The Wizard of Oz (1990) Cartoon & DVD Review

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This review was originally written on September 8, 2004 & April 28, 2007
An Insult To Fans Of The Classic 1939 Movie

I have mixed feelings about this series. On one hand I really like The Wizard Of Oz (1939) movie and I fondly remember watching this series Saturday mornings back when ABC actually showed GOOD cartoons (The Real Ghostbusters, Beetlejuice, etc.). On the other hand, this series is a slap in the face to all fans of the original 1939 movie. For starters, it's damn near impossible to make a decent series based on the movie featuring ALL of the memorable characters since the movie ended with the hero (Dorothy) back home in Kansas, the villain (the Wicked Witch of the West) melted to oblivion, the Wizard floating off to parts unknown (presumably back to his homeland), and the three friends (Scarecrow, Tin Man, Lion) being left to take care of Oz and the Emerald City.

I suppose you could set it in Kansas and do stories about the life of the teenage Dorothy, but that would leave out all of the Oz characters. You could do stories about the travels of the Wizard, but since he's a con man, it's hard to see him as a "good guy" and a good role model. The only thing left would be to do a show about the citizens of Oz with the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Lion presiding over the whole land like royalty. I've never read the Oz books, so I don't know how many more different Oz residents there are, but since Oz is a wacky place all by itself, the writers could let their imaginations go wild, and create new characters. The problem with this idea is that it leaves out three main characters: Dorothy, Wizard, and Wicked Witch of the West. The creators of this series would have none of that. They MUST have ALL of the main characters, the ending of the film be damned!

And so we got a series that totally ignores all character development from the film and carefully disregards certain parts of the ending. Dorothy is inexplicably back in Oz. The title sequence suggests that her ruby slippers glowed in her closet back in Kansas, thus sending out a distress call that she was needed back in Oz, and so she used them to return. There goes the whole "it was only a dream" plot device that the film laid out for us at the end. OK, I can suspend my disbelief for this to be possible. Next the title sequence shows us that the Wicked Witch wasn't melted at all, but merely turned to wood! The winged monkeys bring her back to life by putting her hat back on her head and putting her broomstick back in her hand. Now I'm starting to get worried.

Remember at the end of the film the Wizard gave the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Lion some items (diploma, heart clock, badge of courage - respectively) to reflect the attributes that they felt they were missing, but told them in no uncertain terms that they didn't need these items because they had those attributes all along (as they demonstrated numerous times throughout the film)? Well, they must have been missing the attribute of "paying attention" because in this show they lack all of those attributes they "had all along" simply because all of their "special items" are locked up in storage at the Emerald City where the Wicked Witch is keeping guard over them. The three friends are constantly complaining throughout the entire series about not having those attributes because they don't have the items, yet as in the film they display those attributes numerous times. What they DO have is a total lack of self-esteem as they are constantly discrediting themselves when they display those supposedly "lost" attributes (to paraphrase the Scarecrow: "I have an idea, but since I don't have a brain, it musn't be a very good idea.")

The Wizard is back, but he's stuck forever floating around Oz in his hot air balloon because the Wicked Witch put a spell on the wind so that it won't let him stay in one place for very long. Throughout the series Dorothy and friends are trying to catch up with him, but he always leaves just before they go to where he was last seen at. Why he doesn't just decide to ditch the balloon and stay on foot, where he's safer, is beyond me. Glinda, the good witch, is no great help as she is so powerless that all she can do is put a spell on the balloon so the Wicked Witch can't harm him while he's in it (I'd still take my changes on foot rather than floating around aimlessly), and put an Emerald Star in the sky above the Emerald City which glows as long as he's alive. Remind me not to call Glinda for help the next time I'm in trouble.

There are many MANY times in first two episodes ("Rescue of the Emerald City" Parts 1&2) and the twelfth episode ("Day the Music Died") alone that you'll be thinking to yourself "Why doesn't this person go there, or do this?" For example, in the first episode the Wizard is on foot in the safe confines of a fort. The Wicked Witch and her winged monkeys come to cause havoc, and the dumb Wizard thinks he'd be safer taking to the air in his balloon than hiding inside the fort (a large opened door in the fort can clearly been see in the background). The twelfth episode involves the citizens of Musicland not feeling very musical because the conductor's baton was stolen. Dorothy suggests he use his hands, and she even tries it herself to show him that it'll work, but the lazy citizens would rather read their newspapers and sleep than pay any attention to her. At this point, if I were Dorothy, I'd say "screw you all" and leave. They're not worth my help. As Dorothy and friends pointed out with their song and dance number (a dance themed song to the melody of "If I Only Had A Brain/Heart/Nerve" - which is rather good and even mentioned the Lambada!), the music isn't dead in the land of Oz, just in Musicland. So, who cares? Let the Musicland citizens die of boredom for all I care, the rest of Oz will move on with their lives.

By the way, although credit is given to the music composers of the 1939 film (since this series uses a lot of the movie themes), no credit is given to L. Frank Baum (the writer of the original book series).

Although the series lasted only 13 episodes, we have been "gifted" with a few DVD releases...and they don't even contain the whole series!

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The Rescue of the Emerald City DVD contains the following episodes:

1. Rescue of the Emerald City - Part 1 (09/08/1990) (ep 1)
2. Rescue of the Emerald City - Part 2 (09/15/1990) (ep 2)
3. The Day the Music Died (11/24/1990) (ep 12)

Purists be forewarned that the original DIC logo at the end of the show has been replaced with the new "The Incredible World Of DIC" logo.

Although the colors are bright and the sound is great, the overall quality of the episodes is rather poor as there is a lot of dirt and debris in them and the picture jumps a little on more than one occasion. It would have been really nice if they cleaned up the episodes when they transferred them to DVD.

The disc contains absolutely NO bonus features, save for a lame (nee VERY easy) six question trivia game. If you win it, you're treated to a commercial for the DVD releases of "Sherlock Holmes In The 22nd Century" and "The Wizard Of Oz." Yeah, that's such a great prize! Plus on start-up there's an ad for other DIC properties and on the main menu the DIC logo brings up a few more ads.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that Inspector Gadget provides help on ALL of the menu screens (and appears on them). This "feature" is meant to help little kids, for whom this disc is targeted. But it comes off as really lame since this isn't an Inspector Gadget DVD and that's not Don Adams providing his voice. For the record, all of DIC's DVDs from this time period (2001) contain the Inspector Gadget Help option (I have the Sabrina The Animated Series disc and it's on there too).

The only REAL bonus feature that could actually be of use to someone are English subtitles, which of course is good if you're deaf or hard of hearing as the episodes are not closed captioned. The audio is stereo (2.0 channel) and the runtime is 63 minutes.

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The Continuing Story DVD contains the following episodes:

1. Fearless (9/22/1990) (ep 3)
2. Crystal Clear (9/29/1990) (ep 4)
3. We're Not in Kansas Anymore (10/6/1990) (ep 5)
4. Time Town (11/3/1990) (ep 6)

The audio is stereo (2.0 channel) and the runtime is 88 minutes. There's not much more to say about this disc.

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We're Off To Save The Wizard! DVD contains the following episodes:

1. Hot Air (12/1/1990) (ep 13)
2. A Star Is Gone (10/27/1990) (ep 8)
3. Upside-down Town (11/17/1990) (ep 11)
4. Dream A Little Dream (10/20/1990) (ep 7)

I've never viewed this DVD, so I can't say anything more about it.

So, you have to buy three separate DVDs and you'll still be missing two episodes:

• The Lion That Squeaked (10/13/1990) (ep 6)
• The Marvelous Milkmaid of Mechanica (11/10/1990) (ep 10)

With so few episodes to the series, DIC should have just released the whole series in a 2-disc set. Of course, you can just go to YouTube to watch the complete series: U.S. / U.K. (US has the episodes split in two-halves each).

Night At The Museum (2006) Movie Review

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This review was originally written on December 5, 2007
Enjoyable Movie If You Shut Your Brain Off, Seriously Flawed If You Think About It

This film is filled with so many plot holes that I simply can not list them all here. In fact, I couldn't even list them all because there are more than I can recall. I will go through the ones that immediately sprang to mind as I was watching the film and was thinking about it afterwards.

-- What museum in 2006 doesn't have security cameras? Surely someone would have watched the tapes and seen the living creatures..

-- There's major noise and ruckus every night, yet no one in the city notices? The police are never called?

-- The movie takes place over three to four consecutive days, yet Larry (Ben Stiller) never sleeps the whole time. He's on the job at night, and seen awake during each day.

-- Why did Cecil (Dick Van Dyke) and his crew wait until they retired to pull off the heist? Why put up with the job and the living creatures for 50+ years? It would have made more sense for them to do heist when they were young, and then take it easy for the rest of their lives.

-- Teddy Roosevelt (Robin Williams) is aware of the fact that he's a mannequin (he tells Larry that he can't help him because he's just a mannequin and not the real Teddy Roosevelt), so how does he and the other mannequins and statues have the knowledge and behaviors of the people and creatures they resemble? Maybe they "overheard" their character's history during the daytime museum tours, but they wouldn't know as much as they apparently do. This invalidates the notion of Rebecca (Carla Gugino) talking to Sacajawea for "personal" information about her life.

-- The museum curator noticed the fire extinguisher foam in the cavemen exhibit, but didn't notice that one of the cavemen was missing?

These were just the few things I noticed immediately during and after watching the film.

Should you still wish to own the movie, it is available on Blu-ray, 2-Disc DVD, 2-Disc DVD, 1-Disc DVD, and in several sets with the second and third movies.

WWE 2K17 Video Game Welcome To Suplex City Trailer Easter Eggs


WWE and 2K released a new trailer for the new WWE 2K17 video game (due out in two weeks), and as I was watching it last night on Raw, I couldn't help but notice a bunch of Easter Eggs. I knew that I would have to get an HD copy from the web in order to even try to catch them, and BOY were there some good ones that you would miss unless you went through this sucker frame-by-frame like I did. I'm also tagging this as a filming location article because I actually identified one of the central locations used in the trailer. That was completely unintentional. Sometimes I'm just that damn good. Lots of images after the jump, click on them to enlarge.

Full story »

Wrestlemania 25 PPV Review

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The Corner Penthouse's first review will be a "retro review" that I wrote seven years ago. I've written hundreds of reviews on Amazon, GameFaqs, and IMDB, and I'm going to move a lot of them over here, updating them as need be. This is in addition to the new and exclusive reviews that I have planned.

This review was originally written on April 6, 2009, the day after the live Wrestlemania 25 event took place. It spurred a lively discussion when I posted it at Amazon

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I have been a WWE fan for over 25 years. I've seen every Wrestlemania, been to three of them "live" (via closed circuit television in the arena in the late 1980s - before pay-per-view existed), and have ordered every single one on pay-per-view for the past 15 years. I have enjoyed each and every one that I've seen...until last night's 25th event.

For starters, it annoys me to no end that WWE kept promoting the event as the 25th anniversary. It was the 24th anniversary, not the 25th. The first Wrestlemania took place 24 years ago in 1985, not 25 years ago in 1984. Putting that aside, going into the event it looked like it was going to be a great show. The first sign of trouble was the night before Wrestlemania at the Hall of Fame ceremony. The televised portion of the ceremony was like one big ad for the Wrestlemania event and the Legends of Wrestlemania video game. WWE even had Jerry Lawler stop the awards show to present a clip from the game featuring Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker. So much for giving it the guise of being a "prestigious" event.

While I'm on the subject of the Hall of Fame ceremony, WWE needs to start showing the entire ceremony live and unedited on television, like the Academy Awards and every other major awards show does every year. There's no need to show part of it live online and tape the rest, only to show it edited a few hours later on television. It's not like the USA Network has anything more important to show. All they played last Saturday night were 5-10 year old movies that they've shown numerous times before.

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Anyway, getting back to Wrestlemania 25...Things started off fairly well. Although I thought Nicole Scherzinger's performance of "America The Beautiful" was rather lackluster, it served its purpose nicely and was well done overall. The Money in the Bank ladder match was also very enjoyable, even though Christian should have been awarded the prize instead of C.M. Punk.

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Then came the first of the event's many downfalls: Kid Rock. What the heck was he doing there? Nobody goes to Wrestlemania to see Kid Rock. If, like Motorhead or POD, he was there to perform a superstar's theme music, that would be fine. Instead he performed a 10-minute medley of his "greatest hits", concluding with his latest single - which an on-screen graphic was kind enough to let us know is available on his latest album. Geez, even the video game shilling on the Hall of Fame ceremony the night before wasn't this much of a time waster.

Kid Rock segued right into the event's second downfall: the 25 "woman" Diva Battle Royal to crown the first ever Miss Wrestlemania. It started off bad, continued to be bad, and ended bad. Why weren't any of the Divas given introductions so we'd know who they all are? Yes, I know WWE were trying to hide the fact that they had a man in drag (Santino Marella) in the match, but why bring back all these women from years past and give them absolutely no attention whatsoever? Sunny was in the match, but there was hardly a mention of her, and she was only fleetingly seen on screen. The same for the other past Divas - Molly Holly, Jackie Gayda, Joy Giovanni, and Torrie Wilson - some of whom were only mentioned when they went sailing over the top rope. Victoria was the only past Diva who got any bit of screen time, and it was just a brief few seconds. Having no introductions also hurts the current Divas, as it gives them no way to stand out from each other. Looking at all 25 women in the ring, without knowing who is who, it ends up being just a sea of generic blondes and brunettes.

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It's absolutely ridiculous that the women, some of whom can really work, were given one worthless spot on the card, and a man in drag walks away with the victory. That says a lot about what WWE thinks of its women's division. But WWE didn't just insult the Divas, WWE also insulted the audience by NOT having "Santina" be revealed to be a man in drag. The fact that WWE had neither the women in the ring NOR the commentators notice that there was a man in there was absolutely moronic. It was completely obvious to anyone watching, yet the announcers (of course) didn't notice that he was even there until the match was almost over, and none of the Divas even touched or attacked him throughout the match. After he tossed out his girlfriend Beth Phoenix, why not have her go back into the ring and pull his wig off, and then kick his butt? That would have been a somewhat respectable way to salvage this debacle. Instead WWE continued on as if "Santina" were a real woman. This match was clearly the Wrestlecrap Match of the Night. That's not something WWE should be proud of.

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The Chris Jericho vs. the Legends match started and ended with great disappointment. Roddy Piper was good, Jimmy Snuka was sad to see (he can hardly walk), but once Ricky Steamboat and Jericho were left to go at it one-on-one it was AMAZING! That part of the match was one of the few highlights of the whole night. Then it got really disappointing. Much ado was made of Ric Flair and Mickey Rourke, but they did little to nothing to effect the match. A run in or some interference during the match would be been appropriate (Flair briefly ran in and was quickly taken care of so that negated his presence at ringside).

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After the match was over, THEN Rourke is brought into the spotlight, having been called out by Jericho. After an eternity of making his way into the ring, Rourke gets in two punches and Jericho is left holding his head. I know that the WWE likes to put celebrities over at Wrestlemania, but that just looked bad for both Jericho AND Rourke, and it was so anti-climatic for the audience. I suppose, looking back, there wasn't much more that he could have done, but WWE could have handled it with more excitement than THAT. Flair and Rourke might as well not have bothered to show up since they did nothing of importance.

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The Matt Hardy vs. Jeff Hardy match was another one of the event's highlights, so there's really nothing bad to say about it. Well, other than the fact that for an "Extreme Rules" match, there sure was a distinct lack of blood (save for a small cut on Matt's head).

The Rey Mysterio vs. John Bradshaw Layfield match was barely that. From bell to bell it ran a mere 21 seconds. The match was a disgrace to all the great Intercontinental matches in Wrestlemania history. I didn't pay almost sixty dollars to see an event with a match that didn't even last half a minute - especially when both wrestlers are capable of putting on an enjoyable and much longer match.

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Next up was the Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker match. An absolute classic that was damn near perfect. If anything it could have been a tiny bit shorter - there were too many near falls for my liking - but that's a very minor quibble. This was the last match of the night for which I truly felt like I was getting *some* of my money's worth.

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The first title match of the televised event was next, and it's the Triple Threat featuring John Cena vs. Edge vs. Big Show for the World Heavyweight Championship. I'd ask why there needs to be a Triple Threat at every Wrestlemania, but that's irrelevant. The whole match just felt like The John Cena Show to me. It was lame and predictable. WWE even had the same exact spot in the match that they had on free TV a few weeks ago: Vickie Guerrero on the ring apron, Cena runs at her but stops, steps aside, and Edge spears her off the apron. The Big Show never won a singles title at Wrestlemania. He's long overdue. Instead WWE gives us the same old, same old. Yawn.

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The Hall of Fame Class of 2009 come out next and get the bows they deserve. Stone Cold Steve Austin then drives around the ring in his ATV and has a farewell beer bash. This was all well and good, but the fact that Kid Rock got more screen time than the Hall of Fame class is complete BS.

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Then we have the final match of the evening: Randy Orton vs. Triple H for the WWE Championship. I was actually looking forward to this match because their feud was intense, and it could have been a big payoff. But WWE ruined it by getting awfully strict with the rules. When you have a feud where both men attacked each other in the most vicious and brutal ways, and each one of them is just waiting to get his hands around the throat of the other, you don't set up a match where the rules of disqualification are stricter than ever. Because of that, there was no twist, no interference (by either Legacy or the McMahons), no nothing. It was lame, tame, and ordinary. The build up was better than the match. Besides that, it had NOTHING to do with the title. This was a personal grudge match, not a championship match, not a pay-per-view main event, and sure as heck not a Wrestlemania main event, let alone the main event of this big landmark "25th anniversary" Wrestlemania. THIS is the match that should have had Extreme Rules, THIS is the match where they should have been beating the ever loving crap out of each other.

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Wait a minute! That was the last match? When I ordered the event, one of the matches I was most looking forward to was the Champions vs. Champions Tag Team Title Match featuring Carlito & Primo vs. Miz & Morrison. But where is it? As I would find out the next day on WWE.com, the match did indeed take place at Wrestlemania - just not as part of the televised event. WWE shunted the match to the non-televised pre-show. A match for the freaking Tag Team TITLES was not worthy of being shown on television? It was not only a title match, but one in which the titles would be UNIFIED! Surely that's something important? Surely that's worth showing live on the air instead of a 10-minute Kid Rock concert or a joke of a Divas Battle Royal? The tag team match was thrown off the show so that Kid Rock could sing?!? Ummm...does WWE realize that the event is called WRESTLEmania, right? I paid to see wrestling, not a concert!

Here's the thing I just don't understand. It's a scripted show, WWE knows they only have four hours in which to fit everything in, so why doesn't WWE plan it out better? Set time limits for each match and segment so that everything can be shown, and nothing feels rushed.

Outside of two or three matches (none of which were for titles), this did not feel like Wrestlemania. Had this been No Way Out or Backlash, the card would have been fine and I probably wouldn't feel as negatively as I do about the fiasco. But it was Wrestlemania, it was the grandest stage of them all, and the WWE sorely disappointed. To make a big deal out of the "25th anniversary" and then put forth what I, and millions of others, watched Sunday night was almost atrocious.

[UPDATE]
When WWE later released Wrestlemania 25 on Blu-ray and DVD, they did more than the usual music replacement. They actually removed the entire Kid Rock performance, leaving the Diva's Battle Royal to start in progress. This is even more insulting than the live event. Not because they removed something that never should have been there in the first place (I'm happy that it's gone), but because it makes the whole thing pointless to begin with, and gives the Divas the indinity of having their match joined in progress (in addition to losing it to a man in drag). Since WWE knew that they weren't going to use Kid Rock's performance on home video (I don't know about the WWE Network), why pay him to be there at all?

Photos for this review are courtesy of WWE via this gallery, this video and this video.

Halloween Treat 2015 - Who Shot Roger Rabbit & Arcade Movie Scripts

For a few years now, I have done Halloween Treats on my Ghostbusters website, Spook Central. I started off this site/blog with a Halloween Treat last year. While I can't promise that it will be a regular feature on this site, I do have a treat for this year. In fact, I have two of them!

I have a small movie and television script collection, which is mostly Ghostbusters-related. However, two of my scripts have nothing to do with Ghostbusters, and so they wouldn't really be appropriate to use on Spook Central. I figured that I'd post them here as the Halloween Treats for this year. I scanned them in, and you can download the PDFs by clicking on the images below.

The first one is "Who Shot Roger Rabbit" (third draft), which later hit the screen as "Who Framed Roger Rabbit". This script features a lot of elements that were dropped from the final film, making it a MUST READ for Roger Rabbit fans. The second one is "Arcade", a 1993 direct-to-video release from Full Moon Pictures starring Megan Ward, Peter Billingsley, A.J. Langer, John DeLancie, and Seth Green. It probably won't be of interest to as many of you as Roger Rabbit, but it's a fun little early-1990s "virtual reality" sci-fi flick. I rented the VHS from Blockbuster around 1993, and my friend Mark and I *loved* the film. I loved it so much that I actually bought the script direct from Full Moon for $20, signed on the protective cover by Full Moon head honcho (and the film's executive producer) Charles Band, and stored it in a binder with full-color cover art and a four-page sell-sheet! The cover art is included at the head of the PDF, and the sell-sheet is included at the end of it. The signed protective cover was irrelevant to the script, so it wasn't scanned in.

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(Sep. 2, 1986) (6.2 Mb)
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(Nov. 6, 1990) (6.7 Mb)

Who Framed Roger Rabbit is available on Blu-Ray, 2-Disc Vista Series DVD (alt url), and the original letterbox 1999 DVD with the original "no panties" version of the movie. Arcade is available on individual DVD and in the Full Moon Classics Vol. 1 DVD Box Set. You can also read a plain text copy of the "Who Shot Roger Rabbit" script at The Daily Script.

Back in the late 1990s, I hand-transcribed the Arcade script, as well as the scripts for Men In Black and The Wizard Of Oz. I gave copies of them to one site and one site only - and that site is no longer online. However, other people have taken the three scripts and placed them all over the internet. The good ones kept my transcribers credit intact. The bad ones removed it. You should have no trouble finding any of the scripts using the Google search engine. Sci-Fi Scripts is one of the good sites for The Wizard Of Oz script.

For another Halloween Treat, check out Spook Central where you can read about the time that Spider-Man teamed up with the cast of Saturday Night Live.