Criminal Minds: "Amplification"

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LAND OF THE GIANTS: We finished watching this series last night. The second season was a slog, not necessarily because it wasn't as good as the first, but because we're currently interested in two other hour-long shows (Bonanza and Star Trek: Voyager). Several years ago, when Bob was working his way through The Time Tunnel, we had the opportunity to discuss other shows by Irwin Allan. Commander Benson pointed out that his television series usually got off to a strong start, but then petered out as he became less involved. 

Looking at when those shows were on the air (relative to each other), I put forth a different hypothesis. when Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea started, it was his only show on the air. Lost in Space made two, and The Time Tunnel made three. I speculated that that the shows' respective dips in quality could be attributed to the fact that he had spread himself too thin. The Time Tunnel lasted only a single season and the quality was more or less consistent throughout. But by the time Land of the Giants aired, the other series were gone. Because LotG lasted two seasons, this seemed a good opportunity to put the two not-necessarily-mutually-exclusive theories to the test.

The episodes of the first season were of a kind, and the second season started off much in the vein of the first (with some new equipment and different costumes). My theory was bearing out, then a dozen or so episodes in, the scripts veered wildly toward fantasy. LotG was never what I would classify as "hard" science fiction, but some of the second season episodes were unbelievable. Then, the episodes god "good" again. Then they alternated between science fiction and fantasy, so I don't really know what conclusions I can draw.

The actress who played Betty was out on maternity leave through much of the second season. Somtimes they shot her standing behind a plant or seated at a table, sometimes they paid lip service to her being "back at the ship," but mostly they just ignored it. She was conspicuous in her absence. I will say, though, other than that, Allan did a better job of utilizing the entire cast in each episode of LotG than he did on LiS

I was laboring under no delusion that the crew of Spindrift would make it back to Earth (spoiler: they didn't), but the penultimate episode almost would have been a fitting final episode to the series. I say "almost" because it had so many huge, gaping plot holes. No, not plot holes so much as manholes, or rather, manhole covers (because the plot could not get through them). Remember that episode of Land of the Lost (I think it was the last episode of the second season) in which "Marshall, Will & Holly" escaped from the Lost Land? It was a closed system such that, for three people to leave, three others had to enter. The three who took their places ended up being... they themselves. Although the show came back for a third season, the first two presented a closed time loop.

LotG could have been like that. It came so close. I don't want to go into how little logical sense this episode made, but it would have been a much better end to the series itself (a mediocre end to a mediocre series) than the episode which actually aired. 

Also, one more thing about Land of the Giants: it got kind of gimmicky there toward the end. In one episode they took over remote controlled toys (a tank, a plane, etc.); in another they pretended to be marionettes in a puppet show; in one, Valerie was "Fay Wray" to a carnival gorilla's "King Kong"...

Still watching a lot of Teen Titans Go!  This may say more about my sense of humor than an adult ought to admit to.

Lately, I've added three new shows to my "must watch" list. 

The Watch.  I've never read any Pratchett, so I can't speak to how true this is to his style.  I can say that I think it does a good job of being humorous fantasy without being a spoof of fantasy, and it's serious enough about its world building that I'm actually interested in learning more about what's going on.  (I'd read some Pratchett, but my favorite used bookstore -- which I generally love -- is charging more for Pratchett than I'm usually willing to pay for a used paperback.  Same with Gaiman.  Supply and demand, I reckon.)

Resident Alien.  Love Alan Tudyk. There's nothing hugely original about this "undercover alien/fish out of water" story, but I'm tickled by the fact that the central character (and voice-over narrator) is basically a murderous villain, and while they are playing out the "bad guy discovers he has a heart" story, there's no guarantee that the show won't end with him blowing up the planet anyway.

All Creatures Great and Small. If I had known there was going to be a new adaptation, I probably wouldn't have bothered to watch it.  But I stumbled across it and got sucked in.  There's so much charm to these stories, and I'm not so wedded to the original adaptation that I can't enjoy different actors bringing a different take on the characters.  It inspired me to run down copies of the books (some, but not all, of which I read years ago, when PBS introduced me to James Herriot the first time.)

RESIDENT ALIEN: Tracy and I watched the first episode and we both enjoyed it tremendously. We have all the other episodes so far recorded, but I'm busy watching The Prisoner right now 9with two episodes to go).

YOUNG SHELDON: A new character was introduced: Sheldon's college philosopy professor, played by the woman who used to play Rose (Charlie's stallker) on Two and a Half Men.

I'm glad you guys called my attention to Resident Alien. Watching the first episode On Demand right now and already love it. 

What am I watching right now? The impeachment aftermath.

I'm watching the closing arguments. Already know the result.

Jeff of Earth-J said:

What am I watching right now? The impeachment aftermath.

Yes, I absolutely love "Resident Alien." I have been patiently waiting to watch the episodes we have recorded. Now that "The Prisoner" watching is over, I can enjoy my new show. 

THE RIFLEMAN: Now that I'm through The Lone Ranger, I've slotted The Rifleman in it's place. The Rifleman has always been one of my three favorite TV westerns, the "junior high" show to the "elementary" Lone Ranger and "high school" Bonanza. I used to watch reruns as a kid, and Tracy watched reruns as a kid with her dad. At one point, The Rifleman was shown at 11:00PM (past my bedtime). I went to bed at my regular time, but set an alarm to get up and watch it, but that really screwed up my sleep cycle. I knew it, but I later did the same thing with Twilight Zone reruns. 

Early in our marriage, Tracy and I watched The Rifleman together on DVD, which was annoying because MPI Home Video released them with non-sequential episodes from random seasons on each disc. It's especially annoying because Johnny Crawford visibly aged and "youthened" from episode to episode. They got about halfway through the series, then lost the rights. the company that has them now has released them in series sets. We've compiled a list in episode order along with which MPI discs they are on, and bought the ones we were missing on season sets with surprisingly little duplication. Toward the end, MPI got a clue (from customer complaints, I imagine) and began releasing them in episode order. Were watching the series now by following our list and skipping from disc to disc. 

BONANZA: We are currently skipping back and forth between seasons three and nine, at least I am. Tracy likes the episodes with Adam in them, so when we watch together we watch season three; when I watch by myself, I watch season nine. Season three episodes are coming in at a good clip, so we're watching those mostly. A lot of those are familiar to me, ones I watched in the '90s. I watched those Bonanza sequel TV movies ("The Next Generation" and "The return") when they aired, but I have never seen an episode with Candy Canady (prominent in one of them) in it. It's frustrating because, now that I'm up to that point in my solo watching (which I know from Written Out of Television), the station that airs the season eight/nine episodes featuring Candy are being skipped in sequence (which i now from an online list), so I still haven't seen any "Candy" episodes!

In queue for tonight is "Inger, My Love," the second of the flashbacks featuring Ben's wives. 

I'm deep into Chicago Fire and a couple weeks ago, they did a pretty interesting variation of a "bottle episode." The firehouse got a call of a fire on the 10th or 12th floor of a hotel. Lt. Hermann, hauling a line of hose, takes a freight elevator up to the fire, along with engine driver José Cruz and two people who work in the building, a guy who's some kind of mechanic and a woman who is something like the building manager.

We've all seen the signs in tall buildings that tell you in case of a fire, take the stairs, not the elevator, yes? Well, these four found out why not the hard way: The elevator got stuck between the sixth and seventh floors.

And the walls were too thick for a radio signal to get through. They could only get occasional, intermittent snatches of sound -- the rest of the crew wondering where they were, and then, the rest of the crew trapped in the fire on an upper floor. 

And one of the cables supporting the elevator broke. The woman panicked, but Cruz told her the other cables are strong and the elevator can be held by just one. Which was little comfort when another one broke.

For most of the hour, it stayed with the four people in that space, as they had to figure out how to help themselves. The firefighters assured the civilians that the elevator's braking system would catch them, but that second cable breaking jolted the elevator off its tracks. Privately, the firefighters told each other that meant the brakes wouldn't catch them if all four cables broke; they'd fall all the way to the bottom level.

So of course, the third cable broke.

Watching these people pull off their own rescue in this race against time was spellbinding. Well done.

I came across The Greatest American Heroine, an attempt to revive The Greatest American Hero on NBC a few years after ABC canceled it.

William Katt was unavailable for a revival -- at the time, he was in the Perry Mason series of TV movies -- but he did appear in this to help set up the premise. Our hero Ralph Hinkley (who never did get a superhero name), after working clandestinely throughout the series, did a rescue in public and became a celebrity. This displeases the aliens who provided him with the suit, and they demand he retire and turn it over to someone else -- specifically not Bill Maxwell, the FBI agent who helped him on his missions. The aliens do allow Maxwell to serve as a mentor to the new hero. 

The aliens tell Ralph to search for his replacement, and he'll know it's right when that person is found. The perfect choice is one well-meaning do-gooder named Holly Hathaway, a teacher like Ralph who also is a foster mother, an environmental activist, and even a finder of lost kittens. (Here's a bit more about her.) After all this setup, Maxwell and Holly go on their first mission: investigating the sinking of a ship run by an environmental group.

I remember that Warner Bros. made some noise about suing ABC over the show, saying it was too similar to Superman, but the case was thrown out. They made the wrong argument. I don't know why I didn't notice this before, but it wasn't until I saw this that I realized: The Greatest American Hero is a straight ripoff of Green Lantern! 

Maybe it was the scene with the aliens that did it for me. Ralph and his girlfriend Pam are taken aboard the aliens' craft when they order him to retire. Ralph takes the opportunity to ask about the instruction book and their response was basically, "Of course you didn't lose it, did you? We know you're not so irresponsible. And anyway, we don't have another one."

I'm finally catching up on The Man in the High Castle. It is compelling, well-acted, and brilliantly-directed. The scripts are occasionally uneven, but the premise holds (thus far, at least).

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