Doctor Who (William Hartnell) – Marco Polo

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The fourth story of the first Doctor (Hartnell) was written by John Lucarotti, is the introduction of the historical stories that served to entertain and educate at the same time. It was a seven parter beginning on the 22nd of February. 1964 and coming to a close on April 4, 1964. The titles of the tale were The Roof of the World, The Singing Sands, Five Hundred Eyes, The Wall of Lies, Rider From Shang-Tu, Mighty Kublai Khan, and Assassin at Peking.

I was able to watch this one through a reconstruction using the recorded audio and a proliferation of photographs that were taken during the story’s filming. And while that may not be the best way to convey the story, it works well enough to get the point across, though all the nuances of the actors’ physical performances are lost.

The TARDIS, apparently blowing yet another circuit arrives at the roof of the world, the Himalayan mountains, and meet up with Marco Polo (Mark Eden) and his caravan who are on their way to Kublai Khan’s (Martin Miller) palace.

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Amongst Polo’s carvan is a young 16-year old girl Ping-Cho (Zienia Merton), who is on her way to an arranged marriage in the Khan’s court, and an emissary, Tegana (Derren Nesbitt), who is supposedly a peace envoy, but with the arrival of the TARDIS, and Ian (William Russell), Barbara (Jacqueline Hill) and Susan (Carole Ann Ford), sees the chance to seize power, and plans an assassination on the Khan.

Sadly, after the briefly paternal glance of a different kind of Doctor at the end of the last story, he seems to be back to his own irascible self through the course of the episode, once again letting Ian take the lead. He worries about the TARDIS, and simply wants to get her repaired, and argues with almost everyone at each step of the way.

That is, until the final episode of the story that sees the Doctor meeting Kublai Khan, and the two actually hit it off rather well, enjoying one another’s company and stories over games of backgammon.

It is also a unique story, because for the first time there is a narration accompanying the tale, given not by any of our heroes, but in fact from Polo, as he charts their course, and chronicles their journey.

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The story comes across as huge, sweeping and epic, and the costume and set design seen in the pictures make me eager to see a video version, now that films have been found and delivered to the BBC by dedicated fans.

Tegana, even without any visible motion given to his words and actions, seems incredibly menacing, and a true threat not only to the Khan but to those traveling in the TARDIS.

It’s a fun story, the Susan and Ping-Cho friendship that develops is rather nice, and gives Susan something else to do for a change instead of wailing and running about calling “Grandfather!”

The next story sees writer Terry Nation sending the TARDIS on the journey to The Key of Marinus!

I have to say, I am truly loving the fact that I’ve gone back to the beginning and watching the evolution of the series and the character that has come to mean so much to me.

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Galaxy Quest (1999) – Dean Parisot

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The 101 Sci-Fi Movies list (can you believe I’m almost done with this one?!?) brings me this brilliant science fiction comedy starring Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Alan Rickman, Tony Shalhoub and Sam Rockwell.

Airing in the late 70s early 80s the show Galaxy Quest garnered a huge fanbase (in a clear homage to Star Trek). The show featured the heroic crew of the NSEA starship NTE-3120 (NTE stands for Not The Enterprise) Protector, Jason Nesmith (Tim Allen) as Commander Peter Quincy Taggart, Alexander Dane (Alan RIckman) as his science officer the alien, Dr. Lazarus, Gwen DeMarco (Sigourney Weaver) is computer officer Lt. Tawny Madison. Fred Kwan (Tony Shalhoub) is Tech Sergeant Chen, the ship’s engineer and young Laredo (Corbin Bleu in the show/Daryl Mitchell when he grew up) is the pilot.

Their heyday has passed but due to the show’s popularity they still frequent cons, and store openings, and it is this con where we join them, and they are in turn joined by Guy Fleegman (Sam Rockwell) who played a no-name character who got killed off in an episode before the first commercial, your generic red shirt. Despite the fact that most of his fellow castmates don’t like him (for stealing the best lines, cutting them out of episodes), they all admit he knows the show backwards and forwards, and always takes time with his fans.

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That is until an odd group of silver suited folks show up, led by Malthesar (Enrico Colantoni - who created the brilliant and unusual way that he speaks), Teb (Jed Rees) Quellek (Patrick Breen) and Laliari (Missi Pyle) show up. Nesmith mistakenly assumes they are a group of fans that he’s supposed to meet and do a private function with, but that is actually super-fan Brandon (Justin Long).

It seems these folks are actual aliens, who believe the television show is an actual recorded event, and have come to Earth to seek the help of this most famous crew to save their race from the evil Sarris (Robin Sachs), who was designed by the late and sorely missed Stan Winston and his studios.

What follows, as each of the cast members learn what is really going on, is a hilarious take on fandom, science fiction television shows and the good and bad featured in them.

They board the actual Protector, and have to learn to work together more so than they ever did for the show, and the stakes are so much higher than ratings. In the end, it’s the fans who help save the day due to their knowledge and love of the original series, and that speaks to the heart of fandom – the love and knowledge of a television show. It’s brilliant when Nesmith reveals to Brandon that it’s all real, his reaction is something I always wished I could so with Star Trek or Star Wars.

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There are injokes a plenty, sly little nods to archetypes, clichés, and well-known films and shows. It pokes fun, but pays homage to the fans who love these shows, and is also full of heart.

I saw this movie in the theater, loved it, and was delighted to learn that upon its initial release to DVD there was an alternate audio track, completely in the original Thermian – I’d be damned if I could understand it, but it was AWESOME!!

But that’s the point of the movie, it’s awesome, it’s funny, the gags are brilliant (miner vs minor), and it always reminds us to…

“Never give up… Never Surrender!”

Fellow Questarians, what is your favorite moment in the film?

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John Carpenter’s Halloween 35th Anniversary Edition Blu-Ray

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One of my fave John Carpenter films (see my revisit here) gets a gorgeous blu-ray treatment from Anchor Bay in time for its 35th Anniversary!

With a HD transfer supervised by the film’s cinematographer Dean Cundey, who whether you know the name or not, has probably been responsible for the way some of your favorite films look – he’s had a long and succesful relationship with Steven Spielberg, the film has never looked better, the detail and the sharpness of the image is fantastic. The colours are sharp and beautiful, the shadows and the dark, so important in this film, are solid – the iconic images from this film simply pop off the screen.

I hadn’t watched this one since my review for the 101 Horror Films, so it was nice to settle back in and watch the story of Michael Myers (Nick Castle), Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) and Doctor Loomis (Donald Pleasance) unfold on my screen. 35 years, this film still works.

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The disc is kitted out with some fun extras, and it can never be underestimated how much I love having a film’s trailer to watch and set the mood before I watch the movie proper – there are also some classic tv and radio spots, wow has the way we advertise movies changed!

Also included is a featurette from the 25th anniversary edition, that revists the locations used in the film, and it’s amazing how little they’ve changed as well as a 10 minute compilation of the scenes that were cut into the film for its television broadcast.

Two new features have been added to this edition, there’s a fun little documentary that follows Jamie Lee on her first, and by her own admission, probably only, convention appearance. Raising money for the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, she spends a weekend at a HorrorHound convention, in one of the most organized queue lines I have ever seen in a convention, and she personalized everything she signed, and was doing over 500 autographs, as well as photo-ops each day. People, as they do for conventions, came from all over, and Jamie Lee proved to be gracious and friendly with each one of them. It’s fun seeing her interact with fans, and seeing the amount of love they have for her, and she them.

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The highlight of this blu-ray edition, for me at least, was an all new commentary with Jamie Lee and John Carpenter. As the film plays, the two share anecdotes about the making of the film, chit chat, and Jamie Lee, not a huge fan of horror movies, constantly points out things that creep her out, as well as a continuity error with a door. This one is a lot of fun, and it sounds like they both had a good time catching up with each other and the film.

One of the things Jamie Lee does point out during the commentary, and I totally agree, is that the film takes its time, it doesn’t rush into anything, it lets the film build on a slow boil until the third act simply explodes. She says, quite rightly, that films aren’t made that way anymore, the film lingers on shots, setting the atmosphere, and drawing things out, and building the tension.

That just doesn’t seem to happen anymore. It’s all so rushed. As a possible exception would be Ti West’s films The Innkeepers and The House of The Devil, where the atmosphere just keeps building until the final act.

If you’ve never seen John Carpenter’s Halloween, do yourself a favor and pick up this beautifully transferred blu-ray, make some popcorn, turn off the lights, settle onto the couch and enjoy the night that He came home!

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An Affair Of The Heart – Coming to Blu-ray and DVD July 16, 2013!!!

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Remember when you forgot Rick Springfield?  These fans never did.  And now, thanks to the tireless efforts of a few – and the passion of many – the whole world has a chance to fall back in love again, and join the rest of us on the Yellow Rick Road!

The Mind Reels jumped onto the YRR mere moments after the opening credits began at the documentary’s premiere screening during Toronto’s Hot Docs Film Festival in 2012.  Rick, his fans, and the film itself won us over completely, and we’ve been on board ever since.  The first evidence of that statement can be found in our original review.

Now, after countless festivals, concerts, appearances and recognition the world over, the time has finally come for director Sylvia Caminer’s An Affair Of The Heart to find its way home – your home, in point of fact!  US preorders are being taken at Amazon.com here, and anyone outside of the United States can place orders directly at the film’s website here.

So don’t wait!  Preorder your copy now to remind yourself of what’s most important in the world today, revisit the soundtrack of your youth, fall in love with a genuine gem of rock and roll – and get yourself on the Yellow Rick Road today!

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Join The Fight To Save Bomb Girls!!!

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Fans all over the world were devastated to learn of Global TV’s decision not to renew the critically-acclaimed Canadian historical drama, Bomb Girls, for a third season.  It’s no secret that we here at the Mind Reels have been in love with this show from the very beginning, and our love has only grown stronger over the past two seasons in tandem with the wonderful relationships we’ve developed with the cast, creators, crew, and other fans (now forever known as Bombshells).

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It didn’t take long, however, for certain Bombshells to turn their broken hearts into something more creative, and thus the passionate SAVE BOMB GIRLS campaign was born!  Now, fans all over the world aren joining the fight and trying to let Global know that we need these stories, and we need these women to continue letting us join them on their journey.

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There are several ways to get involved, and all of them are fun, in addition to being helpful!  A website has been created to pull everything together into one place, and make it easier to share all of the facets of the campaign, and exchange ideas for more!

As well, there is a general account on Twitter, and a Facebook page, both updated regularly to help keep everyone in the loop.  More stuff is being added every day – there is even a Tumblr page!

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The main things happening right now are petitions, sending Bomb Girls-themed postcards to Global, creating and printing your own Victory Munitions badges to send to Global, and the most recent (yet already very successful) Victory Bandanas campaign!  One thing is for certain – Bombshells are not about to let their girls go quietly!  We intend to put up a fight!  :)

For more information, please check out the campaign press release, and the individual links above, to see how you, too, can leap into battle, and SAVE BOMB GIRLS!!!

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An Affair Of The Heart – Sylvia Caminer, USA

Documenting the past few decades of an icon like Rick Springfield can’t be an easy task.  Adding in stories and impressions from the legions of adoring fans he has amassed over the years could seem nearly impossible to an outsider looking in.  What director Sylvia Caminer has done with An Affair Of The Heart, however, is even more impressive than all of that – she’s captured the shared moments in between stage and screen, and created an endearing love letter which chronicles the near-symbiotic relationship that exists between Rick and his fans to this day.  A love letter that totally rocks.

To the uninitiated, Springfield shot to superstardom in the 80′s, through appearances on General Hospital and contagious pop music hits like Jessie’s Girl.  To most, he seemed to disappear completely after years in the spotlight.  But to those around the world who were touched by his music, his spirit, and his heart, Rick Springfield never went anywhere.  He just found his way closer to home, and further into his fans’ diverse lives.  From the marriages he helped bring about, to the lives that were saved through his musical gift of strength and perseverance, Rick was always right there, and no one need ever feel completely alone.  Including, it turns out, Rick Springfield himself.

The one thing that this film does best is to show us the man behind the magic curtain.  Springfield these days is as beautiful, flawed, sensitive, generous, broken, humble and strong as ever before, but over and above the sense of star power surrounding his every move, Rick is a human being.  It’s that pull of the Every Man that lures fans in from all around the world; from every age, race, colour, creed, religion, etc that one could imagine.  He’s a husband, a father, a son, and a friend.  His ability to share his own feelings and thoughts while battling depression, loss, infidelity and other hardships is something that everyone can relate to, and this film captures some of the touching and intimate moments that Rick has been able to share with his most devoted fans – in amongst some truly euphoric and rockin’ concert footage.

Caminer’s documentary is as much a heart-warming tribute to the fans as it is to Springfield and – as Rick himself is quick to point out – you really can’t have one without the other.  Now too, with a book out and the continued success of this documentary film, Springfield has even more ways to reach out and touch more lives than he ever could before.  So go ahead and take a walk along the Yellow Rick Road – you’ll be glad you did!

An Affair Of The Heart is screening as part of the Hot Docs film festival in Toronto Monday April 30th at 7:15pm (Royal) and Thursday May 3rd at 6:30pm (Cumberland)

Note:  Whoever yelled out “Hot Doc!” from the back of the International Premiere screening during the early General Hospital footage is one of my new favourite people.  Just sayin’.  :)