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The fourth Blu-ray volume of “Masters of Horror” featuring Takashi Miike’s too-disturbing-for-Showtime “Imprint,” $21.49 in 2010 and $19.99 last year, has fallen to its lowest price ever: $4.99 (75% Off!!)
New This Week
Look at this! “Downton Abbey’s” third season is still airing on PBS, but here’s the Blu-ray already. Shirley MacLaine was pretty wonderful as Martha Levinson, the American trying to talk sense to these wacky Englishers. Will she be back later in the season? Pick this up to learn!
I also hear this set contains a lot of episode footage not shown on PBS. That makes me nuts. PBS can’t run a show till 10:05 p.m.? I love Laura Linney, but do we really need those introductions instead of actual drama?
There’s much to love about the PG-13 “The Dark Knight Returns Part 2,” which serves as a smashing antidote to the flaccid nonsense I associate with “The Dark Knight Rises.”
“Lost’s” Michael Emerson wonderfully brings the Joker into this future universe and brings a perfect end to his story. I love how ugly and creepily sentient his flying kiddie robots seem to be. And I love that he tortures Catwoman by dressing her up like Wonder Woman.
Two old Justice Leaguers turn up – Clark Kent and Oliver Queen – to great effect. Here Clark is like Dr. Manhattan, crushing a third-world nation under orders of a cadaverous Ronald Reagan. I love the way Clark and Bruce deal with their new status as frenemies.
I love that Bruce Wayne seems to have somehow gotten hold of one of Hourman’s Miraclo pills.
I love that Bruce pauses in the middle of a harrowing situation to give Fat Selina Kyle one last kiss.
I love that Clark gives Carrie Kelly a parting wink, much as he did at the end of the Superman/Aquaman hours of yore.
“Superman Vs. Batman: When Heroes Collide” (9:24) makes some nice points about what the two comic-book icons are really up to during their final, epic confrontation -- and correctly points out that while The Joker kills a lot of people in this story, Superman kills more.
“The Joker: Laughing In The Face Of Death” (14:05) tells us The Joker is a descendant of sorts of Prometheus and the trickster god Loki – and in “The Dark Knight Returns” he’s an omnisexual rock star of a character.
“Exploring The Adaptation Process” (43:30) features the director of “Dark Knight Returns” as he discusses translating the source material. He says he tried to give the adaptation the feeling that it was made in the 1980s even if it wasn’t set in the 1980s.
“The Last Laugh” (22:20) An episode of “Batman: The Animated Series.”
“The Man Who Killed Batman” (22:19) An episode of “Batman: The Animated Series.”
“Battle of the Superheroes” (22:57) An episode of “Batman: The Brave and the Bold.”
This was the better of last season's two new network series set in 1963, but it’s no “Mad Men.”
The period visuals are occasionally striking but, as with NBC’s 1963-set “Playboy Club,” the cast of characters in ABC’s 1963-set “Pan Am” feel flat, derivative and uninspired.
There’s a subplot about the U.S. government using stewardesses as spies. It feels hacky, as if Matt Weiner decided Don Draper’s hidden life would be something akin to a part-time James Bond or something.
Nancy Hult Ganis, a Pam Am stew in the late 1960s and early 1970s and one of the show’s producers, insists this sort of CIA recruitment really went on, but this series needs to put more emphasis on the flight crew’s inner lives than low-boil espionage if it wants me to stick around.
Writer-producer Jack Orman, who did a stellar job overseeing early seasons of “ER,” is “Pan Am” showrunner. The fabulous Kelli Garner (“Lars and the Real Girl”) and Christina Ricci (“Black Snake Moan”) play hot stews.
I like seeing again the Pan Am logos, brilliantly and memorably exploited in everything from Kubrick’s “2001” to Spielberg’s “Catch Me If You Can.” (Sinatra’s “Fly Me To The Moon” is utilized for both “Catch Me” and “Pan Am,” but in “2001” Pan Am actually got interplanetary commuter Heywood Floyd part way to Clavius.) Unlike Playboy, the Pan Am brand isn’t really with us anymore; the airline shut down in 1991 and its distinctive Midtown Manhattan skyscraper (opened in 1963) has been adorned since 1992 with the MetLife logo.
I’m willing to give “Pan Am” a few episodes to stabilize itself. It’s already flying higher than “Brothers & Sisters.”
... As with "Playboy Club," "Pan Am" has an impressive central set in the large recreation of the cabin of a Pan Am Clipper jet of the era, and smooth, engaging direction from "West Wing"/"Sports Night" veteran Tommy Schlamme. … The script, by "ER" veteran Jack Orman, is less memorable ...
... struck me as well-made but somewhat insubstantial. It's certainly miles better than the laughable 'Playboy Club,' but BBC America's 'The Hour' may well have served any need I had for a retro drama with espionage overtones. ...
... not fully formed characters so much as stick figures borrowed from a Rona Jaffe novel. ... the espionage feels like padding … usually period shows pick through the past to meditate on the present, whether it’s examining generational rites of passage or critiquing the Vietnam War at a safe remove. “Pan Am” doesn’t say much of anything about the current state of the nation except that our best days are behind us.
... I am almost ashamed to say how well it all worked it on me, but when Maggie told Kate, as they took off for London, "Buckle up, adventure calls," I was ready to consider a new career.
... the show's writers need to replace character types for the women with credible, nuanced and engaging characters per se. We need to care more about their personal lives and who they are as individuals. Beneath all the visual dazzle of the premiere episode, a bit of the groundwork is there, but Schlamme and Orman need to build on it very soon. ...
... a handsome study in perfect mediocrity. ...
... Every television series launches on a wing and a prayer, perhaps none more than this entertaining, glossy drama. …
... If you really want to turn viewers on, re-create the consumer experience. The 1963-set drama “Pan Am” captures that magical time when flying was a grand adventure and not something you dreaded more than a colonoscopy. ...
… The romance and the attractively stylized innocence of the era is addictive, but the espionage plot, with its link to political history, is absurd. And the female empowerment message grows feeble. …
... a series where surface is substance, and surfaces don't come much dreamier than in this beautifully realized flight fantasy, from its lovely, terror-free airport to its even lovelier cast. ...
... If Mad Men (its stylistic predecessor) burrows under the surface of the swinging '60s, Pan Am is all surface, a sleek globe-trotting romance of the Jet Age...
... The image of stewardesses walking in synchronized step makes for an arresting promo, but this bird is a hollow shell whose pilot, anyway, never gets off the ground. … with its engines whirling so frantically, about all "Pan Am" can do initially is spin around in circles.
… has neither the exactitude of the times nor the talent of the writers to get at the issues, ala Mad Men, that illuminate the issues of the day. ... The attempt, as it were, to add some gravitas to the fetishism of hip nostalgia (as opposed to going under the surface) comes in the form of one flight attendant asked to be a spy for the United States government. To which the natural response should be, “Hmm, didn’t think you’d choose that option.” And then maybe some really loud laughing. ...
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