12.1.19

Programme 42 (10-December-77)

Cover:

Alien zoo? Alien casino? Shrunken-down people? Who can say?

Programme 41 (3-December-77)

Cover:

Ah, monsters who enjoy humans as food. Does a more solid sci-fi premise exist anywhere?

Programme 40 (26-November-77)

Cover:I know what the secret of the Microverse is. It’s that it was drawn by Kevin O’Neill. And then ripped off by Marvel.

9.1.19

Programme 39 (19-November-77)

Cover:
Is it just me, or are the SuperCovers quickly becoming the best part of this comic? Not their stories of course, which invariably disappoint, but the covers themselves are just wonderful.

Although I’ve got to ask – just what is that Alien looking at?

Programme 38 (12-November-77)

Programme 38 (12-Nov-77)

Cover:

It’s a rock that’s also a dragon. In space. If you don’t understand why that’s great, then what the hell are you doing here? There aren’t any words you could have mistyped that would have brought you to ‘Vardulon.com’.

21.12.18

Criminal Minds 924: Demons

Part 2, y'all!

We get a look at the carnage in and around the diner as the gunfight continues. Esai's friend the sheriff was shot in the head! Reid's badly injured, but sees the real killer, Anders, walking calmly along the sidewalk, because the guy's too dumb to worry about stray bullets! Naturally he finds this peculiar, but is he too injured to share his suspicions?

Derek - who was only hit in his vest - shakes off the cobwebs and helps JJ shoot at the preacher. Who runs out the back door of the diner, because no one bothered circling around the building!

Jeanne goes to check on Reid, and notices that he's losing a lot of blood from his neck wound! She tries to hold his attention and convince him to stay awake, but it doesn't work! This might have something to do with the fact that she calls him 'Ethan', which is not his name.

Is that like a pet name that she has for him that I've forgotten about, or is she conflating him with someone else who she lost in a tragedy? Whatever the reason, it's super-weird.

JJ and Derek have a foot chase with the preacher, eventually following him into an abandoned building and killing him! Despite the fact that they're both wearing ear radios and microphones, they don't update the cops on their position as they race through backyards and hovels. Despite this oversight, the cops still manage to rush into the room with them less than ten seconds after they kill the preacher.

In the ambulance Reid start babbling about a tea kettle, but then he loses too much blood pressure and starts to crash. Was he trying to send a message, or was it just rambling?

Also, I'm not a medic, but shouldn't they have cut that vest off of him to ensure better access to the whole wound area, rather than just removing one strap? It's held on with elastic straps and velcro, you could get it off in like three seconds with your clothes scissors.

Notably, when Derek also demands that Reid 'stay with him' he uses Reid's actual last name. Will that prove more effective? Hopefully we'll find out after the credits!

1.12.18

Criminal Minds 923: Angels


Somewhere on a back road, a woman pleads for her life from the back seat of a car! Who is the driver? We're not shown... just yet! Once they've reached a suitably woody patch, the killer drags her out of the car and shoots her in the back of the head as she tries to crawl away!

Well, that's certainly a dramatic opening.

At Quantico - which gets a proper establishing shot this week - everyone has gathered in the middle of the night to hear about an emergency case. Also, Esai is there! I was wondering what had happened to him - it was starting to feel like the team didn't have a boss again.

The show seems to understand how weird it's been, and hangs a lantern on it, having Esai announce that the team is so good at their jobs they don't need supervision! Ugh.

Here's the rundown! A killer murdered two prostitutes by cutting strange symbols into their backs with a razor, then shooting them in the back of the head! Also he killed a guy and dumped him outside of a spot where hookers are known to congregate.

The interesting thing? Each of the murders happened six months-ish apart! The first killing was 11 months ago, the second six, and the victim from the opening was last night. Which brings me to my point - why is this a 'middle of the night' kind of case? Did people really need to be dragged out of bed and have their schedules interrupted for this one? The pattern suggests you have at least 149 days until the guy takes his next victim. Maybe just brief the team when they come in to work tomorrow?

Also, the team agrees that it was probably a 'forensic countermeasure' that the bodies were dumped in different counties. Although if you're looking to have people not know that the bodies are connected, maybe just don't dump the bodies in public? And if you're going to dump the bodies in public, maybe don't have the super-specific M.O. of slicing open the small of their back with a razor while doing no other damage.

In Texas, a group of sex workers doesn't want to go out, since two of their number have been killed! Their madam is having none of this talk of 'worker safety', and threatens to harm them if they don't make money for her!

I don't know why they're so worried - the guy has a months-long cooling-off period, after all!

I'm kidding, of course, this is Criminal Minds, where even if every killer doesn't start out as a spree killer, they magically transform into one the moment the team gets on the case, whether they know they're being hunted or not. It's like a Quantum Entanglement phenomenon, where the killers instinctively know to go into overdrive the minute the team finds out they exist.

So yeah, the killer drives by the very women who didn't want to go out working! Will they survive? Hopefully we'll find out after the credits!

16.11.18

Criminal Minds 922: Fatal

The episode opens with thrilling action, as a man runs into the police station, demanding protection! He's received a note saying that he'll be dead within 24 hours, and there's no way to prevent it! He's obviously a little worried, and when the cop smells booze on his breath, he immediately dismisses the guy's concerns.

Personally, if I got a note like that, I'd rush to a hospital, assuming that I'd been poisoned, but that's only because I saw DOA at a very young age.

After being told to leave, the man vandalizes a trash can, forcing the cops to arrest him, so he'll be safe in a cell overnight! When he's pinned to the ground, I notice that he's got a wedding ring on. Could his wife be the killer?

Probably too early to be making predictions, really.

The next morning the cops go to check on the paranoid guy, only to find him lying in a pool of blood! I guess it was poison, after all!

Over in Quantico - which the show introduces with an establishing shot of Washington D.C.:

Even though that's 50 kilometers away. Because it's Season 9, and no one who works on this show cares even a little.

-Greg is nervous about talking to his son's class about being in the FBI. Due to that one occurrence where a guy murdered the kid's mother because Greg was chasing him. Really, isn't it kind of insensitive to get Greg to give a presentation? I mean, the kid goes to school in Chevy Chase, one of the other parents must have a similarly important DoJ job, right?

Garcia runs down the case: Wayne Campbell (!?!) is the name of the dead guy, and that scene was set in Long Beach, CA. A week earlier a woman had also received a similar note and then died the next day - both of them with lethal levels of arsenic in their bodies! Between poison and notes, they jump to the conclusion that a woman probably did it - although it's a myth that women poison more often than men.

Also, not for nothing, putting in wacky joke character names is another sign that writers have checked out emotionally and are trying to make their own fun.

JJ thinks that it's super-weird to warn victims before killing them, but Reid points out that there was an episode about a killer that made fake 'missing' posters of his victims before killing them. It seems Reid remembers the show even better than I do! Was that the episode where they get one of the victims on the phone, and send the cops to get her, but can't be bothered to stay on the phone with her until the cops arrive, so she gets kidnapped anyways? If so, that was a terrible episode.

Then we head over to an auto-parts store, where the freaked-out proprietor confronts his friend about the murder threat he received! The friend claims to know nothing about the letter, and the proprietor is immediately struck with severe stomach pains. Now that's timing!

The friend leaves before the guy collapses, though, giving his customer a chance to walk in, see that the guy is dying, and then leave a peace of string on the body, because I guess he was the killer!

Also, was that Kevin from The Office? Perhaps we'll find out after the credits!

6.10.18

Criminal Minds 921: What Happens in Mecklinburg

So no, the next episode doesn't start with them catching the Jason from last week, so I guess the team just sucks at their jobs? At least the Jason probably didn't kill that couple - after all, he was oddly directed for a Jason, and only killed people specifically related to the target of his vengeance. Or, you know, cops who were trying to catch him. So, what's up for this week?

It's late at night, and two college students are leaving a grocery store when a car blocks them in - could it be a kidnapper, or are we in in for yet another misdirect?


No misdirect - the killer zaps both of them with a stun gun, and is also wearing a pig mask! Is this because Jigsaw was in last week's episode?

The next morning, Derek and his lady are just waking up when he gets a call - she's disappointed to learn that he's got a case in Memphis! Which is weird for him to already know, since generally their texts just say 'come into the office'. It's almost like Greg gave him more information than usual just to precipitate this specific fight!

The girlfriend is extremely disappointed because her parents are coming into town to meet him, and Derek offers to let her break up with him over it, which she calls out as super passive-agressive. Way to go standing up for yourself, doctor lady!

According to Garcia, the killer has grabbed three people in two nights, all from grocery store parking lots! Turns out that the first two victims were men, one middle-aged, one younger, and of the two college students from last night, he only grabbed one of them, leaving the other woman behind!

Sadly there's no other information in the opening sequence, other than some random theories, because they haven't found any bodies yet. The absence if proof doesn't count as evidence, though, since the victims could either be alive or simply thrown in a ditch somewhere that no one has randomly stumbled across!

While the team might be in the dark, we discover that all of the victims are still alive - also in the dark, as luck would have it, chained to the ceiling in a basement somewhere! The pig-masked killer arrives to menace them, and then it's off to the credits!

At just six minutes, which is also very quick for this show! I wonder why they're changing up their format?

1.9.18

Criminal Minds 920: Blood Relations

For the second episode in a row, we open on a crying woman, stumbling through the woods! I'd ding them for repetition, but the difference this time is that it's the past (1955), and in black and white!

Seriously!

So, is this another Gubler episode, or is another director willing to do something visually interesting?

Anyhoo, a killer in rubber boots walks up behind her, and then we cut to the present, in West Virginia. Which is probably where the B&W sequence was set as well, but the show didn't actually make that clear.

In the present, a low-rent hunter returns to his trailer with a gun and cooler full of varmints, but before he can grab a beer to reward himself for a good night's work, he hears someone lurking around outside. He heads out to check, and winds up with a noose wrapped around his neck - apparently the killer is strong enough to lift him right off his feet, but lithe enough to move around on the roof without making any sound!

Oh, then the killer murders the guy by turning his head a hundred and 180 degrees around. So obviously we're dealing with a Jason situation here. Or at least a Madman Mars.

Then it's right to the briefing, where the characters get confused about basic terms! Joe points out that it's basically impossible to form barbed wire into a noose the way the killer has, because it doesn't have enough tensile strength. Reid thinks that it is possible, as long as the killer is strong enough!

And he's supposed to be the smart one. Seriously, the point here is not that barbed wire is hard to bend - it isn't, the stuff is shipped in coils, after all, but rather the kind of tight winding you have to do in order to make a noose would presumably cause it to snap, irregardless of the killer's strength.

But let's not get sidetracked - the killer also built a bear-trap-launcher that fired a bear trap wrapped in barbed wire from a tree into the face of another hunter.

There's no way the rest of the episode is going to live up to this awesome beginning, is there?

The team immediately head to West Virginia! I wonder if they'll just drive? We, on the other hand, cut over to a shake where our killbilly, a surprisingly slender man for the feats of strength we've seen him accomplish, sits in front of a fire, tearing the head of a doll using barbed wire!

This just gets crazier and crazier, doesn't it? Hopefully it will keep going nuts after the opening credits!

10.8.18

Criminal Minds 919: The Edge of Winter

It's night, it's the woods, and, you guessed it, a woman is screaming for help as she flees for her life! Because, you know, Criminal Minds. A helpful Chyron lets us know that it's 2013, but since I'm not super-clear on when this episode originally aired, I'm going to guess that's fairly recent, like the year before the episode's present day.

Could I find this out in slightly more time than it takes to type this sentence? Sure. But that's not my brand, so...

The lady runs out of the woods, and is immediately hit by a car! Was it a super-effective killer, or just a preposterously-timed accident?

In the present day, we head to an institute for the mentally unstable in New York State! Derek has arrived to help prep the victim before the trial! The doctor working the case is surprised to see a profiler doing that, but he explains that profiling is only 10% of what they do, and trial prep is an important part of the job.

While I'm sure that's closer to true in the real world, if it was a part of the team's job, I'm sure it would have come up more often in the past 200 episodes. We're expected to believe that in addition to solving 25 serial murders a year they're also flying around the country - individually or in groups - to help out local DAs? That seems like a stretch.

The victim is playing solitaire when Derek arrives, and she looks to be in pretty solid shape, so I suppose the truck impact wasn't too severe! Nice to know that someone's obeying the speed limit on a dirt road in the middle of the night.

Derek wants to prep her for cross-examination by going over all of the details of the case, both her experiences, and the things they've turned up in their own investigation over the past year! Wait, are we expected to believe that the team continued investigating the case after catching the guy, because that's absolutely not their MO. Let's just assume he meant 'we' in the 'all law enforcement' sense of the word.

Specifically, they're going to go into more detail about what happened to 'Ben', who she saw being carried out into a field by two goons, beaten to a pulp! Time for a flashback to fill us in on some of that backstory!

He was turned into a human scarecrow. Ick. The victim thinks she should have done more to stop the murder. Was she one of the killers? If not, I'm not sure how she would have.

Then it's over to the team who (in the past) are getting the details of the case! It seems three victims were stabbed to death with farm tools and dumped in public, all within the last ten days. So it's off to New York.

More present day stuff, as the victim sets up another flashback! Wait, whose flashback was that scene in the office? It seems like the show is so desperate to keep to its standard format that they're just throwing out the whole 'Derek coaches a victim' concept whenever they feel like it.

Anyhow, in the victim's flashback, another victim has stolen a key from the killers, and they break out after the villains have gotten drunk. But they make too much noise, and as they flee across a field, the other lady is shot in the back! The victim keeps running, though, because really, what can you do when the killer has a rifle and you don't?

Let's see how the flashbacks continue after the credits!

29.7.18

Criminal Minds 918: Rabid

The episode starts outside a mini-mart in Milwaukee, where a lady is laden down with packages. My first thought is, honestly, "is this the same mini-mart from two episodes ago? I know they reuse locations, but that would be crazy, so probably not." It's night, and she's wearing a short skirt and light jacked, so I guess it's weirdly warm in Wisconsin this April? Wasn't there slush everywhere and people in Parkas just three episodes ago?

The lady hops on a bus, where almost nothing bad ever happens. Except for, you know, a creepy weirdo who won't stop ogling her. Then, when she gets off the bus, he disembarks as well, trailing her down a dark alley! Is this the least amount of mystery ever, or is there about to be a surprising twist as she kills him, or they're both killed by a third party?

Creepiness slightly defused, when it turns out he just got off the bus to give her an item she left on the bus seat! Still creepy, though. Then show then follows the guy down the street, where he's murdered by a hobo! Or perhaps... someone pretending to be a hobo? I mean, we don't see the guy's face, so who knows?

Then it's over to a running track, where Garcia and Reid are training to pass the field fitness test! Which apparently involves an 8-minute mile! Which isn't especially daunting, but they're both extremely out-of-shape, it seems. Which I believe from Garcia, since her job is typing, but it's weird that Reid can't manage this. Garcia points out that the whole thing is pointless, since he's never had to run a mile quickly in the field, which I'm pretty sure isn't true. If he'd been a better runner maybe Van Der Beek wouldn't have caught him and got him hooked on heroin.

That might a low blow.

Time for a briefing! Three bodies were found in the woods by a park ranger, two men and a women, all showing signs that they'd been tied up for long periods of time before being murdered! Not that they'd be able to tell that yet, if at all.

How do I know that for sure? Simple - the bodies were found THIS MORNING. I know I spend a lot of time harping on the ridiculous timelines of this show, but this is just insane. I did some quick research to explain just how crazy this is.

The episode aired on March 12th, and we can assume the episode is set on that day as well, since that's just how Criminal Minds works - it's why we were robbed of that evil Santa episode all those years ago.

On March 12th, sunrise in Milwaukee is at 7:15CST. Garcia received her call about the case at:
Which is 6:09 in Milwaukee - a full hour before sunrise. Of course, she didn't get a call when the bodies were found. She got a call from Greg, after he got a call from the Justice Department, after they got a call from the Milwaukee FBI, after they got a call from the Milwaukee Police Department, after police officers confirmed that there were bodies in the woods, after they were called by the park ranger.

What's the minimum amount of time all of those calls could have taken? Two hours? And an hour for the cops to get out to the dump site in the woods, confirm that the corpses are real, and report back to their superiors. So that's three hours, which puts the time window for the ranger to have found the bodies somewhere around 3AM local time.

Also, the bodies were under a couple of inches of dirt:
Which makes it even more incredible that they were found in the pitch darkness.

I know it's weird that I bring this up every episode, but it's truly strange - what do the writers think they're accomplishing by not having the characters just come into work and finding out that they have a case because a body was found a couple of days ago, and the FBI has decided they should work the case? I say 'The FBI' since they no longer have someone deciding what cases the team works on. Garcia obviously isn't doing it. Is Greg? He's the one calling everyone in, but even he seems to just be getting word that they're working the case from someone else.

Where are these cases coming from? Does anyone even know?

Okay, back to the show - the newest body is of a sex worker who was killed six weeks ago. So maybe the creep was just locked away somewhere, rather than being killed by the hobo?

That theory is confirmed in the next scene, where it turns out that the killer has an actual jail that he keeps people in!
Well, possibly a kennel, but in any event, it's a pretty impressive setup just for keeping people captive! The killer sets up a video camera and sprays the creep with water, telling him to drink so he won't get dehydrated... yet. Is this some kind of a study the killer is performing? Does he want to document the effects of starvation and thirst on humans?

I suppose we'll find out after the credits!

15.7.18

Criminal Minds 917: Persuasion

In a dark room, a woman is crying.

You know, I feel like that sentence is Criminal Minds' entire raison d'etre. That's every episode of the show in just eight words.

A man enters the room, and the woman asks what the doctor wants - she's willing to do anything! His response? To club her with a pipe and drag her into the darkness. Because this is Criminal Minds.

Then we're in a diner in Las Vegas (will Reid's Mom show up?) when a backpacker enters! He asks for a job, but the waitress says they're not hiring! We notice that the waitress seems to be dressed in the same outfit as the woman from the beginning, so that explains why we're here now! The connection is confirmed when the waitress mentions to one of her regulars that 'Frieda' is late for her shift.

The customer heads out to talk to the backpacker, and accuses him of trying to pick the wallet of someone in the diner, and then offers help! It seems the customer is a magician, one with an oddly generic business card!
Will they become some kind of a criminal team? Only time will tell!

Some ATVrs find the corpse of the waitress and another woman dumped in a field, then it's over to Quantico for the briefing! The women haven't been identified, and they were killed via drowning after being tied up and clubbed! There's no leads yet, but as the team points out, Las Vegas is the most surveilled city in America, so hopefully they'll get some evidence soon!

Hey, can you tell that a corpse has been drowned after it's spent nearly a month being turned into a mummy by the sun?
Her soft tissue has all been transformed into jerky, but they already have a cause of death they're sure of? Doesn't that seem like a stretch? Or are they just assuming she was also drowned because she was found near the other body? Wouldn't it be hilarious if it was an unrelated victim of a different killer, and they've just made some bad assumptions?

I don't know a lot about fabrics, but that print looks pretty colourful - am I crazy, or would three weeks in the Nevada sun bleach that pattern out a little? I mean, look what's happened to her skin, wouldn' the pattern on the shirt show a little more wear than that?

Oh, and speaking of Vegas, we cut back there and see people walking happily along the sidewalk while someone - maybe the backpacker, it's hard to tell - screams for help underneath the street's drainage grate, before being dragged away! Was it the pickpocketing backpacker who got killed? Hopefully we'll find out after the credits!

8.7.18

The Lady or the Tiger Has Been Solved

I was reading Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, as one does, and the preamble to one of the stories extensively discussed Frank Stockton's “The Lady or the Tiger”. I had only a passing familiarity with the story – I remembered it ended on a cliffhanger, and it was up to the reader to decide which ending was more likely. According to the preamble, the author had written a sequel, but it was similarly unsatisfying, which had led another author to, many decades later, write a sequel for Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine entitled "The Lady and the Tiger", which wrapped up the story in a satisfying fashion. Sadly I was unable to track that story down, but I was able to find the sequel to The Lady or the Tiger, published one year later, a short story called “The Discourager of Hesitancy”. Reading it, I discovered something interesting – not only was it not as unsatisfying as had been reported, but it seemed to provide the ending for “The Lady or the Tiger” that the original story lacked. I believe that Frank Stockton offered a solution to the readers who were desperate for any resolution, and he did it in a manner so brilliantly obscure that I could find no evidence that anyone has come across it.

16.6.18

Criminal Minds 916: Gabby

The episode opens with a few shots of abandoned businesses and rotted out homes to establish that this episode is set amidst an environment of urban squalor. Then they cut to a perfectly nice low-end suburban street, because the show shoots in Los Angeles, and they don't have access to the kind of wrecks you can find in Mississippi there.

A woman is dropping her daughter off to stay with her sister for a week. They offer some exposition about how the mother won a raffle for a week-long cruise, and it's her first real vacation away since the daughter (who's like 5-6, something along those lines) was born! The aunt has prepared a child's playhouse for the front yard, so the visit should go great! Unless a killer shows up, murders her, and steals the daughter. That would be less great.

Later that week, we see the aunt pile the kid into a car to go for a nighttime drive. She explains to the neighbour that going out for rides helps the little girl get to sleep, then as they're driving off, the little girl and the neighbour lady exchange some sign language! Which they know for some reason? Is one of these characters deaf and I somehow didn't notice?

We cut to the aunt sitting in her car at a gas station, waiting for there to be no witnesses before she runs into the store to buy some food. Maybe we're supposed to think that she's waiting for the guy to drive away because she finds him creepy and doesn't want to leave the niece alone in the car with him at the pumps, but then again, the niece is sleeping, lying across the back seats, so there's no reason to think that anyone even knows she's in the car.

So while the aunt is in the store, a minivan drives up, presumably grabs the kid, and then drives off. Did the Aunt sell the child to someone? Because it's kind of crazy to imagine that a kidnapper would have been been following them this whole time and managed to land on this incredibly lucky moment.

Seeing the empty back seat, the aunt starts screaming for help, and the guys inside call 911!

The team immediately jumps on the plane and flies there - like, immediately. Preposterously immediately.
That's the sun just coming up to the front right of the plane - which is a little weird, considering that they're flying west, but whatever, let's just assume that they mean it to be like 7AM when this scene is happening.

Assuming they're almost in Mississippi, that's like a two-hour flight, meaning they had to get on the plane at 5AM. So let's figure the abduction happened around 10PM, that means that the cops showed up, took statements, decided they couldn't handle the case, called the local FBI, who kicked it upstairs to Washington, and someone there decided that the serial killer people should be working on it - even though it's just a missing girl, not a beheaded little girl - and then called Greg and woke him up at like 3AM, and then he told everyone else to get moving, all so they could be on a plane at 5AM.

This is just so far from how the police actually work. Would it have killed the show to have them arriving at noon the next day? A plausible amount of time later?

Oh my god, it's so much worse than I thought. All of that figuring I did above? Yeah, it's even worse - it's been just three hours since the abduction during the plane scene. I don't know how far they are into the flight, but that means the idea that they were all gathered up and put on a plane happened even faster than I'd calculated. Also, how can the sun be coming up? Was that abduction at like 2AM? Damn, this show is crazy.

In their pre-file they point out that the abductor would have had to have been stalking the little girl - and perhaps even gotten the mother sent away on that trip! Although that might be a stretch, since it's my own interjection. Bigger issue, though, is that they talk about having 24 hours to find the girl before it's too late!

Weird that they would still be saying that, since just six episodes they did a story about how that was a meaningless rule of thumb.

We catch up with the minivan driving down a rural road and dumping something body-shaped but wrapped in black plastic into a river! Has he already murdered the little girl? Was the little girl already dead, killed by the aunt (who's actually the girl's cousin, it seems) and this is a friend helping make it look like an abduction/murder? It's not like we actually saw the little girl moving in the back seat during the convenience store scene.

Hopefully we'll find out after the opening credits!