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  1. #691
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    Past Tense - Boy Becomes A Man, Becomes A King Part I


    [An earlier version of this PT was originally posted on May 21st, 2015 on JoBlo's "DVD, Blu-Ray & Home Theater Discussion" forum.]

    This outing we get a sleeper gem; how magic with heart can create a modern classic - "Stardust"...



    The motion picture opened on August 10th, 2007. It was made with a budget of $70,000,000 (estimated) and grossed over $38 million during its U.S. theatrical run; counting foreign receipts it made $135,560,026. The film opened number four at the box office, the following week it dropped to number five.

    The feature opened against "The Bourne Ultimatum", "The Simpsons Movie" and "Rush Hour 3".

    There was no slipcover issued, nor any inserts. This streeted on December 18th, 2007 for $29.99.

    - - -

    Bought my copy not on street, but in January 2008 - a blind buy, based on overwhelming positive reviews.

    There was a single exclusive from from Wal-Mart.



    This was an added slipcover, post release. A tactic that Wal-Mart is well known for... tricking you into thinking an older release was new. I am sorry, fuzzy on the release.

    Can't give an exact date. I should've, but didn't make notes, I apologize. I can tell you it happened in 2010 and sold for $9.98.

    This was only seen for two weeks on the racks. Poof, gone - like it never happened; have no idea how rare this thing is. The backside is different from the case's wraparound.



    Above is the regular DVD cover.

    And yes, I was naughty once again to acquire. *cough*

    - - - - - - - - - -

    Rant.

    While researching I made some discoveries - which saddens me.



    Movie was released on February 25th, 2008 in the United Kingdom for 19.99.

    This region 2 DVD came with an extra missing from the U.S. release - commentary by writer/director Matthew Vaughn and co-writer Jane Goldman.

    Came on Blu-Ray (region 1) on September 7th, 2010 for $29.99. This carried over the commentary and added a five part documentary, "Crossing The Wall: The Making Of Stardust". Plus a featurette, "Nothing Is True" along with the rest of the DVD extras.

    *sigh*

    Too bad this wasn't re-released on DVD as a deluxe edition - would buy in a heartbeat; two disc set?

    Found some other trivia, that most have forgotten. *nods*

    Paramount announced the home video release on August 27th, 2007 - two weeks after the film opened across America. That's pretty damn quick. Perhaps it was done since they felt, at the time it was bombing. Get it out as fast as possible to recoup their losses. Not the case when counting foreign box offices.

    - - -

    Invisible reflections now rendered in blood.
    - Dust Is Noise

    This was the failed big screen adaptation of Neil Gaiman's novel of the same name. The movie is different than the book, but in a nice way.

    I am not alone - this is such an endearing movie. I put it into the same category as "The Princess Bride" (1987). It's just that good, lightening in a bottle. Hell, that's even a plot point; can not say enough good things about this.

    At its heart, this is a coming of age story. Since not that many or enough have seen...

    It is the late 1800s in England, the English village of "Wall". The place is named after a long wall that's near the locale.

    Tristan Thorn (Charlie Cox) is infatuated with the prettiest girl in town, Victoria (Sienna Miller). But he's a wannabe and is one of many who seek Victoria's attention. Tristan sees a falling star and thinks this will be his way in. She agrees to marry him if he brings the fallen rock to her. She knows he has a zero chance and was said to make him stop pestering her.

    Tristan is delighted he will finally get the girl of his dreams and goes to seek the meteorite, but his path is blocked by an old man who guards the stone wall next to town which is named after. And gets beaten up by the elderly fellow, 'you can not pass'.

    There is a good reason - that stone barrier is actually a real barrier... to an alternate Earth. A place called, Stormhold. A place where magik exist.



    Tristan manages to jump over the wall and ends up on the other side. Too stupid or innocent to realize, he continues his quest to find that rock. He locates the impact site, but not a meteorite - a young woman, Yvaine (Claire Danes). She's an Eternal who has come down - to live life like a mortal, an act of rebellion.

    The promise remains - Victoria will marry him when presented with the falling star. Okay, this is a person. He chains her and forces her to go with him, saying he promises to let her go once shown to his would-be wife.

    While this is going on, the king of Stormhold (Peter O'Toole) is dying, on his death bed. As is their custom, the royal enchanted jewel necklace is ejected from the castle. It's somewhere in the kingdom. The king has several sons who want the throne.

    The first who finds it - of royal blood will become king. The hunt for the jewel begins.



    The ruthless of the sons, Septimus (Mark Strong) murders his siblings to increase his odds. Seeking info on where the jewel might be, he learns of Yvaine and the legend that accompany such an event. If Yvaine's heart is taken (cut out) and eaten, the person will become immortal... an immortal king. His quest goes into two directions from that point; find that necklace and that Eternal.

    Adding to the trouble is a trio of old witches - "The Lilim" who want Yvaine too. Their alpha, Lamia (Michelle Pfeiffer) wants the fallen star to regain her beauty, forever young. Forever powerful.

    While finding the spot where Yvaine fell was mostly easy. Tristan gets lost in Stormhold and discovers what's going on and does his best to protect her; far more than a wedding gift/meeting. This takes the couple on an adventure over land and in the air once they meet a sky pirate, Captain Shakespeare (Robert de Niro), a fellow traveler from Earth who decided to stay in Stormhold, it was profitable. He has a cool arc.

    It is during this time that Tristan grows and sees his quest as a foolish one. He didn't really love Victoria. Yvaine grows as someone he admires and fallen for... the feeling is mutual. But this coupling takes a back seat because of Septimus and Lamia.



    It culminates in an epic, yes used correctly - 'epic' sword fight between Septimus and Tristan at the castle; quite inventive. I'll stop here. There's a lot more that happens.

    Still amazed this remains a sleeper, so under rated. Years from now folks will be wondering 'why didn't we hear about this earlier?'

    By the way, a pre-famous Henry Cavill plays Humphrey, one of the sons. And Ricky Gervais steals his scenes as Ferdy The Fence, turns out most of his lines were ad libbed.



    Above; Lamia seeking information from Ferdy about the whereabouts of the fallen star. The movie is fried gold, do seek it out. And no Shakespeare isn't Shakespeare, he took that name since it sounded violent; shake-spear to cut up and kill. *wink*

    - - - - - - - - - -

    Void.

    I have so many to write about. But I want to focus on just two this time. Welcome to Volume Four of "Dead TV Shows Not On Home Video". Yes we're in filler country, taste the void - it has hints of cinnamon. *nods*



    "OceanQuest" - This former show aired on NBC in 1985. It was a pseudo-documentary, hour long series. Sea adventurer/underwater cinematographer and documentarian, Al Giddings wanted to do a show focused on ocean environments and conservation. How to get the public on board?

    Get a person with zero diving experience - put them in a crash course SCUBA training and free style diving. And take this novice around the globe; film on location (not video tape). We experience these undersea explorations through their eyes. That person... a hot girl, who spends most of her time in high cut swim wear. *nods* A winning combination that - didn't. It was panned by critics and failed to find an audience.

    Who did they get? The 1980 Miss USA and [B[Miss Universe[/B] (won both in the same year) - Shawn Weatherly, above. She played an active role, not simply eye candy. She was serious about her involvement.

    For purposes of dramatic clarity, some scenes have been re-created and the order of events rearranged.
    - opening narration

    A beautiful woman is pushed to the limit when she trades a year of her life for a lifetime of adventure.
    - NBC promo voice over

    It was a single season, all five episodes aired. What sticks in my mind was Weatherly appearing on "Late Night With David Letterman" (NBC) promoting the show. Her appearance was near Christmas. The set was adorn with festive decorations.

  2. #692
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    Past Tense - Boy Becomes A Man, Becomes A King Part II


    Dave asks her - since she was the only woman in a boat full of men; spending most of her time in swimsuits. 'Did any of the guys get frisky?' She said no. The camera then cuts to a winking Santa Claus wall bauble. Holy crap, that made me laugh so hard. I miss you Dave.

    What made it work so well, Weatherly didn't know why the audience was laughing. Letterman then showed her the feed and... smirked. It was cute, 'ha-ha'.

    Giddings worked on such movies as "The Abyss" (1989), "For Your Eyes Only" (1981), "Striking Distance" (1993) and "Titanic" (1997) to name a few. He was well known as 'the guy' who you want for underwater filming. And he worked for National Geographic on various sea related docs.

    It was a cool show, didn't try to be anything more than an ocean travelogue. And it worked. Plus Weatherly was great to look at. They put her in really dangerous situations (for drama), like when they had her in a cage; filming her as she watched great white sharks feeding. Why yes, they attack her cage. Drama! *jazz hands*

    Or when they went to Cuba and dove off the coast into a shipwreck filled with unexploded munitions. Weatherly wanted to touch one and got her hand pulled; Giddings making the boom motions with his hands. Why take her there?

    ...just because.

    Okay, yeah - the critics had reasons to disapprove. It's pretty much, 'lets put this gal in peril each week'.

    Would totally buy the DVD. The other thing that sticks with me was their cabled ROV, seen above. Man, I wanted one of those, almost futuristic looking. The operator pretty much made that ROV like a pet character. Too bad this show has pretty much been long forgotten.

    Weatherly would go on to do another water related series, "Baywatch" (1989) for their first season since her character Jill Riley got killed during a shark attack - for ratings. Which failed since NBC canceled it. But show runners got the idea and sold it for syndication - and the rest is history. What bugs me is that producers didn't want Playboy models for "Baywatch". But were okay with Penthouse girls.

    What popped in my mind as I wrote this? The Duran Duran song, "Save A Prayer".

    Finding any solid photo from the series was next to impossible. I'm lucky to have found that one and it took an hour of fixing just to look like that. Sorry, the best I could muster.

    - - -



    "Q.E.D." was a former CBS series which ran for six, hour long episodes (all aired), a midseason replacement in 1982. It is largely forgotten. Hell, even I forgot until I stumbled onto it in late March of this year (and watched it back in the day). Sorry about that pix too. Could not find anything better, it is quite the lacking.

    Left to right; A.C.Weary as Charlie Andrews, George Innes as Phipps, Caroline Langrishe as Jenny Martin and Sam Waterston (yes that Waterston) as Dr. Quentin E. Deverill.

    This was set in pre-World War One, England - 1912. We follow the exploits an eccentric expatriate, Quentin E. Deverill (we never found out what the 'E' stood for). Deverill was an ex-Harvard professor and inventor who had his full - contemporaries ridiculed his ideas. He moves into a manor outside of London.

    Along the way he gains a cockney man servant/chauffeur - Phipps. He was a freelance taxi driver who owned his car. Deverill didn't want to deal with it and offer to buy the auto from him. Phipps agreed and drives him to this newly bought home. There the professor offered him a live-in job. A huge upgrade, this too he agrees.

    The third member of this assemble is an American reporter, Charlie Andrews. He moved to England seeking adventure, things are afoot here. His position is 'special correspondent' for International Wireless newspaper. Charlie is somewhat of a nuisance to Deverill, but does offer eager, sometimes needed assistance.

    The last member was added by accident. This is where things get murky as it does from pilot to series.

    After settling in - Betsy Stevens (Sarah Berger) seeks Quentin for help. Her brother has gone missing, a fellow scientist who was in correspondence with Deverill. And more than likely the last person he had contact with. The professor doesn't want to get involved, but she presses him. Use his mind to solve the mystery; her brother's yacht was recovered - abandoned off the British Coast. Deverill manages to extrapolate where the boat was going.

    Using the yacht, the four of them find the island and are promptly held in detention. The island is a secret testing site being used for the Kaiser. He knows that war is coming and wants an edge. Scientist and profiteer, Dr. Stefan Kilkiss (Julian Glover) has kidnapped the brother to build him a wireless homing apparatus. Kilkiss has made a rocket for war. It can be aimed in mid-flight. But needs a targeting gadget to fix in. Yes, we're talking about an early blitzkrieg.

    Quentin is disgusted by Kilkiss and manages to sabotage the projectile - exploding on the launching pad. Betsy is reunited with her sibling and the gang escape in a hot air balloon - the object has the gadget installed for the test fire. With the rocket disabled they make a getaway back to mainland with Phipps, piloting as it were. He's a man who had a ton of short lived jobs before working for the professor.

    Charlie got his story and an adventure. He was there just to interview Deverill - an established academic who rejected his peers back home. Here he first meets Betsy and tries to win her over, but she's not into him like that, friend zoned. He keeps trying.

    Once all is done, Betsy inserts herself into the professor's life. He needs a secretary to write up correspondences (she types), answering the phone and doing all the things so that Dr. Deverill can focus on his research, not bothered by daily trivialities. He's caught off guard by her moving-in and realizes he does need a personal assistant beyond Phipps. As the series progressed, Deverill discovers how crucial she has become. From gathering food for Phipps to cook and beyond.

    This begins his second life as a scientist sleuth, most of the time - forced into it.

    Stevens' actions makes perfect sense from her point of view. At this time, women were not treated on equal footing. The professor isn't progressive - he just doesn't give a crap. As long as you can hold your own and keep up, you were treated the same. Race, gender, age or social status is insignificant, just be a reliable person. Plus she gets to play with the boys in various adventures; she participates, not on the sidelines.



    Above is the TV Guide ad for the premier; "Target: London" aired March 23rd, '82. Kilkiss is the one in the top hat. Odd, Phipps isn't in the ad. For the second episode the role was taken over by Langrishe as Miss Jenny. Same difference, but what happened to Betsy? No answer. Are we to accept that Jenny was Stevens? It's never mentioned. But that does happen from pilot to series. *shrugs*

    Can kinda see why the Network wanted the change. Berger was somewhat pretty and quite direct - almost pushy. She moved into the manor without consent. Langrishe's character is more attractive and demure (she doesn't curse either), quite feminine.

    All the episodes can be seen on YouTube, the quality is 'watchable', it's better than nothing. As I wrote, this takes place in that period of transition from horse drawn carriages to mechanized, modern tech. The world still had exploring to be done. It reminds me of a latter-day, "The Adventures Of Brisco County, Jr." (Fox; 1993).

    Sure.

    "Brisco" took place in 1893; same idea; retro future tech. This had time travel, a rocket too, land pirates (exactly what you're thinking), proto-tank, a ghost, proto-motorcycles and an early zeppelin among a lot of things. Plus a sentient horse too. Its on DVD. A cult classic; steampunk, western serial, just under over-the-top. A Harvard educated lawyer turned bounty hunter, the bizarre travels he finds himself in. And man, that had an outstanding opening credits music by Randy Edelman. So good... it was used for the 1996 Summer Olympics - their theme music and in the NFL too. Quite triumphant.



    Left to right; Christian Clemenson as Socrates Poole, Julius Carry as Lord Bowler, Kelly Rutherford as Dixie Cousins (semi-regular), John Astin as Professor Wickwire (semi-regular), Bruce Campbell as Brisco County Jr. and Comet the wonder horse. I should pull out my DVD and rewatch the show.

    Hell we also get an Elvis impersonator too; don't fight, just go with it. So batsh!t crazy. And we got a wicked villain in John Bly (Billy Drago) who revels in being evil. Hint... he's a criminal from the future seeking misplaced tech/object sent into the past. *nods* Totally sway. Too bad we only got one season, but it was extended, twenty-seven episodes, not twenty-two. And don't forget, never touch Pete's piece!

    Anyhow, if "Q.E.D." were to come to home video - it would be a two disc set. Maybe have a vintage EPK and series promos along with some TV and radio spots. A commentary on the pilot would be grand. And a retrospective featurette with cast would be welcomed. Oh well... just dreaming.

    There you go. Not one of my strongest entries and yeah, I know. Sort of went all over the place. *shrugs* Come back here on July 23rd, 2020 for a musical excursion.

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