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Number 88 (Vol 2, No. 48).  This edition is for the week of November 26--December 2, 2001.
"The Phantom Menace" the second time around. The FOX TV broadcast
PLUS: "R2D2: Under the Dome"--what the hell was THAT about?

FOX TV had a likely ratings-sweep bonanza last Sunday scoring the television premiere of "Star Wars: Episode 1--The Phantom Menace". All commercial-time included, it ran around 2 hours and 45 minutes. To round off 3 hours, the remaining 15 minutes was devoted to a weird little "documentary" spoof called "R2D2: Under the Dome". More on that nightmare in a bit.

PCR and filmmaking colleague, Terence Nuzum, and I were among other crazed fans waiting in lawn chairs outside the now-defunct Britton Cinema to see the first midnight show of "Phantom Menace" in May of 1999. As I recall, our feelings were mixed-to-negative at the time. Still are. The PCR wasn't "invented" yet, so we wrote no reviews, altho I wrote a quasi-review in the nascent "Nolan's Newsstand" when the VHS tape of the movie came out in April of 2000 (interestingly, there's a bit in the N.N. article about how George Lucas would make no DVD of "Menace" until the entire prequel trilogy was filmed. Ha ha...he slays me).

Anyway....reflecting post-TV broadcast, I was surprised I liked "Menace" the second time around a little better than I did originally, with one notable exception. (For the record, Terence remains so turned off he didn't bother to watch at all.) That exception was the still-annoying irritation that is Jar-Jar Binks.

Many times, once and (hopefully) future PCR columnist Mike "Deadguy" Scott made an impassioned defense of Jar-Jar, both privately and in these pages. The upshot being Lucas had aimed "Menace" primarily at children: the whole Gungan thing. The video-game-like pod race. The whole action-figure, overly-CGI'd aura of the film.
    While I sympathize with this overview, I do not forgive Lucas for it, because, if indeed that's what he was trying to do, he wrote off vast legions of his original fans in order to capture new toy customers. But, we've been over all this and I digress...

What I am seeing in a refreshed light are the performances of the human actors, particularly young Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd) who I did not particularly like the first time, but find his casting more agreeable now. Liam Neeson and Ewan McGregor also, much better than I remember. The action scenes translated to the small screen surprisingly well (altho the pod race is still uncomfortably long and computer-ish and there's still not enough Darth Maul).
    Maybe the whole thing's grown on me, I don't know. After all this, I will likely be more forgiving of "Episode 2", despite the silly title, "Attack of the Clones", when it comes out next year.

After the movie, FOX went on with this stupid (and mercifully brief) psuedo-documentary called "R2D2: Under the Dome", featuring "interviews" with all of R2's colleagues and friends from the past, including no less than Francis Ford Copolla, Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, and an unexpectedly deep-husky-voiced Carrie Fischer.
   Predictably, the doc followed a more-or-less rags-to-riches theme, with R2 starting as an "ashcan" and growing into a movie star, complete with pictures taken with babes-at-poolside. The whole thing was a lame gag, and the time could've been better spent on some real behind-the-scenes or something.
   I don't know...is it me or has George Lucas never learned the lesson from the "Ewoks Christmas Special"?

UPDATES AND RESPONSES.  Drew Reiber says: "It was 'The Star Wars Holiday Special' and it starred the Wookies, not the Ewoks."
And Count Poffula says: "You're confusing 2 different things. The Ewoks weren't in the Holiday special, but were featured in 2 TV-movies entitled: 'The Ewok Adventure' (1984) and 'Ewoks: The Battle for Endor' (1985). (So, I guess that means in a couple years we can look forward to 'The Gungan Adventures' and 'Young Jar-Jar and the Temple of Doom' TV-movies)."
Nolan says: "Oops. OK, OK....I should've remembered the Ewoks didn't come along until "Return of the Jedi'. The point I was making is that cheesy, stupid specials seem to follow Star Wars releases time after time."

SOUTH PARK. Season premiere. Now this is more like it! I had begun to think that, like the Simpsons, South Park's appeal was finally over for me. Not so. Wednesday night's episode (11-28-01) brought back that acerbic wit and heretic sensibility I associate with the best of the earliest shows.
   The new kid in school is a black boy named "Token" (LOL!--already). What sets him apart, however, is his is the only rich family in South Park and he feels like he can't quite fit in. He decides that not enough rich people have heard of South Park so he starts a publicity campaign from his bedroom. The only problem is the only people who respond are other rich blacks, incuding celebrities Will Smith, Snoop-Dog, and Oprah Winfrey. They all decide to move their families to South Park. Their kids try to associate with Token, but they are TOO rich and he is outcast once again.
   Meanwhile, there is a swelling of resentment among the townsfolk that these "richers" are ruining the neighborhood. There is a decision to burn "lower-case 't's" on their lawns---"t" for "time to leave". (The imagery isn't lost on anyone, I'm sure.) Later, Mr. Garrison states hearing that "richers" are afraid of ghosts....so the men dress in sheets to scare away the black "richers" by convincing them the town is haunted. (There's that imagery again.)
   After an unsuccessful attempt to play polo with the rich kids, Token tries living with lions at the zoo. The "grand poobah" of the pride initiates him in, but Token decides he was better of with his original gang. He rejoins them in town and they remind him that they make fun of everybody and not to take it personally.
   In the final scene, Mr. Garrison decides he's going to sell the "richers" now-abandoned houses and become rich himself. He's reminded by the others that he'd then become what he hates. Garrison replies, "Yeah, but at least we got rid of them nig...." and the scene is cut off as the credits start.
   After a dull couple of seasons, this is the kind of heretical, blasphemous, dangerous, and hilarious show I may once again regularly tape.
THE GILMORE GIRLS. The 11-27-01 episode.  Synopsis and review by Lauré
What's that? You say you've never seen the Gilmore Girls? You don't know where Stars Hollow is? You don't know who Lorelai Gilmore is or what her favorite drink is, who Rory's favorite author is, what Luke is never without, or what Sookie does for a living? JEEZE! Well, I am here to enlighten you.

The Gilmore GirlsGilmore Girls is the latest hit on the WB (and the only show they have worth a damn, if you ask me). It airs Tuesday nights at 8:00 (yes, right before Smallville, sit down, you insane fanboys, it's the girls' moment! ;o)). Please see my series synopsis, which goes into more detail, in The PCR Spotlight, issue 86 When you're all caught up, fast forward to this week's review!

Tuesday night's episode of Gilmore Girls was a very good episode. After a short intro where we hear the general gossip about Tristan getting into some trouble with school troublemakers, and him teasing Rory and Rory chewing him out for being an ass, Rory's English teacher decides that the class was going to perform Romeo and Juliet. The class was split up into groups, and lo and behold, who does Rory end up with but Parris and Tristan, of all people! So, she has to go to practice on a Sunday night (because Parris is Hitler-like about getting A's) and to Parris's dismay the hall is taken, Sunday. So they have to relocate and where does Parris decide to go but Miss Patti's dance studio... in Stars Hollow.

So we have poor Rory dealing with Tristan's smug self, not to mention her guilt over having kissed him last season the day after her boyfriend Dean told her he loved her (and she panicked, poor Rory). So she roundaboutly tells Tristan she hasn't told Dean about the kiss and so Tristan decides to be the ass that he is and hint all over the place to Dean, who already hates him because he's a general ass. Rory is so flabbergasted that she tells Lorelai that she hasn't told Dean about the kiss and doesn't know what to do.

Meanwhile, Lorelai receives a late wedding gift (but remember, her wedding was called off a few weeks back) and she's not sure whether to keep it or send it back, and lo and behold, there is no return address. So we go through the show trying to figure out who sent it, and find out that Lorelai's family is populated with psychos. Also, she's asked out to dinner by a fellow student (she's in business school) who is about 24 or so. Luke meets the boy later and gets all pissy and huffy about it.

Meanwhile, the night of the play comes. Parris is pissed. Where is Tristan? She's, as always, just on the verge of losing her mind, and come to find out that Tristan's father pulled him out of Chilton and has enrolled him in a military school. So, Tristan's underdstudy (being a shy little boy) panicked and took off, leaving Parris to play Romeo to Rory's Juliet. They pass with flying colors, and Tristan never does spill the beans about the kiss to Dean, nor does Rory get up the courage to tell about it, try as she might.

Lorelai, however, never finds out who the wedding gift was from, but has been getting teased relentlessly by the citizens of Stars Hollow for her date. She can't understand why Luke is so pissed and Sookie (gotta love her) finally spells it out. "Hon, he's upset because he's constantly watching you date everyone but him and he's wondering when you're going to get around to him."

Lorelai is appropriately flabbergasted, and goes to Luke and tells him how much she appreciates him.

And that was this week's episode of the Gilmore Girls.

Last week, I inadvertantly neglected to post Terence's Viddywell website URL in the announcements for his film project, and I apologize for the oversight, but it turned out just as well as revisions to the site continued to the weekend and most of you would have missed out. So, to catch up on "The Strange Occurrence of Room 9" (formerly "Room 109"), and to see new photos, news, announcements, and the revamped homepage (to say nothing of reviewing his "archives" section for his dark poetry from past homepages), please visit Viddywell Productions and see what's new.

La Floridiana by Will Moriaty
The Paranormal in Florida.
Facts, Myths, and Outright Lies
Part One of a new five-part series.
by William Moriaty
On a return trip from Miami with my good friend Greg Van Stavern during the Labor Day weekend of 1984, we stopped by the Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. I had never been to that airport up to that time. Fascinatingly, on the west side of the airport property was the largely abandoned wooden barracks of what was once the Ft. Lauderdale Naval Air Station.
   It was from that very site that on December 5, 1945 at 2:10 P.M. EST, five Navy TBM Avenger aircraft would leave on a routine training mission that lead to oblivion. A total of 15 men and their five aircraft would disappear without a trace in an area of the Atlantic Ocean known as the "Bermuda Triangle".
   Most of the barracks of the former Ft. Lauderdale Naval Air Station now no longer exist as they were cleared for airport modernization in the late 80's and early 90's. Near the airport's control tower, however, a memorial marker was erected during that modernization effort's construction. Still there today, the memorial has a set of propeller blades attached to a plaque with the names of those men who disappeared as a result of the ill-fated flight that started from there so many years ago. If in the ft. Lauderdale area, take the time to visit and contemplate this solemn tribute to these lost airmen.

The term "Bermuda Triangle" was coined by author Vincent A. Gaddis in 1965 in his book "Invisible Horizons", and in a subsequent article for Argosy magazine. Mr. Gaddis claimed that this geographical triangle over the Atlantic Ocean, measured from Miami, Florida, northward to Bermuda, then southward to Puerto Rico, then westward back to Miami, had an inordinate amount of ships and planes that "disappeared without a trace". Other authors of the occult named the area the "Devil's Triangle", the "Hoodoo Sea" (John Godwin), the "Limbo of the Lost" (John Wallace Spencer), the "Triangle of Tragedy" and the "Port of the Missing". Over time such authors took great liberties to extend the boundaries that Mr. Gaddis originally devised as far north as Cape May New Jersey, and as far east as the Azores!

The next five chapters will outline events that originated from or occurred close to Florida, so any die-hard Triangle fans will be disappointed at the omission of any stories that they feel are essential to the Triangle folk lore. I will first cover the stories as they were originally told by occult authors, followed by commentary of what may have actually happened based on substantiated facts by author David Lawrence Kusche in his brilliant 1975 book, "The Bermuda Triangle Mystery--Solved".

The disappearance of the five TBM Avengers mentioned above deserves its own entire chapter, which will be in the NC PCR in two weeks. Below, and for all of next week, is a summary of notable aircraft disappearances originating from or destined to end in Florida. Triangle lore is in the orange field, while facts are in the violet.

Airborne Transport DC-3A: Tuesday December 28, 1948: Passengers and crew missing--30:
At 10:03 P.M. on Monday December 27, 1948, Captain Robert E. Linquist, 28, of Ft. Myers, Florida, and co-pilot Ernie E. Hill, 22, of Miami, Florida, departed from Isla Grande Airport in San Juan, Puerto Rico, bound with 28 passengers to Miami, Florida, then on to New York City. Sometime during the flight to Miami Captain Linquist had observed on the radio that the passengers and crew were singing "We Three Kings". At 4:13 A.M. another message was received at the Miami tower--"We are approaching the field only fifty miles out to the south. We can see the lights of Miami now. All's well. Will stand by for landing instructions". That was the last thing ever heard from NC16002 and its 30 souls on board. No S.O.S. was sent or MAYDAY was sent. There was no explosion, and a land and sea search produced no identifiable wreckage. Based on the pilot's position, the plane would've been over crystal clear waters of the Florida Keys that is only 20' deep. This can only mean that the airship and its occupants "dematerialized" within the sight and reach of its landing field.
    Airborne Transport's NC 16002 experienced battery trouble prior to this flight. This lead to an almost two hour delay in the aircraft leaving San Juan. The battery trouble was so severe that the tower in San Juan tried numerous times to contact the aircraft during the delay while it was sitting at the end of the runway and could get no response! The pilot decided nevertheless to proceed with the trip to Miami on the hope that the aircraft's generators would properly reactivate the battery back to its normal strength. San Juan, Miami, and New Orleans intercepted messages while the aircraft was en-route to Miami, but further attempts to contact the plane relative to a revised flight plan and to ascertain its position were unsuccessful. New Orleans, not Miami, intercepted the message, which stated that the flight was 50 miles south of Miami. There is also no evidence of Linquist making any statements concerning the singing of Christmas carols during the flight.
   Analysis: The aircraft's malfunctioning electrical system may have rendered its radio and compass inoperable. The pilot may also have been in error of his reported position. The aircraft had fuel enough for 7 hours of flight, and since the last message was intercepted six hours and ten minutes after takeoff; an error in location would be critical. A wind change advisory was broadcast from Miami at 12:15 A.M., but it is unknown if the flight received it.
   Probable Cause: A Civil Aeronautics Board Accident Investigation Report of the incident lacked sufficient information in this case to determine probable cause. It is therefore, UNKNOWN.

Next Week: A U.S. Air Force C-119 "Flying Boxcar" from Homestead Air Force Base vanishes without a trace over the Grand Turks, as well as other mysterious aircraft disappearances in the Bermuda Triangle in next week's PCR!

Wake Up and Smell the Comics

#10: Frank Miller Returns
   Hey everybody, hope you had a nice Thanksgiving. Well, it looks like I'll actually be able to complete an entire collection of Frank Miller Daredevil and Spider-Man comics within the next year and affordably at that. I tip my hat to the great reprint/collection editors at Marvel Comics, Bob Greenberger and Ben Abernathy, who have restored the once great Marvel trade paperback market. I can't wait to see what they have planned after March 2002. If you haven't already read it, check out my interview with Ben at PopImage.com.
   Anyway, with the buzz coming from Frank Miller's new Dark Knight Returns sequel, Marvel has put just about every Miller/Marvel comic created back into print. I've told you about the Daredevil Visionaries: Frank Miller volumes 1-3, Elektra Assassin, Daredevil: Born Again and The Man Without Fear, but there's even more on the way! With a new hardcover program and all the previously mentioned collections going back to press, Marvel has put two more great books into the mix. Check 'em out:

Elektra Lives Again -- Frank Miller's (writer/penciler) first Marvel collaboration with colorist Lynn Varley, his wife and the only other creator he is currently willing to work with. A graphic novel featuring the further adventures of the infamous ninja assassin, the book has been labeled as non-continuity due to the deaths of both Elektra and the villain Bullseye within its pages. The book will be available again in March, and orders are possible as of today.

The Complete Frank Miller Spider-Man -- Also on sale in March and orderable today, this hardcover is priced at a hefty $30. The book will collect every issue of Spider-Man Frank Miller has worked on Spectacular Spider-Man #27 and #28 (Bill Mantlo & Frank Miller), Amazing Spider-Man Annual #14 and #15 (Denny O'Neil & Frank Miller), Marvel Team-Up Annual #4 (Frank Miller & Herb Trimpe) and MARVEL-TEAM-UP #100 (Chris Claremont & Frank Miller). Personally, I'll wait until the softcover edition is available. I think it's too expensive for six issues. I do have to warn you there are no guarantees that it will be available outside the hardcover edition, though.

With the above books added to my shelf, I'll need two more single issues and one graphic novel to complete my Daredevil collection. All this and done without spending ridiculous amounts of cash on back issues, which is awesome. Luckily, I already tracked the graphic novel down and bought it off Ebay.com. For any of you looking for a cheap way to get hard-to-find books (or anything for that matter), I can't help but recommend the site. I use money orders to avoid any credit card fraud and shipping costs aren't usually a bother. As for the graphic novel, it is the only book outside of single issues that hasn't been reprinted. I'm not sure why, as some of the other Marvel Graphic Novels have been reprinted such as Chris Claremont's X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills. For those of you interested in information about the book, here's what I've gathered:

Marvel Graphic Novel #24: Daredevil: Love and War -- Written by Frank Miller with art by Bill Sienkiewicz (Elektra: Assassin), this book serves as a companion piece/prequel to one of the storylines in Miller's first run on Daredevil. Detailing the events that led to the kidnapping of Kingpin's wife, this book has been out-of-print for sometime now. You may be able to find the book through Ebay as I did, but you could take your chances at stores and conventions too, though I doubt the chances of finding it are high. Well, that fills the bill for this week's edition. Next week I'll be covering something non-Miller, promise!

Mike's Rant

Hello gang! A short one this week. Shall we begin?

Living here in Kansas, we have had some pretty much unseasonably nice weather--mid-60s on Thanksgiving Day. Well, this past Monday, the temperature dove to the low 20s. Time to turn on the old furnace. Unfortunately, mine did not feel like turning on, so I basically froze in bed that evening. I got out of bed at 4:00 am and took a hot shower to warm up. It didn't work. I was shivering so hard I thought I'd fall out of the tub. Well, of course I gave myself a cold, which I am now battling. The good news: the heat is on and I am roasty - toasty! (Not to rub it in or anything, but it's near-record-breaking in Tampa this week: highs in the low-to-mid 80s! I have a fan on in this room as we speak.---Nolan)

   O.C.Smith (no relation), best known for singing the Grammy Award winning song, "Little Green Apples," died this past week at 65. Smith recorded "Little Green Apples" with Roger Miller and Patti Page and won the 1968 Grammy Awards for Song of the Year and Best Country Song.
   Ralph Burns, longtime music collaborator with the late Bob Fosse, passed away this week at age 78. Burns scored all of Fosse's film projects, and won Oscars in 1972 for "Cabaret" and 1979 for "All That Jazz."
   Albert Hague, an actor-composer best known as music teacher Mr. Shorofsky in the movie and television versions of "FAME," died last week at age 81 from lung cancer. He won a 1959 Tony Award for his score to the Broadway musical "Redhead," and also scored the 1966 animated version of Dr. Seuss' "How the Grinch Stole Christmas."

Speaking of the Grinch, the video/DVD release of the recent Jim Carrey version sold a combined record 18.5 million copies in its first week, a new record.

Speaking of the Grinch, again, I had suggested to Nolan a top ten list of favorite television shows. He threw back choosing our fave holiday specials. So that is what I'm hoping for next week's issue. THE TOP TEN HOLIDAY SPECIALS OF ALL TIME. The gauntlet has been thrown down. (You heard him, people! Let's get on it. The "Top Ten Favorite TV shows of all time" I believe will work better for the first of the year. Start thinking about it now, tho.---Nolan)

Well, that's it for now. Have a great week!

"Mike's Rant" is ©2001 by Michael A. Smith    "La Floridiana" is ©2001 by Will Moriaty    The Gilmore Girls episode review is ©2001 by Lauré    "Wake Up and Smell the Comics" is ©2001 by Drew Reiber    All contents this page are ©2001 by Nolan B. Canova.

Webpage design and all graphics herein are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2001