23 October 2015

TV DVD Review: "Diagnosis Murder": The Second Season

Rated: PG (Canada)
Starring: Dick Van Dyke, Barry Van Dyke, Scott Baio, Victoria Rowell, and Michael Tucci
Released: 1994 - 1995 (original TV premieres) / 2007 (DVD)
Synopsis: Dr. Sloan and the staff of Community General Hospital are back to solve more murders in this second season! With murders happening all around them, pretty much anyone could be a suspect; it's up to Dr. Sloan to deduce the mystery and, with the help of his son, a police officer, put them away! With guest stars such as Staney Kamel (Monk), Dyan Cannon, Holland Taylor, sports star Bo Jackson, screen legend Betty White, and the cast of The Young and the Restless, this is one packed season!

The Good: Pretty much everybody loves a good whodunit, and, for the most part, this season delivers on that front.  Dr. Sloan and his friends use some rather brilliant deduction skills to figure out who did it and why.  The violence is rather restrained, as it is only slightly bloody at worst, and the writers keep things lighthearted by adding in dashes of humor.

The Bad: As fun as this is, I did take issue with some parts.  The biggest problem I had was with the sordid cast of characters in every episode; not Dr. Sloan and his staff, but the various suspects.  While that was probably meant to show that anyone could be guilty of the murder, the characters often talk about tawdry affairs and smoke, drink, etc.  Another serious issue was with one episode that features an actual vampire; if I wanted that kind of story, I'd go read Twilight, not watch a mystery show.  Also, this season seems to sprinkle in a higher dose of profanity than the first season.

Content Concerns:
  • Sex: Illicit affairs are discussed fairly often; passionate kissing and flirting is also seen. Sexual references about working in the medical field are made a few times. 2/5
  • Nudity: Women are seen in everything from low-cut tops to bare-midriff outfits to bikinis and underwear; such dress is seen in several episodes.  Less common, though still present, are shirtless guys.  One scene features a woman who takes her towel off; the top part of her chest is seen. 2/5
  • Language: D-words and h-words, as well as misuses of God's name, are heard as many as seven or eight times total per episode.  B-words and other crude terms are also present, but only occasionally. 2/5
  • Violence: Someone is murdered in pretty much every episode...hence the title of the show.  The scenes are only occasionally bloody and never graphic, though it is disturbing to see a vampire character impaled. 3/5
  • Drugs: Characters smoke and drink from time to time; one episode features medication in a needle used as a weapon. 3/5
  • Frightening/Intense Scenes: Dr. Sloan and friends have numerous close calls; the vampire character is a bit creepy; emotional intensity is also present in several episodes. 2/5
  • Other: An episode features a vampire in an otherwise realistic series. 4/5
Conclusion: Though I mostly enjoyed this second season of the classic mystery show, I did find it to be a bit edgier than I remembered as a kid.  I would caution parents of younger viewers about watching this, though it should be okay for most teens and adults.  Still, the kid in me is unsure about whether or not to continue on with the third season.

Score: 3/5

09 October 2015

TV DVD Review: "Power Rangers Megaforce: The Great Dragon Spirit"

Rated: TV-Y7 for fantasy violence
Starring: Andrew M. Gray, Ciara Hanna, John Mark Loudermilk, Christina Masterson, and Azim Rizk
Released: April 6 - September 28, 2013 (original TV premieres) / April 8, 2014 (DVD)
Synopsis: The Power Rangers Megaforce, along with their mechanical ally the Robo Knight, find themselves in their toughest battles yet in this third set of episodes! When the ancient guardian Gosei tells of an ancient artifact that holds great power, the Rangers battle against the villains to get it...and even the Rangers' combined powers may not be enough! With new bad guys, new powers, it's going to take everything the Rangers have got to save the Earth once again!

The Good: Every episode of the Megaforce incarnation of Power Rangers is very much in the style of the original Mighty Morphin seasons, which isn't a bad thing...for the most part.  In these episodes, the Rangers use more than just brute force to defeat their enemies, though their Zords and blasters still come into play a lot.  The action is enthralling, and the special effects are fun, if not blockbuster movie quality.  As usual for this series, a lack of sexual content and profanity was a bonus.

The Bad: As much as I loved the action, I did think it was a bit brutal at times, especially for a show that will likely be seen by kids as young as five or six.  Also, I was rather disgusted by a scene where a monster passes gas.  A regular annoyance with this season is that the teenagers dress like cartoon characters; every time you see them in "unmorphed" form, they're wearing the same clothes.  Even if they wear their Ranger colors every time, they don't have to wear the same outfits.

Content Concerns:
  • Sex: None. 5/5
  • Nudity: Girl in short shorts. 4/5
  • Language: Occasional usage of euphemisms, i.e., "Gosh darn it!" and name-calling. 4/5
  • Violence: Though not bloody or graphic, the violence is rather intense, and every episode ends with the villain--a monster of sorts--being killed. 2/5
  • Drugs: None. 5/5
  • Frightening/Intense Scenes: The monsters are a bit scary-looking, and their voices are creepy, too. 3/5
  • Other: A monster passes gas. 4/5
Conclusion: I've talked before about the interesting history I have with Saban's infamous franchise.  Though I largely avoided it for a while, over the past two years or so, I've been watching it like crazy, even making special requests at my local library to get it on DVD.  While kids may be the target audience for this series, I'm sure there are still adult fans, especially millenials who grew up with it.  For them I say, this is mostly quite fun; then again, I'm just a sucker for entertainment, so, what do I know?

Score: 4/5

03 October 2015

TV DVD Review: "What's New, Scooby-Doo?": The Complete Second Season

Rated: TV-Y7 (US)
Starring: Frank Welker, Casey Kasem, Mindy Cohn, and Grey DeLisle
Released: September 13, 2003 - March 27, 2004 (Kids' WB premieres) / June 5, 2007 (DVD)
Synopsis: In this second season of the 21st century adventures of the Mystery, Inc., gang, Scooby and his human pals are in for one adventure after another! They travel everywhere from Greece to Egypt to Tokyo to even the South Pole; along the way, they find mysteries that need solving...and solve them is just what they do! With special guest stars including rock bands KISS and Simple Plan, there's plenty that's new with Scooby-Doo!
As seen on Kids' WB and Cartoon Network.

The Good: Scooby-Doo is a longtime favorite franchise of mine; ever since I discovered it all the way back in 1998, I've been a big fan.  While they've done different takes on the characters over the years, my favorites have always been the original-style cartoons.  These may be much more modern, but, I'm sure Hanna and Barbera would approve; they're decidedly in the style of the old-school Saturday morning installments.  Older fans will likely enjoy this right alongside their children.  The mysteries are fun, cute, and exciting; what's not to like?

The Bad: As good as this is, I did find some scenes a bit frightening, which could be a problem for very young viewers.  I'd suggest taking the "TV-Y7" rating seriously.

Content Concerns:
  • Sex: Flirting and totally innocent romance. 4/5
  • Nudity: Women are seen occasionally in bare-midriff outfits. 4/5
  • Language: Nothing worse than "heck". 4/5
  • Violence: Chase scenes and action sequences abound; none of it is graphic, but, Scooby and friends have numerous close calls. 3/5
  • Drugs: None. 5/5
  • Frightening/Intense Sequences: Some rather creepy monsters and a few frightening moments. 3/5
  • Other: Controversial rock bands KISS and Simple Plan guest star. 4/5
Conclusion: Maybe I'm biased as a longtime fan, but, I enjoyed this new(er) interpretation of the old-school Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? adventures.  Though later versions may have ruined the franchise, this is still great fun for fans new and old.  If you've seen all of the episodes from the '70's and want something more, this is for you.

Score: 4/5