Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Weekend Box Office

Memorial Day Weekend, once as disappointing as Labor Day Weekend, is slipping back to that status.

Thanks to Boxofficemojo.com. And iPrint Technologies for the free shirt.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Weekend Box Office

We look at a new low (two if you count Angry Birds)! Thanks to Box Office Mojo. We salute you brother!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Weekend Box Office

256 shades of grey! And thanks to BoxOfficeMojo, though frankly they probably don't even care at this point.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Weekend Box Office

Captain America throws his might shield, hits a bank. It's your Box Office Report!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Thunderbirds Are No Less Go Than They Ever Were

It is easier to admit this as an adult than it would be in my TV-watchin' prime, but I'm irresistably drawn to the Gerry and Sylvia Anderson ouvre. The Andersons were behind Space: 1999 and Captain Scarlett and a host of other entertainments but they arguably reached their apex with Thunderbirds, the sci-fi extravaganza starring a host of puppets. Actually the puppets were extras; the stars were five rocket-powered vehicles numbered Thunderbirds One Through Five.

Not the vehicles, but it will do for now
There they are, the Tracy Brothers: Scott, John, Virgil, Gordon and Allen. They're a family that runs International Rescue, a team of do-gooders who patrol the world (and space) in 2065, helping victims of disasters and stopping things from exploding until everyone is clear and then BANG! off it goes.

Thunderbirds only ran for two seasons, at which point Sir Lou Grade determined that he'd never get American network money to keep it going.

The charms of the show might seem elusive to some. For one thing, the main characters are wooden puppets which means that whether they are fighting to plug a volcano or bantering after a successful mission their expressions never change. And it's not exactly easy telling one of them from another. And the scripts are aimed squarely at kids, so subtlety and moral ambiguity are in short supply. Considering the first part of this paragraph, I'll say mercifully short supply.

However, Thunderbirds is a perfect example of art being improved by it's limitations. The miniatures are beautifully detailed and if they're a little unconvincing, so what? At least it's not more puppets! And while the puppets can't handle drama, the sweeping orchestral score by the late Barry Gray took care of that in spades. It all winds up being good fun once you get past the dodgy American accents and creepy feeling that one of the brothers looks a little too much like Cary Grant.

Wait, these aren't vehicles either!
ITV, partnered with Amazon Prime, has revived the series as Thunderbirds Are Go! using CGI characters and live-action model sets. I've seen about half the episodes and I love 'em. The sets allow for just enough restriction to keep the show from losing its sense of fun. And now the expressions CAN change, though it's still almost impossible to tell the Tracy brothers apart.

What you're left with is this fun, wild implausibility. Who is paying for all this technology? And rocket fuel? And why, a century after it was fashionable, do the Tracys live in split-level mid-century Frank Lloyd Wright style ranch house with flagstone walls and conversation pit? In every episode they introduce at least one new vehicle or gadget or something that is so highly specialized that you would never, in the trial of a thousand lifetimes, expect to need it. And yet there it is, perfected and polished and working like a dream.

What I'm getting at is this is good, stupid fun and the episodes are only 22 minutes long so go ahead. You could do worse.

That's better.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Weekend Box Office

A hat! A palpable hat!

Thanks to Boxofficemojo.com for the numbers