Let’s Watch Zydereen of Neptune!


Last night, the Late Night Movie Gang and I watched Zydereen of Neptune!

Never heard of Zydereen of Neptune?  Well, don’t feel bad.  It’s not really a movie.  Instead, it’s three episodes of an old 1950s TV series that someone edited together.  According to The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network TV Shows, Flash Gordon aired in 1954 on a now defunct network called DuMont.  The eponymous space hero was played by Steve Holland, a clean-cut model with an impressive head of hair.  On the show, Flash was a member of the GBI, which is like a galactic version of the FBI.  Working with him was scientist and love interest Dale Arden (Irene Champlin) and scientist and non-love interest Dr. Zarkov (Joseph Nash).  Flash was not a scientist but he had really nice hair.  Did I mention that?

(Seriously, the Late Night Movie Gang estimated that Flash was 90% hair spray.)

Anyway, in three episodes, Flash and the GBI had to defeat the machinations of Zydereen (Marie Powers), an evil witch who lived on Neptune and who yearned to escape and take over the universe.  She caused quite a bit of panic on Neptune, the majority of which, according to Wikipedia, was portrayed via stock footage of a 1953 anti-communist demonstration by citizens of East Berlin.  Having been made in 1954, it’s not surprising that Flash’s struggle to keep the universe safe feels a lot like America’s effort to keep the world safe from communism.

I was fulling expecting to be dismissive of this low-budget television show-turned-movie but actually, I enjoyed it.  From the threadbare production values to the grainy stock footage to the model rocket that crossed the screen whenever Flash was on a mission, there was an undeniable charm to the film’s low budget aesthetic.  Steve Holland grew on me as well.  At first, he seemed like a stiff but by the 30 minute mark of the film (or the second episode, if you will), Holland seemed a lot more comfortable with the role.  If nothing else, he had really impressive hair.  (Did I already mention that?)

Plus, Marie Powers was a good villain.  Again, it helps to remember that she was playing a space witch on a low-budget TV series that was mainly aimed at children.  As a result, neither she nor her schemes are particularly subtle but who cares?  It was right for the show.

As I’ve said many times in the past, I’m a history nerd.  And, if nothing else, Zydereen of Neptune was definitely a piece of history!

Want to watch it?  Well, here it is:

 

What The Hell Did Lisa Watched Last Night #182: The Proposal Episode 1


Though I’m really hesitant to admit it and I’ll probably deny it if anyone asks me in the future, last night I watched the first episode of the new ABC “reality dating” show, The Proposal.  How soul-searingly bad was The Proposal?  It was so bad that I am now convinced that not only is our current world about to end but also whatever world comes along to replace it is probably doomed as well.

 

Why Was I Watching It?

Because I’m an idiot.

What Was It About?

If you’ve ever watched The Bachelor, you know that it’s pretty much a tradition for the women (and the men, in the case of The Bachelorette) to announce that they can see themselves marrying the Bachelor after only knowing him for three days.  Of course, the audience at home always rolls their eyes when they say that.  We know they’ve probably been pressured to say that by the show’s producers, just like we know that there’s little chance that anyone on the show’s actually going to end up getting married to anyone else on the show.  It’s a fantasy and it’s kinda fun to get lost in it.

Well, The Proposal is basically The Bachelor on cheap steroids.  Now, instead of taking a whole three days to fall in love, The Proposal suggests that it can be done in an hour!  Woo hoo!

Here’s how last night’s show worked.  A man named Mike was sitting in a pod, hidden from the view of the audience.  Host Jesse Palmer assured us that Mike was a good guy and a police officer who deserved a good wife.  We were also told that, as the result of getting hit by a drunk driver, Mike lost part of his right leg but he was still an athlete who loved to go on hikes.  The message was clear: “If you think what’s happening is totally regressive and problematic, then you’re a terrible person who is saying that a one-legged first responder doesn’t deserve a chance at happiness.”

Ten heartbreakingly insecure women were brought out on stage.  While wearing swimsuits, each one made a pitch to Mike (who, keep in mind, was hidden from view the whole time).  Mike proceeded to cut five girls, all of whom were promptly ordered to get off the stage.  Mike then asked the five remaining girls a question.  Based on their answers, two girls were cut and three were left on stage.

From the beginning, it was obvious that the final three were going to be Jessica, Monica, and Kendal.  Jessica and Monica were the most attractive while Kendal was the only one who had a real job.  In fact, Kendal was a neuropsychologist who spoke movingly about how happy it made her to help stroke victims.  Given Mike’s own stated to desire to want to inspire people and create something good from his accident, Kendal seemed like the perfect choice…

Until, Mike’s best friend, Andrew, asked some questions!  Andrew wanted to know if the women were interested in having children. Kendal said that she didn’t want to have children.  The audience gasped in horror and Kendal got this panicked look on her face.  Oh my God, I’ve missed out on my chance to get proposed to by a man I’ve never seen before because I was honest about not wanting to have children!

Mike announced that the final two would be Monica and Jessica.  Sorry, Kendal!  I guess you should have lied until you got that ring!

Once Kendal was gone, the pod opened and Mike emerged.  Everyone breathed a sign of relief as Mike turned out to be a generically handsome guy who basically looked like a cop.  (He even sported the shaved head look that is oddly popular among police officers.)  At this point, I was sure that Monica and Jessica would get a chance to ask a question but no.  That’s not the way The Proposal works.  The fact that Mike looked like he might be distantly related to Wentworth Miller was good enough.  There was no need to know how he voted or if he was religious or if he drank or anything else.  Instead, Moncia and Jessica were sent backstage to work on their final plea and change into a nicer outfit.

After a commercial break, both Jessica and Monica returned and made their final pleas but it didn’t really matter what they had to say.  Mike was staring at Monica even while Jessica was talking.  Mike announced that he had been smitten with Monica from the first time he saw her an hour ago.  He got down on his one knee and proposed to her.  She said yes.  While Jessica silently headed backstage, Monica and Mike shared their first kiss.

“You’re a wonderful kisser,” she told her bald pod person, before adding, “Just wait until later!”

What Worked

Oh God.

Actually, let’s give credit where credit is due.  The off-stage announcer was properly snarky as each women was introduced.  The tone basically said, “Yeah, I can’t believe this is actually happening, either.”

Plus, I had a lot of fun live tweeting the event!  My anxiety was acting up something awful all day yesterday but making fun of The Proposal on twitter helped me calm down.

What Did Not Work

Every single moment of this show was icky and regressive.  Imagine The Bachelor without any of The Bachelor‘s goofy charm and you’ve got The Proposal.

“OH MY GOD!  Just like me!” Moments

None.  Absolutely none.  Well, okay — I did relate to the women’s obvious terror when, at the beginning of the show, they were forced to walk down a steep staircase in high heels.  I’m amazed that everyone made it down safely.

 Lessons Learned

The world is doomed.

Also, I’ll apparently watch anything.  What’s really sad is I know I’m probably going to watch next week’s episode, too.

Music Video of the Day: I’m Upset by Drake (2018, dir by Karena Evans)


We’re not even halfway through 2018 yet and I’m already prepared to declare that today’s music video of the day is the best of the year!  Now, you’ll notice that I didn’t say that it’s the best song of the year but really, the song’s not that important.  What’s important is that, with this video, Drake and director Karena Evans gives us the Degrassi reunion that we’ve all been waiting for!

(Okay, maybe not everyone.  Apparently, some people aren’t as obsessed with Degrassi as the rest of us are.  But you know what?  I love Degrassi.  I’ve got almost the entire series on DVD and I’ve watched and rewatched every episode so many times that I can quote most of them from memory.)

Before he found superstardom as Drake, Aubrey Graham was best known (by people like me) for playing Jimmy Brooks.  When Degrassi first started, Jimmy was something of a random jock.  He got into fights.  He played basketball.  He dated Ashley Kerwin and dumped her after she took ecstasy and ended up making out with Sean.  He dated Hazel until she graduated.  He dated Ashley again until she betrayed him to get a recording contract.  And, of course, he ended up in a wheelchair after a mean-spirited prank led to Rick Murray shooting him in the back.  Jimmy eventually left Toronto for Amsterdam and possibly law school but, as we see in this video, he’s back and so are all of our old favorites.

Admittedly, before this video, there was a previous Degrassi reunion.  Back in 2016, the 500th episode of Degrassi featured a class reunion and several old characters did return.  Unfortunately, everyone’s favorites — like Paige, Spinner, Marco, and Emma — didn’t get much screen time.  Instead, Mo — who really shouldn’t have even been at the reunion since it had only been a year since he graduated — got most of the screen time and seriously, who ever cared about Mo?  Meanwhile, beloved graduates like Ellie, Craig, and Manny didn’t even show up.  In short, the official Degrassi reunion was a huge disappointment!

Fortunately, this video does a better job of bringing back almost all of our favorites.  I guess that’s the power of Drake.  True, it’s hard not to be disappointed that Sean Cameron, Joy Hogart, Alex, J.T. Yorke, Johnny DiMarco, and Bruce the Moose didn’t show up.  (If you ever had any doubt that Degrassi was a Canadian show, just consider the fact that a major supporting character was named Bruce The Moose.)  But check out who did return!

First off, here’s Spinner (Shane Kippel)!

Seriously, it’s not a Degrassi reunion if Spinner isn’t there.  Despite the fact that Degrassi was a four-year school, Spinner was enrolled for seven seasons.  Okay, so Spinner wasn’t that good of a student but so what?  He was the heart and soul of Degrassi!  Not only was he the drummer for Toronto’s greatest band, Downtown Sasquatch, but he was also Jimmy’s best friend, except for that time when Jimmy was angry over Spinner’s part in the prank that led to Jimmy getting shot in the back.  (Fortunately, they made up.)  I’ve seen some people online wondering why Spinner spends so much of this video throwing up.  My theory is that it’s an homage to the seventh season episode, Pass the Dutchie.  That’s the episode where Spinner, while undergoing chemotherapy, throws up on his English teacher.

(That episode also features one of the greatest lines in Degrassi history, when a stoned Spinner realizes that he’s about to fail English for the third time and exclaims, “What kind of idiot fails his own language three times!?”)

Four of my favorites all showed up together.  Getting out of the stylish white car: Paige (Lauren Collins), Ellie (Stacey Farber), Marco (Adamo Ruggiero), and Craig (Jake Epstein).  I always related to Ellie, largely because we both had red hair and always wore black to school.  I also always felt bad that Craig and Ellie could never quite seem to make things works romantically, though Ellie and Sean were actually a better couple.  But I’m just kind of rambling now…

Hey, it’s Terri (Christina Schmidt) and Hazel (Andrea Lewis)!  Terri was on the first three seasons of Degrassi, until she was put into a coma by her abusive boyfriend, Rick Murray.  (This was the same Rick who would later shoot Jimmy in the back.)  Hazel was Jimmy’s girlfriend, until she eventually realized that Jimmy was actually in love with Ellie.  It’s probably not a coincidence that Drake is rapping about his ex at the same time that Hazel shows up.

Then the teachers show up!  Ms. Kwan (Linlyn Lue) was the tyrannical English teacher who was driven to tears when Jimmy and Spinner egged her car.  As for Archie “Snake” Simpson (Stefan Brogren), he’s been the one constant over the course of all the different versions of Degrassi.  He started out as a student on Degrassi Junior High and Degrassi High.  In School’s Out, he was the first character to say “fuck” on Canadian television.  Finally, Mr. Simpson taught the school’s media immersion class and eventually became principal of the school.

About halfway through the video, we learn that Mr. Simpson buys his drugs from Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Kevin Smith).

A longtime fan of the Degrassi franchise, Kevin Smith appeared as himself during season 4 and 5 and also in the second Degrassi movie, Degrassi Goes Hollywood.  Smith came to Degrassi to shoot his latest movie, Jay and Silent Bob Go Canadian, Eh?  Of course, he brought Mewes with him.  While Kevin Smith did end up contributing to the break-up of Caitlin and Joey, he also helped to track down Craig, who was having a manic episode and living on the streets at the time.  Later, Smith would return to Degrassi to encourage Paige to take a chance with Alex and to also help launch the acting career of Manny Santos (Cassie Steele).

Speaking of Manny, she returns for Drake’s reunion and, appropriately enough, she’s seen hanging out with Emma (Miriam McDonald).  Interestingly, in Degrassi Takes Manhattan, Emma ended up marrying Spinner in a plot twist that caused thousands of Degrassi fans (like me) to roll their eyes in unison.  (Seriously, Emma and Spinner barely spoke to each other for 9 seasons and then they suddenly got married.)  In this video, Spinner and Emma don’t even seem to acknowledge each other.  Maybe they got divorced.

Among the other former Degrassi cast members to make an appearance: Melissa McIntyre (a.k.a. the one and only Ashley Kerwin), Nina Dobrev (who played teen mom-turned-super model Mia), A.J. Saudin (a.k.a. Simpson’s autistic godson, Connor), Sarah Barrable-Tishauer (a.k.a., class President Liberty Van Zandt), Jake Goldsbie (a.k.a. adorable nerd Toby Isaacs), Marc Donato and Dalmar Abuzeid (a.k.a. dorky friends Derek and Danny), and Paula Brancati (who played Jane, the girl who Spinner probably should have married.)

And then there’s Rick Murray (Ephraim Ellis).  Despite the fact that Rick was reported to have died shortly after shooting Jimmy, he still showed up for the reunion.  Of course, not everyone was happy to see him:

So, for those of you keeping track: Jimmy regained his ability walk, Emma and Spinner are divorced, Rick Murray apparently didn’t die after all, and J.T. Yorke is still dead.  Poor J.T.

(Then again, if Rick’s still alive then you have to wonder how his ghost was able to possess Holy J in The Curse of Degrassi.  Maybe I’m overthinking this.  Anyway…)

Enjoy!

Greatest video of 2018, have no doubt

Goodbye, Rick Grimes: Andrew Lincoln Is Leaving The Walking Dead


According to Collider, the next season of The Walking Dead will be Andrew Lincoln’s last.  After eight seasons as the star of The Walking Dead, Lincoln is apparently ready to move on and that means that The Walking Dead is about to lose Rick Grimes.

Of course, the television show began with Rick Grimes waking up from a coma and finding himself in a world that was far different from the one that he remembered.  In the early seasons especially, Rick stood-in for the audience.  We discovered the realities of the zombie apocalypse at the same time that Rick did.  When we were upset over the death of a character, Rick got upset with us.  When Rick hoped that a new, better world could somehow be created from the ruins of the old, we hoped along with him.  Among an ensemble cast that was filled with talent, Andrew Lincoln was the often underappreciated anchor that held the show’s narrative together.

Of course, many would argue that the show lost its way over the last few seasons.  I certainly would.  As the show grew more inconsistent, so did Rick’s character.  Often times, it seemed like Rick’s personality would change from episode to episode, depending on what the show was trying to accomplish that week.  It’s hard not to feel that, as an actor, Andrew Lincoln deserved better than to have to spend the majority of season seven in a nearly catatonic state, silently suffering as Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s Negan devoured every inch of scenery.

And yet, Andrew Lincoln was always good.  Sometimes, the scripts were weak.  Sometimes, Rick was required to do things that didn’t make much sense.  But, through it all, Lincoln remained the anchor.  For all intents and purposes, he was The Walking Dead.

In much the same way that Lost simply had no choice but to end with Jack Shepherd sacrificing his life on the island, I’ve always felt that The Walking Dead had little choice but to end with Rick dying.  The show has always been his story and it’s always seemed that, when Rick’s life ended, so would the show.  Of course, the perfect ending would have been for Rick to die and Carl to pick up the mantle of leadership.  Unfortunately, Carl’s dead so that’s not going to happen.

(I realize that the Collider article stated that Lincoln was leaving the show and not that Rick was going to be killed off.  But, honestly, it’s hard to imagine this show not milking Rick’s death for all the drama that it can.  And, at this point, it would feel like a cop out not to kill him.  That’s just not the way things work in the world of The Walking Dead.)

Who will take over as the new leader on The Walking Dead?  Maggie was an obvious choice but Lauren Cohan just had a pilot picked up by ABC.  (Of course, there’s no guarantee that the ABC series will be a success.  For one thing, it’s entitled Whiskey Cavalier, which is one of the stupidest titles I’ve ever come across.)  Norman Reedus just managed to get himself a nice pay raise, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see Daryl become even more prominent.  Or Negan might suddenly turn into a good guy and become the new leader.  Who knows?  About the only thing we can say for sure is that, with Carl dead and Rick leaving, the show is inevitably going to move further away from the comic that inspired it.

Though they’re two very different shows, it’s hard for me not to compare Andrew Lincoln leaving The Walking Dead to Steve Carell leaving The Office.  Let’s just hope that Rick’s replacement won’t be Andy Bernard.

Finally, in honor of the legacy Rick Grimes…

Those schoolgirl days of telling tales and biting nails are gone
But in my mind I know they will still live on and on
But how do you thank someone who has taken you from crayons to perfume?
It isn’t easy, but I’ll try
If you wanted the sky I would write across the sky in letters
That would soar a thousand feet high ‘To Sir, With Love’
The time has come for closing books and long last looks must end
And as I leave I know that I am leaving my best friend
A friend who taught me right from wrong and weak from strong
That’s a lot to learn, but what can I give you in return?
If you wanted the moon I would try to make a start
But I would rather you let me give my heart ‘To Sir, With Love’

Scenes That I Love: Wally Brando Arrives In Twin Peaks: The Return


“My family, my friend, I’ve criss-crossed this great land of ours countless times. I hold the map of it here, in my heart, next to the joyful memories of the carefree days I spent, as a young boy, here in your beautiful town of Twin Peaks.”

— Wally “Brando” Brennan in Twin Peaks The Return: Part 4

Last year, there were many Twin Peaks moments that many of us could not stop talking about.  There was Cooper announcing, “I am the FBI.”  There was Matthew Lillard’s interrogation.  There was Naomi Watts telling off the loan sharks and Jim Belushi talking about his dreams.  There were the musical performances at the Roadhouse.  There was Laura’s scream at the end of the Part 18.  And of course, there was every single minute of Part 8.

And then there was the arrival of Wally Brando.

Played by Michael Cera, Wally Brando was the son of Lucy (Kimmy Robertson) and Deputy Andy (Harry Goaz).  They were obviously quite proud of their son and Wally … well, Wally really loved Marlon Brando.  (That probably has something do with the fact that Wally and Marlon Brando shared a birthday.)  Interestingly enough, in the scene above, Micahel Cera is speaking to Robert Forster, who co-starred with Brando in 1967’s Reflections in a Golden Eye.

(Of course, by imitating Brando’s look in The Wild One, Wally Brando reminds us that Twin Peaks took place in a world where pop culture and society’s darkest secrets collided.)

How big of a splash did Wally Brando make?  When Part 4 of Twin Peaks premiered, Wally Brando immediately started to trend on twitter.  People were reminded that Michael Cera was capable of doing more than just playing sensitive teenagers.  It was one of the first great moments of the Twin Peaks revival.  As much attention as Cera received for his performance, I also think that Harry Goaz, Kimmy Robertson, and Robert Forster deserved just as much credit for making this scene work.  Andy and Lucy were so proud and Sheriff Truman’s reactions were just priceless.

Today would have been Marlon Brando’s 94th birthday and I’m sure that, somewhere, Wally Brando is wearing a party hat, opening his presents from Lucy and Andy, watching Guys and Dolls, and smiling.

 

Let’s Talk About Jesus Christ Superstar Live In Concert (dir by David Leveaux and Alex Rudzinski)


On Sunday night, my family and I ended our Easter Sunday by watching Jesus Christ Superstar Live.  Now, before I say anything else about NBC’s latest live musical production, there are a few things that I should make clear:

In college, there was this girl in my dorm who started the semester as a pagan, spent a month as an evangelical, and then ended the semester as a pagan again.  When she was going through her evangelical phase, she would listen to the Jesus Christ Superstar soundtrack constantly, with the volume turned up so loud that you could hear it up and down the hallway.  Seriously.  24 hours a day.  7 days a week.  After three days, I was sick of hearing it.  I found myself wondering if anyone had ever been driven to murder over having to listen to Heaven On Their Minds one too many times.  Fortunately, something happened to cause her to once again lose her faith and she went back to listening to Fall Out Boy.

For quite some time afterward, I would instinctively cringe whenever I heard any of the songs from Jesus Christ Superstar.  In fact, it wasn’t until I first came across the 1973 film version that I was able to once again appreciate it as a musical and overlook its association with that annoying pagan.  From the first time I watched it, I really liked that movie and, every time I rewatch it, I like it even more.  When I started watching Sunday’s production, I was seriously wondering if I’d be able to set aside my feelings about both the pagan and the movie and judge the television version on its own merits.

Well, I shouldn’t have worried.  While I still prefer the original film version, Sunday’s television production was wonderfully conceived and executed.  From the first note of music to the final curtain call, Jesus Christ Superstar Live In Concert captured my attention and refused to let it go, keeping me watching even through the lengthy commercial interruptions.  The musicians and the singers sounded great, or at least they did once the audience mics were turned down.  (At the start of the show, the audience was so loud that they threatened to drown out Heaven On Their Minds.)  The production design was simply amazing, combining downtown New York with ancient Judea in a way that reminded us just how timeless the musical’s story truly is.  (The 1973 film opened with a bunch of hippies driving through the desert.  The 2018 production opened with Jesus’s name being spray painted on a wall.  Both openings felt perfect for the story that was being told.)

As for the cast, Brandon Victor Dixon was compellingly intense as Judas and Norm Lewis was properly intimidating as Caiaphas.  The big marquee name was Alice Cooper, who obviously enjoyed playing the production’s burlesque version of Herod.  That said, the entire show was stolen by Ben Daniels, who was wonderfully conflicted as Pilate.  I wasn’t as impressed by Sara Bareilles as Mary Magdalene, or I should say that I apparently wasn’t as impressed with her performance as everyone else on twitter.  (To me, she seemed a bit too peppy, especially in the early numbers.  I know I’m in the minority as far as that goes.)  Finally, in the role of Jesus, John Legend grew on me.  Of course, in the show, Jesus doesn’t really become an interesting character until he sings “Poor Jerusalem” and that was the moment that Legend himself seemed to truly feel comfortable with the role.

It’s probably pointless to compare the 1973 film to the 2018 version but still, I did find it interesting how the live version reimagined the relationship between Jesus and Judas.  In the 1973 version, Jesus is largely aloof for almost the entire film.  Judas seems to be frustrated because he can’t figure out what Jesus is planning to do and Jesus himself never seems to feel that he can allow himself to get truly close to anyone.  In the film, Judas’s anger is the anger of someone who has spent the last few years of his life following a leader and who is now wondering if he’s been wasting his time.  He’s like a Democrat who has just realized that his party is even less interested in reigning in Wall Street than the Republicans.

In the live version, the Jesus/Judas relationship came across as being a bromance gone wrong.  In this version, Judas’s disatisfaction is less political and more jealousy over Jesus being closer to the Magdalene than to him.  When Judas snaps at Jesus in the 2018 version, Jesus actually seems to get personally offended.  The dynamic between Dixon and Legend is definitely different from the one between Ted Neeley and Carl Anderson in the original version.  Of course, there’s nothing wrong with that.  That’s one of the wonderful things about theater.  When successfully done, each subsequent production brings something new to an old story.

Jesus Christ Superstar definitely worked.  As far as the current wave of live television musicals is concerned, this was the best one yet.

Easter Scenes That I Love: It’s The Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown!


Dear ABC,

What happened?

When I was growing up, you used to show It’s The Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown every year.  Why have you stopped?  Why has it been four years since you last aired one of the best Charlie Brown holiday specials?  You still show It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and I watch every October but It’s The Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown is just as important.  Easter Beagle concludes the story that starts in The Great Pumpkin.  In Easter Beagle, Linus is finally proven right.  Even if he missed the Great Pumpkin, he still gets to meet the Easter Beagle and he even gets an egg.  The Easter Beagle has eggs for almost everyone.

Next year will be the 40th anniversary of the first airing of It’s The Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown.  Please don’t let that year pass without giving everyone a chance to laugh at Peppermint Patty trying to teach Marcy how to paint eggs or a chance to watch scenes like this one that I love:

Next year, ABC, I hope you will air It’s The Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown and allow audiences new and old to enjoy it.  As Lucy put it, “It’s the gift getting season,” and this would be a perfect gift to us.

Sincerely yours,

Erin Nicole Bowman, a lifelong believer in both the Great Pumpkin and the Eater Beagle