REIVEW: Andy Barker, P.I.

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Andy Parker, P.I. was a short-lived but pretty great detective spoof show that aired on NBC. Created by Conan O’Brien and Jonathan Groff and Starring Andy Richter and Tony Hale how could this not be good? Great comedy mixed with awesome movie references and some pretty fun/good camera work and directing. Somehow it only lasting six episodes, but luckily someone was smart enough to release the complete series on DVD along with some features, because this series was so short and I’m a big fan of DVD features we’re going to take a quick look at everything here, but really, I shouldn’t have to sell you on this. I mean come on, half the episode titles are Alfred Hitchcock references.

Pilot episode: Starting out as Andy Barker, C.P.A. today is Andy’s first day as his own boss in the accounting business. Quickly he meets his business building neighbor and soon to be close friend, Simon played by Tony Hale. Simon is a huge movie buff which is obvious right off the bat, solid co-star character in my book. His failing accounting business quickly takes a weird turn when a woman walks in and asks him to find her dead husband who she thinks isn’t dead. Great starter to the series!

Fairway, My Lovely: Start things out with a golfing game, a death(murder?), and Andy gets a sectary. And the show gets a swanky intro. This episode has some of my favorite jokes of the series, compliments of Tony Hale. We’ve also got some twists and turns, a pretty fun murder mystery episode.

Three Days Of The Chicken: The restaurant near Andy’s accounting place is getting strong armed by their chicken supplier, Andy and Simon check it out. Turns out the chicken business can be deadly. As great as Andy Richter is Tony Hale really shines in this episode, fake mustaches, chase jokes, chicken jokes, maybe my second favorite episode.

Dial M For Laptop: Blackmail, a tax mixup, stolen laptop, credit card scams. This one’s a little complicated, honestly too, this might be the weakest episode in the series, but it’s still a lot of fun.

The Big No Sleep: A first-rate con-job is what gets this episode running mixed with an affair and more shiftyness. And a simple missing baby toy provides some hilariousness. This episode also shows us Simon’s giant super fucking amazing ‘Vertigo’ wall in his house, coolest fucking thing ever.

The Lady Varnishes: A woman from Andy’s friend’s past comes back to try to prove she didn’t commit a murder. There’s a real villain in this episode as old partners clash in present day. And so concludes a great show that ended before it got a chance.

Features:
Writers Class 101: 30 minutes, interview sessions about the writing on the show, enjoyable.

Going Where The Numbers Take You: 32 minutes, an interview braised documentary about the show, really good, I can see me watching this a lot.

Gag Reel: A four-minute gag reel, I think we all know what gag reels are, pretty good.

Commentaries: Commentary on every episode! Includes Jason Ensler, Jonathan Groff, Conan O’Brien, Andy Richter, Tony Hale, Nicole Randall Johnson, Gail Lerner, Clea Lewis, and Marshall Manesh. The commentaries are pretty fun, informative, they got some jokes, it seems like a fun room.

Get Andy Barker, P.I.: The Complete Series from Amazon HERE

REVIEW: Fear Itself

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fearitselfIf anyone watched the “Masters of Horror” series on Showtime they may have wondered where it went after season 2, or why it was canceled. Well it wasn’t quite canceled, it was repackaged it seems. Moved from Showtime to NBC and obviously toned town a big to be able to show on TV. Another slight change is these episodes are closer to forty-five minutes as opposed to the full hour Showtime allowed, NBC has to get in their commercial time to make that coin it seems. There were a few return directors but not as many as I would have hoped, namely no Argento, who I imagine would have had a problem making the TV cut and I think he was still mad from his “Masters of Horror” episode getting censored. I guess the best thing here would be to go through episode by episode so here we go.
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The Sacrifice: A story of four brothers or friends out on a hunting trip, they have car trouble while trying to find help for one of them who has been injured. They come upon a fort in the middle of no where, it appears to be very out of date, no electricity, no phones, no cars. Come to find out the fort isn’t to protect against invaders from the outside, it’s to keep a vampire inside of its walls. Directed by Breck Eisner who is apparently doing “The Crazies” remake. This one I liked a lot, Vampires are pretty big right now, but it’s good to know a good vampire story can still be told instead of us getting some Twilight shit. This vampire won’t be seducing you, this is more of the rip your face off and drink your blood because he likes the taste type. A mean son of a bitch who won’t fit into a crowd and has an angry disposition because he’s been cooped up in a fort for god knows how long.
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Spooked: This is another one I liked, it was very original and was some pretty cool things going on. More a thriller than anything else its the story of a retired cop turned private dick. While on the force he never used a gun, instead opted to slice up people with a knife, this continues into his current line of work. He’s tricked into taking a case where he’s lured into a ghost house which wants to take his life. This one was directed by Brad Anderson who did “The Machinist” and the “Masters of Horror” “Sounds Like”, which for the record, I did not care for that episode.
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Family Man: This one was pretty cool, I dug it. A dude gets into a car accident, dies. While being dead he meets another guy that just died, doctors revive them both, but they’ve switched bodies. To make matters worse, one is a successful guy with a family and all, the other is a murderer on trial. In the director’s seat for this one we get Ronny Yu who brought us “Fearless” “Freddy vs Jason” and to his discredit, “Bride of Chucky”
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In Sickness and in Health: I thought there were three bad episodes in this series, which isn’t bad. This is one of those three, however this one is the best of the worst, it’s biggest problem is the pacing seemed off so it just became really boring. Woman on her wedding day receives a note saying her husband is a serial killer. Chaos insures. Surprisingly this one was done by the amazingly great John Landis the man who brought us such classics as “National Lampoon’s Animal House” “The Blues Brothers” “An American Werewolf in London” “Trading Places” “Three Amigos” “Coming to America” And two of my favorite “Masters of Horror” episodes “Family” and “Deer Woman”.
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Eater: This one was probably the strangest of the series, we’ve got voodoo, cannibalism and cops, oh what great fun. A police station has to hold a prisoner over night, this guy is a serial killer who ate all of his victims. All the cops have to do is not let him escape, and as you imagine they fuck up at that. This one was given to us by a name we should all know fucking Stuart Gordon, the man of *deep breath*  – “Re-Animator” “From Beyond” “Dolls” “Dagon” “King of the Ants” “Edmond” “Stuck” And my favorite two “Masters of Horror” episodes of all time “Dreams In the Witch-House” and Masters of Horror”The Black Cat”
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New Year’s Day: Well we go from the best director to the worst. Let me first start off here by saying what I’m about to say about this man the episode being directed by him had nothing to do with my option of it. I didn’t find out who directed this one until a day or so after I watched it. So for this one we’ve got the sorry excuse for a director Darren Lynn Bousman. He’s got three names because he forced upon us three shitty “horror” movies, Saw, Saw II and Saw III. God fuck these movies are awful and so is this fucking episode of “Fear Itself” This was the worst episode of the lot, in fact this was probably the only episode I really hated. It’s the story of a girl who wakes up to a zombie apocalypse world. Not only is this like beating a dead horse at this point, it’s not even done well at all. The effects are shitty, the camera work is horrible and the whole thing is pretty fucking boring.
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Community: This one was fucking awesome, Mary Harron directed this episode, she also directed the great film “American Psycho”. This may be the creepiest of the series. A couple move into a neighborhood, they were warned in advanced that its really strange, that turns out to be a hell of an understatement. It’s more cult like than anything else, every family in the neighborhood has it’s place and if they stray from the plan even a little they’re punished severely. These crazy couks even go as far as to put when the family has to have how many children by when. Gives me the willies I tell ya.
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Skin & Bones: A man gets lost in the woods, he’s gone for a week, then suddenly he comes walking out of the woods. Skinny and weak, with a dead look in his eyes. His family doesn’t even recognize him. Then livestock on the farm start to be attacked and an old hand on the farm knows what’s up. The man has been possessed by the Wendigo spirit in the woods, he was kept alive by eating humans up there and now his thirst for rage cannot be stopped. This one was pretty cool, had a great take on something that could have been really boring director Larry Fessenden did a really good job on this one, he also, somewhat ironically directed “Wendigo”.
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Echoes: A man moves into a new place, the whole time he’s getting these huge feelings of deja vu that he can’t shake. He comes to the realization or belief that he was a murderer in a past life, and the girl that he likes, was the girlfriend of said murder. We had a pretty good story here, more mystery than anything else but it definitely kept your attention. Director Rupert Wainwright who we can thank, or blame for “Stigmata” and “The Fog” remake.
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The Circle: Witches and revenge, what’s not to like? And author brings some friends and business partners to a cabin to unveil his new book, the circle, the book begins to come to life engulfing the cabin in darkness and rage. This one I didn’t care so much for, mostly because I thought the effects were pretty fucking stupid, the story was alright though. Eduardo Rodriguez who directed “Daughter” did this one.
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Chance: Oh this one was fun. A man low on money and luck gets sucked up into an antique scheme which turns out to be a scam. In rage and somewhat by accident he murders the antique show owner. Then to cover his tracks he cuts down a security guard and the wife of the shop owner, all this going on while he’s having a split personality crisis with the image of himself in the mirror. Like I said this one was a lot of fun, kind of reminded me of a “Tales From the Crypt” episode. Directed by John Dahl who did “Joy Ride” and “Rounders”.
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The Spirit Box: A murder mystery started by a home made Ouija-board, what could go wrong? These girls decide to make their own Ouija-board on Halloween night and by pure chance awaken the spirit of a girl who committed suicide at their school, only the spirit claims it wasn’t suicide, it was murder! The girls set out to find who committed the crime only to be horrified when they find it could be a teacher. Includes a fun twist at then, it was a cool episode for what it was. Rob Schmidt was the man behind it all, also the man behind “Wrong Turn” and “Masters of Horror” episode “Right to Die”.
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Something With Bite: This one was one of my favorite stories in the series. A veterinarian is at work when someone brings in a mighty beast which he has hit with his car, this they suspect is the same beast that has been savagely murdering people around town. As you might suspect this is a werewolf tale. The veterinarian gets bitten and turns into a werewolf himself. We get some strange twists around this one and it ends up being not quite what you expect but maybe even better. Ernest Dickerson directed this guy, he also did “Juice” “Tales from the Crypt Presents Demon Knight” and the “Masters of Horror” episode “The V Word”, all of which were pretty cool themselves.

Get Fear Itself: The Complete First Season from Amazon HERE

REVIEW: The Spirit (TV Pilot)

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SPIRITtvThis I came across on my internet travels, oh how I love the internet. Unbeknownst to me in 1987 ABC did a TV pilot for The Spirit, sense there’s no fan clammer for the DVD release of The Spirit Season 1 you can guess it wasn’t picked up. Running just over an hour it captures a lot of the fun goofiness that is The Spirit. The Spirit played by Sam J. Jones whom you may recognize as Flash Gordon from 1980 and written by Steven E. de Souza who has penned such works as 48 Hrs, The Flintstones, Beverly Hills Cop III, and an epsode of the “Tales from the Crypt” TV show. He also worked up the screenplays for Running Man, Die Hard, Die Hard 2, Hudson Hawk, Jude Dredd and Commando. So as you can see we’ve got a decent writer here, that may be why this doesn’t suck. Now I’m not saying this is the greatest thing I’ve ever seen but the key word here is fun. The story basically follows the plot line of cop witnesses his friend die, a friend who was working on a tell all crime book. He goes to investigate this murder and is duped into getting shot himself, he survives the shooting but everyone thinks he’s dead so he just goes with it and picks up the identity of the Spirit to fight crime. The video quality of the copy I got was about old VHS quality but that’s pretty damn good from a twenty two year old TV show pilot. It might be a good idea for any Spirit fans to devote some time to seek this out and watch the TV series that could have been.

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