Posts Tagged ‘tv’

Cowboy Bebop

One of the best anime series ever made.  This brief show revolved around a group of bounty-hunting ne’er-do-wells who each have complicated pasts and unique personalities.  The animation is astoundingly well-done, with detailed backgrounds and smooth movements.  The faces and bodies of the characters are all unique, as well, setting them apart from the usual anime figures.  Everything is done in a realistic style that lends a beauty to even the darkest moments.  The music is memorable and appropriate, and each episode comes with its own storytelling style that is propelled by the song choices, sometimes jazz or blues or rock or country, depending on the pace and tone needed.  It’s as much a sort of musical or operatic show as an action show, with the music telling the story as much as the plot points.  Each episode could stand on its own as an amazing story, but altogether, it makes for an epic tale.  The voice acting and the characters are sympathetic and believable, and it all comes together seamlessly.  The world of Bebop is handed over bit by bit in the same way that the characters’ pasts are revealed, and there’s a lot to take in.  In the end, not every question is answered, although most of the important backstory pieces are provided.  The series finale is tragic, but it suits the feel of the show.  There could have been so much more, but it’s all tight and smooth and leaves you wanting more, which the best shows always do.  There’s plenty of violence and blood and some nudity, so this one isn’t for the kids.  But the psychological and philosophical discussions are perfect for anyone who likes a show that makes them both think and feel.

There was also a theatrical movie based on the series that seems to take place somewhere in the middle of it.  It’s more of a standard action flick, without the poetic beat led by the soundtrack of the series.  The music is still pretty good but all over the place and with no consistent style, and the animation is pretty good too but is more CGI than hand-drawn.  The story is slower-paced, probably due mostly to the fact that the film is four times as long as an episode of the series.  There are a few other minor inconsistencies, particularly in the character and behavior of the main protagonist.  It’s still an interesting story with some humor and plenty of action.  Just don’t expect the same atmospheric beauty and style of the series.


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Cleopatra 2525

This short-lived action sci-fi series has many flaws but is a great deal of fun.  The story has a surprising number of unique and intriguing ideas and details.  There’s a great deal of background that goes largely unnoticed unless you’re paying attention, and it’s obvious there was a lot of work put into the set pieces.  Even the parts of the story and world that aren’t particularly original are done in an interesting and unique way.  The setting is five centuries in the future and involves aliens, robots, and a post-apocalyptic environment.  The acting is mostly acceptable to good, if a bit cheesy at times, and there is a lot of over-the-top combat, Hercules and Xena-style.  There are a few plot holes, but everything improves over time.  It’s a lot of fun, and while it doesn’t present any deep philosophical questions, it does touch on some very human drama.  There’s quite a bit of fanservice in pretty much every episode, aimed squarely at the young male audience, but even this is coyly addressed in the first episode.  In fact, the main characters may be dressed like party girls and strippers, but they own their own sexuality and never hesitate to objectify the scantily clad men in their vicinity, which may not be fair but is definitely closer to equality.  Unfortunately, the plug was pulled on the show too soon, and its final episode is an unresolved cliffhanger.  Just when it was getting really good too, with more in-depth storylines and better acting.  But the rest of it is well worth the watch if you’re craving something fun and action-y and don’t want to think too much.

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Disney Rarities

This collection of Disney shorts, part of the Disney Treasures that were produced around 2005, is a random set of old cartoons and films from the 1920s to 1960s.  This includes some of the oldest Disney shorts, the Alice films.  Combining live-action with animation, these little silent shows starred a young girl and some cartoon companions that will look familiar to anyone who’s seen a silent cartoon from that era.  Also on this set are a number of full-color cartoons that will be nostalgic to anyone who grew up on Disney shows, such as Ferdinand the Bull, Morris the Midget Moose, and Lambert the Sheepish Lion.  There are a number of less well-known shorts, also, like The Truth About Mother Goose and The Saga of Windwagon Smith.  Most of these are entertaining and cute, although there are a few uncomfortable moments that are inherent in older cartoons that were made during an era of common racism, sexism, and classism in the world of Hollywood.  The Alice shorts are naturally slow, but they’re still humorous in their way.  The rest of them are typical Disney fun with memorable songs and music and stories.  Worth a look, even if you’re not a Disney historian.

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Clarissa Explains It All

This early ’90s tv show was where Melissa Joan Hart got her start.  A cheap, cheesy kids sitcom, it has all the humor of that era and all the corny acting, dialogue, and plotlines.  It’s not particularly bad for what it is, but it’s not particularly good, either.  There are the usual jokes about clueless parents and annoying siblings, along with a few interesting quirks, like the title character talking to the camera and making a video game on her computer every other day.  It’s mindless, popcorn entertainment, especially if you grew up in that era of television.  The quick jumpcuts and colorful sets and costumes will keep you from falling asleep, and there will even be a few laughs, but don’t expect anything too smart or clever.

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Chuck Jones Collection

This dvd set has six of the famous animator Chuck Jones’ feature cartoons.  Jones tended toward a slower pace than what most viewers are used to, but his distinctive style is almost hypnotic, and the voice actors who helped to bring his worlds to life were always excellent.  The music tended to be a bit jazzy and uninspired, but the animation and vocals more than make up for that.  The first cartoon in this set, Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, is based on a short story from Rudyard Kipling and is the most interesting and exciting of the list.  It involves a family in India and their mongoose friend who kills snakes.  It’s a cute little story with some truly well-done voice acting.  The next short, The White Seal, is another Kipling tale and has the same excellent animation and voice acting to recommend it.  The titular character of this one grows from a pup to an adult and learns of the danger of seal-hunting men.  He then goes on a quest to find a safe place for his clan.  Mowgli’s Brothers, the third story, is the final Kipling short and tells a bit of the story of the most famous Jungle Book.  This one is considerably slower than the first two cartoons and involves quite a bit of social politics.  The characters will be familiar to most viewers, but the ending is terribly bittersweet.  The last three shorts are part of the same narrative about a musical cricket.  A Cricket in Times Square tells how our hero comes to New York City, makes a couple of friends, and helps his human friend save his subway-based newspaper business.  It’s cute but a bit slow when Chester the Cricket launches into his musical performance.  If you’re a fan of classical music, though, this will be the best part.  Yankee Doodle Cricket takes us back in time to see how Chester’s ancestor and the ancestors of his cat and mouse friends helped to establish the United States during the Revolution.  This one is probably the funniest of the bunch, with plenty of historical in-jokes and interactions with overactive animals.  And finally, A Very Merry Cricket brings Chester back to New York in order to remind its people of the Christmas spirit.  This one has a long sequence of the cricket playing Christmas music over the still images of listeners, making it the slowest of this cartoon set.  They’re all cute and interesting, though, and worth a watch, especially if you already like Chuck Jones’ style.

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This reboot of the original ’80s cartoon show is extremely different and extremely entertaining.  The stories are often heartwarming and sometimes exciting.  There are detailed backstories and compelling villains and a focus on making the world a better place.  The animation is beautiful, and the music is fun and catchy.  The voice acting is phenomenal.  The characters grow over time without losing their individuality.  The later seasons start to lose focus a bit, and the theatrical movie seems to completely forget what the characters and their motivations are about.  But the majority of the show is fun for the whole family.  The plots are usually straightforward and simple, but there are always background jokes and details that will hold the attention of older kids and adults.  Some episodes focus on homegrown tales, while others look at the larger world, but they’re all worth a look.

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Written by Gene Roddenberry, this space ship crew show has more of a Battlestar Galactica bent to it than a Star Trek bent.  It follows the crew of the Andromeda as they attempt to put things right in the universe after a long war that threw the entire galaxy into chaos.  There are strange aliens, interpersonal conflicts, supernatural threats, and an unusual amount of philosophy and psychology.  This isn’t a feel-good type of show; it will make you think, questioning morals and ethics in nearly every episode.  By the end of the final season, however, most of the wrong things have been put right.  It is interesting science fiction at the very least, and most of the characters are interesting, as well.  The acting is good to excellent, and the writing is good at first but loses its luster by the third season.  It tends to rely a bit too much on familiar tropes from history and philosophy when it comes to proper names and descriptions, but that’s mostly forgivable.  The biggest problem is a loss of focus starting in season three.  The characters start acting like they aren’t quite themselves, and continuity starts to suffer, with people and things not being where they should be at all times.  There are still interesting moments and intriguing plots, however.  This show didn’t get the recognition it deserved.

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