Retro Television Reviews: Hang Time 2.5 “War of the Roses” and 2.6 “Short Cuts”

Welcome to Retro Television Reviews, a feature where we review some of our favorite and least favorite shows of the past!  On Mondays, I will be reviewing Hang Time, which ran on NBC from 1995 to 2000.  The entire show is currently streaming on YouTube!

The season continues!

Episode 2.5 “War of the Roses” 

(Directed by Patrick Maloney, originally aired on October 5th, 1996)

Mary Beth (Megan Parlen) proves once again that she is the coolest girl at Deering High by painting the boy’s locker room pink without asking them.  Vince (Michael Sullivan) freaks out about the pink (actually, it’s salmon) and leaves Mary Beth an angry note.  Mary Beth gets angry about the note and hires a muscle-bound dude to threaten Vince in front of his friends.  Vince tries to get Mary Beth to eat a poisoned chili dog.  Eventually, Mary Beth somehow changes Vince’s grades to make it appear the Vince is ineligible to play basketball while Vince STEALS COACH FULLER’S WALLET and tries to frame Mary Beth.

Like, seriously, what the Hell?

It all leads to a really weird scene in which a mock trial is held to determine whether or not Mary Beth and Vince should be barred from being involved in basketball.  Finally, Mary Beth acknowledges that she shouldn’t have repainted the locker room without talking to anyone (how exactly did Mary Beth repaint the locker room without anyone noticing?) and Vince admits that his note was rude.  Everything works out.

Meanwhile, in the B-plot, Julie again proves herself to be the world’s worst girlfriend by getting angry at Josh for trying to throw her a surprise birthday party.  This whole Julie/Josh subplot felt like it belonged in a first season episode but it did lead to Mary Beth smashing a birthday cake in Julie’s face, which was kind of satisfying considering how whiny Julie was in this episode.  (“This is why I hate surprise parties!” Julie yells.)

This was …. well, look, it was pretty dumb.  But Megan Parlen was a good enough comedic actress to save her storyline.  And personally, I’m on her side as far as the locker room is concerned.  That shade of pink really was pretty.

Episode 2.6 “Short Cuts”

(Directed by Patrick Maloney, originally aired on October 12th, 1996)

Wow, Vince sure is a screw-up.  He spent the previous episode trying to destroy Mary Beth’s life.  This episode, he starts taking steroids.  Of course, this leads to him getting acne and roid rages but it also helps him win a few basketball games so …. well, let’s just say that everyone is quick to jump on Vince’s back for taking drugs but no one suggests giving back any of their victories.

Vince is using drugs because he wants to attend a basketball clinic with Coach Fuller and a short basketball player named Muggsy.  (I went on Wikipedia and discovered that Muggsy actually was a real basketball player, even though he was shorter than me!  That’s kind of neat!)  At the start of the show, Fuller announces that only Julie and Josh qualify for the clinic because, in the world of Hang Time, Julie and whoever she’s dating at the time are the only people who can actually play well.  Once Vince starts taking the steroids and having rages, he qualifies for the clinic but he is just as quickly disqualified because of his drug use.  Fortunately, Muggsy is there to tell him to stop being a whiny baby and to stay off the pills.

In the B-plot, Danny directs a really crappy sci-fi film.  Unfortunately, he also accidentally films Vince with his dealer so Vince destroys the tape.  Damn, Vince!

This episode was a reworking of the episode of California Dreams in which Tiffani got hooked on steroids and the episode of Saved By The Bell where Zach needed to raise money to replace the school’s video camera.  It was predictable but the cast did a fairly good job.  If nothing else, this episode showed that Reggie Theus improved quite a bit as an actor between seasons 1 and 2.  And he didn’t need steroids to do it!  Let that be a lesson to all.

Film Review: Project Skyquake (dir by József Gallai)

Project Skyquake, the latest film from director József Gallai, opens with a voice in the darkness.  The voice belongs to Andrew Derrickson (Simon Bramford), the stepfather of a student journalist named Cassie.  Andrew explains that Cassie and her friend Margot have been missing for a while.  They are actually one of the many people who disappeared all in the same day, an event that changed the world.

As he speaks, we see scenes of empty roads, abandoned buildings, and ominous forests and we can’t help but notice that there does not seem to be many people around.  We know that something big has happened but we don’t know what yet.  However, when looking at these desolate images, it’s hard not to think about what the real world has gone through over the past two years.  Due to the pandemic and lockdowns, many people did literally seem to disappear.  They retreated into their homes and they locked their doors and some have yet to emerge.  In the early days of the Pandemic, images of empty streets and deserted buildings were a regular feature on the news and online.  Some news sources even took to referring to the pre-COVID days as being the “before time,” as if the expectation was that the world would just have to accept the new normal of a empty streets and missing faces.  Project Skyquake, I should make clear, is not directly a COVID film but it is a film that resonates because of what most of humanity has just been through (and what many people are currently still experiencing).  At a time when many are trying to memoryhole what it was like and pretend as if it really wasn’t as bad as all that, Project Skyquake is a film that reminds us of exactly what it felt like to feel as if one was witnessing the end of the world.

We watch footage of the days leading up to the disappearance of Cassie (Laura Ellen Wilson) and her friend Margot (Laura Saxon).  Cassie is fascinated by “skyquakes,” a very real phenomena in which people have reported hearing explosions and trumpets coming from the sky.  As Cassie explains it, some people think that the skyquakes are UFO-realted.  Some blame the government.  Some say it’s a natural occurrence with a scientific explanation.  Others view the skyquakes as being the sound of heavenly trumpets announcing the start of the rapture and the end of the world.  Cassie explains that the skyquakes could be holes in time and we are hearing the sounds of the future.

After receiving a video from Hank (Tom Sizemore), another skyquake researcher, Cassie and Margot drive out to a location where skyquakes have frequently been reported.  They’re hoping to capture the phenomena on film.  Instead, they find themselves driving further and further into what appears to be a deserted forest.  Of course, the forest isn’t as deserted as it may appear and Cassie and Margot soon discover the truth about the skyquakes….

Project Skyquake is an enjoyably creepy found footage film.  The film makes good use of its atmospheric locations, with the forest and the things found within growing significantly more threatening with each passing moment.  (The shots of the abandoned buildings and the unwelcoming wilderness reminded me a bit of Jean Rollin’s The Night of the Hunted, with its portrayal of semi-deserted and dystopian Paris.)  The film does a good job of capturing the frightening and powerless feeling of being lost, both physically and mentally.  Laura Ellen Wilson and Laura Saxon are both immediately sympathetic as Cassie and Margot and, even more importantly, they’re believable as lifelong friends.  The viewer really does care about what is going to happen to them.

The film also does a good job of portraying the underground network of paranormal investigators and hobbyists who are convinced that there is more to the world than what can be easily seen.  Along with Tom Sizemore’s Hank. we also hear from Scott Carmichael (Robert LaSardo), an expert on the phenomena, and a Professor Stokkebø (Jon Vangdal Aamaas).  They are people who come from different parts of the world and different backgrounds but what they all share in common is a belief that there is more out there than we know or have been told about.

Project Skyquake is a short but effective film about a real-world phenomena.  It’ll make you listen to the sky a little more carefully then next time you’re standing underneath it.

Monday Live Tweet Alert: Join Us For The Bodyguard from Beijing and Man On Fire!

As some of our regular readers undoubtedly know, I am involved in hosting a few weekly live tweets on twitter.  I host #FridayNightFlix every Friday, I co-host #ScarySocial on Saturday, and I am one of the five hosts of #MondayActionMovie!  Every week, we get together.  We watch a movie.  We tweet our way through it.

Tonight, for #MondayActionMovie, SweetEmmyCat is hosting 1994’s Bodyguard From Beijing starring Jet Li!


Following #MondayActionMovie, Brad and Sierra will be hosting the #MondayMuggers live tweet.  Tonight’s movie, starting at 10 pm et, will be 2004’s Man On Fire, starring Denzel Washington!  The film is available on Prime!


It should make for a night of intense viewing and I invite all of you to join in.  If you want to join the live tweets, just hop onto twitter, start The Man From Beijing at 8 pm et, and use the #MondayActionMovie hashtag!  Then, at 10 pm et, switch over to prime, start Man On Fire and use the #MondayMuggers hashtag!  The live tweet community is a friendly group and welcoming of newcomers so don’t be shy.  And reviews of these films will probably end up on this site at some point over the next few weeks. 

Music Video of the Day: I’m A Mess by Avril Lavigne, feat. Yungblud (2022, dir by Patrick Tracy)

Aren’t we all?

(Or, at the very least, we all like to think that we’re a mess.  Being a mess always makes for a more interesting story than being relatively unmessy and satisfied with life.  Just consider, for instance, the current freak-out of Twitter, a site that basically found popularity as a place for people to brag about being a mess.)

I’m a fan of any video that features people who are emotionally lost in London.  While Avril contemplates in the sunlight, Yungblud wanders through the city.