends at school: Chloe, editor of the school newspaper the Torch and a fine if not too intelligent for her own good friend, and Pete, the main male friend to begin with who likes basketball. And what show about Superman would be complete without everyones’ favorite villain? Lex Luthor, played by the awesomely fantastic Michael Rosenbaum, is a treat every single time he’s in an episode, and he’s in a lot of them. Lex’s father, played by John Glover, is still around and attempting to control things in the first few seasons of Smallville.

 

So yes, the first few seasons deal mainly with “meteor freaks” as they come to be called, normal people affected by the meteor rocks (kryptonite) that came with Clark from outer space and landed in Smallville. It isn’t until later seasons we actually see DC-based super heroes or villains, some complete with costume. (Green Arrow ROCKs.)

 

This show does enjoy it’s perks for the true fans of Superman and his DC companions. Christopher Reeve, the original Superman in the first three movies, starred as Doctor Virgil Swann on Smallville. Dean Cain, who played Superman on the hit tv show Lois and Clark, starred as Doctor Curtis Knox. Lynda Carter, who plays Chloe’s mother, had played Wonder Woman in the DC inspired show of the same name. And, my personal favorite, Helen Slater, who played Kara as in Supergirl the movie, starred as Clark’s biological mother Lara!

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A good starting superhero show for almost all ages, Smallville has something for everyone!