Saturday, April 8, 2017


On September 8, 1966, a new series began on NBC. The show was not a ratings success though. It carried on lasting only three seasons and those at the studio claimed there was no interest in the series. And yet here we are, some 50 years later, still talking about that series. Its name? START TREK.

The series didn’t develop a cult following like some series, it developed a mainstream following. By 1979 a feature film starring the original cast was made and followed by numerous sequels. Then in 1987 a new series, THE NEXT GENERATION came about. That was followed by DEEP SPACE 9 in 1993, VOYAGER in 1995 and ENTERPRISE in 2001. These last two series are now being offered in a special packaging that fans will want to add to their collection.

STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE takes us back in time, before the original series took place. It follows the adventures of Captain Jonathan Archer (Scott Bakula) as he takes out the first Enterprise spaceship into space. Earth has been contacted by the Vulcans and one of those, T’Pol (Jolene Blalock) accompanies Archer and his crew on their journeys. The show only lasted 98 episodes but fans loved it.

A box set of the series is now available from CBS for a great price, much lower than in the past. Individual seasons of the show sell on amazon for anywhere from $35 to $45 dollars and with 4 seasons that can add up. The new box set is currently listed on amazon for just $49.96 with a standard price of $57.69. Not only that it will take up less room on your shelf with the packaging they’ve come up with.

If that weren’t enough CBS also has a new packaging on the series VOYAGER as well. Running seven seasons VOYAGER told the story of Starfleet Captain Kathryn Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) and the crew of the starship Voyager. Taking place during the same time period as DEEP SPACE NINE, the first episode saw the crew and ship on the trail of a rebel spaceship only to be sucked into something unusual that took them 70,000 light years from Earth. The series then followed them as they attempted to find a way home, hoping to find a way of getting them there that would not take them the 75 years it would to travel at their highest speed.

This series lasted 172 episodes. Here again individual seasons range in various prices from $18 to $70. But this new packaging features the entire series, every episode, for as little as $82.99 currently ($144.99 standard). Even at the standard price trying to pick up all the seasons of the show amounts to a more expensive proposition. And, again, the packaging makes this collection much easier to store on your shelf.

So what draws us to the stories of Starfleet and the future? What makes fans of Star Trek so dedicated that even after studio heads felt no one was interested we are still not only watching and re-watching the old episodes but new movies are being made as is another series? Most have realized that the series gives us something that many science fiction films had never done in the past: hope. It showed us a future where there might be other civilizations set on destruction and controlling the universe but at the same time the combination of planets and peoples who made up Starfleet were numerous, cooperating and living in peace. With the Vietnam War raging when the first series came out and wars raging since then, people found a certain amount of solace in the fact that the future held a much brighter picture. And we as a people were included as well!

The series also gave us plenty of action, stories that went deeper than most seen on TV and casts that were perfect in so many ways. We were allowed to visit other planets, to discover other people and, yes, to boldly go where no man had gone before. Is it any wonder that we are all still there watching each and every series that was created?

With the release of these two new packagings fans now have the opportunity to add them to their collection at a reasonable price, to enjoy over and over again. Most of the others are available as well but these are the latest offered this way. If you are a STAR TREK fan you’ll want to pick these up. And at these prices you’ll live long and…prosper. Sorry I had to say it.


Growing up in the sixties and seventies we were exposed to a ton of music and musical styles that seem lacking in today’s world. At any time you could turn on the radio and find Frank Sinatra, Black Sabbath and Sly and the Family Stone all on the same channel. Today we tend to compartmentalize music into sub-genres and limit listening to only what we love without exposure to anything different. Had that been the case back then music would never have evolved and led to different styles. Such was the case with the Detroit band known as The Stooges.

This documentary follows the early beginnings through to the last moments of the Stooges career along with their front man Iggy Pop. It runs like most rock documentaries in that it follows the timeline, shows them performing and combines that with interviews past and present to form a cohesive of the band start to finish.

As with most bands that began in the sixties there is plenty of open talk about the drugs they took from marijuana to acid to heroin. It doesn’t glorify the use of those drugs but it was a part of the lifestyle they lived. It was a part of the rock culture at the time and the fact they survived those days without serious overdose or multiple deaths shows it didn’t always end that way. That they don’t discourage or encourage the use of drugs shows a more even keel in the discussion rather than aging rock stars saying “I did this but you shouldn’t”, something most rock docs seem to do. It becomes a hollow piece of advice in those.

The sound of the Stooges was raw and it was powerful and that’s what drew fans to them and their music. I got the sense that this stemmed from their home base of Detroit, of being exposed to that working class atmosphere, of listening to the hammering of metal in factories in the area. Many bands that came from the area were exposed to the same thing and it is apparent in the sound of bands like Grand Funk, Alice Cooper, Bob Seger, Ted Nugent and The Stooges. But The Stooges sounds was rawer than most with the exception of perhaps MC5 who played a major role in their early years as seen here.

This sound The Stooges created influenced so many bands and was also part of the foundation for the next big genre of rock music to come, punk. Their influence can be heard and is commented on in the film with their style replicating in bands like The Ramones, Sex Pistols, Sonic Youth and more. It was hard, it was fast, it was loud and it was raw. That word comes up a lot when thinking about The Stooges and deservedly so.

The movie doesn’t spend any time discussing the solo career of Iggy Pop and actually that turns out to be a good thing and goes along with what he says in the film. He talks about how the band were true Communists when they began, not in the sense of political ideology but in that they shared and shared alike. Money coming in was divided evenly. This extended to their return to the stage in 2003 at Coachella where he was offered so much to perform and said they’d have to triple the amount so each band member would get the same. To his surprise the backers agreed and they played.

The movie does give a historical perspective of the band and that’s great that a new generation will possibly find the band through the film. Many will be surprised at how influential they were. The biggest surprise in the film for me was that while directed by Jim Jarmusch his style of filmmaking isn’t on display here making the film about himself instead of the band. Rather he sticks to the straight forward format used in most rock docs and it pays off in the end.

As far as rock docs go this one is among the better that I’ve seen. It tells the story of its focus, The Stooges, rather than become a movie about stylistic choices of the director. It moves along from start to finish for the band and offers them in performance all along the way. It presents the band and its individual members in a respective tone allowing each to speak never giving one more on screen time than the rest with perhaps the exception in a small amount to Iggy. It doesn’t glamourize nor demonize the band. It just lets the music do the talking. And what powerful talking it does.

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If you’re a fan of the Marvel Universe films that have transpired over the past decade or so then be prepared to go someplace they haven’t until now. Most of those films have transpired in our known world, a world of reality. But Marvel Comics fans always knew there was another world to be covered, a world of the supernatural. With the release of DOCTOR STRANGE we are finally given our first taste of that world.

Benedict Cumberbatch stars as Doctor Stephen Strange, an egotistical surgeon with tremendous skills who waste no time with hopeless cases, instead focusing on only cases that can be put in the plus column. The film opens giving us a glimpse into that personality as well as the only potential love interest he’s had in his life, Dr. Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams). They may have parted ways but the affection has remained.

After a day at work and on his way to a catered affair Strange runs off the road and crashes his car and his hands in the process. He wakes to find his hands encased in plaster and rods with the outlook for his returning to work as a surgeon highly in doubt. After pursuing several paths to healing he eventually remembers a man who seemed to walk when there was no hope of his ever doing so. This leads him to the Far East and a city known as Kamar-Taj. It is here that Strange is brought in to the mystical world of the supernatural.

Brought into the city by Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor), one of the sorcerers who protects the world, Strange is introduced to the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton). She shows him that there is more to the world than just the physical by taking him out of his body and into the astral world. When he returns he begs to be taught more.

The film builds on this displaying Strange’ training as well as helping the viewer to understand more what this mystical world is all about. Realities are altered, perception is a hindrance and magic is real. Strange is taught not just how to move from one location to another via portal but how to defend himself as well in preparation of protecting himself and the world around him.

A short sequence at the film’s opening saw a page from an ancient book stolen by Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen), a zealot with a few followers who has left Kamar-Taj with ill intent. Strange is shown that there are 3 locations in the world that connect to protect it from evil, one each in London, New York and Hong Kong. While learning this the London center is destroyed and New York is under attack by Kaecilius and his group. The blast suffered while watching London fall has tossed Strange into the New York center and he battles to protect it, even having an ancient artifact attach to him and become his weapon.

This is merely the first battle between good and evil. More is at stake here, in fact the entire world is at stake as Kaecilius attempts to provide an opening for Dormammu the ruler of the Dark Dimension. Friends and alliances are built, trust is destroyed and more is learned as Strange moves forward. The eventual showdown fills the climax of the film delivering the punch one has come to expect from a Marvel film.

As a fan of comics for some time I’ve enjoyed every film Marvel has turned loose on the world. They have captured the fun, the excitement and the full color world seen on paper for decades and transferred those to the screen with a love of the source material. Rather than turn their back on the comics these movies came from they embrace them. That is well in evidence here in DOCTOR STRANGE.

If you’ve read the comics then you know what to expect as Strange moves into the world of the mystical universe. As I watched Strange enter the Dark Dimension I sat mesmerized as the images from those comics were brought to life on screen. Even in past Marvel films nothing has equaled this when it comes to capturing has until now only been seen on those pages. It was amazing to see.

This movie is so well rounded, combining just the right amount of pathos, humor, action, revelation and story that you can’t help but be drawn in. Cumberbatch shows that he is not a one note actor sitting back and collecting praise for his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes. While he remains loyal to that program he shows here that he can take on more roles and do them well just as he has with several other film projects. As with Hugh Jackman who took on the role of Wolverine one would be hard pressed to consider anyone else in the role of Doctor Strange after watching this film. The entire cast brings their characters to life in the best way possible. For me the sign of great acting is not realizing you’re watching actors. All offer that type of performance here.

DOCTOR STANGE for me is one of those super hero movies that you can pull off the shelf and watch at any given moment. When it ends you long for the next chapter, the next film in which Strange will appear. Word is he will be involved in the AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR film coming next year. Until then we’ll have to spend our time with this film.

An added note. As with most Marvel films don’t shut this one off as the credits roll. There are two teasers to be found here, one as they finish.

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