What if you were born with a desire to kill? An insatiable desire to take the life of another? What if you daydreamed about killing people? Would you give in to the lust of killing? Or would you take a different path, as taken by Dexter Morgan in the TV series Dexter.Based on the book Dexter Dreaming Darkly by Jeff Lindsey, this Showtime TV series follows the life of Miami Police forensic specialist (specializing in bloodstain pattern analysis) Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall). By day Morgan investigates brutal killings in the neighborhood of Miami and by night he takes on a completely different persona. This by means is no Jekyll-Hyde syndrome, Dexter is good at what he does because he is truly fascinated by death and blood especially. Michael C. Hall – nominated for a Golden Globe Acting Award – truly captures Dexter’s cool calm exterior, yet his expressions also depict the monster he really is. After his foster father (James Remar) discovers a younger Dexter killing small animals, he realizes that to protect his son’s future he has to train him to hunt and kill serial killers.

Jennifer Carpenter (The Exorcism of Emily Rose) portrays Deborah Morgan, the carefree and enthusiastic sister of Dexter. Her character is totally different from Dexter’s but she too serves in the Miami Police Department. Her character struggles to get ahead in the Police force and is envious of Dexter’s perception and skills.

The first season deals with Dexter trying to discover the identity of the mysterious Ice Truck Killer. The series takes a very morbid look into the lives of the depraved serial killers and other devious criminals. All of whom Dexter feels some sort of kinship towards, but ultimately he hunts each one of them down through each episode.

The first season comes with no particular special features, just a commentary on two episodes and a feature on the first season. Dexter is a show not for the queasy or faint of heart. It deals with the monsters that lurk within society and feed on the helpless.–Khaver Siddiqi (September 16th, 2007, DAWN Images.)


Nip/Tuck Season One

If beauty is only skin deep, how deep is the skin? How far will one go to achieve perfection in beauty and what is the price one must pay?

That’s what F/X Network’s Nip/Tuck is all about. From the moment they open their new surgical practice in Miami, plastic surgeons Christian Troy (Julian McMahon; Fantastic Four) and Sean McNamara (Dylan Walsh; Congo, We Were Soldiers) discover that the price is often too steep and has grave consequences.

The story however, is not all about the two of them –– Sean’s wife, Julia (Joely Richardson; Event Horizon, The Patriot) is severely depressed and questions the conditions of her marriage and the issues her children have. Everything that Christian comes into contact to seems to end in the worst possible way –– from dealing with Columbian drug pins to almost constant surgical mishaps. With all the melodrama and out of the world storylines involved, one would think that this show is a soap opera. However, that is not the case as the season progresses with different story arcs.

The show is produced and aired by the FX network, which has a reputation of pushing the edge on controversial issues. Nip/Tuck, too, takes an edgy and graphic look at surgical procedures –– which might not be for the queasy stomach –– through special effects. This graphic display has often attracted criticism from various television councils and health organizations.

On the other hand, the show attracted a record audience for a cable TV show during its debut season, which prompted the network to order future seasons. The first season is out now to own on DVD, and is a must watch for an inspiration to exercise –– instead of taking the easy route. — Mehboob Siddiqi


Holy box office, Batman!

To date, comic book adaptations have made $5,815,026,986 (that’s almost six billion dollars) at the box office, which is a lot of money! Hollywood has had a love-hate relationship with comics for quite some time now, as some of its most successful movies have been comic book adaptations, along with some of its biggest flops.

It all began in 1975 with the summer release of the blockbuster Jaws. It broke the Hollywood story stereotype of angry men, frantic car chases, big guns and exploited women as it swam from behind to take a big chunk of the box office – $100 million to be precise. Studios took notice and just two years later box office revenues went galactic when Star Wars stormed cinema screens across America. With it the ‘blockbuster’ was born. Around the same time, the comic industry was going through a renaissance of its own. The golden and silver ages of comic books were over and drastic changes began to surface in what became known as the bronze age of comics.

The two powerhouses of American comics – Marvel and DC – were exploring diverse issues within their respective panels. At Marvel, titles like Spiderman and X-men were going through drastic change in terms of tone and characterisation and many popular characters were killed off during this time. Storylines in DC Comics also took a different turn as issues like drugs and racism were tackled. Both industries were growing – whether it was the gross returns of the box office, or the quality of storytelling in comics. In 1978 these two worlds came together when audiences and comic book readers were made to believe that ‘a man could fly.’

Producer Ilya Salkind acquired the rights to DC Comics’ Superman. He went on to hire director Richard Donner and writer Mario Puzo of The Godfather fame for its adaptation. Donner’s unique approach to the character and Puzo’s detailed script (some 600 pages in length) were quite faithful to the ‘man of steel’ story.

It also had a stellar cast. Screen legend Marlon Brando played Jor-El (Superman’s father) and Gene Hackman starred as the diabolical Lex Luthor. Superman: The Movie (1978) swept the box office away with breathtaking special effects, a grand storyline and a little known stage star who outshined both leads. That individual was the first, last and only true Superman – the late Christopher Reeve.

With Superman, the floodgates opened and in the following two decades, many comics were given the silver screen treatment. Batman, The Mask, Men in Black, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Crow, Popeye, Dennis the Menace, Flash Gordon, The Phantom, Sheena, Steel, Dick Tracy, Casper, The Rocketeer and Time Cop are a few notable mentions. Some of them proved to be great hits whilst others crashed into box office oblivion. Batman (1990) is perhaps the most successful comic book movie of its era, bagging a total of $251,188,924, and is the third most successful comic book movie of all time. Like Superman, it was followed by numerous sequels which weren’t as successful as the original.

Most of these adaptations starred at least one A-list actor and their casts would often read like a who’s who of Hollywood. Actors like Jack Nicholson (who got paid a record $60 million for his role in Batman), Arnold Schwarzenegger, Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Kim Basinger, Jim Carrey, George Clooney, Val Kilmer and Cameron Diaz featured prominently in these adaptations. But it wasn’t just actors. Writers and directors were also lining up to do comic book movies. Names like Tim Burton, Joel Schumacher, John Hughes, Akiva Goldsmith and Richard Donner signed on to shoot or pen movies based on comics.

The arrival of the new millennium saw a new breed of comic book movies. This new breed came soon after the release of Batman & Robin (1997) which, according to many, is the worst comic book movie ever made. At the box office it collected barely $100 million while $130 million had gone into its production. The movie is so bad that lead star George Clooney said he would personally refund the money to anyone who paid to see it. He is also rumoured to have admitted that this movie single-handedly “killed the franchise.”

In 2001, Hollywood opted for a more faithful and traditional approach to comics. Sony Pictures acquired the rights to the Spiderman movie franchise, which had previously been attached to James Cameron, from the troubled studio Carolco Pictures. Sony then brought Sam Raimi on board, and he brought with him something that was crucial to the revival of comic book blockbusters: respect for the history and background of the comic. Raimi re-worked a script-in-progress by James Cameron, hired an almost unknown cast, and treated it in the same way as Richard Donner had previously done with Superman: The Movie. Raimi chose Donner’s Superman because that character’s story closely resembled that of Spiderman‘s.

Both have foster parents, both work at a news agency, both have secret identities-unbeknownst to their respective love interests (Lois Lane and Mary Jane). Both have villains that are megalomaniacs (Norman Osborne and Lex Luthor), both chose to give up their powers for their love interests and both have strong American patriotic motifs (Superman’s ‘Truth, justice and the American way,’ and Spiderman’s hometown of New York City, the unofficial American capital post-9/11).

Where Donner showed Superman holding an American flag, Raimi presented New York City as a supporting cast member. And the similarities don’t end there. Spiderman (2001) has become — and still is — the most successful comic book movie of all time, slinging in a mammoth $403,706,375, echoing the release of Superman: The Movie some 20 odd years earlier.

In the years that have followed, the number of comic book movies has increased dramatically, so much so that it has prompted Marvel Comics – which ironically went bankrupt in the ’90s – to rename itself Marvel Entertainment. Marvel is a leader in comic book movies, with 13 so far and several in various stages of production.

DC and Marvel aren’t the only two comic book houses around. Dark Horse Comics have also enjoyed a reasonable amount of success on the silver screen. Sin City (2005) and Hell Boy (2004) are two good examples, both extremely successful and now awaiting sequels. Though not from comics, the Alien vs. Predator franchise was first conceived in comics by Dark Horse and eventually successfully brought to the screen in 2004.

Since Spiderman, there have been comic book movies every year and even a few old ones have been remade. Director Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns (2006) saw the return of the ‘man of steel’ after an absence of 20 years from the silver screen. Similarly writer/director Christopher Nolan stripped away the cheesy elements of all previous Batman films to bring us a very gritty look at the Dark Knight in Batman Begins (2005).

Once again, the great comic book movie craze is in full swing. Just recently Ghost Rider (2007) has set the box office ablaze, earning an impressive $80 million and the box office top spot for two consecutive weeks. Zack Snyder’s 300 (2007) rallied a resounding victory, having taken in $78 million and the top spot on its opening weekend, eclipsing Gladiator and Troy in its current returns.

There you have it; the story of comic book adapted movies. Though they are not always successful, one can be certain that the next big blockbuster just might be a comic book adaptation. In 1978, Superman: The Movie proved to the studios that they can tell good stories and still earn extremely high returns. Just as it proved to audiences that a man can fly.


Back to Futurama - The Second Season

Bender, Fry, and Leela return as the crew of the Planet Express in the second season of Futurama. If you thought the first season was whacky, wait till you see this one.

Futurama tells the story of Fry, a young pizza delivery boy who gets sent a thousand years into the future. There he meets a one-eyed alien spaceship pilot, Leela, and a suicidal, perpetually drunk robot, Bender.

Season 2 isn’t drastically different from the previous one, but in some cases – particularly in terms of story and acting – it is much better. The characters are all given interesting hooks and the stories are more complex and funnier. The Star Trek inspired episode Why Must I Be a Crustacean in Love? is a special treat, and is an opportunity for Dr Zoidberg to shine.

Another hilarious episode features the idiotic Zap Brannigan and his sidekick Kiff in Brannigan, Begin Again. The duo is ousted from their positions and forced to work with at the Planet Express. Brannigan, with his constant advances towards Leela, is always amusing in whatever he says or does.

Anthology of Interest I is by far the best episode of the series. It has three distinct stories in the space of 22 minutes, giving the viewer a feeling of having seen three whole episodes in one. The special features are nothing special really, besides the commentary on each episode by the script-writers and actors.

Futurama is probably the best animation show in a long time. Dare I say that it is far better than the Simpsons. It is guaranteed to give viewers a few laughs along with an interesting ride through the world of an imagined future.
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Voliminal: Inside the Nine

Voliminal: Inside the Nine album coverImage via Wikipedia
Nu-metal (nu-thrash metal, to be more precise) marauders Slipknot have unleashed a double DVD and CD collection of live performances and music videos. Though by no means a 'greatest hits' album, this behemoth of a collection is sure to keep thrash fans happy with a collection that quite literately mutes everything in the market.

A nine member band from Des Moines, Iowa; Slipknot shot to fame with their self-titled album in 1999. Ever since then they've hardly left any holds barred and let out a stream of heavy hits, stormed many musical festivals and redefined live performances along the way. They won a Grammy for Best Metal Performance in 2006, and have been nominated three times in different categories.

The album has a raw sound, particularly the harshness of each track combined with the intensity of each band member. Corey Taylor has displayed his versatility in the Spiderman soundtrack, but it's his day-job as the lead singer of Slipknot that truly exploits his ability to sing, or scream even. Guitarists Jim Root and Mick Thomson both craft exquisite riffs that are breakneck speed and filled with the crunch of metal and thrash. Sid Wilson's mixing and sampling adds the 'nu' to the nu-thrash, and his samples are haunting and yet almost cruel at the same time. Besides having a turntablist, they also have keyboardist Craig Jones and percussionist Shawn Crahan, both offering new layers to each of the songs and even providing backup vocals on some of the tracks. But the best performer of the bands is perhaps Joey Jordison whose drumming skills avalanches over everything else in the band. Jordison (who is also a producer for Marylin Manson) structures his beats and percussions in a very traditional thrash set-up, almost as well as (dare I say it) the great Dave Lombardo of Slayer fame.

Voliminal: Inside the Nine is an audible treat for thrash and speed metal fans, if that is they appreciate the fact that this is nu-thrash metal.
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Star Trek: The Next Generation

Star Trek: The Next GenerationImage via Wikipedia
After a long absence from TV, Star Trek returned in 1987 to the delight of fans around the world. The famed ship Enterprise returned with no major changes but definitely looking 24th century-ish.

The delight of the fans was short-lived when they discovered that the new vision of the future, provided by the show's creator Gene Roddenberry, was not exactly what they had in mind. They were particularly outraged when they found out that the show would have a new cast and was set further in the future.

It took a while for them to accept this vision, but they eventually did. Patrick Stewart plays the cool and calm Captain Jean-Luc Picard (a vastly different character than the ship's previous Captain). Though most of the cast consisted of previously unknown actors, the show featured many famous guest-stars in various episodes.

In terms of storytelling, this series is not that different from the classical show through a new dynamic within the new cast that enhances each story. It is a visual delight, with state-of-the-art special effects of its time, most notable of which are the make-up effects given by Michael Westmore. The first season sets off with a two-hour pilot, Encounter at Farpoint. Besides introducing the primary characters, it also features special guest-star DeForest Kelley as the eccentric (and now geriatric) Dr McCoy.

Star Trek: The Next Generation may have been a difficult sell to fans of the original series but it sure did spawn a whole new generation of fans of the show. This spin-off took a life of its own and became popular in its own right, whilst still adding to the mythos of the original show.

Special features include the development of the series, casting and the special effects of the show. A good watch for fans who wish to go where no one has gone before.
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Transformers: The Animated Series

Transformers: Generation 1Image via Wikipedia
An extremely successful toy line in the ’80s, The Transformers used to take Saturday mornings by storm in their TV series. The show follows the adventures of giant transforming robots, the ever-vigilant Autobots and the dastardly Decepticons.

The Autobots try their best to defend Earth, while the Decepticons take any and every opportunity to try and conquer it. Lead by the maniacal Megatron, the Decepticons do just about everything from hijacking oil rigs to kidnapping scientists and forcing them to make weapons of mass destruction — the plots are truly ahead of their time.

The premise of the show might sound silly and outlandish, but Transformers had a legion of faithful fans, who not only watched the show, but bought the comic and of course the action figures. But there’s more to the show than meets the eye. For one, there is always a message in each episode, whether about teamwork or admitting your mistakes. Besides, the voice-over is brilliant. Peter Cullen as Optimus Prime is simply the best, and he will be reprising his role in the upcoming Transformers movie. Frank Welker voices the evil Megatron, making him sound very vicious, but at the same time, with a comical touch to his voice.

The first season comes with many special features, including a very interesting blooper reel highlighting animation mistakes within certain episodes. Also included are interviews with some of the show's writers who offer unique insight into the characters and the writing process. Go out and grab it now.
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Volkerball: The People's Ball

Rammstein are known for their frequent pyrotechnic use.Image via Wikipedia
Fans of Rammstein rejoice. Not only has the German band’s Volkerball been released on DVD, it is also out as a double-live album CD. Cover your ears and walk away if you’re put off by very loud music, namely large crunchy riffs and even louder drums. Mix that with almost ghoulish sounding percussion, a dash of electronica and German lyrics (delivered by Till Lindemann, a very loud and very German lead singer), and that’s Rammstein — what do you expect from a band whose name literately means “battering stone”?

Volkerball is the closest Rammstein will ever come to a greatest hits album, simply because this band plays some of its best music live, and what better way to collect your greatest hits than on a live album? Tracks have been collected from their first album, Herzeleid all the way to Rosenrot, and each of them have been given the Rammstein live treatment.

Genre-wise Rammstein are essentially a hard rock/industrial band, but what very few people know is that they’re foremost a live band. They are at their best live, where they even change some of the song harmonics, giving the tunes fresh sounds. This remarkable live sound, first heard on 1999’s Live Aus Berlin, has been repackaged, this time with tracks most notably from the Mutter album. Songs like Sonne, Links 2 3 4, Feuer Frei!, and Ich Will, come off brilliantly. Engel and Los are good examples of how the band uses a ballad-esque tune and gives it the Rammstein treatment — complete with Lindemann’s gruelling vocals and those scary percussions provided by Christen Lorenz.

The downside to this double album is that the true essence of the live show is lost, as this is an audio only effort. Rammstein don’t just sound good live, they put up an amazing display of pyrotechnics and other acts on stage, something that even a DVD could not do complete justice to. For example Feuer Frei! takes on a whole new level when it is accompanied by streams of pyrotechnics by the band on stage. Another minus for the album are the newer tracks, like Amerika and Benzin, which are very weak and repetitive compared to the older songs.

Nonetheless, this album is sure to please industrial fans everywhere, and is a good buy if you’re interested in the genre or just Rammstein in general.
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My Name Is Earl - A Review.

My Name Is EarlImage via Wikipedia
My Name is Earl follows the story of Earl J. Hickey (Jason Lee), a small-time thief who wins the lottery … then gets hit by a car. While in hospital, Hickey realizes that it was because of his wrong-doings that he got hit. Discovering the concept of karma — while still in hospital — he hopes to redeem himself, vowing to help all those he has wronged.

Earl is joined by his brother, Randy (Ethan Suplee) who, even though isn’t as intelligent as some, stands by his brother vigilantly. Joy Turner (Jamie Pressley) is Earl’s ex-wife who had left him, but has now returned to claim a part of the lottery money. Joining Earl and Randy on their “righteous” adventures is Catalina Arcuna (Nadine Velazquez), an illegal immigrant working as a maid at a local motel. Rounding up the cast is the laid back Darnell Turner, known as the Crab Man to his friends, who steals all the scenes he’s in. He is also Joy’s new husband, a fact that hasn’t quite sunk in with him yet. When you see Darnell, you’ll know he has very little to do with facts.

Jason Lee fits into the role with ease; his dry, witty delivery and characterisation bring the character to life and add a sense of realism. Though this is a comedy, it’s not your standard sitcom. Every episode has a flashback where Earl finds out who he has wronged and how he can help them now. This does get repetitive, but it’s interesting to watch how Earl tries to put things right.

The box-set comes with a commentary on selected episodes by the stars, a blooper reel and a collection of deleted scenes. This show is a must have for all comedy fans (especially Jason Lee fans), proving that karma is a funny thing indeed.
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After the success of The Office, Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant put their comedic talents into a show called Extras.

It is about a group of people, their aspirations for fame and how they get to see the nitty-gritty and sometimes whacky side of Hollywood.

Gervais plays Andy Millman, a full-time extra, working in theatre and motion pictures. Ashley Jensen stars as Maggie Jacobs, a goofy Scottish woman who is Andy’s friend and co-extra. Stephen Merchant as Darren Lamb is Andy’s incompetent agent. His interaction with Andy is extremely hilarious to watch, especially where Darren tries to get his commission from Andy.

Most of the comedic talent is brought in by the special guest stars of each show. Ben Stiller and Patrick Stewart are two such characters who lampoon their respective personas. Stellar comes off as an egotistical control freak and Stewart sheds his Shakespearean personality down to something that could only be described as completely bizarre and quirky.

Though this series has its funny moments, the style of writing and characterisation isn’t very different from that of The Office. The sad part is that this isn’t The Office, and fans who expect to see something different and refreshing will be disappointed.

This double DVD box-set has a lot of special features to go through, including audio commentary on selected episodes and special features looking into the making of the series. If you haven’t seen much of British comedy, you might like the show which does have its funny moments, thought not many.
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Chevelle - Review

Few bands maintain their individual style of music; even fewer perfect their sound. Chevelle is probably one of those exceptional bands that have embraced their own style of sound and refined it tremendously in their third album, This Kind of Thinking (Could Do Us In).

Formed by three brothers from Grayslake, Illinois, Chevelle is pure rock with a bit of post-grunge. In fact, they have a garage-like sound as if they have used the most basic production equipment and come out with something akin to pure rock. Though many bands will come to your mind when you hear them (Deftones being the primary influence), after a while, some of the tunes begin to take a life of their own. But that’s just because nearly all young bands starting off anew use a previously successful band’s sound as a platform.

For example the starting track of the album, The Clincher, begins with a powerful riff build up, which could be confused for Shove It by Deftones, but the similarities end there. The rest of the album is quite loud and heavy on the rock, though the themes of the song are more depressing and sad, reminiscent of the old Seattle grunge sound. There are hardly any ballad-esque tracks, which though not disappointing for all, may be a put off for some as it may seem that the album lacks pace variety. Chevelle is the new sound of grunge rock; very loud and very fast.
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The Justice League

Promotional image of the JL by Bruce Timm.Image via Wikipedia
Evil aliens, mad scientists, power hungry megalomaniacs and many more dangers lurk out there. Who will save Earth? Enter, the Justice League.

After the success of the animated Batman and Superman, its producers set their sights on bringing the world’s first superhero team to life. Created in the comics by Gardner Fox, the Justice League comic teamed up the heavy weights of DC comics: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Martian Manhunter, Green Lantern (Jon Stewart) and Hawkgirl.

Bruce Timm and Dan Riba brought their established simplistic style to this TV series, whilst still keeping with the grand scale of each story — which was set everywhere, from the vast corners of space to Earth’s backyard. Though a children’s animated series, Justice League is a fun and interesting watch, even for adults. Of course, comic book fans will be getting a treat in not only watching their favourite characters coming to life, but also memorable storylines.

One such memorable storyline is that of Secret Origins. This episode deals with the arrival of J’onn J’onzz, the shape-shifting alien from Mars. J’onzz, or Martian Manhunter, warns Batman and Superman of an impeding alien invasion on earth. Teaming up, the world'’s finest tackle the invasion head-on. With help from other superheroes, they thwart the invasion, the earth is saved and the Justice League is born.

This box-set comes with a special promo for the show, storyboards and commentaries for selected episodes and also a look into character design. Justice League is a fun and exciting watch for the entire family.
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An opening title for FuturamaImage via Wikipedia
People often imagine the future as a utopia — a time when there will be peace and order. Simpson’s creator Matt Groening has a very different outlook on the future, and together with writer/producer David X. Cohen, he brings you Futurama.

Instead of imagining what the future would be like, Groening and Cohen are inspired by science fiction, such as Star Trek and Arthur C. Clarke. The result of this imagination is a unique comedy from black humour to surreal, on to slapstick and a satire on modern times against a futuristic backdrop.

Phillip J. Fry (Billy West) is a young pizza deliveryman who inadvertently gets sent to the future by a prank phone call. After being resuscitated from his cryogenic state, Fry wakes up to find the world filled with aliens, robots and technological wonders. Here he makes new friends Leela (Katey Sagal), a strange one-eyed alien, who is a starship pilot and Fry’s love interest. Bender (John DiMaggio) is Fry’s best friend; he is also a robot who is an alcoholic and despises all humans (except Fry). Bender is to Futurama is what Homer is to The Simpsons. There’s just never a dull moment when he’s on screen, as his antics are priceless.

Futurama is the story of galactic adventure mixed with many funny moments. The box set comes with many special features, including commentaries on every episode. Fans of sci-fi will definitely appreciate the homage, and new viewers will find this as a refreshing and a very funny look into the future
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Star Trek: The Original Series

Star Trek: The Original SeriesImage via Wikipedia
“Space… the final frontier.” No other words come close to describing Star Trek and in 1966, this science fiction show took audiences where no one had gone before.

Starring in the roles that made them all science fiction legends, William Shatner (Captain James T. Kirk), Leonard Nimoy (Spock) and DeForrest Kelley (Dr McCoy) embark on a five-year mission to strange new worlds and encounter even stranger aliens. The storylines of this first season were not commercially successful for the studio, however they are considered to be some of the finest science fiction writings.

So much, in fact, so that they were nominated for the prestigious Hugo Award (an award given by the World Science Fiction Society) and won two years in a row. The show was also nominated for Emmy Awards and the recognition does not end there, as Star Trek is considered to be the first TV show that spawned a cult following.

The aspects of the show were ahead of its time, as the writers and producers masked political and social issues of the time into a science fiction theme to portray them. Issues like racism was a flashpoint in American history as was the Vietnam conflict, and Star Trek tackled them by portraying mankind’s mistakes and how they learned from them, instead of ignoring them.

The first season box-set comes with cast interviews, text commentaries and features that highlight the season’s best moments. Star Trek: The Original Series is a must have for fans everywhere, especially Trekkies.
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Casino Royale - The Score

Bond is back! After a four-year hiatus, 007 hit the big screens last year much to everyone’s delight. And following the movie, the score was released and achieved equal success with fans and critics alike. This is composer David Arnold’s fourth venture into the Bond-verse, along with his regular collaborator and conductor, Nicholas Dodd. And while Bond was dramatically re-worked and re-booted for Casino Royale, the soundtrack isn’t any different from the previous Bond scores.

Arnold captivates action as we find out in African Rundown and Fall of a House in Venice by not only mimicking the pace on-screen but by also using native percussions in African Rundowns. If you are just listening to the soundtrack and not watching the movie, you know that this is taking place in Africa. Intricacies like these add a whole new aspect to each track, capturing the moments on-screen, yet individually emanating a unique element of their own. This soundtrack encompasses nearly all of the classic Bond moments — from the action, the cars, the gadgets to the lighter moments — making it an overall decent score.

One thing that it does lack, which I was hoping they would add, is the Chris Cornell track, You Know My Name. Instead, it was released as a separate single, a shame really because it is a worthy track especially in a James Bond album. Only hardcore Bond enthusiasts or score fanatics would appreciate this album, which is quite good.
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The Chappelle Show

Before getting his own show, Dave Chappelle played minor parts in many Hollywood blockbusters as the token black comedian. It was in 2003 that Comedy Central decided to bank on the young star's comedic talents by giving him his very own stand up show — the aptly named Chapelle’s Show — and the results are hilarious to say the least.

Co-created by Neal Brennan, each episode of Chapelle’s Show is also co-written by him and Chappelle. Between the two of them, they have written most of the first season’s skits. The format of the show is very traditional as Dave begins with a stand up routine in front of a live audience. The rest of the skits are then shown to the audience and instead of a traditional laugh track, the show supports the laughter of the audience present. This gives an authentic and realistic feel to the act.

Popular skits include Frontline and Charlie Murphy’sTrue Hollywood Stories (a parody of many television newsmagazine programes like 60 Minutes). There is one where Eddie Murphy’s real-life younger brother takes a not-so-conventional look at Hollywood’s other side and another that includes crazy character sketches such as Clayton Bigsby (a black man who is a white supremacist).

This first season box set comes with commentary tracks on some episodes by Brennan and Chappelle, who offer insight into the show’s insane sketches. The show is a treat for all those who like Chappelle’s style of comedy, which is a blend of Richard Pryor and Eddie Murphy
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Arrested Development.

From left to right:  GOB, George Sr., Lindsay, Tobias, Michael, Lucille, George Michael, Maeby, and BusterImage via Wikipedia
Jason Bateman (Teen Wolf Too!) portrays Michael Bluth, who has just taken over his family’s business after his father got arrested, and the only thing that stands in his way is his family.

Arrested Development is a documentary style comedy narrated by the show's co-creator Ron Howard, which looks at the life of a dysfunctional family, the Bluths.

The show takes comedy to a new level as we see the Bluth family struggle to come to terms with one another, society and life. Take Michael’s younger brother for instance, George Michael (Will Arnett). He is a failed magician and tries hard to undermine Michael at every opportunity he gets. Lucille Bluth (Jessica Walter), Michael’s mother is extremely conniving and uses every opportunity to try and get Michael on her side.

Michael’s twin sister, Lindsay (Portia de Rossi) only cares about shopping, which he hates. The performance that steals the show every time belongs to Michael’s brother-in-law, Tobias Funke (David Cross). An out of job psychologist, Funke (along with everyone else) slowly begins to question his own sanity which ends up creating some of the show’s most memorable moments.

The first season of Arrested Development is loaded with special features which include bloopers, behind-the-scenes and cast commentaries on episodes. Packed with special features, this box set is not to be missed as you will find yourself quite amused with the antics of the Bluth family.
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Based on the play by the same name by American playwright Tony Kushner (Pulitzer winning author), this HBO mini series is directed by famed director Mike Nichols (Closer and The Graduate).

The mini series is broken into two parts, as per the play, Millennium Approaches and Perestroika. Winning the Golden Globe and Emmy for best mini series in 2003, Angels in America is about inner turmoil where characters struggle with their beliefs, the norms and their self-identities. This conflict is examined through dark humour and tragedy.

The play is set against the Reagan-era of the ‘80s, and has currents of philosophy and politics. Accompanying these are some amazing dialogues by Kushner, raw, philosophical and compelling and delivered by a spectacular cast comprising Al Pacino, Meryl Streep, Emma Thompson, James Cromwell and Mary-Louise Parker to name a few.

Each actor has multiple roles which add certain dynamisms to the play. Pacino and Streep both won Golden Globes and Emmys for their prospective roles. Play adaptations hardly rely on their set locations but with Angels in America, the locations play a significant role, ranging from the San Francisco valley and Central Park, New York to Antartica.

Angels in America is a close examination of an era when perceptions were changing amid dark times looming on the horizon. The DVDs contains behind-the-scenes features and interviews with the cast, writer and director. Nothing spectacular, but you'll hardly miss special features with such an amazing main feature
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Spoooon! A review of The Tick Series.

Larger than "larger than life," and bluer than any blue, the Tick (Patrick Warburton) is one superhero that you can't miss — even if you tried to.

Originally an animated show, The Tick is a parody of the superhero genre. Though he is immensely strong and invulnerable, he lacks the intellect to go with it. In fact, one would think he doesn't have any intellect at all.

He is joined on his unintentional adventures by his sidekick Arthur (David Burke). A simple accountant by profession, Arthur's dream has always been to become a superhero, and when the Tick comes along, he gets that chance.

Arthur doesn't have a superhero name, but his powers are based on a moth, and he often gets mistaken for a bunny. His character is the antithesis of all sidekicks: he is nervous, jittery and anxious. Then there are other superheroes and supervillains ranging from the ridiculous to the insane (case in point, the villain called "The Mad Bomber Who Bombs At Midnight").

Overall, the show is a poor adaptation from the animated series, purely because this show is live action and it loses some of the animated appeal with that transition. There are moments however that make up for it being live action, as the writing is more witty and clever. Such as the incident when Arthur comes to terms by telling his family that he is a superhero with disastrous results.

There are no special features in the boxset, as this show was cancelled due to poor ratings. A shame really, as it will be enjoyed by fans of good comical writing.
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Tokyo Drift: OST

The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo DriftImage via Wikipedia
If you like fast shiny cars and loud music, then you're in for a treat with the original sound track (OST) of The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. This is a definite must have for all those speed demons out there. And although you might have missed both Paul Walker and Vin Diesel in this installment of the series, you will find that the soundtrack more than makes up for the movie (which wasn't that bad either).

This album is a very good blend of international 'east meets west' music. The opening track by the Teriyaki Boys (produced by Pharrell Williams) is also the promotional music video for the movie, Tokyo Drift. The band 5,6,7,8 made their name in the Kill Bill OST and hearing them again in the track called Barracudda, shows the talent of these Japanese artists.

Evil Nine's track Restless lives up to its name in a monstrous march of bass beats. The Japanese rap tracks make for fresh and interesting listening, though you will have to get used to it at first. Fans of DJ Shadow and Mos Def will get a treat when the two giants of their genre come together for the track Six Days. Rock hasn't been left behind either as Atari Teenage Riot prove on their track Speed. Okay, so the track is more industrial than rock, but it still fits into the album perfectly.

Overall this album offers a good mixture of American hip-hop and Japanese culture pop, pacing at floored-pedal speed. Producer DJ Shadow has done a great job of harmonising the sound of the two cultures while keeping the pace intact.

The lack of variety in pace might deter a few listeners, but do give it a listen. Be warned though: drive safely as the music might have an effect on your driving.
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Getting Lost Again. Lost Season Two Review.

In the last season of Lost, a lot had happed. Lives were lost, trust was lost, and the only thing that the survivors of the Oceanic Flight 815 were left with was hope.

The second season opens with the discovery of what lies behind the hatch –– the discovery that the island isn't really what it appears to be. The survivors have already realised that there are "others" on the island. Just what the "others" are is something even the survivors are not sure of. The original cast has returned and this time, though we are familiar with what they have been through, we do not know who they are. Individual past stories continue to reveal shocking and sometimes outrageous twists. And then there is the meeting with the "others."

Giving too much information would spoil the show in this review, but this much is true: there are few series that keep you on the edge and with this show, you will find that there is no edge, because even the edge is lost.

Another feature in this show — something that other shows lack — is the soundtrack. Also labelled as incidental soundtrack, pieces of music are tailored to the moments of the scene, rather than to the characters. Because the characters are so rich anyway, the focus of the music shifts to the moments, particularly the twists and cliff hangers.

The boxset is again loaded with goodies. Behind the scene features, special documentaries, plus special commentaries on selected episodes. There is so much to view that you will only end up getting Lost.


Sex and the City

Sex and the CityImage via Wikipedia
Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) and her friends journey through singlehood in modern day New York in Sex and the City, a truly girly show based on a book by Candace Bushnell of the same name.

Though there is no coherent plot , the show is narrative driven with Carrie's colourful comments on the lives of the four stars within. We have Carrie herself, who is a columnist, often interacting with fictional and non-fictional celebrities. The character is brilliantly portrayed by Sarah Jessica Parker, who up until now was not finding much success on the big screen.

Charlotte York (Kristin Davis) is a young, almost aristocratic, art dealer who sternly believes in traditions. Cynthia Nixon plays Miranda Hobbes, the career minded lawyer who has a pessimistic view of the world and yet is the voice of reason for the entire group. We finally come to Samantha (Kim Cattrall), the eldest of the group, but the youngest at heart and the secret star of the show.

The first season introduces us to each character and also the premise of the show — New York City, which is a star of the show itself, not to mention a supporting cast of shoes, dresses and jewelry.

The DVD box set is loaded with special features such as commentaries and behind-the-scene footage. Also included are cast interviews. This is a must-watch and must-have, especially for slumber parties.
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From the Earth to the Moon - A Review

From the Earth to the Moon (miniseries)Image via Wikipedia
There are very few wonders of the 20th century that continue to amaze us in this day and age. Man’s journey to the moon is one of them. HBO’s mini series From the Earth to the Moon looks at this journey from its very inception. Based loosely on the book by Andrew Chaikin, the series has a cast of epic proportions whose stories span the generation of the infamous space race.

The series starts off with a setback against the United States it is 1961 and Yuri Gregarian is the first man in space. Inspired and urged by the words of John F. Kennedy, the team at NASA was determined to achieve the target of putting a man on the moon by the end of that decade. We’re shown that every person on the team, from the contractors, subcontractors to even the wives of the astronauts, played an important role on putting a man on the moon. Perhaps the highlight of this series is the episode, Mare Tranquilitatis, the sixth episode in the series; we see Neil Armstrong (portrayed brilliantly by Tony Goldwyn) and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin (Bryan Cranston) make their journey into history books, and of course we get to see the infamous “small step” and the “giant leap” on the moon.

This series comes with behind the scene features, including a special introduction to each episode by Tom Hanks (the executive producer of the series), and commentaries on selected episodes. So sit back, relax and enjoy the journey From the Earth to the Moon.

(This review was originally published in the January 07, 2007 Edition of Dawn Images)
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