Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Simpsons: "The Daughter Also Rises"

First aired February 12 2012

Bart:"Why does the guy have to do everything for the girl on Valentine's Day?"
Homer:"We show girls love on Valentine's Day and they let us blow stuff up on the 4th of July. I just pray they never fall on the same day."

It's Valentine's Day in Springfield. Homer has gotten Marge a heart shaped box of candy and roses. Marge gives Homer his Valentine present. She wants him to go out without her and do "guy stuff." Homer takes Bart to an arcade and a batting cage, while Marge takes Lisa out for a mother-daughter dinner.

At dinner, Lisa looks through a crack in the wall in between booths and notices a boy reading A Farewell To Arms. His name is Nick (Michael Cera), he's a precocious kid who quotes passages from Ernest Hemingway stories. Lisa is very taken with Nick's romantic outlook on life and develops a crush on him.

Lisa and Nick meet for lunch at a French restaurant ("Le Petit Apetit"). She ends up being late for a quilting session with Marge,angering her mother. We get a montage showing Lisa and Nick spending lots of time together. Lisa tells Marge she has a crush on Nick, Marge invites him to dinner.

Nick asks Marge if he can take Lisa to the "Doritos Nutrition Fair." Marge says yes, but she's beginning to get jealous of all the the time Lisa has been spending with Nick.

This isn't the first smart boy Lisa's crushed on, but could Nick be "The One ?" Is Nick really as worldly and romantic as he seems?

J.A. Morris says:
"The Daughter Also Rises" is a good episode, but I don't see myself watching it regularly every Valentine's Day. The last act feels sort of tacked on, with a bunch of illusions to Pyramus and Thisbe that don't add much to the story. But there are plenty of trademark Simpson gags (like the aforementioned French restaurant) to make it enjoyable.

My rating:

Two and a half Valentine Hearts.

RigbyMel says:

This episode was enjoyable, but not a "classic" in my opinion. It's chock full of fun Simpsons sight gags, but never quite coalesces into something super-memorable.

My rating:

Two Valentine Hearts.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Buffy The Vampire Slayer: "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered"

"Do you know what's a good day to break up with somebody? Any day besides Valentine's Day! I mean, what, were you running low on dramatic irony?"
-Xander Harris

First aired: February 10, 1998

On Valentine's Day, Xander Harris (Nicholas Brendon) is heartbroken when he gets dumped by his girlfriend Cordelia Chase (Charisma Carpenter) right after giving her a heart pendant necklace. This makes Xander the laughingstock of Sunnydale High.

Xander realizes that his classmate Amy Madison (Elizabeth Ann Allen) is a witch. He asks her to cast a love spell so that Cordelia will fall back in love with him. Amy says that love spells are tricky and that your intentions have to be pure. Xander says his intentions are pure, he wants revenge, pure and simple. Moreover, if Amy refuses, he plans to let someone in charge (presumably teachers Rupert Giles (Anthony Head) or Jenny Calendar (Robia LaMorte), who are knowledgeable about matters supernatural) know she's been using witchcraft to avoid doing any school work.

So Amy casts the spell, and suddenly every girl and woman in Sunnydale seems to be throwing themselves at Xander. Even his (platonic) friends Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) and Willow (Alyson Hannigan) are coming on to him. Only one woman seems to be immune to the spell: Cordelia! (Oh the dramatic irony!)

The situation escalates from there. Will the Scooby gang be able to extricate themselves? Do love spells work on vampires? These and other questions will be answered if you watch the episode.

J.A. Morris says:

"Bewitched, Bothered And Bewildered" does a nice job of using Valentine's Day as a jumping off point for a typical (in a good way, of course) monster/spell/vampire of the week episode. It's always fun to see characters act differently because they're under the influence of magic, this episode is no exception. When Xander gets dumped we sympathize with him, when he resorts to blackmail...not so much. Nicholas Brendon gets a rare chance to be the lead character of an episode and runs with it.
Most of us have probably been dumped at least once in our lives and wanted to get back together with the dumper. This episode tells us we should LITERALLY be careful what we wish for. Without spoiling it, I'll say that Xander learns a very important lesson here.

My Rating:

3 Valentine Hearts

RigbyMel says:

The early seasons of Buffy do a great job of dealing with the many varieties of teen angst (sometimes high school really is hell). As J.A. Morris says, this episode taps into something that all of us have probably experienced at one time or another. Rejection hurts and we often try to find ways to get revenge on those who reject us (although most of us don't have access to supernatural means of achieving this). The episode is poignant, funny and scary. The ickiness of Buffy and Willow (to say nothing of Joyce, Buffy's mom) coming on to Xander under the influence of the botched love spell is almost painfully humorous, based on what has previously been established about the way the characters interact with each other. The love spell angle of the episode also exaggerates and magnifies some commentary on the way people can turn on each other in the name of "romance" - Xander and Cordy are nearly killed by the spell-induced ardor of the women of Sunnydale. The episode also uses humor and horror to make us think about what romance really is - coercion (via love spell or otherwise) is NOT a basis for a solid romantic relationship. Putting all of the action of this episode in the vicinity of Valentine's Day underscores this theme well.

All in all a very fun episode, well worth viewing.

My rating:

3 Valentine Hearts

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Muppets Valentine Show

(Note:most of the images in this review are borrowed from the excellent Muppet Wiki site)

First aired January 30 1974

Directed by Jim Henson

A TV writer named Wally (Jim Henson) is working on a script for a Muppet Valentine special. As he types out his ideas, we get to watch them happen on screen.

Kermit the Frog (Henson again) tells the story of his courtship of Miss Mousey (Jerry Nelson) and sings "Froggy Went A Courtin'."

Wally says the show needs a special guest, he types the words "Mia Farrow appears at the door"...and Mia Farrow appears!

Wally gives Farrow a Valentine card from Thog (Jerry Nelson again) that reads "Be My Valluntune". This leads to a duet between Farrow and Thog of the song "Real Live Girl."

Wally says the show needs a conversation between Rufus the dog (Frank Oz) and Farrow. She's thinking of getting a dog, but doesn't know what kind she should get, she wants Rufus's advice. Farrow then says on second thought, she doesn't want a dog...unless the dog was just like Rufus. She gives Rufus a big hug and sings "Believe Me If All Those Endearing Young Charms."

Wally imagines what love is like on other planets. We are taken to the planet Koozebane, where Kermit reports on the Koozebanean mating ritual.

Farrow wishes a "Happy Valentine's Day" to George the janitor. He scoffs at her saying he doesn't "go for all that Valentines and love stuff". She corrects him, pointing out that he loves his mop. George realizes Farrow is correct, he leads the entire cast in a performance of the song "We Got Love."

J.A Morris says:

This special is the first of several pilots that ultimately led to the creation of The Muppet Show. I'm a huge fan of the Muppets, but I'd never heard of it until I saw it on a dvd last year. It's not exactly a lost classic, but it's a generally fun Valentine show. It's obvious that Henson and company are still figuring out how to fill 30 minutes of programming time.

But the Koozbanean mating ritual segment makes this special worth watching all by itself. It's also an example of the subversive side of the Muppets. I don't want to spoil it by going into too much detail here, check it out for yourself.

Mia Farrow does not have a very good singing voice, but she has natural chemistry with the Muppets in this special. She was also very pregnant when this was taped but she does a fine job dancing with Thog. And the giant Thog looks very cute and funny in his "Valentine" sweater.

And dog lovers will also appreciate her song to Rufus, it's a very sweet scene. Farrow and Muppet-eer Frank Oz make you believe Rufus is real as any dog.
The Muppets Valentine Show can be found on dvd as a bonus feature on The Muppet Show-Season Two.

My rating:

Three Valentine Hearts

RigbyMel says:

I am a big Muppets fan, and this episode is interesting in terms of seeing how Jim Henson & company were still figuring out how they were going to make a Muppet variety show work in the run-up to making The Muppet Show. They hadn't quite gotten it down pat, so there are some things, especially transitions, that seem a bit ... creaky to me. I liked a lot of the same scenes that JA Morris liked for similar reasons. Mia Farrow's singing voice (or lack thereof) gets on my nerves, but she was certainly a good sport and did well interacting with the Muppets. This special strikes me as being more of a curiosity for the hard-core Muppets fan than a "classic" holiday episode.

RigbyMel's rating:

Two and a half Valentine Hearts