Programme 10 (30-April-77)

Cover: Yeah, that robot’s hitting Judge Dredd with a chainsword. Also, the robot’s name is Kenneth. I don’t feel I have to explain what makes that the perfect comic book cover. It may not beat the time Judge Dredd attacked King Kong, but it’s a close second. Also, despite the fact that Star Wars didn’t come out in the UK until December ’77, it seems that people were already well aware of it. And what’s going on with that W? I’m pretty sure they don’t have tails.


Criminal Minds 305: Seven Seconds

It’s every parent’s nightmare this week on Criminal Minds, wait, hold on for a second… have I used that opening before? Man, this show has a lot of victimized children, doesn’t it? Anyhow, this time it’s a little girl disappearing in a crowded mall. There are actually two sets of parents there – the parents of the children, and an aunt and uncle.

The security department gets on the ball immediately, locking down the entire mall. Why do they do this? Because another little girl was kidnapped from a mall and murdered the week before! The lockdown went so well that they can be sure that the victim and her abductor are still inside!

The team moves around frantically, getting a layout of the mall, looking up sex offenders in the area, and interviewing possible witnesses. But in a mall with a thousand possible suspects, where do you start?

With them. The parents and close relatives. I know there was another murder, and that makes this look like a serial thing, but let’s not forget – if a child is kidnapped/murdered there’s a 75% chance their immediate family is responsible.

Offering his own statistics, Reid points out that most kids abducted by murderers die in the first few hours after their abduction – and if the police are looking for them, that time goes down to an hour!

Does that mean we’re looking at a real-time episode of Criminal Minds? Find out after the credits!


Programme 9 (23-April-77)

Cover: Was that so hard, Harlem Heroes? All I’ve been asking for for nearly ten issues is for a killer cyborg to try and shoot you with a rifle. Thanks for finally getting the memo. Also, the likelihood of this actually happening in the issue is pretty good – after all, he’s not actually shooting Giant, just planning to at this point. But why is he referring to himself as 'Mad'? That suggests a level of self-awareness that I doubt Gruber is capable of.


The Twenty-First-Greatest Panel in the History of Comics

Okay, honesty time:

It took me a full minute to figure out what this threat was supposed to mean.


Tales from the Darkside Episode 108 – Word Processor of the Gods

The episode opens in with the main character (Willard from the movie of the same name) suffering all the indignities of the modern emasculated suburban father. His obese wife scoffs at him bringing boxes into the house, and he can’t convince his layabout son to put down his electric guitar:

Long enough to help with this simple chore. Poor guy.

Willard is left to take car of everything himself, as always. Why, I’ll wager that woman doesn’t even have a job of her own! She does, however, give us some of that delicious exposition the audience needs, as she discusses the circumstances of the boxes’ arrival at their home with a local elderly gent.


Criminal Minds 304: Children of the Dark

It’s a peaceful night in suburbia when a happy family’s evening is interrupted by…

The plot of the movie Funny Games! He’s even wearing white leisure gloves instead of the traditional choice of American murderers, latex gloves. It’s not just that, either:

Is this going to be a thing on the show, now? Ripping off the plots of movies, but then trying to explain the psychology of the villains? I know they did a ‘Saw’ episode last year, but for some reason I just assumed that was a fluke. Here’s hoping that this is just two aberrations, and not a pattern.

Naturally we cut over to the team before the murder happens, so we’re just forced to look at gruesome crime scene photos, and not the actual deaths. They talk a little about home invasions, and how they’re ‘hard to profile’ since it’s unclear exactly what the motives are.

Which,, frankly, sounds a little like the characters trying to exaggerate their profession’s importance again – there are actually only two possible motives to a series of murderous home invasions: 1) You want to rob people but don’t want to get caught (so you kill the witnesses). 2) You want to kill people (but you don’t mind stealing their stuff for a little extra cash).

Since in this case we’re dealing with entire families being killed (more victims=more control problems) and very little being taken (just handfuls of jewelry), the killers have gone out of their way to pick a harder, less rewarding target just because it means they’ll get to kill more people.

There, profile done. They want to kill families because they were abused as children. How hard was that?

I’m kidding, of course – all serial killers were abused as children. Guessing that is like guessing that they’re carbon-based life forms. It’s a gimmie. Anyhoo, we’ll see how the team does after the opening credits!


Tales From the Darkside Episode 107 – Inside the Closet

The episode begins with a college student arriving at the worst place in the entire world to possibly rent a room. I can’t stress this point enough. Let’s take a look at some of ‘Professor Fenner’s’ decorations.

I know that, as the head of the veterinary college, Fenner has an excuse for some of the animal corpses, but Gail, the grad student who arrives to rent the room, really should have run when he started talking about his ultra-strict rules of never allowing any noise in the house since that’s where he does almost all of his work. The writer tries to explain that she’s been forced to rent a room there because there are literally no other apartment available for rent in the entire city. Even still, if this is your only option for college housing-

-drop out. Just drop out.


The Twentieth-Greatest Panel in the History of Comics

If there's one thing I want these great panels to be, it's educational.

See? I'll bet that before today you didn't know the only way to kill an invisible ghost.


Tales From the Darkside Episode 106 – Slippage

Okay, now this is a weird one, as actor David Patrick Kelley, familiar to fans of things that are great as T-Bird from The Crow, plays a commercial artist working away at his drawing table. Rich, his character, is having a bad day. First his boss can’t seem to find his paycheck, and then his partner Chris reveals that they call they’d been waiting for – recruitment to a prestigious advertising agency, had already come – but Rich hadn’t gotten a similar job offer! With treatment like that, is it any wonder the man spends most of his day staring into a mirror, contemplating his own existence?

Desperate to feel valued in any way, Rich phones home to talk to his wife, who’s in the midst of some stereotypically 80s aerobics.


Criminal Minds 303: Scared to Death

The episode opens with a murder – a woman is trapped in a trunk with a plastic window, while a man with glasses looks from overhead. He asks her if it’s worse than she imagined, and then shuts her in, places a few magazines atop the trunk to conceal it, and heads back to his desk to do a little reading while she suffocates to death.

So, based entirely on the title and the first minute, I’m guessing this episode is about a crazy man who pretends to be a psychologist specializing in helping people overcome their fears, and then kills his ‘patients’ in the specific way they’re afraid of, because it entertains him to do so. This first woman was claustrophobic, so he sealed her into a coffin to die!

That sounds about right, huh? I’m guessing we can pretty much check out for the remainder of this episode, since it’s all kind of right here in the opening. People turn up dead – he’s had a lot of victims because the MOs are so diverse, but the team finds a connection, blach blah blah, victim two gets burned to death because he’s afraid of fire, blah blach, Reid quotes Nietsche’s ‘What doesn’t kill you’ line, blah blah, final woman is saved from spiders and the killer is arrested without incident.

If it sounds like I’m way too skeptical about this plot, it’s because I am, due to an anecdote that has nothing at all to do with criminal minds, and I’ll share at the end of this review in lieu of a ‘factcheck’, because this obviously isn’t based on a true story.

Since my own personal stuff has nothing to do with the show, I’ll endeavour to keep it to myself while I write the review. Hey, here’s a fun game: Let’s guess what the other two fears are going to be covered in the episode with victim 2 and ‘one who gets rescued’!

My guesses? Fire for number 2 (sticking with my gut), but I’m switching the last victim to ‘heights’ because that gives us the chance to have a visually compelling climax where Derek has to edge out onto a girder to save someone who’s to terrified to move.

You know? Just once I’d like someone to be killed by their fear of public speaking. I don’t know how it would happen (other than, you know, audience is so disgusted with the job he's doing that they throw ninja stars), but damn if that wouldn’t be a hilarious thing to see, right?

Before we get to the opening credits there’s a little plot business to take care of. Mandy’s officially gone, and he took the photos with him. Pick up the slack, Garcia’s map! Now it’s time for them to track down a replacement for the team? Who will it be? I mean, I know it’s Joe Mantegna, I’ve seen commercials for later episodes (on mute – no spoilers please) – but who is he going to play, and how does he end up on the team?

Then we get the setup for the episode – how did they find out about this difficult-to-catch killer? Someone stumbled onto a mass grave. Oh. That’s disappointing. Even more disappointing? I’ve already lost the pool – one of the four bodies they found was burned alive, so they’re not going back to that well.

They do offer an explanation for why no one knew a serial killer was working – he had the victims sign pieces of paper that he then wrote letters to their families on, explaining that they were going to be going away and wouldn’t be talking to anyone for a while. Seems like a pretty simple trick, but it actually worked for ‘Slavemaster’ for a little while, so that’s got some real-life cred, anyhow.

Will the team be able to catch the killer after one more victim, and save the third? Let’s find out after the credits, together!

But if you don’t have a lot of time, the answer is yes.


Criminal Minds 302: In Birth and Death

This episode opens, as so many before it, with Eddie Cibrian (of TV’s CSI Miami! Whoo!) making out with a woman in slo-mo with a red filter!

But then it turns out that he’s just tenderly touching a torture victim! You got me, Criminal Minds. Excellent work. So Eddie’s the killer, huh? Not entirely surprised. You know how guest stars are. They just love to murder people.

Then it’s time to check in with the team – Mandy’s missing, Greg hasn’t come back yet from suspension, and Emily just didn’t show up for some reason. With a drastically reduced team, it’s time for the case run-down. Eddie’s been kidnapping women and tearing their hearts out! Ick!

Dude, you want to cut out women’s hearts, I get that – job’s a job, right? But what’s with the hammer and chisel while they’re still alive? Are you too good for anaesthesia and power tools? Plus, if you do it while she’s alive, you’re going to get blood all over your basement (garage?) workshop! Have you no sense of decency, my good man?

We’ll find out about Eddie’s sense of decency after the opening credits!