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8/10
A Straight Forward Story
30 July 2019
Warning: Spoilers
Shortly after Romana regenerates, the Doctor and Romana find themselves on a mostly desolate world, only to find that the world is being visited by another race.

One of a number of criticisms about this episode was that Romana's regeneration was executed in a manner which was perceived as being too frivolous. However, some fans were quick to point out that it was similar in some ways to the fourth Doctor's regeneration at the end of "Logopolis" or Kam-Po's regeneration in "Planet of the Spiders." At any rate, Romana's regeneration was a brief opening scene which certainly spawned theories among fans. Fans have always had a knack for explaining away any inconsistencies. After her regeneration, Romana didn't seem to display any of the signs of disorientation, which the Doctor frequently displayed after his regenerations. Perhaps, the difference was that Romana's regeneration was a matter of choice as opposed to the Doctor's regenerations, which were more commonly a consequence of injury or depletion.

During Lalla Ward's first episode as the new incarnation of Romana, her character initially seemed somewhat less assertive compared to the previous version played by Mary Tamm. However, Ward's Romana generally made a very favorable first impression and later went on to become one of the fourth Doctor's more memorable companions. Lalla Ward and Tom Baker displayed a great deal of on-screen chemistry which apparently carried over into their real lives, resulting in a brief marriage between the two.

Other frequent criticisms of the episode pertained to its production values. The Daleks showed signs of damage from having been kept in storage since the previous Dalek story. One could certainly argue that the Daleks in this episode were simply a bit more battle-weary. Since many aspects to the show's production values had varied greatly over the years, this was not necessarily a major issue for this story.

The episode had a good straight-forward story. It was well-paced with plenty of mysteries and moments of suspense. As always, Tom Baker's Doctor relieved moments of tension with his unique sense of humor. The design of the Movellan ship was clever; and, the Movellans themselves were well realized. In spite of whatever criticisms some people might have had about the Daleks, they were as menacing as ever in this episode, with their abrupt appearance being quite jarring. This episode also featured another example of a "Doctor Who" tradition in which outdoor scenes of an alien planet were filmed in a quarry.

This first episode did a good job of setting up all of the problems which the Doctor and Romana would later have to solve. In spite of any perceived flaws in the overall story, this episode was a good start to an enjoyable adventure.
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The Music Box (1932)
10/10
The Comedy Duo's Best Movie
17 April 2019
Warning: Spoilers
In this film, the comedy duo of Laurel and Hardy play a pair of delivery men who are in charge of delivering a large crated player piano. The two discover that they have to carry the piano up a long flight of stairs. A number of hilarious mishaps occur when the two encounter an assortment of obstacles as well as other characters along the way.

Laurel and Hardy appeared in a number of classic films, all of which are highly recommended. None were better than this film, which was easily one of the funniest comedy films ever made. In simplest terms, watching this film is a source of pure joy. The comedy is well timed; and, the film is well paced. This film is probably the most iconic of the many Laurel and Hardy pictures. If a person gets an opportunity to see only one Laurel and Hardy film during his or her lifetime, this is probably the one to see.
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Trackdown: The End of the World (1958)
Season 1, Episode 30
9/10
A Fascinating Episode
22 January 2019
Warning: Spoilers
In this episode, a man comes to town claiming that he can save the residents from the coming end of the world. The residents of the town are driven to the point of panic and are willing to do anything to save themselves. Texas Ranger, Hoby Gilman, is skeptical of the man's claims.

The story about the Texas Ranger's attempts to debunk the man's apocalyptic claims is a story about human nature itself. Facing a possible threat, frightened people will give into fear rather than respond rationally. In the absence of information, people will respond desperately to any threats which they do not understand.

The story itself is riveting. The Texas Ranger's problem of convincing the frightened citizens of the fraudulent nature of the apocalyptic claims is an interesting one. One moral of the story is that fantastic claims need to be supported by solid evidence.

In 2019, interest in this episode increased due to comparisons between the con man in this episode and the 45th U.S. President. Of course, any similarities between a sitting U.S. President and a character in a 61 year old television episode were strictly coincidental; since, one of the episode's morals was that supernatural claims are false.

The episode is very entertaining. Robert Culp is always excellent in any role that he plays. Lawrence Dobkin is great in the role of the con man. The story also comes with a great message about the need for skepticism in the face of fantastic claims. This episode is highly recommended.
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Doctor Who: Resolution (2019)
Season 11, Episode 11
7/10
The Return of a Familiar Villain
22 January 2019
Warning: Spoilers
In this episode, a creature from an archeological dig site attaches itself to an archeologist's back. The creature forces the woman to become its servant to help it complete its mission on Earth.

The return of a familiar villain during the Whittaker era of the show was very much welcomed by long-time fans of the series. The overall feel of Whittaker's first season of "Doctor Who" was much different from those of previous eras of the show. While new approaches do keep a long-running show fresh, the complete absence of familiar Whovian foes during Whittaker's first season sometimes left dedicated fans feeling somewhat alienated. Older fans often felt as if they were watching a completely different show. The return of a familiar enemy at least reminded fans that they were still watching "Doctor Who."
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Doctor Who: Twice Upon a Time (2017)
Season 11, Episode 0
9/10
A Fitting Farewell to the Twelfth Doctor
7 November 2018
Warning: Spoilers
The twelfth Doctor is struggling with the idea of enduring yet another regeneration when he suddenly encounters his original self in Antarctica. The two Doctors spend time together solving new mysteries while facing their respective personal dilemmas.

Overall, Peter Capaldi's final episode was a fitting farewell to the twelfth Doctor. The meeting between the twelfth and first Doctors was filled with moments of humor as well as personal reflection. The moments of nostalgia were very fun for long-time fans of the television series. The use of old Hartnell-era footage merged with new footage was seamlessly done and added an additional element of fun to the episode. The ending of the episode was filled with moments of sentiment and emotion.

Public interest in regeneration episodes tends to be higher than usual; and, this episode was no exception. Had the BBC chosen to not reveal the identity of Capaldi's successor months before this episode was first aired, the impact of the episode's final scene would have been increased considerably. As it was, public interest was still greater than usual because of the specific identity of Capaldi's successor. While the thirteenth Doctor's identity was of no surprise, fans were still interested in seeing how the historic transition between the two actors was eventually accomplished.

Overall, this episode provided a very satisfying end to the era of Capaldi's incarnation of the Doctor. It was filled with humor as well as touching moments for one of the show's more underrated Doctors. It was time for the twelfth Doctor to say goodbye and for fans to catch a brief glimpse of changes to come.
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Doctor Who: The Woman Who Fell to Earth (2018)
Season 11, Episode 1
8/10
A Great Start for the Thirteenth Doctor
7 November 2018
Warning: Spoilers
After the thirteenth Doctor falls to Earth, she discovers an alien presence which is threatening the lives of people in Sheffield. The Doctor deals with the puzzle of why the aliens are there as she also figures out who she is after her recent regeneration.

The inaugural episode of Jodie Whittaker's incarnation of the Doctor proved to be a good one for the series. The choice of a woman to take over the role of the long-running Doctor character was a controversial one for some fans. However, Whittaker appeared to be quite comfortable and "at home" in the role.

The show's new show runner, Chris Chibnall, made very efficient use of the time within the episode. He told an engaging story while introducing a new set of very well developed companion characters. Within a short time, fans were not only introduced to the new companions but were given reason to feel an emotional connection to the characters. Furthermore, Chibnall gave the episode a feel which was more comparable to that of a British drama series than to a more traditional "Doctor Who" episode. Chibnall accomplished a lot by introducing a few changes which promise to take "Doctor Who" in a new direction.

Overall, the episode was a great start for a new era of the show. Not only did it make history by fully introducing the first female Doctor, the episode also gave the series a very fresh feel. This episode is strongly recommended.
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7/10
Memorable Start to the Story about the Safe
23 January 2018
Warning: Spoilers
In this first episode in a multi-part story, Tony Nelson and Roger Healey are planning on leaving for a vacation trip to Italy. Their vacation is delayed when Jeannie is accidentally locked inside a NASA safe which is destined for a trip to the moon. In a race against time, Tony and Roger desperately seek a way to rescue Jeannie from the safe.

This was one of the stories from "I Dream of Jeannie" which I remembered more strongly from when I first saw the series as a child. The story was unusual in that it utilized more suspense when compared to most stories in the series. On some level, the suspense seemed to work. The episode ended on a cliffhanger which was fairly dramatic for the series.

The weak story did leave a number of unanswered questions. Why was NASA launching a safe to the moon? Why did a safe destined for the moon contain very little other than jars of candy (other than to give Jeannie something to eat)? Why was a safe containing jars of candy rigged to explode?

This was one of a number of stories in the series which was built upon a silly premise. The writers never bothered to do any research on the real space program to come up with a more plausible storyline; so, they threw together a silly premise instead. The suspense and character interactions did help salvage an otherwise ridiculous story concept, at least up to a point. Jeannie, Tony Nelson, and Roger Healey were always likable in every episode. The episode worked on some level if the viewer didn't think about the premise too deeply.
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The Orville (2017– )
10/10
A Science Fiction Drama with a Sense of Humor
28 November 2017
Warning: Spoilers
"The Orville" follows the interstellar adventures of the crew of the Orville. Every week, the crew encounters alien species and civilizations, and becomes involved in various predicaments. Described as a science-fiction comedy, the series accents the drama with a bit of humor.

Most viewers who read the show's description are likely to incorrectly assume that the series is a spoof of "Star Trek." The series is more like a clone of "Star Trek," but with a sense of humor. Although the show is a comedy, the show's drama is written well enough to appease most serious science-fiction fans. While some viewers might be inclined to describe the series as being a "Star Trek" ripoff, the truth is that the series actually feels a lot more like "Star Trek" than do the more recent movies in the official "Star Trek" franchise.

This is a well executed science-fiction series. The tongue-in-cheek humor pokes fun at situations commonly seen in other science-fiction shows. However, the stories are done intelligently enough to where science-fiction fans can become thoroughly involved with them. The production values are excellent; and, the acting is well done. Anyone who feels disappointed by other recent entries in the sci-fi genre will be pleasantly surprised by this series. The show is a lot of fun and is highly recommended!
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Hazel (1961–1966)
8/10
Forgotten But Entertaining
7 November 2017
Warning: Spoilers
In this 1960's sitcom, Shirley Booth stars as the maid named Hazel who serves a family of three. While Hazel has a tendency to ignore authority, she tends to know what is best for the family. Despite occasional differences of opinion, the family and Hazel feel great affection for each other.

Although reliably funny and entertaining, "Hazel" tends to be one of the less remembered American sitcoms from the 1960's. Most of the reason for this is that the series was usually never shown in syndicated reruns, probably due to the fact that it ran for only four seasons with the original cast. The relative popularity or quality of a television series often has little bearing on how well the series is remembered decades later.

The characters played by Don DeFore and Whitney Blake were replaced when "Hazel" was moved from NBC to CBS. Afterwards, the series did not survive beyond that final season. This was another example of a television show's longevity being cut short by significant retooling.

Overall, "Hazel" is a very entertaining show. Shirley Booth is perfectly cast as Hazel. All of the show's characters are likable. Since the sitcom was rarely shown in syndication, most of it is probably entirely new to modern TV viewers. "Hazel" is definitely well worth watching.
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8/10
A Classic Which Grows on You
21 March 2017
In this American sitcom, George Burns and Gracie Allen bring their "Burns and Allen" radio program to television. George Burns, Gracie Allen, and their son (Ronnie Burns) essentially play themselves. The Burns family and their friends constantly find themselves involved in situations which are usually the result of Gracie's state of perpetual confusion.

Many modern audiences have difficulty watching old television sitcoms from the 1950's. The acting seems a bit strange; and, the situations seem a bit exaggerated. One of the reasons why the old sitcoms seem so different from modern ones is that the shows from the fifties were essentially radio programs which were performed in front of television cameras. Audiences might notice that the actors' diction in the old sitcoms is different. Anyone who closes his or her eyes and listens to the audio from a 1950's sitcom will notice that the audio often sounds exactly like a radio show. Furthermore, many of the scenes on Burns' and Allen's show were essentially stand up comedy routines.

Members of modern audiences might be somewhat disappointed by George Burns' character in this sitcom. Many probably know George Burns better from his solo period following Gracie Allen's death. While performing alone, Burns proved himself to be a very funny comedian. During his earlier Burns and Allen period, George Burns usually served as the straight man to the ditzy character played by Gracie Allen. While Burns did demonstrate some of his dry wit during the Burns and Allen era, he also seemed a bit more subdued while reacting to the peculiar things which were said by Allen's character. People need to remember that this was a different period in George Burns' career; and, anyone who gives this show a chance will learn to appreciate Burns' role as a member of a comedy duo.

Some audience members might have difficulty coping with Gracie Allen's character. Many might be irritated by the character's unrelentingly ditzy personality as well as constant state of confusion. For those people, her character might seem excessively silly or exasperating; and, they might wonder why the Burns character would tolerate being married to somebody who was so infuriating. Modern audiences must remember that the characters were developed for the Burns and Allen stand up routine, and were never intended to be subtle or well rounded.

"The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show" provides modern audiences with a fascinating look at television and comedy from an earlier era. Some viewers might find it difficult to get used to some aspects of the show. However, anyone who gives the show a chance will be rewarded; because, it has a way of growing on a person over time.
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9/10
A Satisfying Spin-Off to the Saga!
24 January 2017
Warning: Spoilers
This "Star Wars" spin-off tells one of the back stories to the fourth "Star Wars" episode, "A New Hope." It tells the story of the origins of the Death Star and of how the Rebellion acquired the plans to the Death Star. The film focuses on a group of characters who do not appear in any of the first six "Star Wars" films.

This first "Star Wars" spin-off film had many things going for it. Unlike the previous year's "The Force Awakens," this film had very little to prove, which meant that it was allowed to focus more on good storytelling. The media's emphasis on the regular episodes of the main "Star Wars" saga meant that far less about the plot of this film was divulged to the public. This movie featured more than one surprise, none of which will be disclosed here.

Although this movie was a spin-off, it was every bit as engaging as the regular episodes of the "Star Wars" saga. The characters were interesting and likable. The film featured a nice mixture of humor and drama. The space battle sequence as well as many other visuals in the film were spectacular.

While this film was not one of the episodes of the main saga, fans will undoubtedly find the film to be a very satisfying viewing experience. The characters engage the audience on an emotional level; and, the story is always exciting. It nicely fills the gap between episodes III and IV of the "Star Wars" saga. The film is highly recommended!
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The Martian (2015)
10/10
Riveting and Inspiring
24 January 2017
Warning: Spoilers
In this film, the crew of a Mars expedition mistakenly believes that a member of their crew is dead and leaves him behind on the surface of Mars. The marooned astronaut must find a way to let people on Earth know that he is still alive. With limited resources, he is forced to use his ingenuity to find a way to survive long enough to be rescued.

This film was reported to have been one of the most scientifically accurate space dramas ever created. Although the depiction of the Martian storm was exaggerated for dramatic effect, the means by which the stranded astronaut survived were based on research. The only question is whether or not an astronaut would have the knowledge to do all of those things without communications with Earth.

This film was riveting from start to finish. The notion of an astronaut being able to change his own fortunes through unrelenting hard work was inspiring. The visuals of the Martian setting gave movie goers a realistic feel for what it would be like to be on Mars. The 1970's music used in the film captured the mood of the various scenes perfectly. At times, the movie was uplifting and exhilarating. This was easily one of the best Mars exploration dramas ever made. This was one film which should not be missed. It is highly recommended!
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The Partridge Family (1970–1974)
8/10
A Family-Friendly Comedy
15 January 2017
Warning: Spoilers
This American sitcom is about a widowed mother and her five children. The family forms a rock band and goes on tour. Stories feature the family's home life as well as their lives as professional musicians.

In many ways, this series was comparable to another sitcom from the time called "The Brady Bunch." Both comedies featured families with a large number of kids. The child characters were frequently the focus of both shows, which is why they tended to attract younger audiences.

This series had strengths and weaknesses. While some of the show's stories were energetic and engaging, many of the plots often stretched credibility to the limit. The Partridge family's music was probably one of the reasons why the show later became a bit dated. After the time of Milli Vanilli, audiences became acutely aware that the actors in the series were not actually performing the music.

Most of the show's characters were interesting. The show's two teen stars became icons during the 1970's. Much of the show's humor came from the character of band manager, Reuben Kincaid.

The series is a family-friendly sitcom. Kids in the audience will be able to relate the show's younger characters. Older members of the audience will find the show to be a nostalgic viewing experience. This memorable series is recommended.
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The Flying Nun (1967–1970)
7/10
Charming and Entertaining
15 January 2017
Warning: Spoilers
This American sitcom revolves around a young woman who joined a convent. The young nun has the inexplicable ability to fly. Her flying ability is generally attributed to a quirk of aerodynamics rather than to a supernatural ability. However, this nun's unusual flying abilities are not always at the center of the show's story lines.

When I was growing up, I had heard about "The Flying Nun" but had never seen it at that time. Descriptions I had heard of the show had given me the impression that it was an absolutely awful television show. Once I finally had the chance to see it for the first time, I found the show to be a rather humorous novelty sitcom from the 1960's. Any negative criticisms I had heard about the series were probably attributable to the fact that some people apparently found the flying nun concept to be somewhat sacrilegious. However, I did not find the show to be the least bit offensive. The premise was a bit strange; but, the show itself was very gentle and light-hearted.

Sally Field was appealing in the role of the flying nun. The actress was very young when she played the role; and, her character had a very bubbly personality. The other characters and their interactions were also enjoyable to watch.

Overall, the comedy series was a charming example of 1960's television. The young nun's flying abilities were a peculiar aspect to the show; and, one had to sometimes wonder why the writers had given the nun these abilities in the first place. However, the stories were a lot of fun; and, and the series was very enjoyable to watch.
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Cosmos (1980)
10/10
An Awe Inspiring Science Series
29 December 2016
Warning: Spoilers
The title of this television science mini series says it all. It presents the cosmos as seen from a wide variety of scientific disciplines to give the television audience a perspective on the universe. Sagan shows the relationships between physics, astronomy, chemistry, and biology to demonstrate how everything in the familiar world came into being. The series is about the universe as well as the rise of sentient beings capable of perceiving it. Re-enactments of key discoveries in science present the viewer with a historical perspective on mankind's quest to understand the universe.

Carl Sagan's series uses imaginative tools to illustrate the scale of the cosmos. His journeys in the "Ship of the Imagination" demonstrate the true size of the universe. Similarly, Sagan's "Cosmic Calendar" renders the mind boggling length of time since the beginning of the universe into something more understandable by compressing cosmic history into the more familiar time scale of a single year. Both tools point to the fact that human beings and their planet make up a very small and fragile part of the cosmos.

Before this series, there had never been anything quite like it on television. Before "Cosmos: a Personal Voyage," there had been many science documentaries on television; and, some of those programs were excellent. However, most of those series focused on only one aspect of science and sometimes did so in a way which seemed coldly detached. This series was unusual in that it stirred the audience's emotions and inspired a sense of awe. The audience experienced Sagan's fears and hopes for future of the human race as he shared his beliefs that humanity could realize its potential by being vigilant to avoid its self-destructive tendencies. The series is more than an ordinary science documentary but is also the presentation of a vision.

This television series is a memorable viewing experience. Carl Sagan is articulate and sometimes poetic in his descriptions of the universe. The combination of Sagan's words as well as the music used in the series create an emotional viewing experience. Although some of the special effects of 1980 are somewhat dated, the visuals in the series are nevertheless stunning; and, most of the information presented in the series has managed to remain relevant in spite of the passing of decades since the series' original broadcast.

This series is both awe inspiring and humbling. It provides the viewer with a greater perspective on the universe and the viewers place within it. Ever since the broadcast of this mini series, many other science mini series have attempted to follow in its foot steps; but, no other science series on television has managed to capture the imagination in the way "Cosmos" has. Carl Sagan's science mini series is still the standard by which all others are compared and is highly recommended.
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StarTalk (2015– )
8/10
Science Made Approachable with Humor
28 December 2016
This American television program is a science and astronomy talk show hosted by astrophysicist, Neil deGrasse Tyson. The show features guests and entertainers, who help Tyson present the seemingly intimidating topic of science to a broader audience by injecting the topic with a bit of humor. Questions about science are answered using language which can be understood by non-scientists.

Neil deGrasse Tyson is the perfect host for a talk show about science. He has spent many years popularizing science. In many ways, Tyson has become the "Carl Sagan" of the twenty-first century, following Sagan's example of demystifying science and debunking junk science. Neil deGrasse Tyson has become one of the most easily recognized science figures in the media.

This talk show is for average people who are curious about science. Hardcore science buffs will probably find the show's presentation of science to be somewhat light compared to that of more serious science documentaries; while, other people with no interest in science will probably find the show's subject matter either overwhelming or even uninteresting. The target audience of this show is the group of people who fall somewhere in between these two extremes.

In an increasingly technologically-advanced society, scientific literacy is more important than ever. Decisions on many ballot issues require a knowledge of science. Neil deGrasse Tyson is the ideal choice to host a show which helps the audience sort through the confusing mixture of science, junk science, and superstition. "StarTalk" is more than an entertaining science talk show. It is a public service. The show is highly recommended!
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10/10
A Satisfying Conclusion to an Epic Adventure
27 December 2016
Warning: Spoilers
In the third and final part of "The Hobbit" trilogy, Bilbo Baggins and the Dwarfs finally achieve the goal of taking control of the Lonely Mountain. Once the dragon is dead, Thorin faces an even worse enemy... his own greed. When Thorin refuses to compensate the humans of Lakeside or to return the white gems to the Elves, hostilities are all but certain. Bilbo Baggins does what he can to defuse the situation.

Fans of the novel will not be disappointed by this film. People who had been awaiting a live action version of "The Hobbit" after seeing the 1977 animated version will be well rewarded for their patience. After seeing this final film in "The Hobbit" trilogy, audiences will also want to see the films of the earlier "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy.

In this film, the story reaches a very satisfying climax. Performances by the cast are perfect; and, the characters are always colorful and engaging. The battle sequences are intense. This third film concludes "The Hobbit" trilogy, which is arguably the best screen adaption ever made of J. R. R. Tolkien's novel. This film is highly recommended.
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10/10
The Journey Continues
24 December 2016
Warning: Spoilers
In this second installment of "The Hobbit" trilogy; Bilbo Baggins, Gandalf, and the Dwarfs continue their journey to the Lonely Mountain. The group encounters adversaries and obstacles along the way. Gandalf separates from the group; and, Bilbo and the Dwarfs eventually arrive at the Lonely Mountain, where they face the dragon.

This second part of the trilogy is just as captivating as the first. The cast give excellent performances. This film is filled with action and excitement. There are many moments of suspense. The imagery in the film is unforgettable, giving audiences the feeling of being lost in another world

This film truly captures the magic of J. R. R. Tolkien's novel. It never disappoints and leaves the audience wanting more. The second part of "The Hobbit" trilogy is highly recommended.
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10/10
Riveting Adventure
22 December 2016
Warning: Spoilers
In this film, Bilbo Baggins is enjoying a comfortable home life as most Hobbits aspire to do. Suddenly, he finds himself hosting a party for uninvited Dwarfs who enter his home. Galdalf invites Bilbo to join himself and the Dwarfs on an adventure to reclaim the Dwarfs' lost home.

This film was the first part of "The Hobbit" trilogy. It was directed Peter Jackson, who also directed "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy. Like the three "Lord of the Rings" films, this film was beautifully done. Great attention was paid to detail in terms of both visuals and storytelling. The acting was first rate; and, the story was riveting. No expense was spared in the production of this film.

Viewers of "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy will love this first installment of "The Hobbit" trilogy. Anyone else who has not yet seen "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy will want to do so after seeing this film. This is movie making at its best; and, the film is highly recommended!
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NBC News Overnight (1982– )
10/10
The Original Quirky Newscast Which Died Too Young
21 December 2016
During the early 1980's, NBC viewers could stay tuned after "Late Night with David Letterman" to enjoy one of the most unique newscasts on American television. Anchored by Lloyd Dobyns (later replaced by Bill Schechner) and Linda Ellerbee, "NBC News Overnight" was American television's first full length late night newscast; and, it was a newscast with a difference. Dobyns and Ellerbee presented the news in a tongue-in-cheek manner. The program had a sense of humor. In addition to the national headlines, this newscast presented some of the most unusual and quirky human interest stories on television.

Why was this newscast ultimately taken off the air? During the early 1980's, most television stations went off the air at around one in the morning; so, most people were not in the habit of staying up for an extra hour after Letterman's show to watch more television. At the time, there were no other late night newscasts; and, there were definitely no newscasts which broadcast throughout the overnight hours. In short, this newscast was an experiment; and, it was probably too far ahead of its time.

Those who managed to stay awake long enough to watch the news program will remember it fondly. The show's small number of fans will remember the show's warmth, humor, and intelligence. Its legacy lives on with other late night newscasts, including "ABC World News Now" (which followed in the footsteps of "Overnight"). And, so it goes!
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7/10
Otherworldly Palace Intrigue
21 December 2016
Warning: Spoilers
This science-fiction film focuses on the character of Jupiter Jones, who cleans toilets for a living but yearns for a better life. Learning that she is royalty is probably startling enough in itself; and, her new status offers her the possibility of the kind of life about which she had only dreamed. However, Jupiter is shocked when she learns how the human population of the Earth fits into the broader scheme of things.

In many ways, this film feels like "Dune" meets "Cinderella." Like the 1984 film, "Dune;" this movie is very otherworldly and is occasionally a bit disorienting. Some members of the audience will probably find themselves experiencing alien culture shock. Following aspects of the story sometimes requires an unusual amount of concentration on the part of the viewer. Like "the Matrix," this film often feels a bit surreal as well.

The film is visually stunning. It does an excellent job of creating the look and feel of an alien world. However, the viewer never gets to know the members of Jupiter Jones' family very well. The backstory about Jupiter Jones' father seems a bit rushed; and the explanation behind Jupiter's given name seems a bit forced. In the role of Jupiter Jones, Mila Kunis plays the part of a fish-out-of-water quite well in the face of an alien world, filled with politics and intrigue. However, Kunis' character of Jupiter Jones does seem to adapt to her unusual circumstances rather quickly.

This film is often complicated. The audience will probably benefit from repeated viewings of the film. Although imperfect, the movie has many points in its favor. Less patient members of the audience will probably find the film too confusing to follow; while, more attentive audience members will probably be rewarded for their efforts.
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8/10
A Fascinatingly Inaccurate Forecast of the Future
18 December 2016
Warning: Spoilers
This 1989 sequel to the 1985 film, "Back to the Future," features the continuing adventures of Marty McFly and Doc Brown. In this film, Marty must travel from 1985 to the year 2015 to help his own son. Through an act of carelessness, Marty initiates a chain of events which alters events prior to 1985. Marty and Doc must return to 1955 to repair the damage to their own history.

Although entertaining, this second film wasn't quite as good as the first and third films in the series. The character, Jennifer Parker, did little except faint a lot in the movie; so, the inclusion of the character in the story seemed a bit puzzling. The older versions of the characters from the year 2015 were depicted in an over- the-top manner, rendering them somewhat less credible. The future characters seemed more like parodies of the younger versions from the earlier film, which diminished the audience's ability to engage with them on any emotional level. However, the story of the lives of the future characters of this film was intended to be only a backdrop to the more interesting story about Marty McFly, Professor Brown, and Biff from 1985.

While this second film was arguably the weakest of the three "Back to the Future" films; this film still managed to become a source of interest as it approached the date, October 21, 2015 (the future date depicted in the 1989 film). Audiences of 2015 were amused by some of the film's 26-year-old predictions which proved to be wildly inaccurate. Audiences of the year 2015 also had the opportunity to compare how well the actors had actually aged in real life compared to the way they were artificially aged using makeup and prosthetics in 1989.

In spite of its flaws, the second film in the "Back to the Future" trilogy still manages to be fun. The film is well paced; and, the time paradox problem is interesting. Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, and Thomas Wilson put in great performances. The film's forecasts of the future as well as its re-creation of scenes from the first film provide points of interest for the audience. The film is a fascinating entry in the trilogy which audiences will enjoy!
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10/10
The Emotional Journey of a Man of Reason
16 December 2016
Warning: Spoilers
This film tells the story of the early years of Cambridge cosmologist, Stephen Hawking. It starts from the time when Hawking was a student at Cambridge, where he met his future wife, Jane Wilde. From there, the film depicts the events surrounding his diagnosis with Lou Gehrig's followed by his marriage to Jane. It concludes with Hawking's rise to fame after the publication of his book.

Viewing of this movie is an emotional experience for the audience. Stephen Hawking and the people from his life are well portrayed; and, the chemistry between them seems very real and involving. The depiction of the events from Stephen Hawking's life is well done, making them seem more tangible. The most remarkable aspect of the film is the way actor, Eddie Redmayne, physically transforms throughout the film as he depicts the progression of Hawking's illness. The viewer is left with a greater appreciation of the physical challenges which Hawking faced.

The viewing of this movie is a very satisfying experience. The characters are very likable. The audience is left with a feeling of empathy for the characters because of the difficulties which they faced. The film is highly recommended.
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6/10
The First Star Wars Spin-Off and Boba Fett's Screen Debut
13 December 2016
Warning: Spoilers
In this made-for-TV holiday special, Han Solo is trying to evade Imperial forces to get Chewbacca home to his family in time for Life Day. Most of the main cast members of "Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope" appear as their "Star Wars" characters in this program. The TV special features musical numbers as well as a few well known comedy stars.

People watching this holiday special will have ambivalent feelings. As a holiday special (setting aside the fact that this production has any link to "Star Wars"), it is cute enough to where young children might enjoy it. As a "Star Wars" spin-off, hardcore "Star Wars" fans are certain to be disappointed. On one hand, it features the original main "Star Wars" characters from the time when the actors were in their prime; and for that reason alone, "Star Wars" fans are going to want to see this special out of curiosity (if for no other reason). On the other hand, no "Star Wars" fan would ever take this special seriously and would not consider it to be a part of the "Star Wars" canon. However, it cannot be dismissed entirely; because as surprising as it may sound, it was this holiday special (not "The Empire Strikes Back") which introduced the "Star Wars" character, Boba Fett.

Some "Star Wars" fans may wonder, "Why was this holiday special made?" First, it was the 1970's (an era of ugly clothes, bad-looking hair styles, and disco music). This special was just one of the many things from the 1970's which were difficult to understand unless you lived through that time period. Second, only one "Star Wars" film had been released before this special was made; and, the first "Star Wars" film would not be shown on television until four years after this special was broadcast. Third, VCR technology was still too expensive to be common in most homes. The second and third points were the most important in explaining this holiday special; because, people were not able rent or buy copies of the original "Star Wars" film to watch in their own homes. For those reasons, some fans of the first film were probably thrilled to be able to see anything related to "Star Wars" on television in 1978.

Is this holiday special as bad as some people say that it is? Once again, "Star Wars" fans will be disappointed with much of it. There isn't a lot of story in this special; and, much of it seems too silly and frivolous to be taken seriously. Many of the special effects scenes were nothing more than clips taken from the first "Star Wars" film. Compared to the original "Star Wars" film, the production quality of this special looks pretty cheesy; and, watching this special will probably cause fans of the first film to cringe. Some of the special's live action sequences bear a resemblance to the live action Saturday morning shows of the 1970's. Much of the special is musical; and, some people simply do not like any kind of musical. Many will not like this special for all of these reasons as well as others. On the other hand, if you do not take it too seriously, you might think that it is cute enough to enjoy during the holidays.

The bottom line is this. Many hardcore "Star Wars" fans are not going to like this special at all. On the other hand, it is a gentle holiday special which some families and their children might enjoy. The best advice which can be offered is that if a hardcore "Star Wars" fan is watching this program with small children in the room, the fan should refrain from expressing opinions about the show in order to allow the children to enjoy it. If anyone has kids who like "Star Wars," the kids might enjoy this special as well
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8/10
Magical Family Fun
13 December 2016
Warning: Spoilers
This American sitcom is about young witch named Sabrina. During much of the show's run, Sabrina is a high school student who lives with her two aunts, Hilda and Zelda, as well as a warlock-turned-cat named Salem. Towards the end of the series, the two aunts depart from Sabrina's life as she enters the working world.

The show was originally part of ABC's Friday night "TGIF" line-up, which featured sitcoms targeted at younger audiences. Episodes of this show often featured Sabrina getting into ethical dilemmas because of situations created by her magic. The problems were usually resolved through a combination of magic and an application of morality. Sabrina's two aunts usually offered her advice as she was learning about life as well as about the rules and limitations of being a witch. Much of the show's humor came from Salem, the wise-cracking talking black cat.

The show's earliest years were probably the best. During Sabrina's high school years, her interactions with her aunts were enjoyable to watch. This period during the show's history provided a nice balance between Sabrina's home life in the world of witches and her school life in the world of mortals. Once her aunts were gone, Sabrina and Salem were forced to live in secrecy in a world of mortals. Without the presence of other witches, Sabrina seemed more solitary and perhaps more lonely.

This sitcom was probably the best of ABC's "TGIF" shows. It was one of the last comedy shows to be featured on "TGIF." The series remained in production beyond the end of the "TGIF" line-up, switching networks from ABC to the WB. Like a lot of "TGIF" shows, this series tended to focus more on storytelling than on in-depth character development.

The series is a great family show which is always kid-friendly. The characters and the special effects are always a lot of fun. The series is recommended for the entire family.
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