Thursday, March 15, 2018

The Real Ghostbusters: "The Scaring of the Green"

Premiered November 16, 1987

On St. Patrick's Day Eve,  the Ghostbusters have been called to clean up a pesky ghost at a banquet attended by the mayor.   They get the ghost, but unfortunately, they also manage to zap the mayor's wife by accident (she was fine, her dress got fried though), which lands them in jail.

Deputy Police Chief O'Malley arrives with an offer for the Ghostbusters.   He'll have the charges dropped (and pay for the Mayor's wife's dress) if they help him with a little family problem.   Back in Ireland many years ago, the O'Malley clan stole a leprechaun's pot of gold and was cursed.  The curse says that when there is a full moon on St. Patrick's Day, a Bog Hound will rise and carry off the head of the clan.   Since he's the head of the clan and the conditions are right,  O'Malley wants to avoid a presumably grisly fate.   He says that the only way the Bog Hound an be stopped is with the aid of a four leafed clover.

The Ghostbusters (especially Egon) are skeptical, but agree since this gets them out of jail.   They decide to search the city for a four leafed clover.    Ray (Frank Welker) goes to Central Park where he runs into some trouble with an Irish beat cop. 

Venkman (Lorenzo Music) visits the Botanical Gardens and Winston (Arsenio Hall) visits every florist in NYC (!!).   Venkman manages to find a four-leafed clover and is very excited about it, but Slimer eats it when he gets it back to the firehouse.

Egon (Maurice LaMarche) remains skeptical, thinking that science will solve this problem better than superstition, but goes to the Bronx Zoo anyway.   It turns out that many of the animals have escaped and have fled the Bog Hound, which is prowling the zoo!

Egon and some lions are treed by the Bog Hound!
Egon tries to use his proton pack on the beast, but it fails him and he has to resort to climbing a tree and then fooling the Bog Hound into playing fetch to get away.

Meanwhile, the St. Patrick's Day parade is getting underway and the Bog Hound is still on the loose!  Will the Ghostbusters locate another clover and save the day?  Will science (and ghost traps) or superstition prevail?

RigbyMel says: 

I watched The Real Ghostbusters with some regularity due to having a little brother that was crazy about the show,  but I do not recall ever seeing this episode until deciding to write about it for the blog.

It definitely has lots of St. Patrick's Day thematic elements to play with,  four-leafed clovers,  stereotypical Irish cops, a St. Patrick's Day parade and even a variation on the ghostly black dog myth in the form of the Bog Hound.

Interestingly, the design of the Bog Hound resembles the hellhounds from the original 1984 Ghostbusters film.  

The plot is slight,  but amusing and I've always appreciated the vocal talents in the series, even if they bear little resemblance to the voices of the characters from the original movie.

"The Scaring of the Green" is a light, silly episode of a solid 1980s animated series and might be a nice addition to your St. Patrick's Day viewing.

RigbyMel's rating: 

2 shamrocks

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Jem: "Mardi Gras"

Premiered November 4, 1987.

Jem (Samantha Newark) and her rock band the Holograms have been booked to perform at New Orleans' annual Mardi Gras festivities.  

They learn that they have been chosen to wear jewelry owned by legendary NOLA pirate Jean Lafitte that haven't been seen since 1814.   He intended to give the jewels to legendary singer Lily LaRose, his unrequited love.    

The band meets their local contact Pierre L'Arquette.  He is quickly smitten with Holograms' bassist Shana (Cindy McGee), but she informs him that she already has a boyfriend.  

Shana is also accosted by a mysterious old woman known as Mama Lou who warns her to "Beware of zombies on Fat Tuesday!"  

When Jem and friends arrive at Maison Fleur, an old mansion where they will stay.  They meet their hostess Mademoiselle Yvette and her butler Maurice, and are told the story of Lafitte's forbidden love affair with Lily LaRose.  It turns out that  Lily happens to bear a striking resemblance to Shana!  Moreover,  Lafitte's ghost is said to haunt the area, protecting the jewels. 

The Holograms' rival band the Misfits are also in New Orleans and are scheming to take the glory and the jewels with the help of a group called the Zomboys!  

Will Lafitte's ghost show up?   Will Jem and the Holograms get to perform or will the Misfits steal their thunder?  

RigbyMel says :

I remember watching the Jem cartoon show intermittently during the 1980s, but definitely did not remember that there was a Mardi Gras themed episode!   

The plot of this episode is mainly an excuse to string together some tropes relating to the celebration of Mardi Gras in NOLA -- but in family friendly fashion (no women exposing themselves to get beads tossed from parade floats here -- although, I wouldn't put it past the Misfits.)    We get a riverboat cruise, music, masks, floats, costumes, parades, cod French-Cajun-ish accents, stories of pirates, ghosts and a creepy old house for good measure.  

They missed out on opportunities to include alligators and/or swamp boats, but as it's only a 22 minute episode,  I guess they didn't want to over-do it.  

As was typical of the series (and as it's appropriate for Mardi Gras),  we get several songs.   The Holograms sing 2 songs  "Let Me Take You To The Mardi Gras" and "Everybody Wears A Mask" while the Misfits sing "Surprise, Surprise" while wrecking havoc on a street car.    The songs are kind of laughably silly 1980s artifacts,  but are also ear worms, so beware if you watch this one.  

Overall, the episode is ... not great, but it probably did serve as an introduction to Mardi Gras for some children of the 1980s, which is worthwhile, I suppose. 

RigbyMel's rating:

2 king cakes

J.A. Morris says:
I don't have a lot to add here, this is a silly episode but I thought it was entertaining.

I wouldn't call this episode "educational," I appreciated the inclusion of Jean Lafitte, who was a real-life pirate who fought in the Battle Of New Orleans.  There's even a line that mentions that Lafitte was a slave trader, so it doesn't sugar-coat his history.

There aren't many Mardi Gras-themed episodes or specials out there, so I'll give this one some credit for originality.

"Mardi Gras" isn't a classic, but if you're in the mood for some clean entertainment on Fat Tuesday, it's an 80s-tastic way to entertain yourself for a little while.

J.A. Morris' rating:

2 and a half king cakes.

Friday, December 29, 2017

The Michael J. Fox Show: "Christmas"

Premiered December 12, 2013.

For those who missed it, The Michael J. Fox Show ran for 14 episodes during the 2013-14 TV season. It focused on the life of newscaster Mike Henry, and his family.  Mike has recently returned to the news biz after taking time off to deal with Parkinson's disease. 

On their first Christmas together, Mike Henry (Michael J. Fox) and his wife Annie (Betsy Brandt) were too poor to buy each other Christmas presents.  Now, they every Christmas they try to out-do each other, in order to see who can give the gift with the most "wow factor."   Mike has gotten Annie a gold turtle necklace, since "turtle" is his nickname for her, since she is "resilient but vulnerable." Since Mike is a huge fan of Sting's music, Annie has hired Sting to perform in their home. 

Their daughter Eve (Juliette Goglia) is questioning her spiritual identity.  She recently attended a Hanukkah party and is highly critical of the material side of Christmas.  Eve has taken an interest in Judaism and begins to sprinkle her conversations with Yiddish slang. 

When their older son Ian (Conor Romero) tries to get his younger brother Graham to participate in holiday traditions (like making cookies and writing a letter to Santa), Graham (Jack Gore) acts disinterested.  This makes Ian worry that Graham has stopped believing in "the magic of Christmas" and is determined to make sure his younger brother retains his Yuletide spirit.  Graham wants a toy called Spacefish, so Ian is determined to scour the city to find the present.

Plans begin to go awry when Mike's assistant Kay (Ana Nogueira) gives him an expensive personalized brief case.  Since Mike is worried his gift for Kay (a Starbucks gift card) isn't good enough, he gives Kay the turtle necklace.  Mike now has nothing for Annie and sends Eve in search of another necklace.  Making matters worse, Kay dumps her fiance Kevin (Vandit Bhatt) because his gift was far inferior.

Sting arrives at the Henry's apartment.  Unfortunately, Mike is delayed due to being stranded at the news bureau by a snowstorm.  Annie is forced the hang out alone with Sting.  During their conversations, it becomes obvious that she knows nothing about Sting's music, since she was "more of a hair band girl."  This appears to disappoint Sting and their interactions are extremely awkward.

Ian's attempts to find a Spacefish come up empty, since it's Christmas Eve and all the stores are sold out.  His aunt Leigh (Katie Finneran) tells him not to worry, she knows a guy who sells things that "fall off trucks."  Ian is desperate enough to accept Leigh's offer.  Ian is directed to visit a diner and ask for  a man named Chris (J.B. Adams).  It turns out that "Chris" bears a striking resemblance to a certain resident of the North Pole.

Will the Henry family's Christmas plans work out?

J.A. Morris says:
I enjoyed The Michael J. Fox Show during its brief run and I think this is a solid Christmas episode.  I'm not sure why the show failed, but I'd guess that viewers in 2013 were tired of shows that used the "fake documentary" format of characters speaking to an unseen interviewer.

Mike and Annie's Christmas tradition of one-upping each other sounds materialistic but in context is actually very sweet.

I particularly liked Ian's concern over Graham losing the Christmas spirit.  Older siblings are often seen bullying younger ones in TV comedies or ruining Santa for them, so this represents a nice change of pace.

Eve's "spiritual crisis" is mostly played for laughs, but the commercialization of Christmas is sometimes enough to make even the most faithful observers question the point of Christmas.

Fans of Wendell Pierce's work in dramas like Treme and The Wire may be surprised to see Pierce act in a comedy series.  Pierce, as Mike's boss Harris Green, has some of the funniest lines in "Christmas."

Sting is a good sport here, acting let down when Annie ignorant about his music.

"Christmas" features a story that's both funny and touching, something that's difficult to pull off.  If you've never seen this series, I think it's a good "starter" episode.

J.A. Morris's rating:


3 and a half candy canes.

RigbyMel says: 

"Christmas" is a solid episode of a sweet sitcom that was still finding its feet and was not allowed to do so due to its cancellation.

Yes, the storylines are a bit predictable, but holiday entertainment tends to fall into this "comfort food" sort of category and there is much to enjoy here.

Competitive gifting is a trope in holiday shows because it occurs in real life - this episode invites us to laugh at Mike and Annie's attempts while also showing that their gifting comes from really caring about each other.   Side note:  if someone wanted to get Sting to come to my house as a Christmas present,  I would certainly not object!!!

We also get a time honored "getting stuck at the office" at Christmas segment, which harks back to similar instances of TV holiday celebrations -- most notably an episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, which also takes place in a newsroom.

Teen daughter Eve comes off as well intentioned but a bit clueless with her flirtation with Chhh-anukkah (as she pronounces it) and Judaism.   There's a great scene where a Jewish cab driver gives her food for thought about what's good about the holidays.

As J.A. Morris says, the B-plot with Ian trying to keep Christmas magical for his little brother Graham is adorable and a bit unusual for sitcom sibling relationships at the holidays.

Sting performs "August Winds", a song from his album The Last Ship which was released a couple of months before this episode aired.  It's a pretty song,  but I think in the context of a holiday themed episode, I'd prefer to have seen him do something a bit more Chirstmas-y -  there are several previous holiday recordings he could choose from.   That being said,  he's a very good sport playing along with the running gag about Annie professing not to know his music at all and Aunt Leigh's confusing him with Billy Joel.

This may not be a classic holiday episode per se,  but it's worth checking out if you have the inclination.

RigbyMel's rating :


2 and a half candy canes