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Ask 411 Movies for 11.12.12: Crossing Over to the Dark Side!

November 12, 2012 | Posted by Leonard Hayhurst

What Leonard Recently Watched
I know some people thought Quantum of Solace was more Jason Bourne than James Bond. That won’t be a complaint with Skyfall. The mood and style is a throwback to the Sean Connery-era and, therefore, perfect as the 50th anniversary film in the franchise. Some old elements and characters are reintroduced, getting the reboot almost back into continuity of the original films. Daniel Craig really deepens and broadens his portrayal here, getting into the psyche of Bond, who he is and why he is, more than any other actor in any other film. His motherly relationship with Judi Dench’s M is a key theme and is nicely contrasted with her past with the main villain, the maniacal Javier Bardem. Bond theater experiences are always great, so you have to temper your reaction somewhat, but Skyfall for me right now would be one of the five best Bond movies and I just need a little time to see if historical perspective proves that too.

I took my oldest two nieces to see Wreck-It Ralph and we all equally enjoyed it. I loved all of the video game references and they liked the colorful characters. The voice casting was perfect, typecasting be damned. I think it was a good marriage of finding the right voice actors for the part and then tweaking the animation and writing to match. It looks and feels like a Pixar film, but comes from Disney’s main animation studio. This is understandable with John Lasseter being in creative control in both animation departments. If he can keep this up, both studios should be able to rule the animated roost for the next decade at least easy.

Obscure Television Series of the Week
Title: Barbary Coast
Air Dates: Sept. 8, 1975 to Jan. 9, 1976
Network: ABC
Cast: Doug McClure as Cash Conover, William Shatner as Jeff Cable, Richard Kiel as Moose Moran and Dave Turner as Thumbs
Premise: Set in the 1870s, the Barbary Coast was a wild section of San Francisco filled with criminals and shady dealings. Cable was an agent sent by the governor to tame the district. He found an unlikely ally in casino owner Conover.

Last week I said I had no questions and you guys came through tremendously. Be sure to send more. If you don’t see your question this week, just hold on. Some were doozys requiring some extra thought and/or research. Plus, I got a bit behind this week.

Q: Here is a question you can probably look up and since I am lazy & constrained at work I will appreciate your assistance. What ever happened to cast from Better off Ted & was the show that bad in the ratings? I know Portia will be back on Arrested, & I have seen Ted in some things but not as much as you would think, but what about Phil & Lem & Linda?
thanks for your help.
-Uncle Jimbo

A: Better Off Ted ran two seasons of 26 episodes from 2009 to 2010 on ABC. The satirical sitcom centered around characters working for a stereotypically evil company while trying to stay moral and true to themselves. The pilot scored 5.64 million viewers, ABC’s lowest rated pilot since 2005. The first season finale netted 2.41 million viewers with the second season opener getting 3.82 million viewers. Ratings were never strong and basically critical response and the fact that the series was seen as sort of a high-brow sitcom kept it on the air. However, creator Victor Fresco said ABC never supported the series by promoting it well or giving it a solid time slot in order to build an audience.

Jay Harrington played Ted Crisp. He was last seen in American Reunion as Dr. Ron and is working on the TV movie Guilty from McG. A sports fan, Harrington plays for a celebrity basketball team and hockey team in Los Angeles.

Portia de Rossi played Veronica. She was last seen in the Munsters reboot Mockingbird Lane as Lily. She’s slated to reprise her role as Lindsay in the Arrested Development movie. She’s married to talk show host and comedienne Ellen DeGeneres. DeGeneres was executive producer on a pilot last winter for de Rossi called The Smart One, which wasn’t picked up.

Andrea Anders played Linda. After Better Off Ted she went onto Mr. Sunshine with Matthew Perry. She now has the recurring role of a sports publicist on the USA Network series Necessary Roughness.

Jonathan Slavin played Phil and has kept busy with television guest spots on Suburgatory, The Finder, Shake It Up!, Love Bites and Castle. IMDB has him listed for small parts in a few movies coming up including Mucho Dinero, How Sweet It Is and Man Up.

Isabella Acres played Ted’s daughter. She does cartoon voices, including Phineas and Ferb and the new Wreck-It Ralph for Disney.

Michael Barrett who played Lem still acts and also records as a spoken word and hip hop artist under the names of Verbal, the Velvet Rope and Tourette’s. His video for “Revenge of the Nerds” features his Better Off Ted cast mates.

Q: Let’s get your opinion on the Disney buying Lucasfilms business. Is Four billion a fair amount? Do you see this a good for both companies? How would you go about with sequels (I’ve always been in favor of the Timothy Zahn Grand Admiral Thrawn trilogy being 7-9). Do you ever think Disney will release the Remastered (not special edition) original trilogy on DVD/BD? Could this lead to Muppet Babies being released on DVD/BD? And, any other thoughts and opinions on the matter you might have.

A: It was announced on Tuesday, Oct. 30, that The Walt Disney Co. would purchase Lucasfilm Ltd. from George Lucas for $4.05 billion. This gives Disney access to all Lucasfilm assets and the rights to do anything they wish with properties owned by Lucasfilm. This includes the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises, Skywalker Sound and Industrial Light & Magic. Disney has announced plans to film a new Star Wars trilogy and make Star Wars based rides for its amusement parks. Disney has a history of acquiring family friendly properties such as Marvel Comics, the Muppets and Pixar. Speculation for the future has Disney developing more Star Wars movies, television programs and animated shows to expand the universe.

It’s always said a fair price is whatever the market will yield. Disney has shown in how they’ve used Pixar, Marvel and the Muppets that they know how to get the most out of acquired properties. Look for ILM and Skywalker Sound to be involved in non-Star Wars projects for Disney. Disney is also a marketing machine and there is plenty of Star Wars merchandise out there already. I think Disney winds up making their money back and more in the long run. Trust me, if Disney didn’t think the price was good, they wouldn’t have paid it.

As far as a storyline for the new films, it’s been rumored that there will be an original storyline and not take off from any of the books or comics. At this time, it appears that the characters of Luke, Leia and Han will be involved, at least early on, with the focus shifting to their children. I think you have to go real time and have the new movies set about 30 years after Return of the Jedi. Luke has reestablished the Jedi order. Leia has reestablished the Republic and Han, as Leia’s husband, is head of the military. I like the idea of Luke turning to the dark side as he ages and his Jedi powers weaken. Perhaps he accidentally kills Leia to cement his turn and send Han after him. As symmetry with the original movies, Han and Leia should have twins with one siding with Luke and one with Han. Basically you wold have ghost Yoda summing things up that you cannot have light without dark and the Force must be balanced with the light and the dark.

With the DVD releases, if there is enough clamoring from fans for the original theatrical releases then Disney will put them out if the profit potential is there. Disney has no allegiance or ties to whatever Lucas’ creative vision is for any of the old movies, unless it was specified in the contract that they wouldn’t release the movies in their original form. Hell, if they could make money off the Star Wars Holiday Special, they would probably put that out too.

Muppet Babies was produced by The Jim Henson Company and Marvel Productions. Disney-ABC Domestic Television owns the distribution rights now. What is a perceived reason for the hold up on DVD release is the amount of live action scenes used in the shows. The rights holders of the footage would need to be paid for their use, or the scenes would need to be cut. The recent Lucasfilm purchase helps some as Star Wars and Indiana Jones clips were some of the ones used. At this time, there are no plans to release the series on DVD. There are bootlegs out there and some episodes were put out with Muppet Baby plush toys a few years ago.

Q: How offended are you or ok with the fact directors will go back and digitally enhance or change scenes in their movies? Of course the two glaring examples are the Star Wars famous Han shot first and E.T. replace the agents guns w/ walkie-talkies. Personally, I feel they are treating the viewers who watched them in the original state as morons while trying to be PC to attract those who feel the movies are too violent and won’t let their children watch them. Its, odd to say the least, that someone who watched it in the original form would grow up and be the parent feeling that it was too edgy to let their kids watch.

Circa 2005 or so Cartoon Network was running a new Masters of the Universe. I thought it was great the way each week new characters were introduced and we were building to the invasion by Hordak into Eternia then suddenly after 3 years, I believe, it was over and Cartoon Net seemed to moving into a new imported/Japanese cartoon block.  Were the ratings suddenly bad enough to drop the show or did a change in philosophy take place at the network?

A: George Lucas has said some of the changes he made in the first Star Wars trilogy was to get it closer to his original vision as he simply didn’t have the money and technology to do all that back then. Of course, story changes like Greedo shooting first or the bad guys carrying walkie-talkies in E.T. smack more of going against your artistic vision to make a few fussy parents happy by softening the edges of the story. Changes like that I’m against, because you’re doing a great disservice to the original vision, those who worked on the film and the fans. However, as long as the original movies aren’t destroyed and can still be watched then I’m more okay with it. As I said above, it’s what the market will yield. So, if you can make money off of multiple versions and multiple versions make the most people happy, so be it.

As the trailer for the 30th anniversary Blu-Ray version of E.T. shows below, the guns were restored.

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe ran two seasons of 39 episodes on the Cartoon Network from 2002 to 2004. It was produced to coincide with the revitalization of the toy line by Mattel. The series was canceled because ratings and sales for the toy line were lower than expected, according to the Grayskull Wiki. The toy line and program both straddled the line too much between the originals and new, not getting the needed interest from kids or adult fans of the original franchise.

Q: Has Clint Eastwood ever played the villain in a movie?  I know he has been an outlaw or “bad guy” but even so I think he was always the protagonist.

A: Clint Eastwood has played plenty of outlaws, anti-heroes or less than virtuous characters, but hardly ever a straight up villain in a feature film. About the closest he comes is 1971’s The Beguiled while still being the male lead. Eastwood’s John McBurney is a Union soldier who gets injured in the south during the end of the Civil War. He’s taken into an all-girl boarding school. McBurney plays the girls off of each other while having his way with a few of them. He spurns the headmistress (Geraldine Page) for a younger girl. Pretty much everyone comes off as a bad guy here. The clincher for Eastwood as villain here is that McBurney kills a 12-year-old’s pet turtle in a drunken rage. You don’t get more evil than that.

Don’t die
“I’m bad, and that’s good. I will never be good, and that’s not bad. There’s no one I’d rather be than me.”


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Leonard Hayhurst

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