Criminal Minds: "Amplification"

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ANDOR: We finally finished watching what is surely the longest (seemed like it anyway) most meandering of the "Star Wars" television shows. I didn't really know anything about it in advance, other than it tied in somehow to my absolute least favorite of the films. It took me a couple of episodes, at least, to figure out who or what "Andor" was. A person? A place? A planet? (It's a person, BTW.) As I mentioned above, nothing of much interest happens in the first few episodes other than introducing new characters, not a single one of which is likeable or at all sympathetic. In my previous post I asked the rhetorical question, "When does it get good?" but Tracy took me literally and Googled it. (The general consensus online was episode four, but I dispute that.)

There's not really a single thing about this series that is at all "Star Wars" to me: no light sabres, no Force, no Jedi Knights, no clear frame of reference as to when it even takes place in the timeline. Consequently, I decided to judge it solely on its own merits and to wipe everything I know about the Star Wars universe from my mind. Viewed in that way, there are no good guys. I just watched 12 episodes of conflict with no real interest in which side won and no one to root for. 

The series itself is about a jail break by way of a payroll heist. A group of outlaws band together to steal the payroll from the Empire. The group doesn't get together until episode four, but the story doesn't really get any better at that point. They pull off the heist by episode seven, then go their separate ways. The main character is throw into prison in episode eight, but not for anything having to do with the payroll robbery! The three episodes which take place in prison are mildly interesting, but after the escape, the series meanders for two more episodes until it finally, mercifully, comes to an end.

Best episodes: 8-10 (the only ones worth watching).

GHOSTS (US): We're only 2/3 of the way through the first season. We watched the UK version first, and I thought I was going to have a hard time warming up to the US ghosts, especially the derivative ones (the guy with the arrow through his neck and the businessman who died with no pants on), but that proved not to be the case. I like the US version ever bit as much as the original. Plus, because British "seasons" are so short, one US season equals three UK ones.

WEDNESDAY: Our replacement for Andor. So far, we're one episode in. Delightful.

OUR GANG: Up to 1927, still in the silent era.

DARK SHADOWS: Up to the 1897 arc.

ULTRAMAN DYNA: After a brief hiatus in the middle of the series, we've put it back in rotation.

Our Gang, Dark Shadows, Ultraman, Ghosts and Wednesday. That's our evening TV until first-run episodes of the shows we watch return. 

OUR GANG: I am now up to the point at which Hal Roach is transitioning from Pathe over to MGM. With the switch to MGM, the production values immediately improve... or, if not the production values, then at least the preservation. The storytelling is also noticeably better. The Pathe shorts tend to meander, a lot of them, until they simply end, but the MGM ones have more of a narrative. Some of the early MGM shorts are rather dark, however. In "Dog Heaven" (1927), Pete the Pup (yes, the dog) attempts to commit suicide by hanging himself when he thinks Joe has thrown him over for a girl. In "Spook Spoofing," Joe and the other convince Farina that he has killed one of the boys. 

Many of the "older" gang members (notably Ernie, Mary and Mickey) have transitioned on leaving the younger tier (such as Jackie, Joe and Farina) to become senior members while new kids are brought in. "Baby Brother" (1927), one of the last of the Pathe shorts, is the first appearance of Bobby "Wheezer" Hutchins and the second appearance of Jean Darling. We thought four-year-old Wheezer was adorable when we first saw him in the sound era (1929), but two-year-old Wheezer has a real personality

As I am working my way through, I have found only six of the first 80 not to be available. As I am following along in Leonard Maltin's book, so far I have found two that were "Unavailable for viewing" in 1991 but have since been found, so, like old Doctor Whos, missing episodes do turn up occasionally. The very first MGM one ("Yale vs. Harvard") is, unfortunately, missing, but the second one ("The Old Wallop") is available and features Wheezer prominently. Many of the best sequences from the silent era, I have discovered, were re-filmed in the sound era. For the missing ones, Maltin reprints early movie reviews in this book to give some sense of what they were like. 

OUR GANG: I have now watch all 88 "Our Gang" silent films from 1921-1929... which means I have also watched all 221 "Our Gang" shorts overall because I started at the beginning of the sound era in 1929 and went back to the very beginning when I got to the end. I feel like continuing on, possibly through 1937. (1929-1937 is generally considered to be the height.)

NIGHT COURT: Although I've seen Harry Anderson's act and also Marsha Warfield in concert, I never saw a single episode of  the original Night Court when it was on the air. Tracy did, though, and wanted to watch the reboot with Melissa Rauch. We watched the first two episodes of that, then watch the pilot of the original.

THAT '90s SHOW: Back in the '70s, Happy Days introduced me to the concept of nostalgia as well as the era of the 1950s. I predicted then and there that no one would ever make a show that looked back fondly on the '70s, but if someone ever did, I vowed to watch it. I not only watched That '70s Show, I also liked it. making That '90s Show a welcome revival. It debuted on Netflix last night, 10 episodes.

TOM PAPA: Speaking of Netflix, Tom Papa's stand-up special is very funny. 

Jeff of Earth-J said:

NIGHT COURT: Although I've seen Harry Anderson's act and also Marsha Warfield in concert, I never saw a single episode of  the original Night Court when it was on the air. Tracy did, though, and wanted to watch the reboot with Melissa Rauch. We watched the first two episodes of that, then watch the pilot of the original.

I'm pretty sure I watched the entire run of the original. I just watched the first two episodes of the new show. They're both great. 

...and we get to hear what Melissa's voice really sounds like!

After enjoying Tatiana Maslany in She-Hulk, as I speak I am finishing up watching the first season of her earlier series Orphan Black. It's terrific. So far she's playing more than a half-dozen clones.

Richard Willis said:

After enjoying Tatiana Maslany in She-Hulk, as I speak I am finishing up watching the first season of her earlier series Orphan Black. It's terrific. So far she's playing more than a half-dozen clones.

We followed Orphan Black religiously when it first aired and I reviewed the episodes elsewhere. It gets a bit wonky in some of the later seasons, but overall, an excellent show. At least the final season stopped playing coy about location and acknowledged they were in Toronto.

I haven't been well this week, but we did start watching Moon Knight.

GHOSTS: We're caught up to present on the US version. (It's going to be weird going back to the UK version now.) Because the US seasons are longer than the UK ones, the American storyline has progressed beyond where the British one left off, to the point when the B&B is now open for business. 

OUR GANG: Here is a short feature (19 minutes) about the early "talkie" (pre-Spanky and Alfalfa) Our Gang

Jeff of Earth-J said:

GHOSTS: We're caught up to present on the US version. (It's going to be weird going back to the UK version now.) Because the US seasons are longer than the UK ones, the American storyline has progressed beyond where the British one left off, to the point when the B&B is now open for business. 

So in the British version, they haven't opened the bed and breakfast?

They open in the first episode of series 4, which has not yet been shown in America.

Just finished watching all fifty episodes of Orphan Black on rented DVDs. It's nothing short of magnificent.

Richard Willis said:

After enjoying Tatiana Maslany in She-Hulk, as I speak I am finishing up watching the first season of her earlier series Orphan Black. It's terrific. So far she's playing more than a half-dozen clones.

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