Saturday 21 April 2012

S Is For...Stay Alive In '95

My nineteenth post for the A-to-Z Challenge, S is for... Stay Alive In '95:

I wrote a review-of-the-year type post of my favourite Film, TV, Radio, Music, Books, Comics, Games, Online and/or Art etc at the end of 2010 and enjoyed writing it enough to decide to keep writing them. So I've been working my way backwards, one year per month, and I've reached 1995:

Stay Alive In '95
I've borrowed this title from the sleeve notes for the single release of Pulp's 'Common People', the full quote is: "There is a war in progress - don't be a casual(ty). The time to decide whose side you're on is here. Choose wisely. Stay alive in '95."

1995 was the year that Richey Edwards of the Manic Street Preachers disappeared, Nick Leeson caused the collapse of Barings Bank, the Oklahoma City bombing took place, O.J. Simpson was found not guilty of double murder and astonishingly the state of Mississippi finally outlawed slavery.

These are a few of my favourite things from 1995:

Mighty Aphrodite
Woody Allen does Greek tragedy and does it in style. Mighty Aphrodite is very, very funny. Mira Sorvino's performance is phenomenal, Allen and F. Murray Abraham are great.

Twelve Monkeys
Terry Gilliam's thought-provoking time travel thriller is fantastic. Inspired by La Jetee the film deals with temporal mechanics in an intelligent way. Bruce Willis, Madeleine Stowe, Brad Pitt, Frank Gorshin and Christopher Plummer are all great. Here's the trailer.

Bond is back with a vengeance after a six year absence. The bizarre, but brilliant title sequence exemplifies the idea of adjusting Bond for a post-Cold War age. Pierce Brosnan takes on the role and makes it his own, while Sean Bean, Izabella Scorupco, Famke Janssen, Alan Cumming, Michael Kitchen, Robbie Coltrane and Judi Dench are all wonderful and it's great to see Desmond Llewellyn back as Q. Here's the trailer.

The Usual Suspects
Bryan Singer's directorial debut is a brilliant and densely plotted film that takes in elements of heist movies and film noir to become probably the best in its genre. The cast and the twist in the tale are fantastic. Here's the trailer.

Apollo 13
Based on the true story of the thirteenth Apollo mission. The realism acheived aboard Apollo 13 is incredibly convincing, the cast are great and the sense of lunar apathy on Earth, followed by the sensationalism when the mission is at risk, are both very well played. Here's the trailer.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Past Tense; Heart Of Stone; Destiny; Prophet Motive; Visionary; Through The Looking Glass; Improbable Cause & The Die Is Cast; Explorers; Family Business; Shakaar; Facets; The Adversary; The Way Of The Warrior; The Visitor; Hippocratic Oath; Indiscretion; Rejoined; Starship Down; Little Green Men; The Sword Of Kahless; Our Man Bashir
The third series continues with two-parter Past Tense which addresses the issues of homelessness, unemployment and segregation on 21st centry Earth with a great guest cast. Heart Of Stone is almost a tragic love story between Odo and Kira with a great surprise ending and Nog's application for Starfleet Academy is a nice subplot. Destiny concerns Sisko's uncomfortable relationship with the mantle of Emissary, the interpretation and reinterpretation of the prophecy is great and O'Brien's embarrassment is tangible. Armin Shimerman, Max Grodénchik and Wallace Shawn are all great in Prophet Motive, a uniquely Ferengi spin on the concepts and mythology at the heart of DS9's pilot episode. Visionary is an intricate time travel detective story and Colm Meaney's dual performance is fantastic. Sisko goes Through The Looking Glass and fits in perfectly as a Terran freedom fighter in the Mirror Universe. Improbable Cause and The Die Is Cast are an outstanding two-parter which builds on the events of the season thus far and the mostly unexplored relationship between Odo and Garak is used to great effect, Rene Auberjonois and Andrew Robinson are fantastic, the interrogation scene and the space battle are particularly impressive and it's lovely to see Paul Dooley back. Avery Brooks and Cirroc Lofton ease with one another make the Siskos father and son trip in Explorers, the Cardassian coincidence is well played and the O'Brien and Bashir drunk scene is fantastic. Quark and Rom return home to deal with some Family Business, Shimerman, Grodenchik and Andrea Martin are wonderful in what is a fantastic Ferengi episode. Kira is reunited with Shakaar as Kai Winn risks a civil war on Bajor and the exterior shooting looks wonderful. The regular cast each embody a different host of the Dax symbiont in Facets and Shimerman as Quark as Audrid and Auberjonois as Odo as Curzon in particular are wonderful, while Nog takes his Starfleet exams and Grodenchik is adorable as proud father Rom. The paranoia caused by the Changeling infiltration of The Adversary is intense, the Odo versus Founder fight scene is impressive and the Founder's final words are revealed to be suitably chilling.
The fourth season begins with the flawless TV movie The Way Of The Warrior, which works like another pilot as the political landscape shifts once again, the Klingons become the enemy once more and Michael Dorn's Worf joins the cast. Brooks, Lofton and Tony Todd are wonderful in The Visitor's fantastic exploration of a relationship between father and son which transcends death. Bashir and O'Brien's friendship is tested as the Doctor's Hippocratic Oath compels him to help a group of Jem'Hadar, but the engineer chooses to break it for him. Nana Visitor and Marc Alaimo are wonderful together as Indiscretion throws Kira and Dukat together in a road movie-like episode and Sisko's faux pas is very funny. Rejoined is a love story that trades one taboo for another and Terry Farrell and Susanna Thompson make a beautiful couple. Starship Down is a great submarine thriller with some lovely interaction between its pairs of characters. Shimerman, Grodenchik and Aron Eisenberg are hilarious in Little Green Men, a comedy episode crammed full of B-movie references. The quest for The Sword Of Kahless is a great adventure yarn and Dorn, Farrell and John Colicos are terrific. Our Man Bashir is a fantastic Bond homage and a huge amount of fun.

Star Trek: Voyager: Caretaker; Parallax; Time And Again; Phage; Eye Of The Needle; Emanations; Prime Factors; State Of Flux; Heroes And Demons; Faces; Jetrel; Learning Curve; The 37's; Initiations; Projections; Non Sequitur; Parturition; Persistence Of Vision; Tattoo; Cold Fire; Maneuvers; Resistance
The Star Trek spinoff about a starship marooned in the Delta Quadrant and its long voyage home begins with Caretaker, Armin Shimerman's cameo scene as Quark is great, Ethan Phillips steals the show as Neelix, the location shooting and the visual effects are very impressive in what is the most equally balanced Star Trek pilot. It introduces all nine of its regular characters ably as well as several of the key relationships between them and sets up the premise of the series very well. The second episode, Parallax, is not yet business as usual for Star Trek: Voyager and the quantum singularity cause is effect A-story is fairly inconsequential, but the subplots tidying up unfinished business from the pilot are much more interesting. Time And Again is another time travel paradox episode and a nice little story to boot which expands on the role of Kes. The Phage-suffering Vidiians are a great SF concept and this episode avoids the silliness you would expect from lung theft and instead features some genuine ethical dilemmas and brings out the best in Kate Mulgrew, Robert Picardo and Phillips. The 'Harry Kim wormhole' allows the crew to peer through the Eye Of The Needle into the Alpha Quadrant in the first of many attempts to get home quicker and Vaughn Armstrong is great as Telek R'Mor. Emanations asks some interesting questions about the afterlife, gives Garrett Wang an episode to get his teeth and Jefrey Allan Chandler is wonderful as a reluctant recipient of euthanasia. The crew get another chance to get home in Prime Factors which sees the Starfleet and Maquis crews working together like never before and Martha Hackett is great as Seska. She comes to the fore again and the revelations keep coming in State Of Flux. Heroes And Demons is a very funny Doctor episode which features a hilarious performance from Picardo and a wonderful depiction of Beowulf. Faces is a very literal character study as Torres is split in half in, but it's a great episode as Roxann Biggs-Dawson is wonderful in both roles, Brian Markinson is fantastic and this episode turns the Vidiians into great horror movie-style bad guys. Neelix comes face to face with Jetrel, a thinly veiled Oppenheimer/Hiroshima parable which features great performances from Phillips and James Sloyan are great. Learning Curve is an atypical season finale, but it does acknowledge the Starfleet/Maquis divide and run with it convincingly for the last time (and as a plus features this line).
The second season begins with The 37's which works as a restatement of principles and effectively as a second pilot episode with wonderful performances from David Graf and Sharon Lawrence. Robert Beltran and Aron Eisenberg are great in Initiations, an episode that adds a much-needed layer of complexity to both the Kazon and Chakotay. Picardo and Dwight Schultz are as brilliant as ever in Projections, a fractal Cartesian nightmare for the Doctor as reality unfolds around him and the resulting episode is fantastic. Wang and Robert Duncan McNeill are great together as Kim gives up the perfect parallel life in Non Sequitur. Neelix and Paris overcome their jealousy and undergo Parturition in an episode that proves Phillips and McNeill are a great double act. Persistence Of Vision follows a well mined seam of hallucinations and fears made real, but does so with such style that it seems far more original. Beltran and Henry Darrow are both wonderful in Chakotay-centric episode Tattoo and Picardo is hilarious as the ill Doctor. Jennifer Lien is given a rare chance to excel as Kes in Cold Fire and she does not disappoint. Maneuvers advances the Seska storyline compellingly, the Kazon torpedo shuttle attack is impressive, Cullah's transporter use is gruesome and Beltran, Hackett and Anthony De Longis are great. Joel Grey is phenomenal as Caylem in Resistance and the relationship between his character and Janeway is very touching.

Father Ted: Good Luck, Father Ted; Entertaining Father Stone; The Passion Of St Tibulus; Competition Time; And God Created Woman; Grant Unto Him Eternal Rest
The series hits the ground running as the first episode, Good Luck, Father Ted is fantastic and highlights include Dougal's diagram, the Lord's prayer, Funland, duelling banjos and every scene with Tom. Ted and Dougal find themselves Entertaining Father Stone and Michael Redmond pitches his deadpan stoicism perfectly. Jim Norton is great as Bishop Brennan forces Ted and Dougal to protest against The Passion Of St Tibulus at the cinema and their signage has gone down in history, while Father Hernandez is hilarious. Competition Time introduces Ted's rivalry with Dick Byrne and the intercutting between Craggy and Rugged Islands, Dougal's fascination with Henry Sellars hair and the Elvises Presley are great while the simplistic treatment of alcoholism somehow manages to be funny and still does the show credit. Mrs Doyle's examples of bad language, Jack on automatic, mass fans, Jim's diagnosis, Ted as an accessory in Tom's lift and Dougal looking for change are all brilliant moments in And God Created Woman. Jack shuffles off this mortal coil in the last episode of the first series, Grant Unto Him Eternal Rest, and Dougal's last rites, the cut to 'Karma Chameleon' and the game of charades are all great.

Northern Exposure: The Great Mushroom; Mi Casa, Su Casa; Horns; The Mommy's Curse; The Quest; Lucky People; The Graduate; Little Italy; Balls; Buss Stop; Ursa Minor; Let's Dance; Tranquility Base
The sixth and final season continues with Maggie visiting Joel living atop The Great Mushroom and his various deaths are all funny. Marilyn follows soon after and Joel feels she undermines him, while Ed housesits for Maurice and takes on more than a few aspects of the owner's personality in Mi Casa, Su Casa. Alaska releases Joel from his contract which has a profound effect on him, while Maurice's Cicely Water venture causes a role reversal in the town in the brilliant hundredth episode Horns. Another death leaves Maggie wondering if The Mommy's Curse is hereditary and Walt's brief career in retail is great. The Quest for the Jewel City of the North takes Joel and Maggie on a bizarre journey and ends in a particularly poignant ending. If people who need people are the luckiest people, then Maurice, Phil and Michelle discover they are Lucky People indeed. Chris becomes The Graduate, the transcendental 45th Regiment are brilliant, the reveal of Holling's secret is shocking and the town's rallying around him is very funny. Phil discovers Cicely's Little Italy and finds himself at the centre of a family feud, while Ruth-Ann's radio career and Ed's suggestion of "early burnout" are very funny. Lester Haines' "tribal values" are initially hilarious and ultimately heartbreaking for Ed, the bowling team scenes are great and the rift between the Capras is a bold move at this stage in Balls. Michelle tries to direct a production of Bus Stop in Buss Stop, Hayden Keyes' forced perspective entrance and pointless trapdoor, Shelly's presentation skills and Maurice's theatre speech are great. Ursa Minor sees Ed looking after a baby bear. The effect of Cal's violin on Semanski, Phil's breaches of Tlingit etiquette and Marilyn's cotillion classes are hilarous in Let's Dance. Cicely's couples converge on Maurice's Tranquility Base in the final episode and every relationship is tested to one degee or another, Michelle is visited by Joel's hallucinatory Rabbi Schulman and the 'Our Town' montage at the end is great.

American Gothic: Pilot; A Tree Grows In Trinity; Eye Of The Beholder; Damned If You Don't; Dead To The World; Meet The Beetles; Strong Arm Of The Law;
Gary Cole, Sarah Paulson, Lucas Black and Nick Searcy are fantastic in Shaun Cassidy's horror TV series. The pilot episode introduces the town of Trinity in South Carolina, USA a well as its Sheriff, its Doctor and schoolteacher and Caleb has a particularly horrific tenth birthday as he loses his sister and father. A tree grows in Trinity in A Tree Grows In Trinity and David Lenthall is great as put upon coroner Webb. Eye Of The Beholder introduces the wonderful Tina Lifford, the horror quotient is high, Michael Burgess is great and the episode builds to a nice twist which sets up the the dynamic for the rest of the show. Brigid Walsh and Steve Rankin are great as Damned If You Don't shows that Lucas collects on debts. Searcy is excellent in Dead To The World, which again shows another facet of Lucas, but also feature a great use of Gail's character. Meet The Beetles is incredibly creepy and Caleb's grave idea gives a brilliant insight into his character. Strong Arm Of The Law is a great example of Sheriff Buck's sense of justice at work.

Wallace & Gromit: A Close Shave
Shaun and a flockful of sheep join Wallace and Gromit in Nick Park's third short film. It's what you might get if International Rescue used Thunderbirds for cleaning windows. Between the window cleaning and the flock acrobatics, the set pieces are wonderful. Wallace's romantic involvement with Wendoline is heartbreaking as you will them to get together, but as usual it's Gromit that steals the show. It's another animated tour-de-force.

Knowing Me, Knowing Yule With Alan Partridge;
Alan's records some choice cuts of Christmas chat from a studio mock up of his home. Christian bellringers mingle with electrocuted golfers, a cross-dressing chef and Alan's new boss Tony Hayers. Featuring several Rover Vitesse product placement and a brilliant rendition of 'The Twelve Days Of Christmas'. Steve Coogan, Rebecca Front, David Schneider, Kevin Eldon, Patrick Barber and Doon MacKichan are hilarious.

Pulp: Different Class
The band's fifth album and their biggest break is made up of twelve of the best tracks ever. Dealing with themes of sex and social class, the lyrics are brilliant throughout. This album is fantastic.
Stand-Out Tracks: 'Mis-Shapes', 'Pencil Skirt', 'Common People', 'I Spy', 'Disco 2000', 'Live Bed Show', 'Something Changed', 'Sorted For E's & Wizz', 'F.E.E.L.I.N.G.C.A.L.L.E.D.L.O.V.E.', 'Underwear', 'Monday Morning', 'Bar Italia'

Blur: The Great Escape
The fourth album could be seen as the antidote to its predecessor, The Great Escape is everything that Parklife is not. Moving its focus into suburbia and with a listless melancholic feeling hiding within even the jauntiest tracks, while the slower songs 'Best Days', 'The Universal', 'He Thought Of Cars' and 'Yuko & Hiro' take on a beautiful elegance.
Stand-Out Tracks: 'Stereotypes', 'Country House', 'Best Days', 'Charmless Man', 'Fade Away', 'The Universal', 'Mr Robinson's Quango', 'He Thought Of Cars', 'It Could Be You', 'Ernold Same', 'Dan Abnormal', 'Yuko & Hiro'

Supergrass: I Should Coco
Popular perception of this band probably stems most from 'Alright', but even at this stage they were already so much more. The band’s debut album rushes passed at breakneck speed and takes in a huge array of musical styles that should probably clash, yet the dexterity with which they are played sees them sit perfectly side-by-side. Beginning with several rockier tracks, each distinctively different from the last, building through slower towards a quite trippy penultimate track and a beautiful coda. 'Caught By The Fuzz' is easily one of the best songs ever written (especially in its sublime acoustic version), but it speaks volumes that it might not even be the best song on this album.
Stand-Out Tracks: 'I'd Like To Know', 'Caught By The Fuzz', 'Mansize Rooster', 'Alright', 'Lose It', 'Lenny', 'Strange Ones', 'She's So Loose', 'Time', 'Sofa (Of My Lethargy)', 'Time To Go'

The Presidents Of The United States Of America: The Presidents Of The United States Of America
Despite sometimes feeling more like a novelty album, this album is both grungy and catchy with some great self-deprecating lyrics.
Stand-Out Tracks: 'Lump', 'Boll Weevil', 'Peaches', 'Dune Buggy', 'We Are Not Going To Make It', 'Naked And Famous'

Red Dwarf: Last Human by Doug Naylor
In a similar vein to series VI and VII, the third Red Dwarf novel is set aboard Starbug rather than its mothership. Last Human plays very intelligently with time and multiple realities, features some intersting descendents and incorporates elements from the TV episodes Psirens, Legion, Emohawk - Polymorph II, DNA and Quarantine. A rather more explicit novel than its stablemates, especially in its descriptions of the GELFs and the consummation of Lister's wedding...

Maskerade by Terry Pratchett
The eighteenth Discworld novel sees the witches caught up in a story not unlike The Phantom Of The Opera. Pratchett takes no prisoners joking at the expense of opera, musical theatre and goths. Any book containing the sentence "People who didn't need people needed people around to know that they were the kind of people who didn't need people" is alright by me.

Ghost World: Hubba Hubba; The Norman Square
The fifth chapter sees Enid and Rebecca visit fifties diner Hubba Hubba
and the girls arrange a date with bearded windbreaker in a sequence which is the scenario for the film. Josh, Weird Al and the episode of Orlando are all very well depicted. The Norman Square finally acknowledges the Ghost World graffiti and sees elements of the backdrop to the girl's lives unravelling: Bob Skeetes phone is cut off, a solo Satanist and no more Norman as his bus stop is reactivated. Both chapters end on a very touching note.

Benefits Supervisor Sleeping by Lucian Freud
The painting (below) captures its subject in a moment of stillness. It's refreshing to see a zaftig nude portrayed simply and seemingly without judgement. She is neither glamourised nor demonised, she just is.

Recommendations welcome. Next Month: 1994


Unknown said...

This was really a cool post and brought back a lot of memories. I loved the movie "Apollo 13", and who could forget the OJ Simpson verdict? Awesome! I am visiting from the A-Z challenge. Good luck with the rest from a new follower!


SpacerGuy said...

Worf breathed great fighting scenes into Deep Space Nine life. I never believed warrior worf could be beaten down. DS9 is a dark and gritty show.

Dave said...

Kathy, "If it doesn't fit, you must acquit"

Spacerguy, it was a brave move to take a beloved character like Worf, force him out of his comfort zone, show him struggling to deal with DS9's "shades of grey" and make him seem less able than the other characters. Worf has confrontations with Garak, Quark, Odo and Kira which you couldn't imagine on TNG. Worf's place on DS9 is assured later, but I'm glad the producers resisted turning it into The Worf Show and instead he remains mostly in the B-stories of episodes between The Way Of The Warrior and The Sword Of Kahless.

Kate said...

ahhh yes, Wallace and Grommit...and Northern Exposure...for me 1995 was our second born son who came when our oldest was 2 1/2...which explains why t.v. was beyond my reach! Good luck with the few ABC's we have left. ~ Kate

Dave said...

Thanks Kate, you too.

Stephsco said...

Love that Pulp album! I still do not understand the popularity of The Presidents of the United States of America, although the Peaches song is still pretty funny.

Mighty Aphrodite feels very dated now,even though I like Woody Allen. Putting it beside those other films surprised me; I figured it for earlier '90s.

Dave said...

Stephsco, Different Class is aptly named. I do think The Presidents of the USA are more than a novelty band, but I think I liked them more when I was 14.

Mighty Aphrodite echoes the theatrical style: the characters walk out of shot in a very "exit stage left" sort of a way and the use of long shots are very like the audience's view of the stage. I wonder if precisely what made Mighty Aphrodite feel innovative in 1995 makes it feel dated today.