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One of the best episodes in the series long run
The aptly titled "Screwed" reveals kinks in the SVU armor as a trial exposes some of the division's "bending" of the law. This installment demonstrates that sometimes police departments turn the other cheek when it comes to matters concerning other officers and, on occasion, their family members.
The storyline also reveals a showing revelation about Finn's nephew, well-played by rapper/actor Ludicrous. LisaGaye Hamilton is equally as good in the role of Finn's ex-wife and the nephew's mother.
"SVU" is known for its stellar roster of guest stars and this one scores in that arena. In addition to Ludicrous and Hamilton, the episode features Steven Weber ("Wings) and in recurring roles, Judith Light as Judge Donnelly, Ernest Waddell as Fin's son, and John Schuck returns as the chief of detectives. Star Jones and Nancy Grace appear, of course, as themselves.
As usual, all of the regular cast members excel as they usually do and with such a crowded entry, each of them has his/her moment or two.
Why this installment didn't get an Emmy or two is one of TV's injustices.
Terra Nova: Genesis: Part 1 (2011)
Though derivative, there are possibilities there
Shades of "Jurassic Park," "Lost," "Avatar," "Stargate," and the dysfunctional Robinson family of the "Lost in Space" theatrical feature, the pilot for the new Fox series brings in a lot of the familiar.
The episode kicks the show off with impressive special effects that definitely have the Spielberg stamp on them. All that's missing is the sweeping underscore of John Williams' music.
As an "introduction," the pilot doesn't waste too much time to get the principals transported to the era of the dinosaur, eliminating some "explanations" and plot development to get the Shannon family in the past.
Don't ask how Papa Shannon got out of the maximum-security prison...unaided.
Once there, the family discovers that all is not happy in paradise. Including the threat of being on a T-Rex's menu, residents of Terra Nova must contend with a offshoot branch called "The Sixers," hellbent on the downfall of TN.
The cast is pretty good for a show of its type, headed by Jason O'Mara as the patriarch of the new family to the prehistoric community and Steven Lang as its leader.
Hopefully, as the season progresses, the writers will come up with some intriguing and original story lines that will make the show unique and an exemplary entry into the history of television sci-fi.
The pilot's liberal "borrowing" from other shows and films is acceptable but for a long life, the show needs to come up with something of its own.
The "Stabler-less" season continues with a hard-hitting story
Though the season is in its infancy sans Christopher Meloni, it still carries on the tradition of stories "ripped from the headlines." "Personal Fouls" features Dan Lauria as a respected basketball coach suspected of sexually abusing his young male players. While evidence against him is highly circumstantial, the search for the truth reveals cover-ups,pay-offs, and buried memories.
Guest Mehcad Brooks is especially riveting in the episode's closing moments as his character is forced to tell the world about his past relationship with the highly revered coaching legend.
Aaron Tveit is also quite good as Brooks' former teammate who also shares a secret about the coach.
Heavy D makes a rare acting turn as Brooks' manager.
Still unafraid to tackle controversial issues, SVU, with "Personal Fouls" explores the rarely discussed issue of male-on-male sexual abuse.
The Time Tunnel: End of the World (1966)
'Too bad that most of the episodes were NOT this good!
This is a standout installment because of the tension created with the approach of Halley's Comet, the claustrophobic nature of being trapped in a mine, and the great sfx when the comet from 1910 has an effect on the present-day Time Tunnel.
Great acting comes from the main cast as well as from veteran actors Paul Fix, James Westerfield, and Gregory Morton. Paul Carr, who will appear in several other episodes during the show's single-year run is also effective as a trapped miner.
The better episodes of the show were the ones that were steeped in history as opposed to the ones that used those trademark silver-faced aliens.
Talk about a "dated" episode
When guest star Glynn Turman - donned in "Superfly" attire - makes his first appearance in a HUGE Caddy, and engages in dialogue with his fellow "pimp" Ron Glass, the viewer knows the he's watching a show from the early 70's. The series was probably gunning for the "blaxploitation" audience that was making movies like "Shaft," "Coffee" and other films of the era popular.
The episode did have a rarity, even today: an interracial MARRIED couple, even though Turman's wife was one of his former "girls." The youngsters playing the couple's children also looked the part of multiracial offspring.
It also provided a "pairing" - though they never shared any screen time - of Glass and Gregory Sierra, later to both be featured on the ABC classic sit-com "Barney Miller." In addition to the appearance of these future TV stars, Pat Morita, later of "Happy Days" and "The Karate Kid" films, has a small part as a barkeep.
Also, Moe Keole, who would become a cast member in the series later years, appears as a pimp with a very volatile demeanor.
Actually another thing going for it is the catchy title.
Redeemed by the always superb Marcia Gay Harden
Harden returns as the "hard-as-nails" FBI agent Dana Lewis in a story that, in true SVU fashion, incorporates the "ripped-from-the-headlines" take on terrorism mixed with the day-to-day dealings with rape.
The story itself is not quite up to par with the majority from this 12th season but it is Harden's testimony on the witness stand during the final quarter of the drama that makes up for the weaknesses of the strength in the first three fourths.
"Penetration" makes Harden's third appearance as Lewis and, as always, she delivers, revealing a side of the agent that heretofore remained hidden: a woman who has had to live with a dark secret that is brought out in the opening moments of the installment.
She is a wonder to behold and this fan looks forward to her next appearance in the role.
Talk about your "poetic justice"
Two men are assaulted and "branded" by coat hanger with each man marked by a coat hanger with a single-word message indicating how the perpetrator saw them. The detectives discover that a third man is on the "hit list" as this is a crime of revenge, based on something that occurred two decades when all three and the attacker were at a summer camp.
Bess Rous plays the role of the attacker and she dynamically portrays the pent-off rage of someone whose life was forever altered based on the rape she incurred when she was a young teen.
A bit of inspired casting is in the form of Odeya Rush, the young actress who plays Rous's daughter. She truly looks as if the older actress could really be her mother.
As usual, guest performers are on the mark!
While the storyline was pretty predictable - body is found; suspect is investigated; pattern of serial rapist is discovered; real suspect is identified; real suspect gets his "comeuppance" - there are some surprises along the way.
Benson (Mariska Hargitay discovers that she may or may not have a sister, fathered by the same man who had raped her own mother decades ago. This makes for an interesting development, which really takes a turn during the show's final moments when a major change occurs in the detective's life.
While Hargitay is her usual award-winning best, the episode belongs to two of the guest actors: veteran character R. Lee Ermey and Joe Sikora. Ermey plays the long-time rapist while Sikora plays his former cell mate who is terrorized by the rapist, having been Ermey's "partner" when the two were in prison.
The two performers are downright brilliant and it would be no surprise if they were competitors in next year's Emmy race for "best performance by a guest star on a television series."
The Invaders: The Innocent (1967)
"Day the Earth Stood Still" with a little bit of Hitchcock along the way
"The Innocent" is one of the best in the series history. David Vincent (Roy Thinnes) travels to Maine, investigating a fisherman's tale of a spacecraft. Our hero is working at the behest of a serviceman ( a young Dabney Coleman) who "killed" an alien and needs proof to present to the government.
Vincent is captured by aliens and their leader, played by "The Day the Earth Stood Still's" Michael Rennie, shows our hero what merits that the aliens can give to mankind. Of course, things are not as they appear and soon Vincent is given a "Mickey" just like the one administered in Hitch's classic "North by Northwest." The episode has some great location shots and features a bevy of character actors, "faces" that have been seen in many genre films and television shows, among them Frank Marth, Harry Lauter, and Paul Carr.
Along with Coleman, two other actors would go on to singular recognition in other films and television shows. William Smithers would become a major foe for Larry Hagman on "Dallas" and Katherine Justice would have the distinction of being one-half of the murderous pair on the first "Columbo" film.
"Aunt May" scores as the grandmother from h**l!
The fifth episode of the 12th season of "SVU" is a little too "preachy" as it takes the (usual) liberal take on the evils of big business, this time attacking soft drink companies as being responsible for leading an attempt to control the world's water supply. The suspicious discovery of a body in a fountain leads the SVU team to the halls of academia and the mansion of a wealthy dowager, played by veteran character actress Rosemary Harris, who had a business relationship with the murder victim.
Harris, who has been introduced to the younger generation as Peter Parker's "Aunt May" in the "Spiderman" movies, is extremely good as the unforgiving aunt of one of the suspects, played by guest star Amanda Brookss.
The final scene in the hospital between Harris and Brooks demonstrates the aunt's true character, leaving the viewer to be sympathetic to the niece who is revealed to be the actual murderer.
One of the most disturbing episodes in the show's history
"Merchandise" has to rank as one of the most provocative and unnerving installments in the history of a show known for controversial shows. The idea that youngsters are being used as "merchandise" for the sexual appetites of adults is shocking enough. But, the drama with very little subtlety, "hints" that the numbers are so great that the understaffed police departments can't do get a handle on the situation.
As in the season opener ("Locum"), a young actor takes center-stage: Devon Gearhart. The young thespian portrays a young man who "works" the streets, forced into the "business" like so many others just to survive. Gearhart delivers a performance of heart-wrenching power, especially in scenes with regular B.D. Wong.
The Emmy folks should be a-calling the Georgia native.
The great Vincent Price gets upstaged by a puppet!
"The Deadly Dolls" begins with a Punch-and-Judy-like routine performed by puppet replicas of Admiral Nelson (Richard Basehart), Crane (David Hedison), and Cmdr. Morton (Robert Dowdell), controlled by a master puppeteer, played by legendary Vincent Price.
It is later revealed that Price has a plan to replace the crew with life-size puppets and use the Seaview as the "host" for an alien life force.
Although there are several lapses in plot logic (which shall remain quiet here), the viewer can still appreciate the pacing and the performances, especially Basehart as he supplies the voice for his puppet doppelganger who pops up repeatedly, either on Price's shoulder or on a set piece.
Basehart really must've enjoyed his "voiceover" because he gets to playfully and menacingly deliver the best lines. He even gets the best of Price on occasion.
Star Trek: The Survivor (1973)
Could be the forerunner to Deep Space Nine's "Odo"
"The Survivor" is one of the best episodes in the short history of the animated sequel to Gene Roddenberry's classic series. It tells that tale of the surprise rescue of a well-known space trader, Carter Winston, who has been missing for five years. The "survivor" comes aboard the Enterprise, much to the surprise to his fiancé who had long given up the thought of marrying him.
Winston, however, has no interest in rekindling the romance, much to the fiancé's disappointment. Also, Dr. McCoy's examination of Winston reveals some inconsistencies that the medical expert can't figure out.
Soon, Winston is revealed to be a Vendorian, a race of shape-shifters. The shape-shifter cared for the real Winston until his death. Feeling a bond with the late traveler, the creature decided to assume Winston's identity.
The story opens up all sorts of possibilities, chief among them would inter-species relationships when Winston's fiancé finds herself attracted to the Vendorian, even after finding out his true identity.
The creature itself could be considered a precursor to the shape-shifting Odo from "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine." The episode also stands out as one of the few that utilized a "guest star" in the form of Ted Knight as Carter Winston/The Vendorian. The budget-conscious series frequently utilized the talents of regular cast members Nichelle Nichols, James Doohan, George Takei, and Majel Barrett as other characters as well.
"Ghost Wisperer" cries "RAPE"
In another bit of inspired casting, the SVU folks cast former "Ghost Whisperer" star, Jennifer Love Hewitt, as a young woman who claims to have been repeatedly "taken advantage of" by the same guy, a traveling businessman, who may or may not be a serial rapist. Hewitt, an actress who has proved her skills in episodic television, gives a worthy-of-an-Emmy-nomination performance.
Equally as impressive is guest star James Les Gros who plays the possible perpetrator. Judith Light also makes one of her return visits as Judge Donnelly.
This episodes also "hints" at its sister show, "Law & Order: Los Angeles" by introducing that show's Skeet Ulrich as he helps Benson (Mariska Hargitay) investigate the similar rapes that occurred in Los Angeles.
Hawaii Five-0 (2010)
Comparing the pilots of the two "Hawaii 5-0's"
Now that the first installment of the "new" Hawaii 5-0 is history, it's time to do a little comparison to show how different it is from its predecessor, a difference that is not for the better.
In the 2010 version, viewers meet a Steve McGarrett (Alex O'Loughlin) who is out for vengeance against the man that murdered his father.
Along the way, the new Steve reluctantly enlists the aid of a stateside-born-detective in the form of Danny Williams (Scott Cain).
The pair is later joined in their crime-fighting efforts by Chin Ho Kelly (Daniel Dae Kim) and Grace Park as "Kono" who has now been recast as a female.
The villain for the episode is James Marsters, looking a tad meaner than he did in his more recent incarnation as "Brainiac" on "Smallville." The pilot left the possibility that he may return.
"Glimpses" of Hawaii's natural beauty are few and far between and the musical score just drones on annoyingly in the background.
The action is relentless and the development of the characters is rushed, indicating that the pilot episode would've been better in the two-hour movie format.
Speaking of that...
The original series premiered with a two-hour pilot, setting the stage for the combination of action, great script-writing, and memorable characterization that would last for twelve years.
Jack Lord is introduced as the no-nonsense Steve McGarrett, head of an elite crime-fighting force set in the tropical paradise known as Hawaii. Tim O'Kelly and Lew Ayres, respectively, are featured as "Danny" and "The Governor." Both will be replaced by James MacArthur and Richard Denning in the subsequent series.
Kam Fong is "Chin" while Zulu takes on the role of "Kono" which he will have for the first four years of the series.
The movie also introduces McGarrett¹s chief nemesis, Wo Fat, brilliantly played by American actor Khigh Deigh, who will periodically pop up to carry out his Communist plans.
In the film, Fat is determined to get government secrets by any means necessary, including brainwashing and torture. And this is a good degree of action in the installment.
Guest stars are familiar faces from 60¹s and 70¹s TV: Leslie Neilsen, Andrew Duggan, James Gregory, and Nancy Kwan. Future frequent guest Soon Tek-Oh has a speechless part as one of Fat's lab "torture chamber" technicians.
The score by Morton Stevens is thrilling, mixing traditional Hawaiian rhythms with a contemporary jazz-influenced score.
Hawaii has never looked better, with the camera lovingly focusing on some of the island state's most beautiful natural and man-made landmarks.
So, what's the prognosis for the new show?
It will probably draw a young audience because of the cast and the action.
But, if the pilot is any indication of the episodes to come, those of us that fondly remember the original will probably pass this remake by.
FIVE for the new pilot and a BIG TEN for the original!
The second-half of the 12th season premiere has its "moments"
Henry Ian Cusick returns as Erik Weber, a man falsely suspected of being a pedophile who assists the detectives in the pursuit of a serial rapist of little girls.
There are a few "surprises" in the hunt to find the actual perpetrator as well as "hint" that Cusick's character would like to become more involved with Detective Benson (Mariska Hargitay).
However, that is short-lived as the ending reveals that all is not as it appears to me...and the last few minutes of the show end with a "shock" that isn't that big of a revelation.
Broadway actress Anita Gillette makes a return as a presiding judge.
Young actor really makes the episode
While the 12th season premiere features top-notch guest stars in the form of Joan Cusak, Peter Strauss, and Henry Ian Cusick, it is ten-year-old Bailee Madison who really shines in the installment.
Madison plays the adopted child of Cusack and Strauss who has been "remade" in the image of the couple's natural child who was abducted many years ago. The young performer is quite believable in each scene in which she appears, especially when she tells Benson of the lengths that her mother has taken to alter her appearance to match that of the missing child.
The ending of the episode is in typical "ripped-from-the-headline-Law-&-Order" fashion.
Justice League: Paradise Lost (2002)
Notable 'cause Wonder Woman kicks Superman's butt
Without revealing too much, "Paradise Lost" features a slam-bang physical confrontation between The Man of Steel and the Amazonian princess, with Diana coming out on top, literally.
With that mentioned, the first installment of this two-part episode has quite a bit packed into a thirty-minute installment, including a trip to Diana's homeland, the brief flaming appearance of Lord Hades (voiced by the very distinctive John Rhys-Davies), and the sinister sorcerer Felix Faust, featuring the voice of Freddie Krueger himself, Robert Englund.
This installment is good but the second installment is a blast!
The conclusion pays homage to Harryhausen's "Jason & The Argonauts"
Whether or not it is intentional, part two of "Paradise Lost" is reminiscent of "Jason & The Argonauts" as The League does battle with the undead: raised skeletal gladiators and their steeds, summoned by Lord Hades as he escapes from The Underworld.
John Rhys-Davies is superb as the voice of Hades, getting to spout some memorable lines as he makes plans to reclaim his perceived destiny to rule and also tries to rekindle the "spark" that he had with Wonder Woman's mom Hippolyta, well-voiced by Susan Sullivan.
Robert Englund is very good, also, as Felix Faust, a sorcerer who has been the pawn of Hades.
As always, the regular cast is excellent, with special kudos to Michael Rosenbaum as The Flash.
The movie belongs to Laughton and Anderson
Though the movie is known for star Rita Hayworth's "dance of the seven veils," the over-the-top performances of Sir Charles Laughton and Dame Judith Anderson are worth the price of admission. The pair play Herod and Herodias, two of the other central figures in the eventual beheading of John the Baptist, played to the hilt by Alan Badel.
Laughton alternates between seriousness and buffoonery as the king who condemns the Baptist to death at the request of his wife. Anderson plays his wife in the same sinister wizardry as she had done earlier as "Mrs. Danvers" in "Rebecca." These are two pros that always made acting mincemeat of anyone around them.
Hayworth looks good in her royal garb and does well in the role of the unwitting temptress, used by her mother to swing the tide against "The Baptist." Co-star Stewart Granger is along for the ride as Hayworth's love interest.
Composer Daniele Amfitheatrof's music for the celebrated dance is quite memorable, made the more by Hayworth's foot and body work.
What in the world were the writers "smoking" when they thought of this one!!!
World War I Germans, Italian villas, a malevolent ghost and a young Benito Mussolini!!! These are the ingredients which combine to make to really stretch the logic in a show that already stretches the limits of scientific reasoning. This is one that has to be seen to be believed or disbelieved, whichever the case may be.
Future "Gunsmoke" director Gunner Helstrom plays the role of a German officer, heading a group of soldier that take residence in the villa owned by an elderly count, played by veteran Eduardo Ciannelli. Helstrom is aided by Richard Jaekel who momentarily becomes one of those "possessed" by Nero's ghost.
Making his second appearance on "The Time Tunnel" is John Hoyt, this time as a professor experienced in the paranormal.
The absurdity of the episode is balanced by the effective use of Bernard Herrmann's music from both "The Day the Earth Stood Still" and "Garden of Evil," music that producer Irwin Allen often used in his quartet of sci-fi series in the 60's.
Lost in Space: Kidnapped in Space (1967)
Oh, those silver-skinned aliens. Don't they ever go away?
A trademark of every Irwin Allen show is the silver-skinned alien. He or she may pop up solo or in groups as they do in this LiS installment from season three.
Male and female ones enlist the aid of Dr. Smith (Jonathan Harris) to "operate" on their mechanical leader.
Highlights of this episode include the first appearance of the Space pod, the over-the-top hairdos of the female aliens, and Dr. Smith discovering a "fountain of youth," of sorts.
Turning Smith young is a novel idea that is marred by the decision to have the nine-year-old actor playing the youthful Smith "speak" with Harris' voice.
It probably sounded "cute" on paper but it comes across laughably in execution.
Lost in Space: Target: Earth (1968)
Probably as "serious" as the show could get following the campy 2nd season
When "Lost in Space" tried to revert back to a more "dramatic" tone in the third season following the over-the-top antics of season 2, the writers came up with a show that had a true split personality. "Target: Earth" is one of those installments that, for the most part, took itself seriously.
Plot-wise, the members of the Jupiter Two find themselves among an alien race that is seeking to break away from its "uniformity" by donning the appearance and characteristics of the Robinsons, Major West, and Dr. Smith. Some interesting plot developments arise and there are some witty-for-Lost-in-Space exchanges between Will (Billy Mumy) and the head alien (Jim Gosa) as well as between the alien versions of John (Guy Williams) and Don (Mark Goddard).
Like always, the show makes effective use of John Williams' stock music score from season one.
Even Jonathan Harris's "Dr. Smith" is kept a little under wraps, not "hogging" all of the screen time.
Prescription: Murder (1968)
The TV-movie that introduced Peter Falk as "Columbo"
42 years ago, NBC aired a "movie of the week" featuring entitled "Prescription: Murder," a tight and engaging film that starred Gene Barry, Katherine Justice, William Windom, Nina Foch, and Peter Falk as "Lt. Columbo." Little did the producers or the actors know that this would be the film that would introduce one of television's most enduring characters.
Fans of the long-running series will notice a marked difference between Falk's Columbo in this film and his subsequent incarnation. In "Prescription" Falk is relentless, at times abrasive, and missing his trademark raincoat. That said, he still delivers and is equally matched by the suave and calculating Barry as the murderer.
Justice is effective as Barry's mistress who is the weak link in his murder of wife, Foch. Foch is also very good as the victim, showing why she had a long career in film and as an acting teacher. Windom plays Barry's best friend who threatens Columbo for the detective's pursuit of Barry.
Also, veteran character actress Virginia Gregg - who provided one of the voices for "Mother" in "Psycho" as well as gave life to "Tara" on the animated "Herculoids" series - has a small part as Barry's receptionist.
The jazzy Dave Grusin is another plus in a film that is a cut-above the norm of the period and stands as great television viewing, then and now.
Change-of-pace episode that takes TOOOOOO long to solve!
I kept wondering why I hadn't seen this one until recently because I thought that I had seen all of the Columbo episodes during the first run on NBC. Apparently, I hadn't and it wasn't until I purchased the fifth season compilation that I "caught up."
Well, having now viewed the installment from '76, I can honestly say that I didn't miss much.
"Last Salute to the Commodore" is basically a 50/50 show, with a mixture of the good and the bad.
The bad: 1) The "mystery" takes way too long to be solved, a surprising turn since the show was directed by Patrick McGoohan who had proved himself so capable, before and behind the camera in two earlier episodes. 2) Robert Vaughn just seems bored to death, though he does provide some amusing facial expressions in dealing with Peter Falk's rumpled detective. 3) Joshua Bryant, as the loyal employee of the late commodore, overacts big time, especially during the final fourth of the episode. 4) Horrible score by Bernardo Segall
The good: 1) Diane Baker's performance as Vaughn's alcoholic wife is Emmy-worthy. 2) The fact that the prime suspect "bites the dust" is an interesting turn for the series. 3) Falk humming the "unofficial" theme song, "This Old Man" at the end of the show is a cute touch.
And probably the major "plus" is the effective use of what-could-be-best-described as the show's repertory company, actors who had appeared in the show more than once: Vaughn, John Dehner, Sir Wilfred Hyde-White, Bruce Kirby, and Fred Draper, the latter receiving a significant "promotion" in the guest star department in this one.
The only one who's missing is Vito Scotti!