RAW Delayed

Just in case people are sitting there refreshing the site waiting for the RAW rant, I'm working an all nighter doing computer upgrades, so I won't even have a chance to watch until Tuesday afternoon sometime.  Sorry.

Monday Night Open Mic

To all my American BoD’ers, Happy Memorial Day

To the rest of the world BoD’er community, Happy Monday!

I’m doing this early since the house clean is finish and the family can go out on the boat with friends, eat some good food and watch the fireworks.

There’s an NBA playoff game tonight and I think Blackhawks-Red Wings game as well. Or there’s wrestling if you’re into that sort of thing.

Regardless of what you do, make your Monday a good one. Come out swinging but make sure to keep it clean.

ROH TV 5-25-13

Colin Delaney vs.
Mark Briscoe:
Delaney is another guy from ESW, my hometown indy promotion.
He starts off with punching, Mark gets a fireman’s carry and starts working the
arm. Delaney gets loose pretty easily but runs into a powerbomb, Mark hits a
belly-to-belly and Delaney bails to the outside. Mark follows with a dropkick
through the ropes and throws a chair into the ring, but it never comes into play
(Corino: “That should be a DQ!” Kelly: “You think everything should be a DQ”). Mark
suplexes Delaney onto the apron and sends him to the barricade, then tosses him
back in and hits a vertical suplex for 2. Delaney makes a brief comeback with a
kick to the face and a neckbreaker, but he runs into an elbow on a blind charge.
He’s still able to hit a dropkick and some more punches, but Mark reverses a
suplex and the redneck kung-fu sends Delaney to the apron. Delaney gets a kick
and a totally unnecessary skin-the-cat into an elbow drop. That was just silly.
Another blind charge from Delaney goes as well as the first one, and after some
more redneck kung-fu a rolling fireman’s carry and the froggy elbow finish it
for Mark at 5:45. Only entertaining thing here was the commentary. *, just a
squash (as is usually the case with these non-roster guys) and Delaney was
having an off night. Either that or I just find him more fun to watch when I’ve
had 4 or 5 $2 beers at the ESW shows.
Mark Briscoe is still in the ring when we return from
commercial, and Jay Briscoe and Nigel McGuiness are also out. Nigel makes Jay vs.
Mark at Best in the Word official, and the American Wolves make their way out
but say nothing of note. Steve Corino gets in the ring and gets in Nigel’s face
before announcing that Matt Hardy will face the ROH champ at the TV tapings the
next night. Jay takes a swing at Corino but he ducks and Davey Richards takes
it instead and the Wolves start brawling with the Briscoes while Corino gets
the hell out of there. The stooges break it up and Michael Elgin stands in the
isle looking all mean and stuff.
Veda Scott is in the back with… no one, and she cuts a promo
on MsChif.
Cherry Bomb vs.
MsChif:
Kelly (now flying solo again) talks about MsChif technically being
undefeated, and between that and the Veda promo I’m sure you can guess how this
one will end. MsChif goes low off the Code of Honor (does that even work on
women?) and punches away, then throws some loose ass chops. Cherry gets a
headscissors (with MsChif clearly doing all the work) and a drop toehold. She
gets a couple rollups for 2 and throws some armdrags, but MsChif blocks the
last one and hits some clotheslines. She ties Cherry in the ropes and hooks the
camel clutch, giving us a nice peek down Cherry’s shirt. Some guy in the crowd
tries to start a chant that I can’t decipher, but the rest of the crowd is
dead. MsChif hits a pretty decent powerbomb, but takes too long to follow up and
walks into a jawbreaker. It doesn’t help Cherry, as MsChif hits her Fameasser variation
thing for 2. Gutbuster for 2, Cherry rolls it into some sort of submission move
and MsChif makes the ropes. She gets nothing on a blind charge and MsChif
throws knees in the corner. MsChif goes low again… and sure enough, here’s Veda
to distract her, a missile dropkick and the Death Valley Driver end MsChif’s
undefeated streak at 5:49. As far as women’s wrestling goes I’ve certainly seen
worse. *1/2, the effort was there and it wasn’t sloppy, and when it comes to the ladies that’s all I
really ask for.
Inside ROH: Just
hype for upcoming house shows and the upcoming PPV. Kevin Steen interrupts
McGuiness while he’s on hype duty, and to prove he’s no longer with S.C.U.M. he
asks for a 1-on-1 match with all of them.
Roderick Strong vs.
Taiji Ishimori:
McGuiness is on commentary for this one. Ishimori (who the
crowd chants for before we get started) is the GHC junior champ, but the title
isn’t on the line here and he’s not carrying the belt. Arm-based chain
wrestling to start, Ishimori hits a dropkick and Strong bails to the floor. He
eats another dropkick as he tries to get back into the ring, Ishimori misses a
baseball slide and they fight on the floor. Strong tries to send Ishimori to
the barricade, but Taiji just decides not to run into it and fires back with an
elbow. Not running into a steel guardrail at full speed, I wonder why other
wrestlers don’t try that… Ishimori goes for a moonsault, but Strong is right
there before he can even get to the top and they slug it out on the apron before
Strong drops him back-first on the edge of the ring. Strong continues the assault
on the floor as we head to break.
We return with Strong pounding away in the corner and
hitting a backbreaker for 2. He goes for the sleeper, Ishimori gets free but a
knee to the back sends him right back down. Strong starts working the back, and
that burns some time. Ishimori reverses a powerbomb into a DDT and hits a nice
handspring spinning kick that sends Strong to the floor again. Ishimori follows
with a SWEET somersault dive to a huge pop from the crowd. Back in the ring he
hits a double stomp for 2, he goes upstairs but Strong nails him with an
enziguri. Ishimori blocks the superplex and comes off the top with a move that
ends with him basically teabagging Strong for 2. Strong comes back with another
backbreaker and a high knee, a pumphandle suplex gets 2. Another backbreaker
leads to the Stronghold, Ishimori makes the ropes. Ishimori gets a DVD for 2,
he tries a tombstone that Strong reverses, so Ishimori reverses that into a
facecrusher. Shining Wizard gets 2, he tries the 450 but Strong rolls out of the
way, Ishimori lands on his feet but takes the double-knee gutbuster for 2. He
tries a powerbomb, Ishimori reverses it into a nasty rana for a 2.9 count. The
crowd is going nuts as a forearm battle breaks out, Strong goes for the
double-knee backbreaker but Ishimori gets loose and throws kicks, he goes for
the 450 again and Strong catches him on the top rope. Ishimori drops him on the
top turnbuckle and a gorgeous 450 ends it at 14:51 shown. Crowd chants “That
was awesome!”, and this is one of those times where I have to agree. ****, I
liked this better than Ishimori’s match with Edwards thanks to the fact that
they were actually selling stuff and it wasn’t just a random collection of
highspots. Why the fuck does Ishimori have to go back to Japan?

The main was great (second best TV match I’ve seen
this year after Punk/Cena from Raw), the rest was totally forgettable. Next
week: matches to see who will face the TV and Tag Team champs at the PPV.

Worst sequel?

Alright, buckos, here’s the question of the day.

What’s the worst sequel to a classic match? I’d have to say Rock vs Hogan II from No Way Out 2003. The original may not be a technical masterpiece, but the crowd & atmosphere is amongst the greatest of all time. It’s one of my all time favorite matches. However the sequel was absolute garbage. It was slow, immensely boring, The Rock not only phoned it in, be called collect. An absolute dud.

I’m sure some may say Hogan vs Warrior 2, but that match is bad in a fantastic way. I mean, the Log-Roll of Attempted Discomfort is worth the price of admission alone.

Daniel Bryan All Over The Place

A year or so after the 18 second debacle, Daniel Bryan is still super over and in a position where he could (arguably) be propelled to Cena-like levels of superstardom, as evidenced by the affable way in which he presents himself during promotional interviews, the Make a Wish thing he did for that kid with cancer, and his general clean cut and hard working attitude. Not to mention the fact he has everyone from the 5 year old kids to the 30+ year old smarks chanting his name. I like many others are dreading a potential heel turn, so my question for you is do you think a heel turn would work right now for Bryan? Surely (as seen with CM Punk) the crowd will still cheer for him. Where do you think this is headed and are you as confident as other Bryan fans are that he can become an even bigger star than what he is now. Thanks Well…hang on, I’ve got another call. Hey Scott, got some questions for you. After turning almost everything WWE gave him into gold and showing more personality than many could hope to have, how high do you think Daniel Bryan is gonna go in WWE? And with all the responses he’s been getting for a solid year, why hasn’t WWE bet on him more seriously? After all, isn’t that what Triple H said to CM Punk that he needed to do: win “them” over? Isn’t that what saved John Cena? Is it safe to say, then, that the problem is still the size?
I’d like your thoughts on all this and thank you for all your work!
I think they have confidence in Bryan to a certain level, but they just have the size fetish that won’t let them accept someone that small at a top level.   That being said, I think the Kane alliance is fine for him, because Kane is a guy who gets protection all the time, and by staying associated with him that kind of puts Bryan on that higher level automatically.  Plus Bryan is an increasingly connected guy who is a reliable merch seller and a noted super-clean non-drug user who top guys like to work with.  That usually adds up to an eventual re-push when someone inevitably gets injured or fucks up or both. As to the first question, I don’t think they’d be dumb enough to turn him given the monster reactions he gets.  Plus they can always put him with Punk again when he comes back and reverse the dynamic from last year. 

Book Review: The Road Warriors: Danger, Death, and the Rush of Wrestling.

Many tag teams have graced the squared circle of wrestling, many great, many merely good, many bad. In the recent history of wrestling, no team made more of an impact than Hawk and Animal, The Road Warriors.

Danger, Death, and the Rush of Wrestling is Joe “Animal” Laurinaitis’ foray into the literary world. It is his account of the lives and careers of the legendary Road Warriors. You may be surprised here…this book is actually pretty great. I know a whole slew of people malign Animal for trying to prostitute the Road Warriors name in the days since Hawk’s death, but if you read the book, you will find that is not the case.

The book starts in Minnesota, where both Joe Laurinaitis and Mike Hegstrand originated from. They were both gym rats and bouncers at local bars, both known for their impressive physiques and take no shit attitude in bouncing. One of the bars they worked at was run by a gentleman by the name of Eddie Sharkey, who had some pro wrestling ties. Sharkey took one look at his motley misfit bouncers and decided that maybe he should start training some guys for wrestling. With that thought, Sharkey enrolled one of the most impressive wrestling classes ever: John Nord, Mike Hegstrand, Joe Laurinaitis, Rick Rood, Barry Darsow. That is like a who’s who of wrestling in the 80’s and early 90’s, and further testament to my theory that the greatest pipeline for wrestling talent EVER was Minnesota in the 70’s and 80’s. The training sessions were grueling, but all of the guys toughed it out, and it was Rood and Joe who were almost immediately invited to wrestle for Ole Anderson and Georgia Championship Wrestling.

Ole wanted to bring Joe in and saddle him with a gimmick he had developed after seeing a certain Mel Gibson movie of the time: Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior. Joe initially dressed in some leather and denim with a silly YMCA reject leather cap, and was supposed to tear through the GCW roster. However, Georgia was experiencing some promotional turmoil at the time, and the newly christened Road Warrior was transferred to Jim Barnett’s territory, where he served basically as a jobber. Joe was not thrilled, and decided to quit the business, and he made no bones about bad mouthing his experience to all who would listen on his trip back to Minnesota from the deep South.

Rick Martel changed Joe’s viewpoint. He explained to him what it was he was doing wrong, burning bridges and all. Ole Anderson, whose mother lived in Minnesota, once again showed up in Joe’s life, and upon his return to Eddie Sharkey’s bar, laid eyes on a promotional shot of another up and coming wrestler: Mike Hegstrand. He was floored, and wanted to pair Joe and Mike together. Joe, burned by the business initially, cautiously agreed to go back with Ole. Upon Joe and Mike’s debut in GCW, they were given the NWA National Tag Team Titles. Read: They were GIVEN the NWA National Tag Team Titles. No match necessary, as the last champs, Arn Anderson and Matt Bourne, had to be stripped of the titles because of a rape charge against Bourne. So The Road Warriors, now named Hawk and Animal, debuted in GCW as the tag champs, and rampaged through the territory, to the point where, in their initial year in wrestling, they were named PWI Tag Team of the Year. An auspicious start, for sure.

The Road Warriors phenomenon was up and running. Hawk and Animal’s timing of when to jump ship was something to behold as well. When Black Saturday happened, with Vince McMahon basically buying the TBS TV time slot where GCW was featured, the Road Warriors had already brokered a deal with the AWA, as well as lucrative appearances in Japan. The Road Warriors were a powderkeg, over wherever they went, buzzsawing their way through opponents. They won the AWA Tag straps in fairly short order from the Fabulous Ones, a match kind of famous for its squash qualities. Animal addresses a long held smark belief in the book, that Jerry Blackwell and Larry “The Ax” Hennig stiffed them in retaliation for the Warriors stiffing opponents. He said it never happened, but that Hennig and the Warriors always had very stiff matches. Take that with several scoops of salt, but, hey, at least Animal addresses it.

Hawk and Animal ran roughshod through the AWA, but saw the writing on the wall of the dying organization. They decided to attempt to ply their trade in Jim Crockett promotions instead. This leads to two funny stories in the book.

The first is this: Animal is attempting to explain the mindset of the Gagne’s. While he doesn’t totally bury them, he does indirectly. But it leads to a funny story. Jimmy Snuka was wrestling for the AWA at the time, and at one particular show, Greg Gagne was complaining that Jimmy was in no condition to wrestle, and was hamleting on about it. Snuka gained wind of these accusations, and confronted Gagne. Basically, what he said, in synopsis, was this: “You think I am too fucked up bruddah? FUCK THAT. I will show you FUCKED UP bruddah.” Snuka then retreated into the bathroom, snorted a giant line of coke, swilled down a couple of beers, then re-emerged into Greg’s face, stating “NOW!! NOW I AM FUCKED UP BRUDDAH!”

The second story is up to you to read.

Anyway, the Road Warriors dropped the AWA Tag straps to Steve Regal (not that one) and Jimmy Garvin on the way out of the organization, with assistance from the Freebirds. They showed up in the NWA and Dusty Rhodes booked them to the moon. These are the best parts of the book, the Road Warriors NWA exploits, because many, myself included, reminisce fondly on their run in the NWA. These sections include The Crockett Cup, Bunkhouse Stampede, Night of the Skywalkers, and War Games. Animal states that he thinks War Games was Dusty Rhodes greatest idea (I agree) and that was the height of the Road Warriors. Along the way, they went from ass kicking heels to ass kicking faces, courtesy of Ivan Koloff and Krusher Khurshev, also known as Barry Darsow. The Russians. Nikita Koloff was also part of that formidable triumvirate. In reality, Nikita, born Scott Simpson, was a college football teammate of Joe Laurinaitis, Animal, so they had a strong bond. War Games was one of the greatest ideas in wrestling history, in my opinion, and Hawk and Animal were a big part of it. I have not mentioned Paul Ellering yet, and he was involved in that initial War Games. Basically, Ellering was paired with the Warriors at the end of his active in ring career in Georgia in 1983, and was figuratively and QUITE literally the Road Warriors manager. He booked the flights, hotels, et al. He was also instrumental in the process of the Road Warriors becoming an in ring threat, mapping out their matches for them. Anyway, the first War Games match is a classic revered by most long time wrestling fans, and it concluded with the Warriors giving JJ Dillon their newly created finisher: The Doomsday Device. Most fans know that move, it is a truly terrifying proposition for all involved. And in this case, in War Games, it reared its ugly head. The cage was too low to allow for proper execution, and JJ ended up separating his shoulder.

The Road Warriors ran roughshod through JCP for most of their tenure there, winning the NWA Tag Team titles by destroying the Midnight Express. They won the first Crockett Cup. While there, Animal, the artist of the group, developed the teams’ trademark spiked shoulder pads. The Warriors, the LOD, eventually lost the NWA Tag straps to the Varsity Club on the greatest fast three count in wrestling history, and were poised to become big heels thanks to the machinations of Dusty Rhodes. Rhodes had the Warriors turn on him in a tag match on WCW Saturday Night, and Animal rammed a shoulder pad spike into Rhodes head, resulting in a five alarm blade job. This was shortly after Turner had purchased the product from Jim Crockett, and the order from on high was no blood. Add in the fact this occurred at Saturday dinner hour, and Dusty’s goose was cooked. Big Dust was fired, and the Road Warriors quickly grew weary of the WCW grind. They sought greener pastures…in the WWF.

Now, The Road Warriors had actually had a face to face with Vince McMahon in 1985…where Animal astutely pointed out to the man himself that he was on the “Deca” diet. Animal makes no bones about the Warriors steroid use. Animal and Hawk were looking for guaranteed contracts in 1985 to counter Jim Crockett’s offer back then. None were forthcoming. In 1990, Vince still wasn’t offering guaranteed contracts, so the Road Warriors settled for a per appearance deal where merchandising would help pad their bank accounts. Vince, in his infinite wisdom, also wanted the Road Warriors to change their name. He had Ultimate Warrior headlining the promotion, and didn’t want too many warriors, even if Hawk and Animal were the original warriors…Jim Hellwig and Steve Borden were Road Warrior clones, as were the Powers of Pain (Animal basically trained Terry Szopinski, Warlord) and Demolition. The Warriors chose their alternate name: The Legion of Doom. And the LOD ran through the WWF like a buzzsaw, first helping the Hart Foundation win the WWF Tag Team Championship from Demolition at SummerSlam 1990 (one of this writers favorite wrestling memories). From there, LOD destroyed everything in their path, which lead to a match with Power and Glory at Mania 7. Hawk’s promo for that match is still priceless, to me. “Sour and Gory.” They proceeded to destroy Power and Glory there, and won the WWF Tag straps at SummerSlam 1991 from the Nasty Boys.

However, shit was about to get a little too real.

Hawk, by this point, had a massive drug problem. He was wholly unreliable, and it resulted in multiple drug suspensions. Animal was not thrilled by this. The second drug suspension led to the LOD losing the Tag Titles in a match that never happened, according to Animal, against Money Inc. Paul Ellering soon joined the troop again, but with a bad idea: Rocco. Hawk hated Rocco (as did I as a 12 year old) and soon the angle was treading water, and Hawk was in a bad way. Hawk and Animal wrestled Money Inc at SummerSlam 1992 at Wembley Stadium, but Hawk was so fucked up during the match that Vince McMahon, on commentary, was cursing him out off mic and off camera. Hawk decided that night to stick it to his employer, and his friend of years, and walked out and started hanging out with a London group of the Hells Angels.

Animal, in the meantime, had some lingering health issues. Herniated discs. He underwent spinal fusion surgery and was sidelined for two years. Meanwhile, Hawk resurrected the Road Warriors with Kensuke Sasaki as the Hellraisers, and Animal was none too pleased. They eventually patched up their differences, and in 1996, made their triumphant return to WCW television.

It didn’t work.

Sure, they were booked near the top of the card. But it never really caught on. They left WCW after less than a year, and hooked back up with WWF. Their first match? Against the Headbangers. A double count out. The fuck? People were ready to embrace the LOD and WWF fucked it royally up, and their WWF run was just plain bad. Sure, they put over the New Age Outlaws, but damn man, Hawk became a drunk, PUKE became an LOD member…it was a period to forget.

Animal is not a dummy when it comes to all of this shit. He seems to recognize all of the issues the LOD was going through, and makes no bones about it. It was around this time that Animal, no stranger to the wrestling partying lifestyle himself, found Jesus. Hawk was there as well, and in one case of Jesus’ miraculous power, Hawk, Animal, and Shawn Michaels became born again. Must of had a happy hour discount on salvation that day.

October 19, 2003. Just a few months after the Road Warriors made their final appearance in a WWE ring, where Hawk was accused of not selling long enough, the long inevitable truth occurred: Mike “Hawk” Hegstrand died. It was a sad coda for the greatest tag team ever. But Animal pushed on, to mixing results.

Animal formed a sort of “New” Road Warriors with Heidenreich. Bad idea. It was tasteless, senseless, and stupid. Animal agrees to these points, even saying that rapist Heidenreich shared some of the same demons Hawk suffered from. Kinda heady damning with faint praise.

In the end, Animal has proven to be a good man and a good father. His son, James, has proven himself as a hell of a middle line backer for the Rams. Animal is a wrestler who seems to be, at last, at peace with himself. While we all mourn the loss of Hawk, the more colorful member of the team, it should not be lost on what Animal, Joe Laurinaitis, has done with his family.

What a Rush.

Randoms

Scott, just did 72 straight hours at a hospital for residency and decided to unwind by reading over the BoD and some old Keller stuff.  Find that your feedback is always factually correct so had a few questions if you could post.
1) How exactly did Bret Hart return to WWE?  Was he approached by Vince to add a big name to that years WM?  Did Bret approach Vince looking for closure by having one last WWE run?  They must have had numerous conversations about Owen, royalties, etc. in his absence, and as recently as 05 I can remember Bret still claiming he’s never go back.
2) How do wrestlers PPV payouts work?  Was watching an old Jericho interview where he talks about expecting a 9 figure WM 19 bonus but was given a 7 figure check.  Always figured it was just a % of the net for the main eventers and a lower % for the mid card but this is a huge discrepancy of money so there can’t be be a standard policy in place?
3) I HATE Sheamus.  Don’t find him entertaining, interesting, or great in the ring.  I’m assuming he’s gonna be in the main event for the foreseeable future and might be targeted by Vince as the face of the brand when Cenas done.  PLEASE tell me I’m wrong!!!!!!!
Thanks for the time,
Mark

You hear that?  FACTUALLY CORRECT.  1.  I think Bret said they basically approached him about going into the Hall of Fame and he was feeling like he had held the grudge long enough.  Seems like as we get into the HHH era, a lot of burned bridges are unburning again. 2.  There’s no standard policy, it all depends on the contract.  Plus PPV revenues are basically in the toilet these days compared to even 10 years ago, so most of the money for your average WWE Superstar™ comes from merchandise and extracurricular things like that.  In WCW, Hulk Hogan used to get [x] dollars downside guarantee, PLUS something like 25% of the gross PPV revenue as well.  So shows like Starrcade 97 would put millions of dollars in his bank account, and WCW still made millions off the deal.  These days the guys are getting even more screwed because the company will cook the numbers to make the stock look better, sometimes just straight up moving money from one division to another and the wrestlers have no say in what they’re getting paid.  So yeah, your Rocks and Brocks and Cenas get the biggest chunk and then everyone else just kind of waits for Wrestlemania and hopes to get residuals from videogames and DVDs. 3. I don’t think they see him as the future of the company given his age.

Waiting for the Trade – Batgirl

Waiting for the Trade
by Bill Miller
 
Batgirl New 52 Vol. 1
– The Darkest Reflection
by Gail Simone, Ardian
Syaf and Vicente Cifuentes
collects Batgirl 1 – 6
 
Why I Bought This: I
always liked Batgirl best of the core Batman characters dating back to the Adam
West series. Since I mostly enjoyed the first three New 52 books I sampled, and
with Barbara Gordon finally returned to that role, this my next pick-up from
that line.
 
 
The Plot: Barbara
Gordon has regained the use of her legs and decides to resume her career as
Batgirl only to come across a new costumed serial killer known as Mirror.
 

Chapter 1 – A mystery man drowns an old guy with a garden
hose then scratches his victim’s name off a list that also includes the name of
“Barbara Gordon.” We see Batgirl on patrol and she comes across a home invasion
that she subsequently breaks up in a short but intense fight. We see Barbara
having nightmares of Joker shooting her and putting her in a wheelchair in The Killing Joke. When she wakes we get
a flashback of her recovery and moving out of her father’s house. This leads to
her getting an apartment with a new female roommate, who is something of a
political activist. At the hospital police are interrogating the gang leader
Batgirl took down the night before when the mysterious costumed man from the
opening arrives. He guns down some cops causing Barbara to head over there when
she hears about it through her police connections. Batgirl arrives just as our
killer storms the gang leader’s room but when he pulls a gun on her she again
flashes back to Killing Joke and
freezes. This allows the killer to dispose of the gang leader much to the
horror of the one surviving police officer in the room.
 
 
Chapter 2 – The
killer makes his escape and Barbara pursues him in a rooftop battle that she
ultimately loses (and barely survives from falling to her death). At the
hospital surviving cop Detective McKenna tells Comm. Gordon her belief that
Batgirl is partly responsible for the gang leader’s death. Batgirl tracks the
killer to a cemetery where he reveals his name as Mirror. He kicks her ass
again but she is able to steal his list off him during the fight before he
retreats because the entire Gotham PD are on the way. That night Barbara goes
home and her roommate sees her covered in bruises and assumes Barbara has domestic
violence victim problems, although Barbara is able to talk her out of it. The
next day Barabara goes on a date with her physical therapist. Then we get a
montage of Barbara doing detective work until she is able to piece together who
Mirror is and find his hideout. His story is he was a federal agent/war hero
whose family burned to death in a car accident while he watched. This has made
him conclude that “miracles are simply God laughing at us” and so he kills anyone
who has received a miracle, particularly surviving a near death experience by
killing them in the way they should have died the first time. He reveals to
Barbara he has planted a bomb on a train to get to his next victim who survived
falling on train tracks once.
 
 
Chapter 3 – Batgirl boards the train and tries to outthink
Mirror since by changing the circumstances of how his victim would die but he
still detonates the bomb. Later she liberates her bat-cycle from the police
impound (she had to leave it outside the hospital when she chased Mirror on the
rooftops) and encounters Nightwing. They flirt by fighting as she convinces him
she needs to prove herself that she can solve this case on her own.
 
 
Chapter 4 – Barbara is having nightmares about being back in
the wheelchair. Barbara and her roommate decorate for Christmas leading Barbara
to reveal her best and worst Christmas. The former is one year ago when her
father got an experimental clinic in South Africa to accept her which is what
got her out of the wheelchair, whereas the latter is when her mother walked on
her and Comm. Gordon when she was 12. On patrol Batgirl breaks up a mugging.
She then laves a noet for Mirror on the grave of his family. Needless to say he
is not pleased to receive it and accepts Batgirl’s invitation to go fight in an
abandoned hall of mirrors. There fight is pretty physical and it looks like
Mirror is going to win and until Barbara forces him to confront the loss of his
family giving her an opening to KO him and send him to Arkham. That night
Barbara’s mother shows up at her apartment.
 
 
Chapter 5 – Batgirl is on patrol when she stumbles across a
carjacking. What is weird is the carjackers are upper level mobsters who never
get their hands dirty in public. It gets even weirder when Barbara stops three
of them only for the head mobster to kill his three sons and the jump off a
bridge in a suicide attempt. Batgirl catches him on her bat-cable only for a girl
with green hair to show up and attack her. The villain seems to have low grade
invulnerability as none of Batgirl’s blows phase her. Eventually the villain
just wanders off claiming to be “out of time” and Batgirl has to let her go so
she can finish saving the mob boss who is now mumbling the numbers “338”
uncontrollably. We then get a flashback to last issue’s cliffhanger with
Barbara’s mom. They go for a walk with mom announcing her intention to move
back to Gotham and hoping to start anew but Barbara
isn’t very receptive to the idea. At Gotham PD Detective McKenna is reinstated
(she was on mandatory psychological bereavement leave due to the death of her
partner by Mirror) and is assigned the bridge case which opened this chapter;
she’s happy for the assignment since she’s been investigating Batgril on her
own time anyway. Batgirl is pondering the meaning of 338, and comes across a
news story on protests of a historical building that the Wayne Foundation plans
to demolish at that address number. As Bruce is on his way to the site his
chauffer gets possessed and deliberately crashes their car and our mystery
villainess again shows up. She now has pink hair and using the name Gretel.
Batgirl takes down the chauffer so Gretel possess Bruce instead.
 
 
Chapter 6 – Batgirl is forced to fight Bruce and this causes
her flashback to some her early days training with him and then him visiting
her in the hospital after Killing Joke as
she worries this fight might be a bit too much too soon after her recovery
considering who Bruce really is. The fight ends up in Crime Alley (the sight of
the murder of Bruce’s parents) and that enables Barbara talk him free of the
mind control. He gives her his approval as Batgirl and plans to hold a press
conference tomorrow. We get Gretel’s origin: she was an investigative
journalist who went digging into a connection between the mob and the wealthy
elite and got shot and left for dead for her troubles. The bullet she took to
the head both cut off her pain centers and gave telepathic powers that enable
her to get men to do what she suggests. Barbara is able to investigate based on
something Gretel said during the last fight and discovers her identity. Gretel
finishes off the mobster from chapter 5 (who is the same one that shot her way
back when) off panel, while Barbara and Bruce set a trap with Bruce to be a
decoy at the press conference so that Batgirl can take down Gretel. At the
press conference Gretel possesses all of the male cops and has them open fire
on Bruce. Batgirl takes down the cops long enough for Bruce to escape and
change clothes. Detective McKenna attempts to arrest Batgirl but Batman arrives
and is like ‘uh, no.’ The two heroes confront Gretel and Batgirl tries to talk
her into surrendering out of sympathy for her tragic origin. Gretel forces a
fight and when she loses wishes for suicide rather than being powerless at the
hands of men again but Batgirl saves her anyway then turns her over to McKenna
while pondering if she could have turned out the same as Gretel if not for the
love of her father and Batman.
 
 
Critical Thoughts: Good
stuff all around. Both new villains have great origins and make good foils for
Barbara. They are both victims of terrible events so that you have empathy for
them but yet the story never shies away from showing they are mass murders and
why the need to be stopped. Mirror in particular makes a great first foe as he
is physically superior to Barbara and his schtick gives her intellectual
openings to try to overcome that, while also playing against her own fears that
getting back into the costume is tempting fate after being in the wheelchair
for so long. Even the minor villains are well-written. That home invasion scene
has a terrifying subtext where they tell their victims what they plan to do to
them but the reader doesn’t hear it, we only see the victims’ horrified reaction
to their plan.
 
 
Reading
about Batgirl in general proves interesting because there aren’t a lot of
non-powered solo females out there. Marvel’s Silver Sable is the only other one
who come to mind of the top of my head and she uses guns, which is a short cut
Barbara doesn’t have. Even when fighting muggers and gangs we see Barbara has
to use leverage and tactics because she is not as strong as they are. Overall
this book has a nice sense of realism. Barbara  knows how dangerous boarding a train with a
bomb on it is. She struggles to save cilvilians. She worries about the strain
on her spine in the more physical scenes. Best of all is her interior
monologue: it’s really written, let’s us know what she’s thinking and feeling
both in the action scenes and the detective scenes. Which is another good
touch, we see Barbara do the work on panel to solve these crimes. It’s very
much a case of showing and not telling us that Barbara is smart, when they
could easily take the shortcut that she used to be Oracle and she had a big
database and bam the clue is solved.
 
 
This book also introduces a good, well-written supporting
cast. It’s a good mix of new characters like the roommate, Barbara’s mother and
Detective McKenna with established characters like her father and sticking the
other Bat-heroes on the periphery. There isn’t a civilian character here that I
wouldn’t mind seeing again in future volumes and how their stories intertwine
with Barbara’s character arc.
 
 
Grade A. Overall
this is a real solid book with good writing that extends to the hero, her
supporting cast and the villains. This is a series I will definitely continue
to buy in trade.
 

Repost: Arrested Development Seasons 1-3

Since we’re MINUTES away from the launch of season 4 on Netflix, here’s a refresher on the first three… The SmarK DVD Rant for Arrested Development – Season One This is the story of a brilliant TV writer who unexpectedly created one of the most revolutionary and critically beloved shows in sitcom history, but got no support from the network who was supposed to be finding an audience for it. It’s Arrested Development. If ever there was a case of a show you either get or you don’t, it’s this one. Replacing the standard four-camera and setup-punchline-setup-punchline nature of the sitcom form with a more open, fly-on-the-wall documentary feel and more natural dialogue, AD marked a career revamp for Jason Bateman and a career launch for a cast of supporting characters who defined the show. Although the show is funny by itself, the thing that truly makes it special is the airtight character continuity and endless self-referencing that it does. When these guys do a running gag, it’s not just for one show, it’s for entire SEASONS. But most importantly, the characters are written with a real human quality, not just as cartoon characters, but as a real family who has problems (as if that’s not the understatement of the century…) but in the end, breakfast is the most important thing. Or maybe it’s family. I missed most of the first season because none of the Canadian stations picked it up until well into the first season, and then proceeded to run 10 or so of the episodes totally out of order so they could skip through it all in time for the second season. I still cheered loudly when it won the Best Comedy Emmy anyway. Luckily the great narration job done by Ron Howard helps straighten out any confusion that may arise from crappy programming decisions. <b>The Film</b> Arrested Development focuses on the Bluth family, of which there are several key members… George Sr. – Played by Jeffrey Tambor. The head of the family and owner of the Bluth Corporation, he spends pretty much the entire season in jail. Hence the name. Lucille – Played by Jessica Walter. George’s wife, and probably the living embodiment of what Hilary Clinton is going to be like in 20 years. Manipulative, evil, and yet still loving of her family. Except Gob. Michael – Played by Jason Bateman. The main character on the show, and the one around whom everything revolves. Although he thinks of himself as the moral center of the family, he’s just as neurotic and off-center as everyone else, but he dresses slightly better. Gob – Played by Will Arnett. The breakout star character of the show, he’s a womanizer and longtime stage magician who is terrible at the one thing he loves and thinks his parents resent and hate him. Sadly, he’s correct. Byron “Buster” Bluth – Played by Tony Hale. The youngest of the three brothers and the only one to remain close to Lucille. As in, he still lives with her and is unable to function without her, despite spending thousands of dollars on college degrees in useless subjects. His life’s dream is to get punched in the face. Lindsay Bluth-Funke – Played by Portia Derossi. With a lifetime of money thanks to rich parents and a doctor for a husband, she instead concentrates her efforts on protesting whatever is trendy that week. Tobias Funke – Played by David Cross. A former doctor who lost his license and now wants to be an actor, he is by far the most alienated of the bunch, as everyone dismisses him as an idiot. He is possibly gay as well, despite many protests from him and a wealth of innocent remarks taken way out of context. George-Michael – Played by Michael Cera. Michael’s son, and the closest thing to normal in the family, he runs the banana stand and is in love with his cousin, going to obsessive lengths to both deny and facilitate their taboo relationship. Like I said, he’s the closest thing to normal. Maeby – Played by Alia Shawkat. Daughter of Lindsay and Tobias, she hates her parents (rightfully so) and can be counted on to believe in exactly the opposite of whatever her mother is currently fighting for. Willing to take risks that George-Michael isn’t able to, let’s face it, they’re perfect for each other. She may or may not be biologically related to the family. Oscar – Played by Jeffrey Tambor also. Introduced late in the season, Oscar is George’s twin brother, albeit with a long flowing mane of hair and a hippie past. <b>Disc One</b> – Extended Pilot. Our saga begins on the Bluth family yacht, as omniscient (and occasionally opinionated) narrator Ron Howard introduces us to Michael Bluth and his family. The setup is that the Bluths, headed up by George Bush-like George Bluth Sr. (Jeffrey Tambor, in what was originally written as a guest spot only), own a large housing development business and George Sr. is ready to retire and presumably pass on the reins to long-suffering son Michael. Our first flashback gag of the show has Michael and son George-Michael (did I mention this show has the best gag names, too?) share a moment in their sleeping bags about the importance of breakfast and family, which would be referenced early in season 3. Michael is living in the show-home with George-Michael as we begin, and one of the best running gags is introduced when we meet his brother, Gob. “Gob” (played by the awesome, scene-stealing Will Arnett) is a play on “Jeb” Bush, and is thus pronounced like Job the biblical character instead of “gob.” Anyway, being burdened with unearned wealth and a failed career as a magician, he compensates by riding a Segway scooter everywhere, and that one gets milked for every laugh it’s worth. In fact, the family’s out-of-control spending in general sets up the major plot of the series, although “plot” with this show is a relative term. George-Michael meets his cousin Maeby for the first time, and we learn that she’s the daughter of Michael’s twin sister Lindsay and her husband Tobias Funke. Tobias, constantly warring with Gob for the most brilliant moments on the show, is played by Mr. Show creator David Cross, and was previously a doctor until he tried to give CPR to a guy sunbathing by the pool and thus lost his license. His running gag is also immediately established, as he mistakes the retirement party for a pirate party and unwittingly joins a group of homosexuals protesting the real party. The actual plot begins when George Sr. unexpectedly passes control of the company over to wife Lucille, and then gets dragged off by the SEC for years of unspecified bad dealings. Those dealings would provide many episodes worth of teases and huge punchlines to come. Tobias’s pirate adventure convinces him to become an actor, setting him off on his character path. Michael, feeling rejected, wants to bail on his family and move to Arizona with George-Michael after a huge job offer from Sitwell Housing. Sitwell would return in the second season with a much bigger role. While visiting his father in jail, Michael discovers that George Sr. passed the company to Lucille because of some VERY bad legal advice, which would also become a running gag. So everyone decides to stick together and live in the model house, and we get the first “On the next…” show-ending gag, which was actually conceived as an ironic statement due to Mitchell Hurwitz being sure that the show wouldn’t get picked up. – Top Banana. So George Sr. LOVES prison, and George-Michael is having trouble avoiding Maeby and her womanly charms. So Michael decides to make G-M the manager of the longtime Bluth standby — the frozen banana stand on the beach. The family is having troubles dealing with the company’s frozen assets, even though George Sr. stresses several times that there’s ALWAYS money in the banana stand, and he’s not being subtle about it. However, G-M’s plan backfires when Maeby is also drafted into working there. Michael makes sure to tell his son to stay on top of her and ride her hard while at work. Tobias has his first audition here, and it goes about as well as the rest of them would go. Michael learns that his dead’s cellmate T-Bone is a “flamer” in a totally different context than he expected, and T-Bone ends up working at the banana stand as a favor to George Sr. Gob’s father issues start here. Michael and Gob decide to unite and burn down the banana stand as a gesture of defiance towards their father, but Gob’s own previous gesture of defiance turned out to be throwing the insurance payment into the ocean. Which was harder than it sounds. – Bringing Up Buster. Gob’s relationship with Marta, the Mexican soap-opera star, is introduced. So is high school student Steve Holt (“Steve Holt!”) who would become much more important in the third season. Buster is driving Lucille crazy, so she dumps him on Michael. Gob tries to live in the office, but Michael is in no mood for both brothers (“If it’s business, I’ll leave happily, but if it’s personal, I’ll still leave, but I won’t be happy.” “It’s personal.”) Tobias tries to break into directing, by taking over the high school play where G-M is trying to put the moves on Maeby, but his plans for direction turn out to be more authentically Shakespearean than most teenage boys are ready for. Steve Holt’s up for a little cross-dressing, luckily. Gob tries moving in with Lucille, which lasts for all of an hour before he takes up permanent residence on the yacht instead. And everything leads up to a Cornball pun, in more ways than one. – Key Decisions. Gob has to attend an awards show with Marta (“just like Rita Wilson!”) and we are thus introduced to the stair car, which becomes the family’s transportation for the season. Gob decides to get out of the shadow of his semi-famous girlfriend by staging his greatest escape yet…breaking out of his father’s prison! He’s no Mike Scofield, that’s for sure. Apparently, however, swallowing a key to the cell is harder than it appears in cartoons (Professional magician, do not attempt) and a shanking soon follows. Gob dumps Marta on Michael for the awards, which of course complicates everyone’s life when he falls hopelessly in love with her. Speaking of complicated, Liza Minelli debuts as Lucille II, Lucille’s best friend and biggest social rival, and accidentally flirts with Buster, due to the fact that she’s an idiot and he lost his glasses. Buster “flirting” from the other side of the room is one of the funniest sight gags in the show’s run. Gob, locked in a cell with his father, is unable to pass the key because of privacy concerns, and he lets us know that he’s made a huge mistake. That would soon become another running gag. We get an off-hand mention of Carl Weathers by Tobias, which would soon get paid off, bigtime. Lindsay unwittingly becomes a tree sitter with Ron Howard’s cousin Clint, but causes him to forget why you NEVER leave the tree. Gob’s (literal) backstabbing at the hands of White Power Bill (who would of course pop up again later in the season just because) causes him to rethink his relationship with Marta. And he’s made another huge mistake. But at least he escaped from the prison. Ta-da! – Visiting Ours. First appearance of Michael’s assistant Kitty, who is actually George’s assistant. Gob moves back to the office so he can write a strongly-worded letter of protest to the warden of the prison. Apparently getting taken out on a stretcher doesn’t count as “escaping.” Tobias and his nudity issues are introduced as he and Lindsay seek therapy…with Bob Odenkirk. That of course turns into an over-the-top ham session between Bob and David. Obviously Mitchell Hurwitz was a big Mr. Show fan. Kitty is all over Gob, which leads to the most unexpectedly hilarious “take off your glasses” scene in sitcom history. Michael decides to take advantage of this rather ludicrous pairing by whoring out Gob as an information source. As long as the lights are out, he doesn’t mind, however. George Sr. organizes a softball game, which gets REALLY ugly, and ruins the whole prison experience for George-Michael. George continues stealing the show by sharing too much information with Michael (“Daddy’s horny.”) and reveals that a month without sex is rough. Especially when he’s been in prison two months. Michael is so disturbed that he tries to convince Lucille to make a conjugal visit just to get the image out of his head, but it turns out that Lucille wasn’t what George Sr. had in mind. This further screws up a tryst between Kitty and Gob in the other trailer, although Gob forgot the entire plan anyway. And we end with George dropping the first casual mention that he may have committed treason. But LIGHT treason. – Charity Drive. A heatwave has Michael needing a car, which Lindsay prepares for a charity auction, as does Lucille. Michael needs permits filed after the fact, so he hires Gob to do the dirty work. He picks up someone who he thinks is Lupe the housekeeper, but in a nice comment on how even the self-satisfied can be wrong, it turns out that he can’t tell the difference between similar-looking Latinos either. And wouldn’t you know, having bones, a shovel and red nail polish everywhere looks kind of suspicious to a scared Mexican immigrant. Gob, master of disguise, blows his cover on the scouting mission, and so dumps the job on G-M. He proves to be just as bad at it. And at the charity auction, Buster screws up his only job, too, bidding on the wrong Lucille. Michael the Serial Killer is non-stop laughs here. <b>Disc Two</b> – My Mother, The Car. To compete with Lucille II’s parties, Lucille decides to throw an even bigger party on the yacht, which Michael is trying to sell. Great sight gags with Lucille on “World’s Worst Drivers” and a fake license made by Gob, to really hammer home the point of the episode. Lindsay visits her father in prison, but is disappointed when the prisoners don’t catcall and treat her like a piece of meat. The family manipulates Michael into throwing a surprise party for Lucille, but then all of them forget to show up. A great moment then shows how deeply Lucille can outsmart even Michael, as she guilts him with her frail act. Another awesome fourth wall moment as Michael & Lucille get into a car accident on the way home, thus taking out the fake cameraman. Michael suffers a head trauma, with requisite memory loss, thus giving us some quality slapstick due to his numbed state. He feels guilty for being the one who tried to run Gob over, but Lucille medicates him with “Children’s Aspirin.” LOTS of it. Brilliant dovetailing of the stories as Linday’s obsession with getting a reaction at prison pays off an earlier moment with Lucille’s presumed frailty leaving her unable to lift grocery bags. Another great line here (“…to keep me from getting attacked in the shower…or worse.” “Stabbed?”) as Lindsay seems unaware of the realities of prison life. In the end, Michael and Gob unite again to figure out who REALLY was more likely to want to run over Gob, because they’re brothers, and they kinda like each other! – In God We Trust. This one introduces Henry Winkler as Barry Zuckerkorn, the worst’s worst attorney, as he gets George one afternoon out of prison for the “Living Classics” show before Christmas. Barry’s awesomely funny homophobia is introduced as well. Lucille thinks Michael and Lindsay are aligning against her, so she begins using her powers of bitchcraft to split them up. We also learn that, contrary to all evidence that says otherwise, Barry’s bus bench ads show him to be “Very Good.” And then we learn that Barry lost a $300,000 lawsuit to his own (homosexual) assistant, who still works for him, and was represented by super-lawyer Wayne Jarvis. Thus Michael wants to hire Jarvis and fire Barry. Wayne is SERIOUS and PROFESSIONAL, you see, and he hates small talk. And as an attorney at law, it’s his professional responsibility to inform us that there is no candy in the room, or to duck behind a couch, as needed. I cannot possibly do this episode justice with a mere recap, because I’m nearly cracking up again just typing this stuff up. Michael and Lindsay get sick of their mother’s manipulation, and ask Wayne Jarvis if there’s any serious and professional way to humiliate her publicly, but she one-ups them by dating Wayne instead of planned suitor Barry. However, this leaves the Bluths stuck with Barry Zuckerkorn as their lawyer. This one is easily one of the funniest episodes of the season without even touching on the actual STORYLINE of the episode, involving George-Michael wearing a muscle suit for his role as Adam and Tobias obsessing over nudity in a role he’s auditioning for. Truly, this one will leave you realizing that it’s never the ones you hope. I hope to hell that they bring Wayne Jarvis back for at least one more episode so he can be serious and professional again. – Storming the Castle. More quality slapstick from Michael, as he falls off chairs and lusts after Marta. Very, very, obviously lusts after her. So obvious that the only one who doesn’t get it is Gob. And then we get another awesome moment as thugs try to muscle Gob via Michael, and he ignores them. And good thing, as it’s just a magician from the Alliance, from which Gob was expelled in the pilot. “Taking his legs” has a different meaning in the magic community, you see. Lindsay protesting leather leads indirectly to Tobias becoming a leather queen. And Michael sets his master plan for stealing Marta into motion, although evil genius isn’t his forte. George begins a new character arc in prison, finding Judaism in solitary. This one marks the first use of Europe’s “The Final Countdown” as the cheesy theme song for Gob’s act, which leads to a payoff of G-M’s neurosis about his smooth, hairless legs. – Pier Pressure. A clash over parenting techniques between the twins sets us off, as Lindsay tries her hand at actually disciplining Maeby for once, and makes her work for Lucille as a punishment for bad grades. Buster, meanwhile, needs some pot for Lucille II’s vertigo, so he goes to the most street-wise kid that he knows…George-Michael. So now Michael thinks that his son is on drugs, and really the A-minus was a dead giveaway. So again he tries his hand at evil genius, this time a fake drug bust to scare him using stripper cops. Gob overacting as a slimy dealer is hilariously bad. But of course things implode like a black hole as Michael learns a lesson about not teaching lessons in true Arrested Development style. A key gag with a detachable arm seems to foreshadow things to come. – Public Relations. Michael tries to get G-M into the prestigious Milford school, where children are neither seen nor heard. Buster of course was a star pupil there, setting off a show-long gag with Buster practicing the art of not being seen. Spectacularly well, in fact. This leads Michael to hire a publicist, who is a little cutie-pie, and as usual getting the family to cooperate is chaos. Great little moments from everyone as the publicist sets everyone off on job-hunting errands. This leads to Tobias meeting Carl Weathers on a shuttle to the airport, while Gob does magic for the elderly. Great Michael moment as he breaks up with his new publicist (“Jesse…” “What?” “Oh, I was just saying your name as you walked away. I’ve got no followup.”) Gob manages to kidnap Earl Milford of the Milford school, which I guess is slightly better than his original assumption of killing him in the course of a trick. Carl Weathers fits right into this group as a parasitic “acting teacher.” – Marta Complex. It’s the anniversary party for Lindsay and Tobias, and Michael is still in denial about Marta. A flashback gives us more “I’ve made a huge mistake” and Carl Weathers continues stealing the show (“Baby, you’ve got a stew goin’!”) An impromptu toast from Michael reveals his secret to Marta, and she too has made a huge mistake. I also have to add that the other impromptu toast that preceded it, with everyone chanting “Speech!” and the narrator explaining that it was for no one in particular, at which point the chants fizzles out, is the kind of truly transcendent moment that this show is known for. Anyway, Gob (who doesn’t speak Spanish, despite years of lessons) misinterprets Marta’s confession of loving “Hermano” and thinks Marta is cheating on him. Speaking of cheating, Lucille II dumps Buster for Carl Weathers in the most bizarre relationship twist that the show had seen to that point. Michael, who also doesn’t speak Spanish very well, also thinks Hermano is a person and joins Gob in a quest to discover his identity. Another show would have had Michael understanding the term and conflicting with Gob, but I like that AD went in totally the opposite direction with it. Michael genuinely cares that Marta might be cheating on his brother, and that’s more important to him than getting her would be. This all of course leads to some brilliant wordplay with the brothers, which worsens when Buster (who of course is the only one to actually UNDERSTAND Spanish) falls in love with Marta. Michael too may have made a huge mistake, preemptively breaking up with Marta over “Hermano.” Amazingly complex writing here. – Beef Consomme. Originally conceived as the series finale in case the show didn’t get renewed, this one wrapped up a lot of stuff. Michael blows off Marta’s disrespect of Gob (“I don’t care, no one respects him.”) and they proceed to getting it on, but Michael unexpectedly DOES respect his brother’s feelings after all and can’t go through with it. Even when Gob finally learns what Hermano means, he can’t put the pieces together. G-M learns that Maeby was a test-tube baby, although that kind of takes the thrill out of it, and thus he’s over her. Tobias is forced to confront his never-nude problem for an acting gig, and Buster turns to Mariachi bands to comfort him over losing Marta. That he was never in contention doesn’t make it hurt any less. Another great fourth wall moment as the judge reminds us that no cameras are allowed in his courtroom before a hearing for George Sr., so the camera proceeds to leave the room and we have to listen to the big fight between Gob and Michael starting behind closed doors instead. Gob and Michael finally have the knock-down drag-out war that has building for a few episodes, although they’re a couple of sissy rich kids so really it’s not quite as brutal as you might expect. Although it does manage to pay off both Buster gags at once. – Shock and Aww. G-M falls in love with his teacher, Ms. Baerly (played by Heather Graham), and we get another reference to someone having a hand chopped off. Gob tries to get back at Michael by fixing him up with a transvestite, but then gets so jealous of him as a matter of reflex that he steals “her” away anyway. Michael goes to meet G-M’s teacher, and we get another hint of season 2 as he makes an off-hand remark about a picture of “rape houses” in Iraq looking just like the show home. George Sr., with spiritual background music, finds himself with a disciple. We meet Korean adoptee Annyong, although that’s actually Korean for “hello” and everyone is just too self-involved to know the difference. A gag with subtitles would carry on for much of the season before ascending to the comedy pinnacle in the next episode and thus outliving its usefulness. But that’s another great thing about this show — they knew when to stretch the joke, and when to retire it. Ms. Baerly, meanwhile, loves Saddam Hussein and after a night with Michael gets drawn into the Bluth Zone. Gob’s ridiculous string of sexual conquests and confused cell phone calls wins the day here. <b>Disc Three</b> – Staff Infection. Lupe the maid wants a day off for a family reunion, so of course Lucille gets offended, while in the same sentence begging for money from Michael. Michael sets about forcing the family to actually work (again) for their Bluth company paycheques, which of course backfires on him when they attempt to do so. Tobias researches his “Frightened Inmate #2” role by going to prison with George. Gob and Buster stir up trouble on the site of a new Bluth housing project, with some great twisted logic from Gob, and he debuts his chicken impression here, complete with dance. Lindsay turns a simple phone-answering job into a major FBI sting operation. An amazingly subtle and hilarious sight gag sees Michael stopping by the banana stand, where Annyong is working, and the camera zooms out for a wide shot. Since Annyong is so small in the distance, when he says “Annyong,” there’s a tiny “Hello” below him. Everything collides at the work site, where Gob and Buster engage in a life-or-death game of Chicken (without the dance), but with BULLDOZERS. Actually, it’s less life-or-death than it sounds. – Missing Kitty. It’s Spring Break and Gob wants to make the yacht disappear for a Youth Oriented Music channel. Tobias studies fear under White Power Bill, who previously shanked Gob. Kitty debuts her new giant boobs and her catchphrase, “This is the last time you’ll see these!” Of course we would see them many more times following this. Flashback gag sees piles of crates in the yacht with “H Maddas” on them, which shouldn’t take much thinking to decipher. This one also introduces “Girls With Low Self-Esteem”, the best-selling spring break video series. Tobias accidentally talks White Power Bill into killing himself, thus going from Frightened Prisoner #2 into Prison Kingpin. This leads to a hilarious man-to-man talk with George Sr. and “Dorothy”. Gob actually does make the yacht disappear, albeit by sinking it, with “The Final Countdown” blaring in the background as usual. However, Kitty was on the yacht, despite earlier teases that G-M was on it, and she’s presumed dead. The gay cops debut in a throwaway gag as part of “On the next…” but would return in the second season in a bigger role, and Oscar is also mentioned in passing for the first time. – Altar Egos. It’s the Seinfeld guest show, with Julia-Louis Dreyfuss. Barry Zuckerkorn brings a plea bargain to the Bluths, but hasn’t gotten around to reading it yet, due to failed attempts to pick up transvestite hookers. Michael’s “only slept with four women” runner continues here, although he claims it’s up to five now (Ms. Baerly, but not Marta apparently). While in a bar trying to read the plea bargain, Michael bumps into Maggie Lizer, as in “lies her ass off.” Boy, if THAT wasn’t a dead giveaway of where the plot was going, I don’t know what is. Michael hooks up with her, and we learn that she is blind, which makes the inevitable morning-after dumping a bit too hard for Michael to handle. The giveaway was “I’m blind,” which Michael simply took as a drunken non-sequitur. Awesome morning-after talk between Gob and Michael follows (“What’s wrong with her?” “Nothing’s wrong with her! Well, she’s blind.”) Gob, meanwhile, marries guest star Amy Poehler on a series of escalating drunken dares, and we discover that she sell seals. And boy, THAT one would pop up again in the most unexpected way possible in season 2. However, they didn’t actually consummate the marriage, despite Gob’s protests that they absolutely, positively did. Lucille, enraged over George’s hanky-panky with a disciple who turns out to be an undercover government spy, wants a divorce. Michaels goes to clear the air with Maggie, but discovers that she may have the entire government case file and wants him to read it to her. The big plot twist is given away as a one-off gag in “On the next…” segment. – Justice Is Blind. Part 2, as Gob is unable to escape his marriage, but still hasn’t consummated it and thus could annul it whenever he wants. Of course, that admission will never happen, so there they are. Michael decides to do the right thing and give back the folder, but it turns out that Maggie knew it was him. And so George asks him to break into Maggie’s house, which he dumps on Tobias. Thus we get one of the few “On the next…” gags to actually come true. We learn that Maggie isn’t blind, but her dog is, although a shot of mace from Tobias changes things. This all sets up one of the best sight gags in the show’s run (kinda ironic considering the subject matter) as G-M laments not knowing what moral choice to make and not having a set of rules to tell him what to do. He of course says this while standing under a giant mockup of the 10 Commandments. Buster selling out his family in exchange for grilled cheese is…very Buster. – Best Man For The Gob. Gob, who has taken to wearing sweaters in domestic fashion now, wants out of the marriage, but the family wants to meet her and throw a party. Tobias wants to “reunite the band”, but means it literally — he wants to reunite Dr. Funke’s 100% Natural Good Time Family Band Solution, a folk group consisting of himself, Lindsay, and Maeby that was underwritten by shady pharmaceutical companies. I believe that Teamocil pops up later on, actually. George is paranoid about an accountant who knows too much, so he hires Gob to convince the guy that he got drunk and killed a stripper. Luckily, the stripper is a narcoleptic who passes out in dark places, and he can’t hold his liquor, and the plan is for her to pop out of a cake, so you KNOW there’s a big payoff coming up. Michael and G-M head out on a fishing trip for some father-son bonding, but that goes terrible for them. The gay dancing cops (not to be confused with the gay cops) help Gob to set up the accountant (which gives us a “helpful gaze”/”helpful gays” pun that you don’t often get in primetime settings) but it all goes spectacularly wrong. Although usually the stripper doesn’t end up ALIVE when things go wrong. – Whistler’s Mother. More money is available, and Lindsay wants some of it for an affair. Great Tobias sight gag sees him reading “Acting: Like A Man” Oscar is formally introduced to the show, which has G-M all paranoid about George Sr. possibly escaping. The family is all over the new money, so Michael tells Gob & Tobias to find something to invest in, and thus Gobias is born. Oscar’s introduction to Michael (“Hey, Nephew.”) sounds just like Buster’s usual introduction, with is another bit of foreshadowing. Michael buys $10,000 of worthless land from Oscar, despite his father’s advice of just paying him off and being done with it, and soon everyone is blowing whistles at him. Literally. But with everything going wrong, a hug from Mom (“What’s happening here?”) and some emotional blackmail of Oscar saves Michael’s job. But now Lucille is on the board and Oscar is in love with her again. – Not Without My Daughter. It’s Take Your Daughter To Work Day, which provides an ENDLESSLY hilarious series of gags here. G-M’s getting a bit too old for the part, so Michael decides to take Maeby instead. Gob gets unfairly edited in the “Girls With Low Self-Esteem” video and doesn’t take it well. The gay cops are introduced into the canon of the show, as they question Michael about Kitty’s disappearance. The one features TWO Mr. Show regulars in addition to David Cross, by the way, which may be a record for a primetime comedy. Buster’s visit to prison puts a new twist on the “No touching” running gag that had been running all season. Self-esteem issues with Gob, Tobias and G-M lead to a shoplifting gag, costing Lindsay an actual job. This one is all about the bizarre daughter-at-work gags running wild throughout the show. – Let Them Eat Cake. And the season wraps up, as everyone is on Atkins and not happy about it. Lindsay wants to start a business, but Michael learns that Kitty is alive, and back in town. And in another epic introduction, we meet G-M’s future girlfriend, Anne. And then we learn that George Sr. was actually building homes in Iraq, as foreshadowed endlessly throughout the season. But it’s just LIGHT treason, remember. Tobias scores a hit in the gay community with a re-release of his book “The Man Inside Me,” but Lindsay can’t even be swayed by his impending financial windfall. Sadly, an awesome sight gag with the book on Amazon (complete with “Customers also bought…” links that show Barry Zuckerkorn as a fellow author) is not accompanied by a real-life listing on that website. Gob, meanwhile, has made another huge mistake. George Sr. has a heart attack while taking a polygraph test, and Michael decides to quit. Again. This leaves Gob in charge of platitudes, and it’s not a job he excels at. And we meet the World’s Worst Doctor, as he delivers bad news about losing George Sr., when in fact he meant that he had escaped. I should point out that I missed roughly half the plot covered by this first season in this recaps, as this show has the most densely-packed 22 minute structure I’ve ever seen in a sitcom and it’s impossible to get everything in one viewing. You need one go-around for the initial plot, another go-around for jokes you missed the first time, and then another one to just watch the background for inside jokes and improvising actors. Truly an instant classic and a show deserving of the Best Comedy award that it received after its first year. <b>The Video</b> As Fox switched to high-definition full-time, this show went with it, and is featured in breathtaking 1.77:1 widescreen here with the absolute best transfer of a TV show I’ve ever seen. EVER. It’s far better than even the pristine initial airings of the show on regular broadcast cable looked, and the level of detail and color in the high-def masters is amazing. This is truly reference-quality stuff. <b>The Audio</b> Well, it’s standard Dolby Surround, which is too bad because gags mixed into the rear speakers would be exactly the kind of thing that this show would excel at. Still, it sounds note perfect for a dialogue-centered show, and that’s the important thing. <b>The Extras</b> Actually tons of stuff for such a low-rated show. Each episode features deleted scenes which are really nothing more interesting than alternate takes on stuff or bits that weren’t that funny to begin with, so no big loss there. You also get commentaries from a host of cast and creators on three episodes (Extended Pilot, Beef Consomme and Let Them Eat Cake) that are entertaining enough but generally amount to everyone goofing around for 20 minutes. And there’s a documentary on disc one called “Breaking Ground” with interviews with most of the cast and Mitchell Hurwitz, as well as a panel discussion on disc two with the cast, and some TV Land stuff on disc three that’s pretty funny. That’s certainly more than I was expecting, although less than other DVD sets seem to get. I can only imagine how barebones season 3 is gonna be, though. <b>The Ratings:</b> The Show: ***** The Video: ***** The Audio: **1/2 The Extras: **1/2 The Pulse: Not only brilliantly funny but warm and surprisingly deep at the same time, Arrested Development is the kind of cutting-edge humor that shows like The Simpsons used to be known for. If you like Curb Your Enthusiasm or haven’t found a smart comedy since Frasier ended, this is the show for you. It’s one of my favorites, and it should be yours too. Highest recommendation. The SmarK DVD Rant for Arrested Development – The Second and Third Seasons It’s a two-fer this time around, as I was ready to do the third season of the show, but then realized that I hadn’t done the second one yet, which triggered a huge AD marathon reviewing session for me over the past couple of weeks. That’s a lot of Mitch Hurwitz, man. Now, I’m sure by now you know the story. AD bursts onto the Fox schedule, immediately wins the Best Comedy Emmy in its first year, and subsequently gets ignored and buried by the network, as they reduce the order, move it around the schedule, and do everything but cancel it to make sure it gets canceled. And yet through it all, Hurwitz and the writers maintain a brilliant vision of what a sitcom should be, redefining the genre and basically rendering the traditional “four camera” sitcom form a dead issue in many people’s minds. The show’s true brilliance came in the form of the endless running jokes and callbacks it presented, however. Whereas most shows would do a running gag that lasted for one show, AD would present a gag that lasted for a whole SERIES. And much of the humor was derived from fans paying attention to stuff that happened in previous episodes, which would then come back to be paid off in later episodes. There were two distinct types of running jokes featured, as well — individual and universal. The individual jokes were things like Gob’s endless parade of failed magic tricks, or Michael’s inability to formulate a plan that works, or George-Michael’s crush on his cousin Maeby. The universal jokes were lines like “I’ve made a huge mistake!” or “Well, that one was a freebie,” which could be said by different characters, in totally different contexts, on any show. <b>The Second Season</b> Featuring 18 episodes on 3 DVDs, the second season picks up with George Sr. on the run from the authorities and Michael vowing yet again to leave his family. <b>Disc One</b> – “The One Where Michael Leaves.” The title is of course an allusion to the naming system for Friends, which will actually pay off in episode three’s title. That’s the kind of demented genius you’re dealing with here. So we pick things up with George-Michael and Michael on the run to Arizona to escape his family, despite all the “family first” stuff preached by him. However, when no one notices that they left, they decide to return so as to give their departure the impact it was lacking. First “I’ve made a huge mistake” of the season here, and the first foreshadowing of Oscar’s real relationship to Buster. Tobias doing Kegel exercises is an awesomely weird gag. The major plots see Michael looking for bail money in advance of being indicted, while Tobias joins the Blue Man Group to get over his marital problems, thinking it to be a support group for depressed men. A news report also foreshadows an upcoming seal attack in the show. Great running gag with Oscar getting clubbed by police, although the payoff reveals that it wasn’t Oscar at all. – “The One Where They Build a House.” Michael decides to do a big ribbon-cutting party to help the company’s image, which sets up a HUGE rock-paper-scissors gag later on. Meanwhile, Gob buys a company boat (the Seaward), while Buster joins the army despite night blindness and a deformed reproductive organ. Another foreshadowing of Buster’s hand and his parentage, and George has made a huge mistake. Again. Gob turning a board meeting into a sideshow is great, and will be repeated for equal laughs through the series. Lindsay picks up Thomas “The Punisher” Jane, thinking him to be homeless, which sets up a callback to the “What’s wrong with —, there’s nothing wrong with —, oh, except they’re —” gag from season one. Tobias disguising himself in blue backgrounds is brilliant, and the final rock-paper-scissors gag (“Once again, Michael chose rock…”) is transcendent humor. “Ann / Who?” is also introduced here as a running joke. George Sr. is revealed to be in Mexico, which sets up the next episode’s title. – “!Amigos!” The jokes in the TITLES are funnier than most stuff on TV these days. This one is notable for introducing Martin Mull as Private Eye Gene Parmesan (“AAAAAAAH! He got me again!”), master of disguise. Michael tries to gather a posse to get his father out of Mexico, while Lucille throws a going-away party for Buster, which introduces the “You’re Killing Me, Buster” banner that gets funnier with each recycling. Gob hires his own PI, Ice, to follow Michael, so Lucille hires Gene to follow Gob. Buster escapes to “Mexico,” but gets confused over distances and ends up elsewhere in the neighborhood, where he finds his old hand-chair and notes that he never thought he’d miss a hand so much. A surreal gag sees Ice searching for George from a picture printed on blueprint paper, which naturally leads him to a made-up Tobias. That’s the kind of joke it takes most sitcoms YEARS to build up to. Honestly, who would even THINK of a payoff like that? – “Good Grief” The high concept humor continues with the best episode of the season. This one introduces Ben Stiller as Gob’s future nemesis, Tony Wonder, who once baked himself into a giant loaf of bread for the troops. The running gag here is an escalating series of Charlie Brown references, like a sign on the banana stand. George Sr. is declared dead, which Gob takes as the perfect chance to get on the cover of Poof Magazine. Great freeze-frame sight gag sees G-M walking past a doghouse in full Charlie Brown pout mode, with a sad-looking Christmas tree in the background. G-M finds Pop-Pop and hides him in the attic, although after promising no secrets with his father, Michael then turns around and tricks everyone into thinking that George Sr. had escaped again and re-hides him. Gob’s big illusion of course goes totally opposite to what was planned, with hilarious results. Tremendous episode! – “Sad Sack.” Buster goes through boot camp, surprised to find that recent litigation by Wayne Jarvis prevents anyone from being called homo as a motivational technique. Luckily, Gob isn’t bound by that and is more than happy to help out. Steve Holt (“Steve Holt!”) returns as the object of Maeby’s affections (complete with a great freeze-frame gag involving his yearbook quotes), while Oscar is feeling cramped by Lucille’s affections. Wayne Jarvis (so serious that he was named “worst audience participant in Cirque De Soleil history”, according to him) offers Michael a deal in exchange for his father, which leads to Tobias borrowing Gob’s camera phone (which plays “The Final Countdown”, of course) and accidentally photographing himself in the tub. Thus, Jarvis goes after Michael with a mysterious picture of WMDs in Iraq which isn’t quite what it seems. Regardless, this bumps up George’s light treason to medium treason. Luckily for everyone, Barry Zuckercorn knows the difference between landscapes and balls. – “Afternoon Delight” Gob is alienating people at work with his $3000 suit (“Come on!”) and it’s Christmas party time. G-M is having Christmas with Ann Egg, so Michael & Maeby decide to do some bonding without him. Sadly, their song choice at karaoke is a tad inappropriate. Gob and the escalating value of his suit is a great runner, leading to Gob firing the entire company. Oscar gives Lucille some “Afternoon Delight” in her brownie, and it all leads to Buster’s claw-game addiction paying off with Gob in a banana suit. More foreshadowing sees Buster carrying a stuffed seal around with him. <b>Disc Two</b> – “Switch Hitter” The past references come fast and furious, as Stan Sitwell returns to tempt Michael over to the dark (light?) side, although George and Gob think he’s just trying to recruit for his softball team. So of course Gob promptly takes a job with Sitwell, leaving Michael as the president again. More callbacks as Gob’s softball bonding with Sitwell brings back fond memories of being shanked in prison. Also returning is Teamocil, as Lindsay takes it for the side-effects (which are helpfully listed by the narrator as we go along). And in one of the most unlikely plot-twists in a while, Maeby accidentally gets a job as as a studio executive at Tantamount Studios. If Jude Law does a remake of “The Old Man and the Sea”, you’ll know who to blame. – “Queen For A Day” More innuendo with Tobias, as he hits the town with Buster (“I’ll even take a chubby if I have to, and I’ll suck it up!”). Another crazy reference as Starla the Quincy Jones stalker returns for another cameo. Michael gets self-conscious about his staircar and gets a midlife-crisis-mobile instead. Buster and Tobias of course end up in a gay drag bar, where Tobias becomes a karaoke star and Buster hooks up with Lucille II again. However, she buys up the Bluth stock and takes over the company. So poor Buster gets turned into a bargaining chip, thus screwing him up even more. And speaking of screwed up, the Hot Cops return, leading to a disastrous street revue. Tobias commenting “I suppose I could paint over the Mary” make this one. – “Burning Love” Lucille tries to find someone to bid on her at the annual auction in yet another callback. Michael meets Sally Sitwell, while Gob continues his disturbing new relationship with Lucille II, but neither wants to publicly admit it. Can you blame them? Quick cameo as Steve Holt returns as a boil-in-bag delivery guy. Rob Cordrey from the Daily Show has an inspired guest spot as TV cop Frank Wrench here. Michael, in his usual wishy-washy manner, finally makes his move on Sally, but life intervenes again. – “Ready, Aim, Marry Me!” Lucille II grows tired of Gob, but the joke’s on her because she doesn’t realize how little Lucille Bluth actually cares about Gob. More brilliance from Tobias (“I prematurely shot my wad and now I’ve got a mess on my hands!”) as he decides to start tape-recording himself so he can hear all his malaprops. Lindsay & Gob doing chicken dances in tandem is worth the admission here. Michael calls in Uncle Jack to attempt a hostile takeover from Lucille II. Martin Short of course chews the scenery as the crippled old man (“Swoop me! To the nuts! No, the BRIDGE MIX!”) Gob & Buster go commando, tracking Lucille & Sitwell, which leads to all sorts of crazy payoffs as everyone collides at a spa. One of the season’s highlights, to be sure. – “Out On A Limb” Great joke right away, as father & son go to lunches on a Sunday at a restaurant called Skip Church’s. Gob’s wife returns, suing for divorce, which Gob could avoid simply by admitting they never consummated it. But of course, that would never happen. Maggie the “blind” lawyer returns, now “pregnant”, some 8 1/2 months after the affair with Michael, which naturally has him flip-flopping more than usual. Buster is ready to ship off to Iraq as we get a callback to the God/Adam joke from season one, and George Sr. worries about never touching Buster’s hand again. And we finally confirm that Oscar is his real father. Ann converts Lucille (“This was a big get for God.”) and Maggie may actually be pregnant. And for the second time, something in the “On the next” bit comes true, as a seal (which Gob has released at the beginning of the show) bites off Buster’s hand. Note Buster sitting on a bench which reads “Arm Off” with him blocking key letters. – “Hand To God” The Literal Doctor inform us that Buster is now without a left hand, which a drugged Buster takes a little too well. The funny restaurant names continue, as Maggie & Michael eat at Miss Temple’s Chinese Restaurant on a Friday. The “You’re Killing Me” banner return as “Welcome Home, Buster”. Michael discovers that Maggie is carrying the baby of the gay cops (not to be confused with the Hot Cops) but in fact Maggie Lizer lies again. The black and white cops not wanting to know who the real father is and Michael’s deadpan reaction are awesome. <b>Disc Three</b> – “Motherboy XXX” The annual Motherboy competition is in jeopardy, as Buster is having nightmares about his lost hand, courtesy of callbacks to earlier episodes. Great bit with Tobias getting a series of vanity plates to commemorate his lost roles, leading to a payoff of “Dr. House”, and he meets with Carl Weathers at Burger King (that’s BURGER KING, in case you missed the joke about corporate sponsorship). So he signs away the rights to his family’s life in exchange for a part as George Sr. The Bluth men chase the killer seal as Barry Zuckercorn literally jumps the shark in a tremendous throwaway gag. Michael & Buster attempt a daring rescue of George-Michael from Motherboy, in a gag with Buster’s hand that would be called back in season 3. – “Immaculate Election” Lindsay kicks Tobias to the curb, and he goes to live on the set of Wrench in another callback. Turns out that the toilets on set don’t actually work. Who knew? Michael and Gob attempt to fire each other from the company, and Gob loses that one pretty handily. Lupe the Maid starts doing Buster and gets fired, so Tobias gets the role of a lifetime as a housekeeper, albeit in an obvious disguise. Michael talks G-M into running for student body president, but he’s running against the unstoppable force of Steve Holt, who is going through a crisis of conscience because he doesn’t know who his father is. And Gob keeps mentioning that he knocked up some chick in high school named Eve Holt. However, everything falls by the wayside of the awesomeness that is the Star Wars video here. – “Sword of Destiny” Funny reference right off the bat as Michael complains about having an order cut from 22 to 18. Gee, wonder what that’s referring to? Tobias (wearing a faker moustache than usual because of his Mrs. Featherbottom routine) tries to become Michael’s assistant, while Gob buys the SWORD OF DESTINY. Michael has appendicitis, and gets Homer Simpson as a doctor in place of the Literal Doctor (“No, no, let him keep talking.”) More Fox references as Family Guy pops up on Tony Wonder’s website. Buster and Gob manage to one-up Tony Wonder with the SWORD OF DESTINY. Sadly, Gob loses his fingers as a result. Ben Stiller is of course in full-on ham mode. Gotta love the Fox-bashing here. – “Meat the Veals” Historic episode, as we meet Gob’s racist puppet alter-ego, Franklin! The Bluths are planning an anniversary party for Gangy, although Gob is not so much with the invited. Michael, constantly trying to sabotage his son’s relationship, decides that having the Veals meet the Bluths would probably do the trick. Of course, his plan goes totally off the tracks and everyone is on their best behavior for a variety of unrelated reasons. Mrs. Veal makes a move on Michael, and the whole thing turns into a big crazy church scene, ending with Franklin getting arrested in an awesome finale. – “Spring Breakout” Another great meta-joke sees the narrator bitching about the narration of “Scandalmakers”, the documentary Tobias sold the rights to. Lucille adds her own version of the chicken dance, while Gob goes to war with the Girls With Low Self-Esteem producers who humiliated him on their last DVD. Michael brings Lucille to rehab, while Kitty brings George Sr. to a hotel room for his sperm. This leads to a mismatched drinking contest between Kitty and Lucille, and we learn that Zach Braff is a Never-Nude, too. – “The Righteous Brothers” The model house is falling apart, literally, along with Michael’s life. Kitty keeps trying to blackmail him, and Gob makes a Franklin CD (“It Ain’t Easy Being White”) which gets referenced a zillion times and is funny EVERY time. Tobias and Kitty flashing Michael with matching blur over their nipples is brilliant. Michael goes to jail because Gob is an idiot as usual. G-M and Maeby finally have their big moment, which is of course weird. And once again, Michael & Gob brawl in front of the courthouse, until George Sr. puts a stop to it and turns himself in. Although he turns in Oscar, which reduces the nobility of the act somewhat. And that’s season 2. <b>Season Three</b> Sadly, this season was cut down by Fox even further, reduced to 13 episodes, but much like concentrating a good sauce for flavor, this may have distilled the show down to the essence of brilliance, forcing them to cut away any excess left. It’s presented on two sad little DVDs in a single case, instead of the box set format of the first two. <b>Disc One</b> – “The Cabin Show”. The Bluth stock is upgraded from “Sell” to “Don’t Buy”, and Michael sells the cabin property to keep the company afloat, but has to move the cabin. This triggers all sorts of family issues (“Taste the sad!”) as Gob is learning life lessons all over the place, according to the narrator. Speaking of family issues, Oscar is in prison in George’s place (sadly, imoscar.com is no longer with us). Everyone heads to Reno looking for George, where Gob finds Steve Holt and fatherhood. Michael & G-M finally get to the cabin and camp out in a callback to the pilot, and Henry Winkler ends his role as Barry Zuckercorn, as Michael fires him. – “For British Eyes Only” And it’s the beginning of the greatest run of the show. George is now under house arrest and the credits are gone for this episode. George explains the difference between prison and house arrest — “There you shut your eyes and take it, but here you shut your eyes and give it” — and blames the British for his situation. So Michael heads to Wee Britain, a very specialized portion of the OC (“Don’t call it that”) and meets Rita Leeds. This earns some threats from a sinister Brit played by Dave Thomas, although his apparent motivations for doing so are much different than we later discover. Michael eats a “whole thing of candy beans” to cope with rejections. It blows my mind how well-written this was, and how you totally buy into the spy storyline and take it all at face value until the pull the rug out from under you. By the way, no one was making fun of Andy Griffith, I can’t emphasize that enough. – “Forget-Me-Now” So we meet the new Bluth lawyer, Scott Baio playing Bob Loblaw. We also meet Larry the Surrogate, played by Bob “Super Dave” Einstein, as they compete to see who can be more deadpan in the face of great lines. Einstein always wins that one. We also learn that Tobias, who was buy-curious in the last episode, is also an analrapist. Michael tries to find ways to keep Rita from meeting his family. Bob Loblaw charging Lindsay for phone sex is great. Buster’s banner is recycled yet again into “You’re kidding me” And of course Rita ends up meeting the family,and gets assaulted and left on a bus bench, which covers up key letters in “Wee Britain,” giving us another clue as to her real character. – “Notapusy” Michael and Rita have a misunderstanding over the word “pussy”, while an inner beauty pagaent sees Tobias coaching Ann (“Who?”), which gives Maeby the perfect chance to resurrect Shirley. Tobias: “You have to ask yourself if you want a man or a boy. I know how I’d answer!” Uncle Mike acts as surrogate dad for Steve Holt (“Uncle Mike!”) although the “oxy-incontinent” makes it tougher than usual to run a triathalon. More clues about Rita here. And Ann’s camel-tow? Awesome. – “Mr. F.” Oh my, all roads lead to this one. Michael finds a mole problem on the property, but Bob Loblaw suspects a figurative mole, who may be Rita. All they know is that the name is Mr. F. George orders a jetpack, which ends up in the hands of G-M, while Gob & Buster build a trainset town to fool Japanese investors. And of course it all leads to Tobias in a mole costume taking on George Michael in a jetpack as they fight over Tiny Town. Sheer brilliance. And then, as Michael proposes to Rita, we learn that Mr. F stands for something else entirely, and suddenly the whole British story arc makes a lot more sense. Possibly the best episode of the whole SERIES. – “The Ocean Walker” This may be the second-best. Michael announces his engagement to Rita, which gives us lots of jokes about how dumb she really is. Plus a reference to Tony Hale’s VW commercial to boot. Maeby green-lights a script called “The Ocean Walker,” which pays off later. Gob’s fireball running joke continues (“But where did the lighter fluid come from?”) and another great moment has the narrator interjecting his opinion of the weirdness of the Michael-Rita relationship and hotel phone prices. That’s how they get you, you know. Double callback to Buster’s wire-slide from Motherboy XXX and Michael’s problems with Mary Poppins here. Michael finally learns what’s going on with Rita, but the Bluths learn that she’s rich and set about getting them married ASAP. The candy beans return as well. Rita walks on water to pay off the Ocean Walker bit, and then THAT is further paid off in the “On the next…” bit. And that’s how you do a running joke. – “Prison Break-in” I think the reference material should be obvious from the title. Michael is so desperate for comforting after his breakup with Rita that he actually goes to his mother. After two years of raising money for “TBA”, the Bluths use Tobias and his hair plug issues to actually have a benefit for a real disease. Sort of. The gala is at the prison, so we get more of aspiring screenwriter Warden Gentles. The interludes with the elementary school production of “New Warden” help a lot with the narrative flow. The narrator’s non-stop stream of pot jokes is also awesome (leading up to “Although it was not the first time that he had been knocked out by a powerful lid”) This one also packs the Prison Break references in tight, with tattooed maps and Tobias calling himself “T-Bag” in between jokes about giving other people chlamydia. <b>Disc Two</b> – “Making a Stand” Michael is frustrated with Gob’s stupid business ideas (and those of his lackey-in-training Steve Holt) but realizes that his dad is just trying to play them off each other, like in the Boyfights videos they starred in as children. So in order to be less competitive, Michael gives Gob & Steve their own banana stand, which they proceed to set up, like, 20 feet from the original. Gob mentions a new Christian girlfriend, which pays off later in the series. And when the Bluth boys realize that George is playing them, they reintroduce us to one-armed lesson teacher J. Walter Weatherman. However, in typical fashion for the show, Michael’s master plan gets twisted in on itself. And the Funke’s divorce gets ugly, as we learn about Bob Loblaw’s Law Blog. And everyone learns lots of lessons about learning lessons. – “SOBs” The Bluths are desperate, as Bob Loblaw lobs a law bomb and they need a new lawyer. And it means guest stars, a live ending, and someone will DIE. G-M seems to be developing OC disorder (but don’t call it that). And sadly, the HBO doesn’t want them, so it’s Showtime. The Andy Richter Quintuplets rule the school here. Lots of metatextual stuff like Michael pleading with the family to be more likeable and the narrator explaining the difference between a complex situation with no easy solution and a clear-cut situation with potential for comedy. Michael’s speech at the end is pretty much the show’s good-bye to fans, as the end was clearly in sight. – “Fakin’ It” The witness list is released and a mysterious N. Bluth is on it. Plus Franklin, now sporting a “George Bush doesn’t care about black puppets” shirt, returns. Of course, the whole trial is set to be broadcast on a new reality show, “Judge Reinhold” (“My name is Judge!”) Buster fakes a coma to avoid testifying, so Lindsay begins protesting to have him killed. It’s a Life Mill at that hospital, you know. The mock trial of course proves to be a mockery, complete with William Hung and his Hung Jury, which is about as good a use of him as I’ve seen. And then through a weird series of coincidences, Maeby marries George-Michael. – “Family Ties” The mysterious N. Bluth may be an older sister named Nellie, but his dad’s mass-erasure of the company computers makes it tough to investigate. Sadly, Nellie (played by Justine Bateman in some truly inspired casting) turns out to be a hooker rather than his sister. As usual Michael misses all the clues, and hires her as a consultant. And she blows everyone at the company…away. They keep forgetting to say that “away” part. And apparently Gob is a pimp on the side, but he’s still waiting for that BIG sign from God that he should change. – “Exit Strategy” The prosecution tries to get Tobias to flip, but he interprets it as a CBS procedural show. Buster’s fake coma is broken by love, and we get a great joke with Wayne Jarvis turning on the TV to show a plot point, but having to sit through commercials first. Tobias getting tricked into a sting operation via a scrapbooking class run by Det. Munch is brilliant. Michael & Buster go to Iraq to save Gob, as everythign is now yellow-tinged to simulate being in Iraq while still using the same set. And once there, they discover a house full of Saddam lookalikes, which reveals that George was building houses for the CIA and really was a patsy all along. Gary Cole as the CIA taxi driver and the Soup Nazi as a lookalike are great casting. – “Development Arrested” And finally, the end. Things are looking good with all the charges dropped, so they decide to stage a party on the same boat as we started on. We learn that Lucille was the queen-pin all along, and she had a Korean man deported years earlier. And Lindsay is three years older than she previously thought. G-M finally confesses his feelings about Maeby to Michael, and he recommends Ann instead. This leads to us learning that she’s Gob’s new girlfriend. Lindsay is actually adopted and not Michael’s twin as previously thought (although all the flashbacks where she’s a foot taller might have been a giveaway before) and she immediately decides to marry Michael and leave Tobias. Michael is less thrilled about that idea. Michael finally pays off all the robot jokes and cries at the party, and then flees with George-Michael, the yacht, and $500,000 to finally escape the family once and for all, leaving them to get raided by the SEC. We learn that Annyong tipped them off to avenge his grandfather, who was the one deported by Lucille years ago. It was Arrested Development. Nuff said. <b>The Video</b> As Fox switched to high-definition full-time, this show went with it, and is featured in breathtaking 1.77:1 widescreen here with the absolute best transfer of a TV show I’ve ever seen. EVER. It’s far better than even the pristine initial airings of the show on regular broadcast cable looked, and the level of detail and color in the high-def masters is amazing. This is truly reference-quality stuff. <b>The Audio</b> Well, it’s standard Dolby Surround, which is too bad because gags mixed into the rear speakers would be exactly the kind of thing that this show would excel at. Still, it sounds note perfect for a dialogue-centered show, and that’s the important thing. <b>The Extras</b> Surprisingly light on both sets, as there’s a few commentary tracks from the entire cast and crew which set the standard for totally ignoring the show and concentrate on calling Jeffrey Tambor’s cell phone instead. Plus a bevy of deleted scenes on each disk, and a few quickie featurettes. I guess it’s par for the course given FOX’s treatment of the show. <b>The Ratings:</b> The Show: ***** The Video: ***** The Audio: **1/2 The Extras: **1/2 The Pulse: Hands down the smartest sitcom ever, and that’s including Frasier, it was truly a show that came around at the wrong time on the wrong channel. On the bright side, FOX gave it three wonderful seasons before pulling the plug on it, and now we can all enjoy it forever on DVD. Highest recommendation for both seasons.

Feedback Feedbag–02.24.2002

You can just call Canada the Price Club Country, because when we open a can of whoop-ass, it’s INDUSTRIAL SIZED! Two gold-medal games against the US, two wins.
And now, to the reader mail, most of which is from the US and thus would lose an important hockey game to Canadian reader mail.  (I was feeling a bit patriotic that night, I see.)  Joseph Gill asks…
Which year was it when the Summerslam logo fell down and Mene Gene yelled “F It”?
That would be 1989, a year in which another Canadian team triumphed, this time in the Stanley Cup finals, as Calgary won for the first and only time.  An AOL user asks…
Me: Mr. McMahon, how many ref bumps does it take to get to the Championship
center of a Pay-Per-View?
Mr. McMahon: I never made it without biting, ask Mr. Keith.
Me: Mr, Keith, how many ref bumps does it take to get to the Championship
center of a Pay-Per-View?

Scientific studies have shown that the optimal number is 2 — one is regarded as lazy, and three is just silly. By a staggering coincidence, “2” is also the number of times that Canada beat the US for Olympic gold medals in hockey this year. How about that. Jeff Osmond asks…
Hi there. Hate to bother you again but I have a few questions that you might a have an answer for. Recently I started at the very beginning of my videotape collection. A few days ago I was watching an old Saturday Night’s Main Event from nov ’88. The Ultimate Warrior defeated a man known as the Super Ninja. Who was this guy? Second question : On the same tape was the last televised match for The British Bulldogs as they lost a title match to Demolition from the Maple Leaf Gardens. Why did they leave the WWF and go back to Stampede Wrestling? Third question : Near the end of the tape was some matches from Pro Wrestling Plus with matches from WWC, FCW, PNW, CWA, CWF and more. What did you think of that show? Do you think it would be a better idea today that instead of trying to come up with the next big wrestling promotion someone should put together a show featuring indy wrestling matches like PWP did? Imagine watching a show where we could see a matches from OVW, HWA, ECWA , APW, Japan, Mexico and others. Granted these matches would probably be joined in progress to the last 4 minutes like PWP did but it would fans a chance to new faces in different areas. What do you think?
In order…
1) Super Ninja was Portland semi-legend Rip Oliver.
2) Dynamite gives the whole story in his book, but basically the Bulldogs got tired of the lack of freedom and left to do their own thing.
3) I always preferred the superior Pro Wrestling This Week to Pro Wrestling Plus, but more to the point the troubles with getting rights to most of that stuff on a timely basis wouldn’t be worth it for either side.  (Some indy groups could do a hell of a show like that on YouTube or Netflix, man.   I’d watch the shit out of a “Best of Japan and Indies” weekly compilation.)  Nick Haskell gets right to the point with this bit of feedback from Smackdown…
fag
Yeah, well, at least my hockey teams didn’t go 0-2 against Canada in the gold medal games.  (HIGH FIVE!)  Robert Riordan writes…
Look, I don’t agree with everything wwf does either, but I am a fan. It appears you are not. I understand that you get off by stirring up attention from inflammatory remarks, but quite frankly, this is a site for wrestling FANS. If you are so disgusted with wrestling there is a simple solution….change….the…channel. Only you could find a way to criticize such an incredible RAW. We know it’s scripted yet you complain because its not realistic enough. Don’t you get it? None of it is realistic. You might as well complain that the punches and kicks don’t look real enough. Oh, but then you’d cry about the shots being too stiff. What would happen in your bitter little world if there was a show that actually met up to your standards 100%. I guess you’d have to switch over to ice skating to find something to bitch. moan and whine about. Envy creates haters. Ah well, I am just as foolish for wasting my time writing to you. I guess all I can say is…hate on brother, hate on!
For this, I turn to Roger Ebert’s Answer Man column to handle the question of why a critic would hang in with bad product…
Q. Does watching so many movies and having to critique them take the pleasure and escapism of the moviegoing experience away from you? Or does it make you appreciate it more when a good movie finally comes out?
Lanford Beard, Birmingham, Ala.
A. Some critics, like my hero Dwight Macdonald, finally tired of the dreck and retired from reviewing. When I first got my job I thought five years was about as long as anyone could do it. But I have never tired of going to the movies, and even in a bad one you can see people trying and failing, which can be almost as interesting as seeing them trying and succeeding. When a truly great movie comes along, it cheers me up for weeks.

I couldn’t say it any better.  Tom Harmon offers this conspiracy theory as to the nWo’s buffoonery on Smackdown…
“By the way, whereas some balance onto the babyface side is good, it’s generally not a good idea to make your new monster heels look like total buffoons three days after their debut when you’re basing entire shows around them. Just a thought.”  (This is what I had wrote about the nWo on Smackdown)
It’s probably been said before, but after losing a gajillion-trillion on the XFL, what’s losing a paltry several million to humiliate three men who either a) tried ratting you out to the feds, b) killed your ratings by putting themselves over as main event stars, and c) went over to your competitor and teased marks by making them think YOUR company was invading? Vince knows that HoHaNa are worthless in the ring and only draw cheap nostalgia heat that can easily be turned to apathy with the (im)proper booking. On top of that, he knows there’s no long-term value in any of these three guys. The only logical explanation is that it’s a sick pleasure for him to fuck them over book-wise at every turn.
It’s unfair the way Vince jobs out Booker every chance he gets as a “fuck you” to Ted Turner, but in the NWO’s case, at least it’s good and personal. Whaddya wanna bet that Vinnie Mac’s got Pat Patterson running cases of Smirnoff to Hall’s hotel? It’s not sound business, but good old fashioned vengeance has no price tag.

Sure, but what about the millions he can make from Hogan’s face-turn, brother? Okay, maybe not. And the last word this week goes to Bryan Middlebrook, who has a song for us all…
The Mark Song
(Thanks to Baz Luhrman)
Ladies and gentlemen of the Internet: Enjoy wrestling.
If I could offer you only one tip for the future, enjoying pro-wrestling would be it. The long term benefits of having fun with sports entertainment have been proven by our own awe-filled childhoods, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own limited pro-wrestling knowledge. I will give this advice now.
Enjoy the charisma and athleticism of the wrestlers. Oh, never mind. You will not understand their power and glory until they’ve faded. But trust me, in 20 years, you’ll look back at photos of Austin and Rock and recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before them and how fabulous they really were.
Undertaker is not as fat as you imagine.
Don’t worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to convince Vince McMahon that we’re not a bunch of crazy nerds. The real troubles in wrestling are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blind side you when drugs and accidents rob us of our heroes.
Watch one match every day that scares you.
Wash.
Don’t be reckless with your words. Don’t put up with people who are reckless with theirs.
Cheer.
Don’t waste your time on jealousy. No, you’ll never be able to give the bad guy a Frankensteiner. The race is long and, in the end, it’s only with Jeff Hardy.
Remember compliments you give. Forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, tell Vince Russo.
Keep your old Raws and Nitros. Throw away your old Wrestling With Shadows.
Attend.
Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what to do now that there’s only one company. The most interesting people I know didn’t know what to watch at 22. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don’t know what to watch.
Get plenty of vitamins.
Be kind to the McMahons. You’ll miss them when they’re gone.
Maybe you’ll wrestle yourself, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll have Summerslam parties, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll write off wrestling forever, maybe you’ll dance the Gooker at Wrestlemania XXX. Whatever you do, don’t congratulate your opinions too much, or berate your opinions either. Your thoughts on wrestling are important. So are everybody else’s.
Enjoy other fans. Meet them every way you can. Don’t be afraid of them or of what other other people think of them. They’re the greatest people you’ll ever meet.
Flip the bird, stare at your own hand, and do the Worm, even if you have nowhere to do it but your living room.
Listen to the pre-show instructions, even if you don’t follow them.
Sometimes Jericho just needs a soda.
Do not read smart magazines. They will only make you feel sad.
Get to know your heroes. You never know when they’ll be gone for good. Be nice to the fading vets. They’re our best link to our past and the people most likely to stick with us in the future.
Understand that wrestlers come and go, but a precious few you hold on. Work hard to understand gaps in workate and style, because the older you get, the more you need the people who knew you when you were young.
Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you biased. Live in North Carolina once, but leave before it makes you biased.
Anticipate.
Accept certain inalienable truths: Ticket prices will rise. Promoters will philander. You, too, will get old. And then you do you’ll fantasize that when you were young, ticket prices were reasonable, promoters were noble, and Mick Foley was God.
Respect Mick Foley.
Don’t expect anyone else to support wrestling. Maybe a new company will emerge. Maybe Turner will strike back. But you never know if either one will happen.
Don’t mess too much with your hair or by the time you’re 40 you’ll look like King Kong Bundy.
Be careful whose rants you believe, but be patient with those who rant.
Criticism is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the 80’s, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for love of the craft. Bashing Nash can be seen by some as an effort of love.
But trust me on enjoying wrestling.
-Bryan Middlebrook

That song was almost as emotionally satisfying as seeing Canada win the gold medal and the US team stand there in humiliation getting their silver medals while those kids in the Jeff Jarrett outfits smiled like zombies. Almost.