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The latest release from Intrada (which will not ship for several weeks due to a pressing error) presents the score for the 1987 sci-fi/fantasy BATTERIES NOT INCLUDED, which reteamed Cocoon's stars Jessica Tandy and Hume Cronyn with its composer, James Horner. The film was a Steven Spielberg production about a group of inner city apartment dwellers, threatened with eviction, who are aided by a race of tiny sentient spaceships. The story was originally conceived as an Amazing Stories episode, and one of the writers was future film director Brad Bird (The Incredibles, Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol). Horner's score is very much in the Cocoon vein, mixing emotional melodical material, lively orchestral passages and a Big Band flavor. MCA released an LP and long out-of-print CD featuring 46 minutes of the film's score. The Intrada Batteries is a two disc set featuring both the full score, nearly 90 minutes, plus the original MCA sequencing. 


CDS AVAILABLE THIS WEEK

Friday the 13th - The Game - Harry Manfredini - La-La Land
I Think We're Alone Now - Adam Taylor - Sony [CD-R]
La Legende Des Sciences
 - Eric Demarsan - Music Box
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King: Complete Recording (re-release)
 - Howard Shore - Rhino
Mission: Impossible - Fallout
 - Lorne Balfe - La-La Land
Sunrise - Joe Kraemer - Caldera
White Boy Rick 
- Max Richter - Deutsche Grammophon


IN THEATERS TODAY

American Dresser - Marc Vanocur
Assassination Nation - Ian Hultquist
Beyond the Sky - Don Davis
Colette - Thomas Ades
Hale County This Morning, This Evening - Alex Sommers, Scott Alario, Forest Kelley
A Happening of Monumental Proportions - Alec Puro
The House with a Clock in Its Walls - Nathan Barr
Intelligent Lives - Paul Brill
Life Itself - Federico Jusid
Little Italy - Mateo Messina
Liyana - Philip Miller
Love, Gilda - Miriam Cutler
Science Fair - Jeff Morrow
The Sisters Brothers - Alexandre Desplat
The Song of Sway Lake - Ethan Gold - Score CD due Oct. 19 on Electrik Gold

COMING SOON

October 5
The Old Man & the Gun 
- Daniel Hart - Varese Sarabande
Smallfoot
 - Heitor Pereira - WaterTower
October 12
Carter Burwell: Music for Film
- Carter Burwell - Silva
First Man
 - Justin Hurwitz - Backlot
Fletch
 - Harold Faltermeyer, songs - Varese Sarabande
It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown - Vince Guaraldi - Varese Sarabande
La Venere di Cheronea
- Giovanni Fusco - Digitmovies
Salvare La Faccia
- Benedetto Ghiglia - Digitmovies
Zorro
- Guido & Maurizio DeAngelis - Digitmovies
October 19
Halloween 
- John Carpenter, Cody Carpenter, Daniel Davies - Sacred Bones
Mandy 
- Johann Johannsson - Lakeshore
The Song of Sway Lake - Ethan Gold - Electrik Gold
October 26
Can You Ever Forgive Me?
 - Nate Heller - Verve
Our House - Mark Korven - Lakeshore
Suspiria - Thom Yorke - XL Recordings
November 2
Boy Erased - Danny Bensi, Saunder Jurriaans - Backlot

December 7 
Under the Silver Lake - Disasterpeace - Milan
Date Unknown
Batteries Not Included
 - James Horner - Intrada Special Collection
Carles Cases Styles
 - Carles Cases - Rosetta
Deep Blue Sea 2
- Sean Murray - Dragon's Domain
Deshabitados
 - Manel Gil-Inglada - Rosetta
Grizzly
 - Robert O. Ragland - Dragon's Domain
Madly 
- Francis Lai - Music Box
The Ninth Passenger - Scott Glasgow - Howlin' Wolf
Red/Family
 - Soren Hyldgaard - Kritzerland
Yucatan
 - Roque Banos - Saimel


THIS WEEK IN FILM MUSIC HISTORY

September 21 - Chico Hamilton born (1921)
September 21 - Herbert Stothart begins recording his score for Son of Lassie (1944)
September 21 - Mason Daring born (1949)
September 21 - Herman Stein records his score for the Lost in Space episode "There Were Giants in the Earth" (1965)
September 21 - Walter Scharf records his score for the Mission: Impossible episode “Old Man Out” (1966)
September 21 - Robert O. Ragland records his score for The New Adventures of Wonder Woman episode “Hot Wheels” (1978)
September 21 - Laurence Rosenthal wins the first of three consecutive Emmys, for Peter the Great; Arthur B. Rubinstein wins the Emmy for his Scarecrow and Mrs. King episode score “We’re Off to See the Wizard” (1986)
September 21 - Geoffrey Burgon died (2010)
September 21 - Roman Vlad died (2013)
September 22 - Robert Mellin born (1902)
September 22 - Nick Cave born (1957)
September 22 - Dimitri Tiomkin begins recording his score for Last Train from Gun Hill (1958)
September 22 - Harry Geller’s score for The Wild Wild West episode “The Night of the Bottomless Pit” is recorded (1966)
September 22 - Samuel Matlovsky's score for the Star Trek episode "I, Mudd" is recorded (1967)
September 22 - Tuomas Kantelinen born (1969)
September 22 - Charles Previn died (1973)
September 22 - Artie Kane records his score for The New Adventures of Wonder Woman episode “The Bermuda Triangle Crisis” (1977)
September 22 - John Addison wins his only Emmy, for the Murder, She Wrote episode “The Murder of Sherlock Holmes;” Allyn Ferguson wins his only Emmy, for Camille (1985)
September 22 - Pat Metheny records his score for the Amazing Stories episode "Grandpa's Ghost" (1985)
September 22 - J.A.C. Redford records his score for the Twilight Zone episode “What Are Friends For?” (1986)
September 22 - John Williams begins recording his score for Home Alone (1990)
September 22 - Konrad Elfers died (1996)
September 23 - Clifford Vaughan born (1893)
September 23 - Gino Paoli born (1934)
September 23 - David Raksin begins recording his score for The Magnificent Yankee (1950)
September 23 - Lionel Newman begins recording his score for North to Alaska (1960)
September 23 - Bernard Herrmann records his score for The Alfred Hitchcock Hour episode “The Life Work of Juan Diaz” (1964)
September 23 - Jerry Fielding records his score for the Mission: Impossible episode “The Cardinal” (1968)
September 23 - Richard Hazard records his first Mission: Impossible score, for “Commandante” (1969)
September 23 - Dave Grusin begins recording his score to The Yakuza (1974)
September 23 - Craig Safan records his score for the Amazing Stories episode "The Main Attraction" (1985)
September 23 - Dennis McCarthy records his score for the Star Trek: Enterprise episode “Shockwave, Part II” (2004)
September 23 - Malcolm Arnold died (2006)
September 24 - Leonard Salzedo born (1921)
September 24 - Douglas Gamley born (1924)
September 24 - Michael Tavera born (1961)
September 24 - Bernard Herrmann begins recording his score to Joy in the Morning (1964)
September 24 - Richard Markowitz records his score for The Wild Wild West episode “The Night of Sudden Death” (1965)
September 24 - Walter Scharf records his score for the Mission: Impossible episode “The Survivors” (1967)
September 24 - Richard Shores records his score for The Wild Wild West episode “The Night of the Kraken” (1968)
September 24 - Jerry Goldsmith begins recording his score for Star Trek - The Motion Picture (1979)
September 24 - Billy Goldenberg records his score for the Amazing Stories episode "What If...?" (1986)
September 24 - Jay Chattaway begins recording his score for the two-part Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Gambit” (1993)
September 24 - Paul Baillargeon records his score for the Star Trek: Enterprise episode “Rajiin” (2003)
September 25 - Dmitri Shostakovich born (1906)
September 25 - Eric Rogers born (1921)
September 25 - Michael Gibbs born (1937)
September 25 - Richard Harvey born (1953)
September 25 - Randy Kerber born (1958)
September 25 - Danny Elfman and Steve Bartek's score for the Amazing Stories episode "Mummy Daddy" is recorded (1985)
September 25 - Ron Jones records his score for the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Where No One Has Gone Before" (1987)
September 25 - Alan Silvestri begins recording his score for The Bodyguard (1992)
September 25 - Jay Chattaway records his score for the Enterprise episode “Fight or Flight” (2001)
September 26 - George Gershwin born (1898)
September 26 - Simon Brint born (1950)
September 26 - Maureen McElheron born (1950)
September 26 - Joseph Mullendore records his score for the Lost in Space episode "The Haunted Lighthouse" (1967)
September 26 - Henry Mancini begins recording his replacement score for The Molly Maguires (1969)
September 26 - Edward Ward died (1971)
September 26 - Robert Emmett Dolan died (1972)
September 26 - Les Baxter records his score for the Buck Rogers in the 25th Century episode “Vegas in Space” (1979)
September 26 - Shelly Manne died (1984)
September 26 - Jay Chattaway records his score for the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode “The Search - Part 2” (1994)
September 27 - Recording sessions begin for Sol Kaplan’s score for Niagara (1952)
September 27 - Cyril Mockridge begins recording his score for Many Rivers to Cross (1954)
September 27 - Jay Chattaway records his score for the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Silicon Avatar” (1991)

DID THEY MENTION THE MUSIC?

THE GIRL WITHOUT HANDS - Olivier Mellano
 
"'The Girl Without Hands''s inventive sound design, along with Olivier Mellano’s spare, moody score, offers a remarkably complex counterpoint to the images on screen. Using a blend of amplified sounds to mimic all the natural elements that may or may not even appear in the frame, the director creates a deeply rooted sense of realism that contrasts the austere, surreal illustrations. The story’s portrayal of mankind’s most base and cruel instincts is made to feel striking in its fervor through this distinctive artistry."
 
Derek Smith, Slant Magazine

"The music is minimal, underscoring the mood as opposed to creating the mood, and much of the action takes place in a pure silence punctuated by proliferating nature sounds, rushing water and leaves rustling and bird calls, human gasps and cries."
 
Sheila O'Malley, RogerEbert.com
 
"That’s only the beginning of 'The Girl Without Hands'' tale, which sees the daughter being set free by the Devil (since her stumps are also tainted by her tears), who promises to reclaim his 'gains with interest' later on. A journey through the wilderness, a romance, a birth, and more treachery ensues, all of it scored to plaintive guitar picking and conveyed via an endless array of enchanting, hallucinatory animated sequences that undulate and whoosh about with expressionistic grace. From POV shots travelling up winding staircases and through giant doors, to panoramas of the daughter walking through mountains and across valley streams, the landscapes spied through her translucent torso, Laudenbach’s film is a marvel of coherently free-flowing imagery."
 
Nick Schager, The Daily Beast

"The vibrant, Fauvist color-washes and overlays represent the film’s most impressive element, recalling the cut-outs of Henri Matisse or the decorative work of Raoul Dufy. The sound effects, including slurping, gasping, and burbling or rushing water, are over-determined, but the spare, tranquil score is just right."
 
Alissa Simon, Variety

IT'S NOT YET DARK - Stephen Rennicks
 
"Under Fenton's tender but never maudlin directorial hand, the technical team shines. Cinematographer Kate McCullough's compositions, including an array of beautifully somber shots across the Irish countryside, imbue a tonal majesty to the story. In addition, composer Stephen Rennicks' baleful but jiggy score resonates with the subject's inner strength, while narrator Colin Farrell's warm brogue captures his life-affirming gusto."
 
Duane Byrge, Hollywood Reporter
 
SAUSAGE PARTY - Alan Menken, Christopher Lennertz
 
"'Sausage Party' sounds funny, and it is; the opening 'Great Beyond' song from Disney stalwart Alan Menken sets the right tone from the start, and the gags are plentiful, displaying Rogen's typically raunchy flavouring of wit. A real original, it's the best slice of adult animated fun this side of 'South Park.'"
 
Eddie Harrison, The List

"Rogen's predilection for a certain herb not sold in the seasoning aisle is well-known, but 'Sausage Party' is made with too much loving care (and too much money) to be written off as a dumb stoner Disney parody. For heaven's sake, they hired Alan Menken, musical architect of the '90s Animation Golden Age, to carefully syncopate every f-word in the elaborate opening musical number. Some idea is at work, some truly anarchic spirit of the sort that's been absent from modern comedy features. The only thing processed here is the protagonist."
 
Andrew Lapin, NPR
 
"In the universe of 'Sausage Party,' the grocery store is full of foods that begin every day singing a joyous song (written by Alan Menken) to the gods that will take them to the great beyond -- that is, having consumers purchase them and bring them to their homes. On the day before the 4th of July, hot dog Frank (voiced by Seth Rogen) can’t wait to be united with his girlfriend -- hot dog bun Brenda (Kristen Wiig) in the great beyond. Once they go to the wondrous unknown, they can leave their packaging and finally Frank can slip into Brenda."
 
Ross Bonaime, Paste Magazine

"It would be easy and accurate to describe 'Sausage Party' as a parody of contemporary family-friendly animation, particularly of the Pixar-produced variety. It explores the secret life, unseen by humans, of seemingly inanimate objects; it sends its celebrity-voiced lead character on an epic journey that ends in an antic showdown; and in a further nod to Disney heritage, it opens with a song co-written by studio stalwart Alan Menken. Yet this vulgar cartoon from Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg doesn’t limit itself to inserting 'f*ck's (verbally and otherwise) into the alive-object narrative. Rogen and Goldberg start with spoofery and work their way into something bolder and stranger; it’s as if playing in the Pixar sandbox, or a reasonable approximation thereof, can’t help but inspire creativity. Even during that first parodic song, the movie is plunging into strange waters. In an energetic, 'Be Our Guest'-ish production number, the supermarket food sings in praise of the “gods” who will bring them to the 'great beyond' -- that is, the humans who will pluck them off the shelves, take them away from the supermarket and, unbeknownst to these trusting foodstuffs, consume them with abandon."
 
Jesse Hassenger, The Onion AV Club
 
"This relentlessly scabrous cartoon comedy -- which, by the way, to anyone old enough to remember Ralph Bakshi, is not a 'first' of any kind, not by a long shot -- opens with a view of an empty parking lot with an arc-roofed mega-market in the background. Inside, the corn, the fruit, the condiments and especially the hot dogs and their neighboring buns, packaged for Fourth of July sales, sing a silly hymn about their hopes for being 'chosen' by the 'Gods' who will deliver them to 'the Great Beyond.' 'Oh dear,' I thought. 'Do Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg want to be Trey Parker and Matt Stone now?' Not really, it turns out -- that song’s the only original in the movie. But given that the hot dogs and the buns then engage in an exchange of dirty talk that makes Cartman in 'South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut' sound like Joel Osteen, 'Sausage Party,' directed by Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon from a script by Rogen, Goldberg, Ariel Shaffir and Kyle Hunter, with a story credit going to voice actor and executive producer Jonah Hill is spectacularly relentless in its profanity and sex talk and extends the metaphor of anthropomorphic groceries into territory you and I might not have even imagined."
 
Glenn Kenny, RogerEbert.com

"The film’s religious commentary offers a bit more sophistication. If Rogen and Goldberg used a biblical apocalypse in 'This Is the End' to explore sin and the possibility of redemption, 'Sausage Party' pushes even further by fashioning an allegory of faith versus skepticism. This thematic thread is established in the Busby Berkeley-inspired opening musical number, in which the products at Shopwell’s express their excitement at being picked by shoppers to venture out into the world outside the supermarket, which they call 'the great beyond.'"
 
Kenji Fujishima, Slant Magazine

"Set inside a sterile American supermarket and starring several different aisles worth of anthropomorphized groceries, this is an R-rated cartoon in which the hero is a weenie named 'Frank,' a Twinkie is an actual twink, and the villain is literally a douche. This is a movie so ugly it makes 'South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut' look like one of Studio Ghibli’s exquisitely drawn masterpieces by comparison. This is a movie that begins with a singularly foul-mouthed singalong about the divine beauty of The Great Beyond -- the various products have been indoctrinated to believe that the human customers are colossal deities, and that being placed in their shopping carts is a ticket to heaven -- and ends with the most nauseating food-related sex scene since 'In the Realm of the Senses.'"
 
David Ehrlich, IndieWire

"'Sausage Party,' an R-rated comedy about food products waiting to be sold at a supermarket, begins unpromisingly, with a musical number so effing gratuitously overstuffed with effed-up f-bomb adjectives -- most of them irrelevant to the jokes being made -- one fears numbness will set in before anything really funny happens. But then a crude hot dog-meets-bun joke hits its mark, and within moments of the song's end it's clear that this raunchy, raucous comedy -- a Seth Rogen/Evan Goldberg passion project directed by Conrad Vernon and Greg Tiernan -- is going somewhere."
 
John DeFore, Hollywood Reporter

SOME FREAKS - Walter Sickert
 
"There’s initially a little too much hand-held-camera 'immediacy,' but MacAllister-McDonald quickly finds his rhythm in an assured package that draws maximum authenticity from location shooting, as well as considerable texturing from both Walter Sickert’s original score and music supervisor Dan Wilcox’s flavorful various-artist tracks."
 
Dennis Harvey, Variety

STEP - Laura Karpman, Raphael Saadiq
 
"'Step' has been directed by Tony Award-winning Broadway producer Amanda Lipitz, who makes her feature-film directing debut here. Lipitz has made dozens of fundraising documentaries for philanthropic organizations over the years, and it’s difficult not to regard 'Step' in this light. At Sundance this year, the film won a Special Jury Award for Inspirational Filmmaking, adding to its cachet as a promotional device. This is not meant as a knock on the film as much as an acknowledgment of its limitations as an unfettered documentary. Accepting these limitations, however, in no way impedes a viewer’s desire to stomp and clap along with these Lethal Ladies. The music by Raphael Saadiq also belongs in the film’s plus column, helping to make 'Step' one of the feel-good documentaries of the year."
 
Marjorie Baumgarten, The Austin Chronicle

THE NEXT TEN DAYS IN L.A.

Screenings of older films, at the following L.A. movie theaters: AMPASAmerican Cinematheque: AeroAmerican Cinematheque: EgyptianArclightArena CineloungeLACMALaemmleNew BeverlyNuart and UCLA.

September 21
HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH (Stephen Trask) [Nuart]
IMAGINE [Cinematheque: Aero]
RED DESERT (Giovanni Fusco), IL GRIDO (Giovanni Fusco) [Cinematheque: Egyptian]

September 22
A HARD DAY'S NIGHT (The Beatles, George Martin) [Cinematheque: Aero]
THE PASSENGER, ZABRISKIE POINT [Cinematheque: Egyptian]
THE END OF OLD TIMES (Jisi Sust), THOSE WONDERFUL MOVIE CRANKS (Jiri Sust) [UCLA]

September 23
CHUNG KUO - CHINA [Cinematheque: Egyptian]
LISZTOMANIA (Rick Wakeman) [Cinematheque: Aero]
THE NEVERENDING STORY (Klaus Doldinger, Giorgio Moroder) [UCLA]
REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE (Leonard Rosenman) [Laemmle Ahyra Fine Arts]

September 24
FOOD, INC. (Mark Adler) [AMPAS]

September 25
MOONSTRUCK (Dick Hyman) [LACMA]
TWO-LANE BLACKTOP, ROBOCOP (Basil Poledouris) [LACMA]

September 26
ROSEMARY'S BABY (Christopher Komeda) [Laemmle Playhouse 7]

September 27
ABSURD (Carla Maria Cordio) [Cinematheque: Egyptian]
EASTERN PROMISES (Howard Shore), A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE (Howard Shore) [Cinematheque: Aero]
THE HOUSE ON SORORITY ROW (Richard Band) [Laemmle Monica]
THE HOUSE ON SORORITY ROW (Richard Band) [Laemmle NoHo]
SALESMAN [AMPAS]
WHAT'S UP, DOC? (Artie Butler) [Laemmle NoHo]
THE WICKER MAN (Paul Giovanni) [Cinematheque: Egyptian]

September 28
MY SWEET LITTLE VILLAGE (Jiri Sust), SECLUDED NEAR WOODS (Jiri Sust) [UCLA]
STRANGERS ON A TRAIN (Dimitri Tiomkin), SHADOW OF A DOUBT (Dimitri Tiomkin) [Cinematheque: Aero]
THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE (Wayne Bell, Tobe Hooper) [Nuart]

September 29
AKIRA (Yamashiro Shoji) [Cinematheque: Egyptian]
CAPRICIOUS SUMMER (Jiri Sust), CUTTING IT SHORT (Jiri Sust) [UCLA]
DEAD RINGERS (Howard Shore) [Cinematheque: Egyptian]
NORTH BY NORTHWEST (Bernard Herrmann), THE WRONG MAN (Bernard Herrmann) [Cinematheque: Aero]
THEY CAME FROM WITHIN, RABID, THE BROOD (Howard Shore), SCANNERS (Howard Shore) [Cinematheque: Egyptian]

September 30
BATTLE OF THE BULGE (Benjamin Frankel) [Arclight Hollywood]
BUBBA HO-TEP (Brian Tyler) [Cinematheque: Egyptian]
THE FLY (Howard Shore), NAKED LUNCH (Howard Shore) [Cinematheque: Egyptian]
FRENZY (Ron Goodwin), FAMILY PLOT (John Williams) [Cinematheque: Aero]


THINGS I'VE HEARD, READ, SEEN OR WATCHED LATELY

More of the programs on my "B-list" that I've been watching lately:

Action - "Twelfth Step to Hell." There was a period when the two movie producers who were truly brand names were Jerry Bruckheimer and Joel Silver, and naturally enough both of them made ventures into television. In TV, Bruckheimer found financial success that dwarfs his movie blockbusters, as CSI and its various spinoffs have run a combined 35 seasons. Silver has never had that level of TV success, but conversely, two of his relatively short-lived series are actually top-notch shows and among the very best works with his name on them, with the three seasons of Veronica Mars becoming such a cult favorite that a Kickstarter campaign helped finance a feature film sequel, while Action is one of the most honest -- and arguably the funniest -- TV portraits of the movie industry ever. Jay Mohr (as the producer) and Illeana Douglas (as the child-star-turned-prostitute-turned-development-executive) give career-great performances throughout the series, and this particular episode, written by Will Forte, has a priceless scene in which Mohr and Scott Wolf argue about whether Wolf is too short to be an action star.

Alfred Hitchcock Presents - "The Case of Mr. Pelham." An episode directed by Hitchcock himself, based on the short story that also inspired the off-beat pre-Bond Roger Moore vehicle The Man Who Haunted Himself. Tom Ewell plays a man who discovers his life is slowly being taken over by an exact double -- not even an imposter, but basically a more successful version of himself. It's not an especially stylish episode but it's very effective, with an especially creepily calm, low-key quality that makes it seem like a waking nightmare. (Though having seen Tom Ewell discussed in the recent documentary Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood, one tends to view him in a somewhat different light.)

Alias - "The Box, Part 1." It is odd that, considering his success in television is what led to his enormously successful feature career, I have yet to really warm up to any of J.J. Abrams' TV series. I have Alias, Fringe and Lost in my "B-list" DVD/Blu-Ray viewing rotation, and though every episode of each show is well produced, moderately clever and more than competent, I have no problem waiting 9-12 months to watch the next episode. This particular two-parter is so explicitly a Die Hard homage that the villains drive up in a truck that says McTIERNAN'S on its side. The villain is similar to Javier Bardem's character in Skyfall -- an agent captured, left for dead and tortured, who turns against his former bosses -- but strangely enough is played by Quentin Tarantino, which was proabably a publicity coupt at the time of its airing but rather reduces his potential menace. I have to admit, Alias kind of lost me from the pilot -- between Jennifer Garner telling her fiance about her top-secret spy job and her fiance drunkenly blabbing about it on an answering machine, I immediately lost all belief and interest in our heroine, and the fiance's murder seemed less tragic than justified. The production values are impressive, it's great to hear early Giacchino music, and Victor Garber's understated performance is particularly stellar (especially since I've seen him give much broader performances on stage), but I'll be very surprised if reaching the end of season one makes me want to watch season two.

Archer - "Diversity Hire." An early episode in a consistently hilarous series whose greatest asset is its voice cast, particularly the irreplaceable H. Jon Benjamin as Sterling Mallory Archer.

Banacek - "Let's Hear It for a Living Legend." The first of the regular Banacek "NBC Mystery Movies," and like the pilot movie it was directed by Jack Smight. The mystery this time involves a pro football player who disappears in the middle of a tackle, and as with most Banaceks it's utterly improbable and quite charming (despite the often creepy sexual politics of the era), especially due to George Peppard's performance. He and his chauffer (Ralph Manza) have one of the least sentimental detective-and-sidekick relationships of all time -- the chauffer is kind of an idiot, and Banacek treats him with barely disguised contempt. Holmes and Watson it ain't.

Band of Brothers - "Day of Days." I'm watching this series for a second time, and one of the surprise pleasures is how many famous UK actors pop up, often in substantial roles, many years before they were famous -- particularly Michael Fassbender, Tom Hardy, James McAvoy and Simon Pegg. In this particular episode, the inevitable likeable-young-American-solider-doomed-to-die-before-the-end-credits is none other than Andrew Scott, the Moriarty to Cumberbatch's Sherlock (Cumberbatch himself is practically the only actor who doesn't show up, but then his TV/film career didn't begin until a year after Band).

Battlestar Galactica - "Litmus." One of the many great things about this series is its moral ambiguity. In this early episode, a tribunal is instituted after a series of sabotage incidents, to determine if there are any Cylon spies in the crew. At the end, Adama shuts down the tribunal, proclaiming it a "witch hunt" (with apparent but obviously unstatated parallels to the McCarthy hearings), but in fact it's not a witch hunt -- there are actual Cylon saboteurs on board (including one of the principal suspects), there is actual sabotage, and virtually all of the people who testify are lying for one reason or another, keeping the female officer conducting the tribunal from actually finding the guilty party (her character is never seen again in the series, but as far as I'm concerned she's the hero of the episode, and her character must have spent the next few seasons offscreen shaking her head and muttering "Told you so.").

Combat - "Rear Echelon Commandos." Another episode directed by Robert Altman, who gained much of his pre-features experience on this show, and featuring John Considine, who co-wrote Altman's A Wedding and had far more writing credits than I'd ever realized (including a Combat episode). Watching Vic Morrow in this and The Glass House (where he gave a chilling performance as the convict leader with his eye on young Kristoffer Tabori -- "It's either me, or everyone," he warns Tabori) makes it even sadder that he's more remembered for his tragic death than for his truly underrated talent. 

Deadwood - "Bullock Returns to the Camp." Watching this first season episode for the second time has inspired me to move the series up to my A-list rotation, the show is that great. With so many fantastic performances and performers, it seems churlish to single out just one, but Ian McShane as Al Swearengen is one of the most truly unforgettable characters in television history. But I'd hate myself for not mentioning Robin Weigert's revelatory work as Calamity Jane.

Extras - "Patrick Stewart." For anyone who wants to know what life in the entertainment industry is actually like, I'd recommend the first of the Steve Coogan/Rob Bryden The Trip movies, and the Extras series finale. This particular episode, the first season finale, is a typical episode mixing superbly cringe-worthy moments with genuine hilarity, especially Sir Patrick Stewart explaining his screenplay idea about a man with Professor X-type abilities who uses them exclusively to remove women's clothing ("but even before she can get her knickers on, I've seen everything."). There's a particularly great running joke about Stewart's disbelief when people don't understand his "Make it so" quips ("You're not married, you haven't got a girlfriend... and you've never watched 'Star Trek'?")

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Comments (1):Log in or register to post your own comments
Extras- The Patrick Stewart ep, the Ian McKellan ep, the George Michael ep (Is that the finale?), and the Kate Winslet ep (because she did win the Oscar for just this thing).

Action is a must see as an acid slice of Hollywood. We don't see enough of Illeana Douglas on screen (and we now know why).

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