Saturday, January 29, 2011

TVAMD Presents "The C Word, Part 1"

The release of this segment is in no way a promise to release subsequent episodes in a timely fashion. This story is themed around Christmas, having taken place at Christmastime, so I'll try to have to have all the episodes out by next Christmas. Fair enough?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

TVAMD Vidcast: The End is Nigh, Part 2

Sean, Dane and Greg discuss the ins and outs of the post apocalypse, from the Book of Eli to 2012. And we get around to telling you how an iphone can save your life.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Movie from the Vault: House 2

Oh yes, long before Indiana Jones dusted off his hat (that he’s had since 1912) to investigate the mystery of the crystal skulls, Arye Gross took a crack at it.  Things you can expect from this movie:  Arye Gross exhumes his Old West prospector Grampa to find he’s still alive, thanks to the power of the crystal skull he was buried with.  But his nemesis, a gunslinger wraith seeking the skull himself, forces the gang to seek the help of John Ratzenberger, an electrician/adventurer who uncovers a portal to another dimension in their basement.  After rescuing the skull from a pterodactyl and rescuing an Aztec princess from an evil pagan priest, Arye has a final showdown with the undead cowboy that proves why he was chosen to be the voice of Lando in the Return of the Jedi radio serial.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Johnny Drama Award: David Patrick Kelly

It’s hard to define the qualities of a real-life Johnny Drama. These hard-working charismatic movie stars never really made it to A-list status, but have given us many a Saturday movie night to remember and are the real heroes of the movie business.

David Patrick Kelly

He’s been killed by most of the greats.  Bruce Willis took him down in Last Man Standing, Brandon Lee got him in the Crow, even Dennis Quaid got a piece of him in Dreamscape.  He’s my favorite sinister creepy, gracing classics like The Warriors and even got nailed by Andrew Dice Clay in his role as Sam the Sleazebag.  He also dies better than your average bad guy.  You’re always looking for him to get his, but by the time it happens you kind of feel bad about it.  I like this guy, he’s a real actor who kind of fell into the B movie scene.

Surviving the Zombie War: Part 2 - The First 48 Hours

Most zombie stories are about the initial outbreak and are good cautionary tales about the first 48.  Most people will not survive the first 48 hours of the outbreak.  First off, you won’t know it’s happening for the first couple of hours, which will eat up critical response opportunities.   Add to that the initial denial due to normalcy bias and some early rookie mistakes like crashing your car into a telephone pole or boarding yourself up in a farmhouse and you’ve lost four hours of good travel time.  Meanwhile the zombie threat is spreading exponentially. 

In the first 4 hours, there will be dozens of zombies in your area.  That’s when you’ll probably start understanding the scope of the problem. 

By the end of the first 24 hours there will be hundreds, which is why people who board themselves up on the first day aren’t able to run by the second. 

By the end of the first 48 hours there will be thousands of zombies in a well-populated area, because by then 50% or more of the population will have been turned.  Another 30% of the population will probably be dead, because the purpose of zombie attacks is not infection, but predation.  That will leave the zombie population ravenous and enraged, with a swiftly diminishing food supply. 

By the time they run out of food they will be in large enough numbers to successfully lay siege to any fortification and wipe out anyone still living in it.  Critical mistakes in the first 4 hours of the outbreak lead to most people not surviving the first 48 hours.  Your best bet is to get out of the area while there are still other people around for the zombies to eat.

First 48 Filmography:

  1. Night of the Living Dead:  Classic negative example.  Not understanding the nature of the threat, they all hole up in the same farmhouse and practically end up killing each other before the zombies even get to them.  Rookie mistake.
  2. Dawn of the Dead (original and remake):  They try to fortify a mall, which is one of the least defensible places on the planet.  Death wish.
  3. Return of the Living Dead:  Hoping to be rescued, they call for help and the military nukes the town.  Points for understanding the scope of the problem, but getting out of town would have been better.
  4. Resident Evil:  Realizing that they’ve released the zombie plague into their lab, they seal the building off and try to kill everyone in it.  Good effort, Umbrella Corporation, but containment is always impossible.
  5. House of the Dead:  24 hour party people get into a gun shipment and go John Woo on the lumbering dead, but eventually they get surrounded and have to hole up in a mausoleum.  Making a stand never ends well; eventually you’re just going to end up in a zombie pirate sword fight.  Might sound like fun, but it’s actually just really really stupid.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Cape: NBC's Latest Superhero

NBC has had a long-running love/hate relationship with the scifi and superhero genres. They dumped their "it came from the deep" invasion series "Surface" (which was actually on its way to being good) to put forward "Heroes", a really promising idea for a superhero series that never quite got the point. Their effort to revive "the Bionic Woman" died as quickly as the time travel series "Journeyman". Their recent roster is as littered with single season genre failures as the average Friday night lineup on Fox, but they keep trying.

The current trend toward dark and gritty scifi, brought on by the success of moody mysteries like "Lost", has spawned halfway hybrids like "Persons Unknown" and "The Event", which cosmetically employ scifi elements but are more closely derived from conspiracy thrillers like "24". "The Event" even promotes itself as a cross between "Lost" and "24", which is obviously what the creators intended.

But getting back to "Heroes": This show's the one that represent the problem fully. It was stylish and cool, but in its effort to reinvent the superhero genre it managed to invalidate everything the genre was created to uphold. The characters were dark and conflicted, flawed to the point where they flip-flopped constantly between good and evil, ultimately failing to stand for any principles at all, even friendship and family. The stories were convoluted soap opera serials that bent the characters to fit the plot from week to week until no one knew or cared what was going on. So after a record-breaking 4 seasons, "Heroes" disappeared from the NBC roster too.

Which brings us to "The Cape". This show offers nothing new or original to comic books or television, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.  It's set in the comic-themed Palm City, which is terrorized by a masked madman called Chess (who is also a billionaire businessman privatizing the police force like the OCP corporation did in Robocop). Our hero Faraday is a cop framed by Chess and forced to let the world believe he's killed. Afterwards he is taken in by the Carnival of Crime, a circus who make their living as bank robbers for about 10 minutes until their ringleader (played by Keith David) decides instead to train Faraday in all the arts of escapism and illusion.

This is just one in a string of lucky coincidences that conspire to create Faraday's superhero identity, but that is itself an accepted part of the genre, so it's forgiven. The persona of the Cape already exists as the comic book hero of Faraday's son, so when he starts his training his new instructor just happens to have an indestructible super-cape he can wear to serve that purpose.

Faraday is also in contact with a mysterious all-knowing computer hacker called Orwell, who puts him in harm's way while feeding him information about his enemies. Orwell turns out to be scifi series refugee Summer Glau, who has herself been a regular on no less than three failed genre shows, all of which met an untimely death on Fox.

So Faraday is taught to be a master magician and escapist, dons his super-cape and sets out to defeat Chess and restore liberty to Palm City.

"The Cape" is simply a retread of comic book conventions recycled into the TV format. The Cape is about as generic a moniker as you could come up with for a superhero.  Orwell is obviously based in some way on the DC character Oracle, who is also a hot chick computer hacker who knows everything.  And all the villains have simple nicknames like Scales or Tarot; a rogue's gallery more suited to Dick Tracy than a modern superhero. But is that all bad? I think a back to basics approach may be just what we need. So many people have tried to reinvent the wheel in the superhero genre that no one's just telling stories. Superheroes don't have to be re-packaged for the modern audience, they just have to be well-written. There's a reason you don't reinvent the wheel: The wheel works.

"The Cape" is fun and well told, and it's populated with good actors. This is a series that could really work if it has a chance to catch on. Maybe it will.

Surviving the Zombie War: Part One - The Combatants

What is the Zombie War?

This term is a misnomer.  The zombie outbreak will destroy any government or military infrastructure within a matter of days or weeks.  After that the human race will be its own army and anyone left alive will be a soldier.  And the only way to win this war will be to stay alive.


  1. Zombies.  Not only are they the top contender, but they will probably represent a majority of the population in a very short period of time.  In fact, by the time you realize the severity of the zombie threat, there will most likely be more of them than us.
  2. Survivors.  Hopefully you fall into this category, because that’s who this is written for.  Survivors are simply those dispossessed humans trying to find someplace they can go to be safe.
  3. Marauders.  There are scavengers drawn to every disaster.  While decent people will be trying to survive the apocalypse, looters will be picking through the rubble for some way to profit from it.  When there’s nothing left to loot, they’ll quickly evolve into gangs of bandits and thieves.  This is the Mad Max syndrome.  Some people were never fit for a civilized world anyway, and they’ll instantly embrace the lawlessness of the Necrocracy.
  4. Crazies.  Hell on Earth has a tendency to eat at people, in this case literally.  Some survivors are likely to be so traumatized that they’ll be holed up somewhere waiting for someone to set them off.  Don’t be the one to do it. 
  5. New World Order.  When society collapses, some people will adapt to anarchy while others hold to the mores enforced by the previous administration.  Some will jump at the chance to improve on the model, however, and suddenly you’ll start running into self-appointed militia men and citizen soldiers who expect you to follow the law of the land because their guns are bigger than yours.  Or worse yet, they’ll want to recruit you.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

TVAMD Vidcast: The End is Nigh, Part 1

Sean, Dane and Greg consider the coming apocalypse with retro reviews of The Book of Eli, 2012 and Waterworld. They also tell you how having an iPhone can save your life.

Cool Clips - The Philip DeFranco Show

You can catch this guy all over YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. I think he's really funny and I wish I could put out as much content as he does.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Movie from the Vault: Bad Moon

Two things I love in this world: Bad werewolf movies and bad Michael Pare' movies. This one, my friends, is both! This is a must see for B movie enthusiasts, not because it's overtly bad or anything. Mostly because, as bad werewolf movies go, this one's okay. I hate how monster movies always kill the dog off, but this is the only one I know of where the dog is actually the hero.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Johnny Drama Award: Wings Hauser

It’s hard to define the qualities of a real-life Johnny Drama. These hard-working charismatic movie stars never really made it to A-list status, but have given us many a Saturday movie night to remember and are the real heroes of the movie business.

Like many Johnny Drama’s, Wings was a staple of 80’s TV, guest-starring in Baretta, The Fall Guy, The A-Team, Magnum P.I., Hunter, Airwolf, Space Rangers and Freddy’s Nightmares.  But he’s been in tons of movies, always standing out with that dramatic flare that seemed to die out in the 80’s.  Whenever they make a retro flick like Original Gangsters or Tales from the Hood they always bring in Wings, but he had a hand in the crap horror franchise Watchers (he was in Watchers III, which is strangely the only one I haven’t seen).  But I’ll always remember him best for his role as Arklon in Beastmaster 2: Through the Portal of time.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

TV Ate My Dinner: The Baldwin Challenge, Part 2

Sean, Dane and Greg return to continue a pointless discussion regarding a rumor they heard a year ago about whether Alec Baldwin was planning to retire. Another nail-biter from the folks at TV Ate My Dinner...

Saturday, January 1, 2011

TV Ate My Dinner: The Baldwin Challenge, Part 1

We recorded this a while ago, so Mr. Baldwin is probably past his retirement crisis, but all the same Sean, Dane and Greg take a whack at his career woes. Is his concern about his leading man roles valid or is he an accomplished character actor with nothing to be ashamed of?