Sunday, 31 July 2011

The Space Adventures of Little Gay Longcat

Part 27: Something Following

Monkey Challenge: Who Am I?

A big improvement on the last couple, Who Am I? saves disc 10 from being the weakest of the Monkey DVDs so far.

Even the Monkeys With Badges were on the verge of criticising Monkey after The Foolish Philosopher, and for a monkey that's almost akin to treason against their Monkey King. They might even have had to hand in their badges.

The plot immediately goes off in a new and interesting direction after Monkey, Tripitaka, Pigsy and Sandy lose their memories after eating some magic mushrooms. The only one not affected is Yu Lung (because he didn't eat the mushrooms, not because he was immune), and this allows him to actually make a positive contribution to the story for a nice change.

Monkey falls in with some bandits who, after he beats them in a fight (even without his Magic Wishing Staff, which he has mislaid), mistake him for an evil prince and suggest he join them in their attempt to capture Tripitaka.

They capture Tripitaka while Pigsy and Sandy are off having their own crazy sub-plot about buying new memories from a magician, which leads to Pigsy getting the memories of a rooster and acting like one until he gets his own memory back.

Monkey mistakes Yu Lung for the fearsome Monkey, guardian of Tripitaka, that the bandits have warned him about. These scenes are amusing, with Monkey wanting to fight but Yu Lung doing his best to avoid it, until Yu Lung gives Monkey his memories back by accident.

Once Monkey has his memory back then it's all over bar the inevitable fight with the evil-spirits-of-the-week that were behind it all, since Monkey's magic is easily up to the job of restoring the others' memories.

It's a decent episode rather than an outstanding one, but a welcome return to form after the last few.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Big Gay Longcat reviews Star Trek: Catspaw

Today Starcat and I are going to review another Star Trek episode, and because it is a scary one we are going to have help from Scary Cat who isn't afraid of anything (except maybe Hoover, but don't tell him I said that or he will make a scary face at me).

The episode is called Catspaw, and I like it already just from the name.

It starts with the Enterprise going round a planet. Scotty and Lt Sulu are on the planet and Captain Kirk is worried about them. Jackson beams up all by himself, then falls down and goes
Actually he says there is a curse on the ship and if they don't go away they will all die. Jackson speaks in a scary voice (though not as scary as Balok's scary face) and then he is really dead.

Captain Kirk isn't scared. He beams down with Mr Spock and Dr McCoy. There they pick up life signs but the Enterprise can only detect the three of them on the planet. Then they lose contact with the Enterprise.

They meet the three witches from MacBeth who tell Captain Kirk to go back. Captain Kirk still isn't scared, just confused. He asks Mr Spock to comment.
"Very bad poetry, Captain."
"A more useful comment, Mr Spock?"

They find a spooky castle and go inside. Straightaway they meet a black cat! It mews and for the first time Captain Kirk is scared. He recovers quickly and tries not to look scared when when the door closes behind them and makes a loud noise.

The cat mews again and they fall through a hole in the floor and are knocked out. When they wake up they are in prison. Scotty and Lt Sulu come in but they have been hypno-eyesed.

They are about to take Captain Kirk, Mr Spock and Dr McCoy somewhere else when Captain Kirk and Mr Spock try to fight them. A manny shouts "stop!" and suddenly they are in a different room which is much more fabulous-looking than the prison.

There is a manny there and the cat is there too. Captain Kirk immediately demands answers from the manny, who is called Korob. The cat speaks to Korob and is obviously the one who is really in charge out of the two of them.

Korob has a magic wand. He uses it to make noms appear for them but they don't want to eat. He makes jewels appear instead but Captain Kirk is not impressed by this either. Korob says he has been testing their loyalty, bravery and integrity.

The cat leaves the room and another manny comes in instead. She is Sylvia.

Captain Kirk gets the phaser away from hypno-eyesed Scotty, but Sylvia makes a little Enterprise and holds it over a candle. Captain Kirk is allowed to contact the real Enterprise and hears it is getting hotter. Captain Kirk gives in. The aliens spare the Enterprise but put a forcefield around it so they can't beam anyone down to try a rescue.

Captain Kirk and Mr Spock are put back in prison while Dr McCoy is hypno-eyesed like Scotty and Lt Sulu.

Sylvia and Korob argue. They are on a mission and they disagree about how to do it. Sylvia likes being shaped like a manny and wants to stay like that, but Korob says "we have a duty to the Old Ones."
At this point Cthulhu joined us to watch the rest of this episode, but I don't know why.

When Sylvia is alone with Captain Kirk (or she thinks she is, actually Korob is watching them secretly) she tries to team up with him instead of Korob.

Captain Kirk pretends to go along with Sylvia and kiffs her. She likes it and gives away secrets until she reads Captain Kirk's mind and realises he is just pretending (obviously Captain Kirk would much rather have been kiffing someone else). Sylvia gets very angry and Captain Kirk is put back in prison.

Korob comes and releases Captain Kirk and Mr Spock. He thinks Sylvia has gone mad and so he is on their side now. This is a very sudden change and I think the real explanation is that he was hoping Captain Kirk would kiff him too.

There is a giant shadow of a cat in their way.
"Why a cat?" asks Captain Kirk.
"Racial memories," Mr Spock explains. "The cat is the most ruthless, most terrifying of animals, as far back as the sabre-tooth tiger." Mr Spock is clever; he knows these things.

The giant cat chases them and knocks a door down, squashing Korob. Captain Kirk takes his magic wand from him and then Captain Kirk and Mr Spock fight with the hypno-eyesed Dr McCoy, Scotty and Lt Sulu, and knock them out.

Sylvia comes in and teleports herself and Captain Kirk away from Mr Spock for an ultimate showdown. She wants Captain Kirk to hand over the magic wand, which is really a 'transmuter' that allows them to use their magic powers.

Captain Kirk breaks it instead, and there is a flash explosion. The castle disappears, and Dr McCoy, Scotty and Lt Sulu aren't hypno-eyesed anymore.

There are two tiny blue aliens with tentacle faces, the real Sylvia and Korob, and they die. Cthulhu's plans to nom the world have been foiled once again.

Scary face! That means it is the end of the episode.

This is a great episode of Star Trek because it has cats in it, and there are not nearly enough of those. Also it is really obvious that the cat is actually Sylvia in disguise, which means that Captain Kirk kiffed a cat!

Cthulhu was the only one of us who didn't like this story. I asked him why but he was being grumpy and only said something about the stars not being right...

Monday, 25 July 2011

Big Gay Longcat reviews Doctor Who: The Snows of Terror

Part four of The Keys of Marinus starts with Ian and Barbara still in the cold place they appeared in at the end of part three. There is snow and wind and haunting music like they're in the film Excalibur.

Ian and Barbara decide to have sleeps in the snow, which is quite surprising when they're supposed to be on an adventure, but then I quite often feel like having sleeps when I am supposed to be doing other things so maybe they were just sleepy.

A manny called Vasor finds them and takes them to his house where it is warm because he has a fire. When he wakes up Ian swaps his teleport bracelet with Vasor for some warm clothes and he goes to look for Altos, Susan and Sabetha.

Ian sees wolves like this one (I think he looks quite cuddly really) and then he finds Altos.

Barbara sees Vasor has a drawer with Sabetha's keys in it so she knows he is a baddy. He admits it. Ian also finds this out from Altos at the same time but in a different place, which is a clever piece of storytelling by Terry Nation.

Vasor attacks Barbara, but she lets Ian and Altos in the house and they capture Vasor and make him take them to where Susan and Sabetha are. Susan and Sabetha are in a cave. They are lost, but no wolves or polar bears come to get them.

They find a bridge and cross it (that's what a bridge is for, after all).

Vasor is scared and says there are demons in the cave. Ian, Barbara and Altos find the same bridge and cross it, finding Susan and Sabetha on the other side. But Vasor is still a baddy and he drops the bridge so everyone except for him is trapped.

Ian, Barbara, Altos, Susan and Sabetha find the key in a block of ice, surrounded by four statues of warriors. There is also a tap that turns the heat on and the ice begins to melt.

Ian and Altos improvise a new bridge. I don't know what it's made of.

Sabetha gets the key and then the statues come to life. It is a shocking moment when one of them opens its eyes.

They all run away. Ian fights the warriors while Susan crosses the new bridge. This is a very tense scene - bits fall off the new bridge, but eventually Susan gets across. She puts the old bridge back up so the others can cross, then Ian takes it down again so one of the warriors falls down into the hole.

The other warriors are confused. They can't talk but if they could I think they would say "where did our bridge go?"

Ian, Barbara, Altos, Susan and Sabetha get back to Vasor's hut to get their teleport bracelets back from him. They must have forgotten about them when they captured Vasor earlier, but that is understandable because they were worried about Susan and Sabetha.

Vasor threatens Susan but the warriors turn up (maybe they jumped across or maybe they improvised their own bridge, I don't know I'm just a cat) and kill him. Ian, Barbara, Altos, Susan and Sabetha teleport away so the warriors can't get them.

Ian appears in a room where there is a manny on the floor, I think he is having sleeps. Ian sees there is a key in the room. Another manny knocks Ian out and then steals the key. We don't find out who this mysterious manny is because that is the end of the episode.

This is a very fast-moving episode with lots happening, and it really builds up the tension towards the end, though a lot of that would not have been there if Ian, Barbara and Altos had remembered to take the teleport bracelets with them to the cave. Silly mannys.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Monkey Challenge: The Foolish Philosopher

The 'rescuing the virtuous princess from the evil kidnapper' plot, with a moral about the wrongs of snobbery, is given the Monkey twist. The princess is a water spirit, like Sandy, and she falls for him even though his social status is beneath hers.

Unfortunately, Sandy doesn't work well as a romantic lead - this role is usually better filled by a guest character - and even the antics of Monkey, Pigsy and Yu Lung can't rescue this episode from being dull, seen-it-all-before fare.

Forgettable, and definitely not one I'd recommend.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Fishy fishy iyooo

Kitten has caught a fish for us to nom. Clever Kitten.

The fishy has googly eyes and a smiley face. He looks very nomable.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Big Gay Longcat reviews Doctor Who: The Screaming Jungle

Part three of The Keys of Marinus starts by not showing the end of part two again. Susan is still scared but there is no noise. Ian and Barbara and Altos and Sabetha find her but there is no noise for them to hear so they don't know why Susan was scared.

Ian and Altos and Sabetha go to look for a way into the place. Barbara and Susan are left behind and a plant attacks Susan.

After they escape from the plant Barbara finds a statue with the key on it, but its hands grab her and it turns around a secret door so she is on the other side from everyone else.

Ian is worried about Barbara. Altos and Susan teleport on to look for the next key but then Sabetha sees the key they picked up is a fake key. So Ian stays behind to look for Barbara and the real key while Sabetha teleports on.

The statue grabs Ian and turns him around. I think the statue is probably disappointed it could only grab Ian's legs and not anything ruder. I know I would be.

Barbara saves Ian from a trap and tells him there are lots of traps where they are. Barbara falls in a trap herself when a net is dropped on her and then the roof comes down with lots of spikes on it. Ian tries to rescue her, and the roof moves very slowly so there is lots of time, but it is not Ian who saves her, it is another manny - he sees they are from Arbitan because of Barbara's teleport bracelet, and then they save him from a plant as well.

The manny is dying and he gives them a cryptic clue to find the key:
"D, E, 3, O, 2."
They find a safe but the clue is not to let them open the safe. They look around the room until Ian finds the manny's diary and reads it. It is full of crazy theories because the manny was a mad scientist.

"The Growth Accelerator has changed Nature's tempo of destruction entirely," is the mysterious last entry.

"Ian must now lose D10 points of sanity," says Cthulhu.

This episode has been like one of his Call of Cthulhu adventures, what with scary noises that not everyone can hear, the grotesque statue, the traps, the mad scientist with his diary full of demented scribblings, and the plants that attack people.

All the plants try to get in to attack Ian and Barbara. They find the key hidden in a jar that is clearly marked with the clue, so they can then escape the plants by using the teleport bracelets.

But they are not safe now because they teleport to a place where it is very cold. That is the end of the episode.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Monkey Challenge: The Dogs of Death

It does not bode well for season 2 with such a dull episode as this so early on. There's about 5 minutes of plot padded out to over 40, which makes this one of the thinnest episodes of Monkey, and that's saying something.

The titular 'Dogs of Death' are the evil-spirits-of-the-week, they're old enemies of Monkey with a plan to kill him. One of them has the power to create plagues, so they put one in the way of the pilgrimage and Tripitaka, who can't resist the urge to help (even though he has no medical skills at all), catches it.

The only cure for the plague is "monkey's brains," and most of the episode is spent with Monkey agonising over whether he should sacrifice himself for Tripitaka, and then, when he decides he will, trying to kill himself.

Of course for Monkey suicide isn't easy, because he's indestructible (a fact seldom remembered about him in the series, but an important plot point here). He tries various methods, each more tedious than the last - sadly there's no dramatic tension in these scenes because (1) we know Monkey isn't going to die, and (2) it's attempted suicide played for laughs.

Eventually the head dog-spirit (who has been disguised as a doctor at the plague hospital) provides them with a magic axe that he claims will kill Monkey. He can't help gloating and gives himself away, leading to a climactic fight which is admittedly rather good, but hardly worth the wait.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Go Cry Emo Cat

This is my new friend Emo Cat. He is as long as Gamma Longcat (and that's very long) but he has a sad.

Even when I give him a fez to wear he still has a sad. He will need lots of hugs and kiffs to cheer him up.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Big Gay Longcat reviews Doctor Who: The Velvet Web

Part two of The Keys of Marinus starts by showing the end of part one again, so Ian says "Look, there's blood on it!" Then the Doctor, Ian and Susan get zapped by flashing lights and noises when they go in a room to find Barbara. Barbara is alright and the blood is from when she scratched herself. Clumsy Barbara!

"What do you think about all this, Doctor?"
"Oh, sensuous and decadent... but rather pleasant."
They are given lots of noms and the manny Altos wants to look after them and give them presents. Ian is dubious and suspects they're baddys really but they all go to sleep, definitely not drugged by the nice food and drink.

There's nothing sinister going on here.

Barbara wakes up and there is more flashing lights and noises that knock her out. Whe she wakes up everybody else has been hypno-eyesed and only Barbara can see the room is horrible really - everything looks nice except when we see it through her eyes, which is a clever way of showing us what is going on here. There really is something sinister happening!

Altos comes in and Barbara runs away from him and hides, she is very scared.

There are brains in jars that are really in charge here. They want to hypno-eyes everyone to be their slaves and Altos is working for them.

Barbara meets Sabetha. "Listen to me, I believe you're under some deep form of deep hypnosis," she says. It must be very deep then, because Sabetha doesn't remember that she is Arbitan's daughter.

Altos catches them but Sabetha knocks him out, having decided to team up with Barbara. But Barbara is caught again, by hypno-eyesed Ian, and she is taken to see the brains.

The brains also have googly eyes on stalks. They tell Ian to kill Barbara but Barbara kills the brains instead and this makes everyone who has been hypno-eyesed better again.

Sabetha and Altos get their memories back. They were sent by Arbitan to look for the keys and Sabetha has one already. They join forces with the Doctor, Ian, Barbara and Susan to look for the rest of the keys.

Susan teleports to the next place where there is lots of noise and she is scared by it. That is the end of the episode.

This episode is a change of pace from part one. Lots happened in The Sea of Death to get the story started, but here there is only one plot until the keys come back into it at the end. It is all about Barbara saving the others by seeing through the illusions of the baddys.

My best bit is the changing between the fake nice room and the real horrible room to show the difference between them.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Monkey Challenge: Pigsy's Ten Thousand Ladies

"Primal chaos ruled the worlds before Monkey.
Monkey was born of time, of Heaven and Earth, sun and moon, out of a stone egg.
He was irrepressible.

The place was like ancient China.
And the time might have been a thousand years ago.
They fought - and they thought - then as now.
Holy Tripitaka prayed.
One disciple, Sandy, is a fish spirit.
Pigsy, expelled from Heaven for greed, is the spirit of a pig.
He is changing.
Everything changes.
There is a horse, once a dragon, now evolving into human form.
Monkey, Horse, Sandy, Pigsy and Tripitaka are all upon a journey as long as life."

This is the new - and infinitely less memorable - opening narration for the duration of season 2. It's very functional, cutting down the poetry of the season 1 opening into the first three lines to make way for explaining about the changes to the regular cast. I do like the shot of Monkey fighting demons on the Great Wall though.

The new actor for Pigsy, Tonpei Hidari, is, to me, a bit like Brian Croucher's second Travis in Blakes 7 - he would have been fine if he'd been playing an original character, or if he'd played the part from the start, but both find the original actor a tough act to follow.
Fortunately we still have the wonderful Peter Woodthorpe as Pigsy's voice, without whom the show would lose quite a lot of its charm.

While none of the characters in the show acknowledge the change to Pigsy, the narrator describes him as "becoming more human," which continues the theme established in the previous episode.

The second major change is the introduction of the Horse as a part-time human, changing between human and horse forms whenever he gets a shock. If you're watching the series along with me, get used to seeing the visual effect used when he changes forms, as it'll be appearing multiple times an episode from now on.

Horse first becomes human-shaped when he is struck by lightning early on, one of many sub-plots in this episode which is frankly all over the place. In fact the title, Pigsy's Ten Thousand Ladies, is a very minor part of the overall story. In brief, this is what happens:

Monkey, Pigsy and Sandy have left Tripitaka to go their separate ways (this has happened off-screen before the episode began).

With only the horse for company, Tripitaka is caught in a storm and the horse is struck by lightning, changing into a human form.

Monkey flies back to the mountain of fruit and flowers to become king again, but he quickly becomes bored (and guilty, when he dreams Tripitaka is in trouble) so he goes to find Tripitaka again.

Pigsy has taken fake scriptures back to China (possibly the ones used in the previous episode, though they may not be - in which case Pigsy has faked up some scriptures by himself. They're certainly the same props though) and, pretending he is the last survivor of Tripitaka's expedition, claims a reward from the Emperor. He wants to be put in charge of the 10,000 Imperial concubines, but when he finally realises her has to become a eunuch for that (the man with the big sword trying to chop his goolies off is a big clue) he abandons the plan and goes to find Tripitaka again.

Sandy tries to get back into Heaven, and finds an ally in the star-spirit Vega who uses her influence with the Jade Emperor (they're "just good friends") to allow Sandy to be allowed in and be given a house of his own. But when Sandy realises she has arranged for one of her maidens to marry him, the prospect of a nagging wife and screaming kids scares him back to Earth, where he - of course - goes to find Tripitaka again.

Incidentally, there's a lot of continuity in these scenes with the very early episodes of the first season, including the same actors returning to play the parts. It's a nice touch.

When Monkey, Pigsy and Sandy find Tripitaka (and Horse), he is - of course - in imminent danger of being killed by a monster (by all appearances a third cousin twice removed of Godzilla, and an atrocious model) and they are just in time to save the day.

So the plot is pretty thin, but it serves as a framework for introducing Yu Lung and, I suppose, reintroducing all of the characters - not necessary for those, like me, going straight on from season 1, but may have been useful when it was first broadcast.

And finally, the new closing music. By the same band, Godiego, as the last one, it's called "Holy and Bright" and, once again, exists in both Japanese and English versions. However, to the best of my memory, only the English version is used on the season 2 credits. Here's a video (for as long as YouTube allows it) with both languages - the English version starts 2 minutes in:

It's good but, like the second Pigsy and the second Travis, it's just not as good.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Big Gay Longcat reviews Doctor Who: The Sea of Death

The Sea of Death is the first part of The Keys of Marinus by Terry Nation. It starred William Hartnell as the Doctor and William Russell as Ian, Jacqueline Hill as Barbara and Carole Ann Ford as Susan.

This is an even older Doctor Who story than the Daleks' Master Plan, but fortunately for all cats and mannys not old enough to remember the days when TV was in black and white, all of this story has been kept for us to watch today.

And because it is by Terry Nation it is great! It is not as famous as The Daleks (which Terry Nation also wrote) but it is just as good in its own way, for reasons I will explain when we get to them - not all are in this episode, some are later in the story.

It starts with the TARDIS appearing on a beach. The Doctor, Ian, Barbara and Susan go out to look.
"It isn't frozen is it?" asks Barbara.
"No, impossible at this temperature. Besides, it's too warm," jokes the mischievous Doctor.

Straightaway there is mystery as a manny with flippers is following them secretly - they don't know there's somebody there, but we do.

There is also danger present because Susan is going to go into the water but she drops her shoe in and it is really acid! Barbara realises the whole sea is acid.

When the Doctor is told he says to Ian "Yes, and if you'd had your shoes on, my boy, you could have lent her hers. You mustn't get sloppy in your habits you know." Ian and Barbara chuckle at this and I did as well because the Doctor is silly. But really it is serious because they still don't know about the secret manny.

They find some vessels for going in the acid sea, so they know there are other mannys somewhere. Then Ian spots a big building.
"Look at that fantastic building!" he says.

The flippered manny is an alien, and it is following Susan now because she is on her own to get new shoes. The alien has a knife and is going to stab Susan, but it falls into a secret door with another manny behind it.

So Susan escapes without even knowing the alien was there. But then she falls into another secret door and screams. Ian and Barbara hear it and run to her, but they don't know the door is there so they can't find her. The tension has really been built up well and it is exciting now they know there is danger about.

Susan sees a manny in white robes, but in avoiding him she is caught by the alien. Then the alien dies because it has a knife in its back. This is a dramatic twist - who could have stabbed it? I think it was the manny from behind the secret door.

The Doctor, Barbara and Susan are all captured when they go inside the building. Ian finds the manny in white robes fighting with an alien and he joins in, saving the manny from being stabbed. Ian makes friends with manny so he releases the others and tells them all his story.

The aliens are the Voord and they are baddys who want to take over Marinus. The manny is called Arbitan and he is a goody who wants to use his mind control machine to make everyone on Marinus into a goody. He needs four keys to make his machine work and he tries to get the Doctor, Ian, Barbara and Susan to go and get them for him.

The next scene sees them going back to the TARDIS having said "no." We didn't see them say "no" to Arbitan but that's what they did after the last scene ended. But they can't get in the TARDIS because Arbitan has made a forcefield to keep them away from it.

He has asked them nicely and been refused, so now he is going to blackmail them into working for him. It's lucky that he explained how he was a goody earlier or this might have made him seem like a baddy.

Arbitan gives them teleport bracelets so they can go to where the keys are. Barbara teleports first, the others follow a few seconds later. Then a Voord sneaks up on Arbitan and stabs him.

The Doctor, Ian and Susan arrive where they have been teleported to, but Barbara is missing already. They find her teleport bracelet and Ian says "Look, there's blood on it!"

That is the dramatic end of the episode. A big close up on Ian's face shows this is serious business.

This is a very good beginning to the story. It is full of mystery and exciting twists, and then just when you think things can't get any better Arbitan produces teleport bracelets, which promises the rest of the story will see lots of mannys getting knocked out and losing their bracelets just like in Blakes 7!