Disney Diary: Fantasia – Toccata and Fugue in D Minor

Bach’s “Toccata and Fugue in D Minor” is the first of eight musical shorts released as part of Disney’s Fantasia in 1940. It was selected to introduce Walt’s  unique mix of animation and symphony, as well as provide us with our first look at Leopold Stokowski, the conductor; Deems Taylor, the narrator; and the players of the Philadelphia Orchestra. The short contains no plot, but transitions smoothly from a live-action blend of music and color to abstract animation. It ends where it began, with a brilliant image of the conductor silhouetted in front of the rising sun. It is one of the most iconic images of the Fantasia experience.

This “Disney Diary” is the first in a series on Fantasia (1940), one post for each of the musical shorts contained in the program. These will be followed by a wrap-up combining and linking them together to provide a full assessment of the film. Read on for part one of Fantasia!

Continue reading Disney Diary: Fantasia – Toccata and Fugue in D Minor

Doctor Who: The Edge of Destruction, Part Two: The Brink of Disaster

“As we learn about each other, so we learn about ourselves.” – The Doctor

As the third serial of Doctor Who comes to an end, the show finally reaches something of an equilibrium. No longer are Ian and Barbara prisoners, but rather full-fledged “companions” in the modern sense of the word. If the show had not been picked up for a full season, it would have ended here: as a fun little science fiction adventure told in thirteen parts. But, as we know, what they really did with these early episodes was launch a sensation.

As the strange happenings continue on the TARDIS, our companions argue with each other until the true danger is discovered. With their collective lives in the balance, only then do they come together to save themselves. It’s a deep dive into the nature of our key relationships, both with the Doctor and with each other. The tension is high, but the ultimate resolution is surprisingly low tech. We are also left with a key but enduring mystery: is the TARDIS alive? More thoughts on this after our recap.

Continue reading Doctor Who: The Edge of Destruction, Part Two: The Brink of Disaster

Questprobe Featuring Spider-Man (1984)

Over at The Adventure Gamer, I just completed my most recent series on Questprobe Featuring Spider-Man (1984), an early Marvel adventure game by Scott Adams and Adventure International. It’s a fantastic look at mid-80s adventure gaming and the Marvel universe and well worth a play today.

More generally, yes. I have been away. My guest work on “The Adventure Gamer” has consumed all of my free cycles. I am still committed to continuing Doctor Who and Disney posts, although at a reduced frequency depending on my work elsewhere. In the meantime, I will be sure to post here as I complete TAG games from this point so this blog isn’t a complete ghost town.

Doctor Who: The Edge of Destruction, Part One

“You can’t blame us for this, Doctor.” – Ian

After fighting off cavemen and nightmare pepper-pots, Doctor Who‘s third serial features our companions facing their most insidious enemy yet: themselves. As the back two episodes of a 13-episode initial series order, The Edge of Destruction could serve either as an ending or a transition point. By the end of the serial, the companions would come to trust each other, we’d learn a few more tantalizing clues about the Doctor and Susan’s journey, and we would be left aching for more. But, I am getting ahead of myself. This first episode offers us no obvious villains or planets to explore: just four travelers who have to figure out how to work together to solve a problem that none of them understand. It’s fantastic.

There is tons to say here, but as usual, we’ll start with a recap after the break.

Continue reading Doctor Who: The Edge of Destruction, Part One

When Will Dragonball Z Abridged Get To My Favorite Part? To The End? (Updated 7/15)

When I was in high school and college, Dragonball Z was one of my favorite shows. Thanks to Cartoon Network’s “Toonami” block, I was able to experience to adventures of Son Goku and his martial arts ass-kicking friends as they saved the earth time and time again. The show had fantastic action, occasional bursts of humor, and a good heart. Unlike so many other heroes, Goku’s good heart and attitude was often able to gradually swing the villains onto his side, just in time to combat the next set of villains to attack the world. When was the last time that Superman managed to convert Lex Luthor? I didn’t think so.

But if there is one thing you can say about the series: it is long. Goku’s battle against Freeza probably lasted longer than most relationships. And that is where Team Four Star comes in: they edit, re-dub, and re-imagine Dragonball Z as a kick-ass comedy in small and amazingly watchable parts, called Dragonball Z Abridged. They’ve been at it since 2008 and are only around half-way through the series. But that made me wonder: when will they finish? And, more importantly, when will they get to some of my favorite parts? (Goten and Kid Trunks!)

Thanks to the power of math, I have some pretty good answers. Read on for more!

Continue reading When Will Dragonball Z Abridged Get To My Favorite Part? To The End? (Updated 7/15)

Coat of Many Colors: Purim in the Bible, Part 4

Over on Coat of Many Colors, in honor of Purim (the evening of March 4th, this year), I have finished up my look at the Book of Esther with “Esther’s Victory“. Esther and the Jews were able to turn the attempted genocide into a rout, but Esther’s next choices leaves something for us to ponder. Did she unnecessarily prolong the violence? Or just do the minimum to protect her people. Head over to Coat of Many Colors to check it out!

Disney Diary: Pinocchio (1940)

Pinocchio-1940-posterSnow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) had been a gamble for Walt Disney, but one that had paid off both critically and economically. But was Disney successful because of the novelty of a feature-length cartoon? Or was there something here that he could build on? Dozens of films later, we know the answer to that story, but as 1940 rolled around the answer was still unclear.

Pinocchio was to be Disney’s second attempt at success, and they took pains to differentiate it from its predecessor. While Snow White had been a fairy-tale of the Brothers Grimm variety, Pinocchio was based on a 57-year old Italian children’s novel. The former centered around women, a princess, and her evil step-mother, while the latter was a boys tale of adventure with a morale. We all know the story of Pinocchio: a puppet that wants to be a real boy, a nose that grows when he lies, and about the lengths that he goes to be reunited with his father. It’s an amazing story, told well. And yet, it was also a box-office failure. It seems inconceivable.

Read on for a recap and my thoughts on this second Disney classic.

Continue reading Disney Diary: Pinocchio (1940)

Doctor Who: The Daleks – Final Review and Comments

Daleks-bgFor all that An Unearthly Child launched Doctor Who, it was The Daleks that guaranteed the show a place in history. The pepper-pot aliens introduced in this serial would become Doctor Who‘s most iconic villains, spawn two theatrical films, and send legions of little children to hide behind the couch every time their cry of “Exterminate!” was heard. In seven parts, The Daleks plays out slowly by modern standards, but gradually escalates the tension between the curious Doctor, the xenophobic Daleks, and the peaceful Thals. It is a masterful introduction to Doctor Who‘s signature villain.

More after the break.

Continue reading Doctor Who: The Daleks – Final Review and Comments

Doctor Who: An Unearthly Child – Final Review and Comments

doctorwho1963blWhen An Unearthly Child was written, more than 50 years ago, it is doubtful that anyone expected that we would still be talking about this serial today. Doctor Who has transcended time and generations, and appeals to many whose parents were not yet alive when the first episode was broadcast. With that in mind, it is difficult to look at these early episodes with anything less than awe at what they accomplished. Without serials such as this one, there would never have been a “revived” Doctor Who for me to fall in love with.

More after the break.

Continue reading Doctor Who: An Unearthly Child – Final Review and Comments