Dream Small, Poor People!

So I was at Giant Tiger recently, because of my love of cheap jeans and large cats, and I happened to notice something odd in the discount toy section. There, among the remaindered Superman Returns dollars and the various low-rent attempts to catch up with Yu-Gi-Oh, there were three examples of what can only be called bootleg board games. Games that took the basic concept of a popular title, and tried to profit from it while avoiding a law suit.

What's so interesting about these three games is the insight they give us into the minds of the people making them, and how they're meant to inform the dreams and aspirations of the (presumably lower-class) children who play them.

So while it's perfectly acceptable for kids to fantasize about joining the navy-

Or perhaps identifying someone in a police lineup-

Being a doctor is, sadly, out of their reach. No, when it comes to the bootleg version of 'Operation', children of poor people can only dream of-

Salvage. Not even being a mechanic, which is a skilled, vital profession, and could easily have been the subject of the game - Junkyard Jalopy asks players to fantasize about being scrapyard workers, employed to remove salvagable parts from a wrecked cars, so they can be resold later.

Oh, and on a completely unrelated note, if anyone wants to surprise me for my half-birthday, I would appreciate a Deluxe Kitchen Machine.


Criminal Minds 421: A Shade of Grey

Another missing child! The team is already on the scene - two other kids have been abducted from their rooms in the middle of the night, bludgeoned to death, and then dumped in the woods! It's all very action packed and tense! Garcia rushes to her office to watch a press conference on a monitor! During the press conference, the mother is so broken up she's barely able to speak!

Wait, don't they usually have the less emotional parent do the talking? I can't imagine the father would be much worse. Also, they have another son-

And I'm calling him as the killer right now. Even though that doesn't make sense (he serial killed two other kids before his own brother?) I'm guessing that he doesn't serve any other purpose in the plot, and the Criminal Minds writers are so in love with twists that they'll just toss craziness at us. Plus, he looks kind of bored in this scene.

Actually, come to think of it, whether it was that little girl from the paedophile episode, the little boy from the other paedophile episode, the kidnapped gypsy brides... has a kidnapped child on this show ever had another sibling, or were they all only children?

So yeah, little bastard's got to be the killer. Hey, look, now I'm profiling, based on the writer's MO! Neat!

Wow, there was just a shot of the brother shifting and yawning during the press conference. Do they want this to be a surprise at all?

They talk to the detective in charge of the case, who knows the family pretty well, and he's sure that the boy is dead at the hands of the same killer - he just doesn't want to tell the parents yet. This leads to the Prentiss Award of the night, going to an exchange Joe and Derek have right after the detective leaves-

Yeah, guys? The 99 percent thing is about what kind of abductor you're dealing with, not any given child's chances of surviving. 99 percent of the time it's a guy who just wants to murder a child. 1 percent of the time it's a nut who wants to kidnap a child for long-term molestation (or, if Criminal Minds it to be believed, a family of gypsies). You already know that this killer is a 99-percenter. Which means that kid is definitely dead.

Which I'm sure they'll discover right after the opening credits!


Path of Evil is a Sequel to Harvest of Fear... or Maybe Not

Oh. How disappointing. Well, not disappointing, entirely - but I feel kind of silly for building the movie up so significantly in my imagination before seeing it. In my defense, the reason I was confused by the IMDB and DVD box synopses is that Path of Evil isn't really a sequel to Harvest of Fear, so much as it's the sequel to the movie that the filmmakers behind Harvest of Fear wished that they'd made.

Yes, much in the same way that the novel 'The Lost World' was a sequel to the movie version of Jurassic Park, as opposed to the book, Path of Evil is a sequel to a hypothetical version of Harvest of Fear that we, the audience, didn't actually see. Also, confusingly, despite the fact that the plot largely doesn't make sense if you haven't seen the first film, Path of Evil only works for people who haven't previously watched Harvest of Fear. I'll explain why momentarily, but first, allow me to delineate all the ways in which the the events of Harvest of Fear have been altered to become Path of Evil.


Have you seen The Wrath of Khan?

Because the Divemistress hasn't! Crazy, right?

Anyhoo, we decided to watch it together, and record an extremely special Avod special feature, where you can watch it with us! So just cue up your copy of Wrath of Khan, download the episode by right-clicking here, and watch the best Star Trek movie ever with us!



The Forty-Eighth-Greatest Panel in the History of Comics!

My teeth hurt just looking at that panel. Good job, artist from the year 1940, working for a hot lunch!


Tales From the Darkside 203: Ring around the Redhead

The episode begins, as most noir-infused stories do, with a man on death row, giving a final interview before his execution - a little on the nose? Sure - but the episode has a good pedigree: It's based on a story by John D. MacDonald!

Okay, so here's the lowdown - John Heard is a man wrongfully accused of murder, and a sexy newspaper reporter is there to take down his side of the story. John, for his part, is just sad he'll never see his mysterious woman again - but who is she, and where has she gone? The prosecutor thinks she never existed, but why?

So many questions!


Dana Delaney Gives Feminists a Bad Name

So I'm watching Body of Proof, the new, almost shockingly mundanely-titled medical mystery show featuring Dana Delaney as America's latest archetypical 'Unpleasant Person Who Solves Crimes”. While I'm tired of this type of character in general, I found Dana to be especially contemptible because of a single speech she gives in the episode's first half:

Okay, first off, here's a fun exercise: Be a father who works at a job for 18 hours a day, then get a divorce. When making custody arrangements, tell the judge you want full custody, and that you don't intend on working any fewer hours once you've gotten it. Done? Good - now how long did the judge laugh before having you thrown out of court?

This scene bothered me not only because it brought up accusations of sexism in a situation that profoundly didn't call for them, but also because doing so makes the main character seem like an especially smug, whiny, jerk. This isn't a character who suffers because of her gender. Every other character on the show - to one degree or another - bows and scrapes before her brilliance, asking her not only to solve her cases, but theirs as well - and her being a woman never comes up.

Oh, and for the record, for all of her supposed brilliant observations, the crime is solved when a simple blood test on their victim demonstrates that she was poisoned, and since only one person was in a position to administer that poison...

So yeah, not watching any more of this one.


A Lingering Question About The Red Riding Trilogy

Okay, first off - Spoiler Alert. I know spoiling is basically all I do here at the Castle, but the Red Riding movies were largely wonderful, and if you don't want a major plot point spoiled, feel free to just skip ahead to the next article, and check this thing out once you've seen this one.

So, getting to the point, when the third film wraps up, basically every question has been answered, with just one glaring omission.

This is a corrupt cop. Later in the film, he'll be willing to spill the beans about the corruption that permeates every aspect of the police department. Unfortunately, instead of just telling him the serious information, he demands to see the main character in person, and since someone untrustworthy was listening on the other line, he finds himself in this situation just a little while later:

That's him having been tortured to death with a drill. The tape is an audio recording of the torture. Also, his daughter was stabbed to death. Here's the thing - the main character gets from his hotel to the cop's house in considerably less than an hour, which means the killer had to get there and start the torture almost immediately. Which raises the question - just who killed the corrupt cop?

It's important to note, at this point, that every other mystery in the film series has a solution - in the case of every murder we discover who killed them, why, and when. All except for the corrupt cop.

There's only one thing that even counts as a clue, and that's this scene from the final film:

That's the film's killer, a child-raping priest, about to murder someone with a drill. This scene and the murder of the corrupt cop are the only times that drills appear in the film, so it's only natural to assume there's some connection between the two.

This doesn't really make sense as an option, though. While the cops are fully aware that the priest is, at the very least involved in serial killing, there's no reason to believe they'd assign him to an important job like this, especially when they're fine with killing people themselves - and are working on an incredibly short timetable.

So if the priest didn't torture the corrupt cop to death and murder his child, who did, and why doesn't the film let us know? Did I miss something? Is it made clear in the novel, but not in the film?

If anyone reading this knows the answer, please let me know in the comments.


Criminal Minds 420: Conflicted

Wow, you know how I'm always complaining about how In Medias Res openings ruin every surprise a story has to offer? Check this one out. A mysterious woman with a deep, scratchy voice is talking to a therapist. She's strategically shadowed to keep us from getting a look at her.

Both the therapist and Reid demand to know where 'Adam' is. There's only one possible way to interpret this scene as it plays: That the killer they're interviewing is a man in drag, and that 'Adam' is the base, male, personality that has been pushed down by this murderous female one.

Yet I guarantee you this episode is going to try to play that revelation like it's a surprise.

The show then cuts back a week, to South Padre Island's 'Spring Madness Break' celebrations!

A group of college kids are checking into a hotel when one guy gets a message from his girlfriend announcing she won't be there until the next day. He immediately goes looking for someone else to have sex with, and come across the drag killer, who he mistakes for a woman long enough to wind up tied to a bed, raped, and suffocated with a plastic bag.

Hold on - you let a stranger tie you to a bed? And you let 'her' tie you face-down? Even in the best-case scenario, what did you imagine was going to happen?

Immediately afterwards we see 'Adam', now in his man clothes-

Get off the elevator. He works as a maintenance man in the hotel where his alter ego kills, it seems. Convenient! Also, his alter ego is an idiot. Turns out this is actually the next morning, though, and when Adam goes to clean out the hotel, he finds the victim's dead body!

It seems he's the second victim raped and murdered in that hotel in the past three days. They mention that the hotel had lost 20% of its occupancy after the first murder. Which seems kind of low. Also, it's not really plausible that anyone would be left in that hotel by the time the team arrives at it.


What, exactly, is Path of Evil?

While writing about Harvest of Fear I naturally swung by imdb.com to check on the production information (confirming the date because of the Electra costume, mostly), but a quick glance at the director's page led me to a shocking discovery. It seems the year after Harvest of Fear, the entire cast and main production staff re-teamed to make the film a second time, as something called 'Path of Evil'. It featured the same cast and basic plot, except for the fact that now the fey Sheriff's deputy seemed to be the main character - and had been given more backstory as a result.

I was faced with two options - find out the differences online, and look for some kind of production story explaining Path of Evil's (unprecedented?) existence, or immediately buy a film so I could go in completely cold, and experience the second version of the film with no biases. Naturally, I chose the second.

While waiting for my copy of the DVD to arrive I began to have doubts. Sure, the plot synopsis was slightly different, but did that really mean they shot a whole new movie? Perhaps it was largely the same footage, with a few new backstory scenes for Jake, and a new ending? Wouldn't that be disappointing after all this effort?

Luckily, the arrival of the DVD quelled at least some of my fears-

In addition to the slightly altered plot, get a look at that killer! Where the first film's murderer wore a generic stitchface mask and hoodie-

This DVD box promises a lawsuit-inviting reproduction of Michael Myers, boiler suit and all!

So unless the film's packaging is one big lie (not an impossibility), I think we're in for a treat! Now... to actually watch the movie, and find out just what Path of Evil is!


TheAvod Episode 113!

That's right, everyone, it's time for lucky episode 113, where the Divemistress and myself talk about hot, popular, popular and hot new movie Scream 4! Whose title I refuse to render using alphanumerism!

To enjoy more churlish behaviour from me, Count Vardulon, just right-click here and download the episode!

Oh, we also discuss the television version of The Thing and the movie Troll Hunter, which occupy opposing poles on the scale of awsomeness. Lock in your guesses, then watch the episode to discover which is which!


The Forty-Seventh-Greatest Panel in the History of Comics!

Yikes. Now that is one well-realized visage. Don't blame her for fainting.


Tales From the Darkside 202: Lifebomb

In addition to a captivating title, this episode moves quickly into a dynamite premise, as a high powered businessman (Billy Macy! No, not that Billy Macy, this is the mid-80s).

We know he's stressed out because the first thing he does after entering his office is take a sip of milk and then an antacid! How, I wonder, will his already-stressful life be 'blown up'?

He runs a mining concern, and is constantly on the go, talking to captains of industry and trying to get senators on the line - his secretary tells him some sort of insurance man is in the office, but he's too busy to listen! It's only when he realizes that the man may be involved in settling some lawsuit over the company's malfeasance in Wyoming that he agrees to meet with the man from the Vita-Eterna corporation. Wow, if there was ever an ominous sign, right?

The salesman enters with a pitch that's simply too good to be true - he's selling the ultimate in life insurance products! Beyond insurance, he's offering protection, and not in a mob sort of way, either! Apparently he feels that the product he's selling can absolutely protect Bill from an untimely death - but how?

By sealing him up in a bulletproof, shock-proof, essentially death-proof cocoon at the first sign of trouble! Physical protection isn't the only service this product offers, however. The 'Lifebomb' ensures that you're breathing, injects any drugs you need, and automatically radios for medical assistance! If it all sounds too good to be true, just wait until you hear the price - nothing! It's just something his insurance company wants him to wear to protect their investment in him. Bill finds the price a little too low to be believable, and sends the salesman on his way, leaving the Lifebomb contracts on his desk, untouched.

That night Bill is working late, trying to figure out the best way to make his Wyoming mine disaster problem go away. There are ten casualties - the settlement calls for 30 million dollars to be spread between them, but Bill's having none of this. He believes that since the workers chose to be miners and the fact that their insurance policies already paid off, he shouldn't have to fork over any more money just because some 'lawsuit' might decide that the company is guilty of 'contributory negligence'.

Long after everyone else has gone to bed Bill heads home, and lets his impatient wife know that he's not staying - just changing his outfit! Damn, he really is a workaholic, isn't he? If only he had some sort of a Lifebomb to help save him from his inevitable heart attack! Then Bill heads back to the office, where he's using a dictaphone to record his memo about his decision to refuse the settlement - he gets so worked up that his heart finally gives out on him-

And then... I don't know. Yeah, turns out my copy of this episode cuts out halfway through, so I have no idea what happens in the last ten minutes. I'll try to track it down, so I can finish this review later, but for right now, I'll just hazard a guess...

Bill barely survives the heart attack and buys the lifebomb, but then he winds up trapped inside it in a place the paramedics can't get to him, leaving him essentially buried alive, like the miners his company murdered!

Okay, that's probably not the actual ending, but I'll fill you in on it when and if I'm able to secure a full copy of the episode.

Also, I get the naming of the 'Lifebomb' (Like a life jacket, only it's a bomb!) - but still think it's terrible branding. Maybe the full version of the episode also addresses this.


Harvest of Fear Makes No Amount of Sense

While writing extensively (the argument could easily be made 'too extensively') about the film Harvest of Fear, I neglected to mention how little of the movie actually makes sense. So, in order to make an attempt at entertainment (while the other articles were, apparently, attempts at writing chores - successful attempts!), I'm going to list some of the myriad ways in which the film steadfastly refuses to be coherent. Before starting, however, let me present you with the trailer for Harvest of Fear, which was helpfully included on my DVD copy of the film.

Now that you've seen the trailer, I don't have to worry too much about spoilers, since they're nice enough to give away the film's twist ending right at the end there.


Suspect Behavior 109: Smother

It's a sunny day as the episode begins, all the better to contrast the darkness of the tragedies that are sure to befall this woman and her young child:

A man creeps up behind her - but it turns out it was just a cashier, returning the credit card she left at the counter! Less nice is the guy (or gal) who pulls up next to her in a minivan and drops a pacifier out the door. When the woman goes to return it, she's punched in the face and dragged into the van! Dear lord, how unexpect- Yeah, I'm too tired to be sarcastic right now. Sucks for her baby, though, who was left in the unlocked car.

Back at the office, which I can't help but remind you, is in a FUNCTIONING GYM for absolutely no reason-

Mick is on the phone with someone, which Janeane gives him a hard time about. You know, hostile work environment and everything. The team gets a rundown of the case - all three abducted women were out with their children! And all three happened within nine days! Every killer being a spree killer, and all.

The cops need the team's help in figuring out where the women are. Forest's idea? Check in the woods closest to all three crime scenes! Seriously? They needed help with that?

Two of the bodies do turned up, dressed and posed as if they were sleeping! Ironically peaceful, considering that the women were brutally stabbed to death. A revelation that leads to Janeane winning the Prentiss Award of the night!

Really? You don't think he brutally stabbed them to death, then bathed them, dressed them in clean clothes, and did their makeup while crouched in a grassy field? Insight! Forest jumps to the conclusion that the killer wanted the bodies to be found - with them serving as a means of apology! Which is a great idea, except for the fact that he didn't leave a note with the cops or anything. Shouldn't they keep the discovery of the corpses under wraps, just in case he (she?) wants to visit with the corpses or add a new one to the pile?

Hey, speaking of future corpses, the latest victim is tied up in a room somewhere! Will the team get to her in time? Let's find out together, after the opening credits!


Criminal Minds 419: House on Fire

This episode begins with an attempt at cleverness - some young people are going to see a screening of The Blob at a local theatre. It's clever because in that film a number of townspeople are killed when the blob attacks a packed theatre - and now people are going to be killed at a screening of The Blob! Get it? Yeah, maybe clever was the wrong word.

A psycho locks the doors and then burns the place down, killing all 19 people inside. Turns out it's a small town with a population of just 2000 people, meaning that 1% of the city's population died in a single murder, which is the kind of thing that would cripple a community. By comparison, %.03 of New York City's population was killed in the 9/11 attacks, and we all remember how well people dealt with that.

Then the show kind of throws all believability out the window by announcing that this wasn't the first attack. Nope, a dozen people were killed in a similar community center arson event just two days earlier. So that's 1.5% of the population in just three days. How on earth were people gathering in public when a murderer was trying to kill people in public places in that town? Also, they knew it was arson because there had been a series of nuisance crimes in the weeks leading up to the fatal fires. How was it, exactly that just two days after a crime in which .5% of the entire city's population was killed (and the killer wasn't caught), that everyone felt comfortable going to the movie theater? And why did the police allow anyone to gather in public given the situation?

Of course, this has never been a show that had a great grasp on how people actually behave. Which is kind of ironic, given the, you know, premise.


What is a Sweet Vacation House Worth to You?

If you happen to be a character in the film 'Harvest of Fear', the answer is 'my life. I would gladly die to spend a few days in a small vacation house in a small forested town.'

I've struggled with the best way to explain just how absurd the decisions that these characters make are, and I've decided on the timeline/body count. So let's take a look a a chronological listing of the murders in the film Harvest of Fear, and the decisions that a group of college students make in response to them.


TheAvod's Screamarama!

That's right, readers, if you've decided to branch out to listening, then you really ought to right-click here!

Why, you may ask? It's because theAvod is finally pulling the trigger on its long-promised Scream-a-Rama! In which The Divemistress, myself, and our two guests, Rob Rector and Don Guarisco, review the first three installments of the increasingly-terrible Scream franchise!

Thrill to a play-by-play of a documentary that only one of the participants saw! Listen as people struggle to remember actors' names! Amaze to discover that one of the participants is humiliated by admitting their love of Scream 2 (spoiler alert - it's me. I'm the one who enjoys Scream 2).

Really, there's no good reason not to listen to this week's Avod. So go for it!


The Forty-Sixth-Greatest Panel in the History of Comics!

I couldn't find any reference to her vocal talents on the internet, but this is still noteworthy, if only for the panel's assertion that 'Yee-ow' is the "perfect scream".


Tales From the Darkside 201: The Impressionist

The episode begins with an impressionist's surprisingly weak act. Spiffy Remo, the titular entertainer does a few of the classics, like Laurel and Hardy, and a Jack Benny, none of them impressive enough to explain the character's supposed celebrity.

He at least gets Benny's body language right, even if the voice is just plain awful. Backstage he argues with the club's manager - he wants more money, the manager wants him to do an impression of someone who hasn't been dead for twenty years. It's a conundrum. One that gets a little more complex when a government spook in a Hawaiian shirt shows up-

He has an offer for Remo - one that he's unlikely to refuse!


Saturday Night Live RapeWatch: Helen Mirren Edition

After last week's Elton John festival of gay jokes, this week's appearance by Helen Mirren was relatively sedate. In fact, the only gay joke at all was an offhanded comment by Mirren about just how gay last week's episode had been. I can't count that in any good conscience, so let's move on to general comments!

After one of the direst openings in recent memory the show scraped the bottom of the barrel with a return to the 'Accountant to the Stars' sketch, which is nothing but an excuse for the cast to do their universally terrible celebrity impressions. A few bright spots followed, as the show cheekily acknowledged Mirren's famous (in England) habit of going topless in nearly every film, moved through a sketch that acknowledged the idiocy of Fox and Friends without really making any specific jokes, finally ending a decent first third of the show with a sketch suggesting that the novel 'Frankenstein' was based on Mary Shelley's landlord, who looked exactly like the '30s Boris Karloff version of the character.

Weekend Update then stopped the show dead and went on far too long, which seems to be its role in the show at this point, and the sketches never managed to regain any kind of momentum after it. Another attempt to skewer Juggalo culture fails miserably, as the show still can't figure out how to improve on the real-life comedy that the Gathering of the Juggalos offers.

Just for the record, here are the numbers:

Rape: 0
Homophobia: 0

In addition to being cleaner than usual, Helen Mirren was a winning presence! There's literally nothing else good for me to say about it.


Suspect Behavior 108: Nighthawk

Oh my god! This episode isn't opening with a title card awkwardly restating the terrible premise! Instead, there's a news guy interviewing Larry (of Larry, Darryl, and his other brother Darryl fame) about being a serial killer! Let's see where this goes... (other than nowhere interesting).

Also, I feel like that's a real news guy, but I don't watch enough American news that I can identify him by name. I'll check the credits later.

When asked 'how it began', Larry flashes back to watching some dudes walking out of a bar while wearing a menacing hoodie. He follows one down an alley and then full-on murders him! With a baseball bat! Because the guy didn't lock his car door when he saw a freak standing in front of him!

Anyhoo, the team is on the case immediately because two other guys were beaten to death within a few hours! That's three murders in one night, which is finally enough for the team to call it a spree - even though literally every case they work on qualifies as one of those. Forest also gets the Prentiss Award of the night-

So, in what way does that make him different from any other serial killer? Do they stop just because they get bored? Also, they'll stop when you catch them, which you do, since this whole episode is a flashback, apparently.

That's right, Larry is seemingly flashing back to Forest and the team having a conversation about him in their office - because that's solid, in no-way-confusing television!

Before we head on to the credits, though, we get another few words from Larry, describing his irresistible impulse to kill. Of course, that's not important, so, on with the credits!


Criminal Minds 418: Omnivore

Greg drives to South Boston wearing his civvies-

An image that proves oddly discomforting to me, for some reason. He's in town to talk to a retired detective that he worked with ten years earlier. The two of them tried to catch 'The Reaper' (Boston's worst serial killer!) before he disappeared without a trace. The retired detective has a bombshell to offer - he made a deal with the killer! The Reaper sent him a letter, promising to stop killing if he stopped the investigation!

Yay! It took like eighty episodes, but they're finally doing a zodiac killer story!

So why is the detective letting Greg in on this? It seems that the deal was only for as long as they both lived - and since the detective is about to die of cancer, he's afraid that the murders are going to start up again! Greg's profoundly hard on the detective as well, he doesn't think the trade-off he made (purposefully not chasing Zodiac to prevent further killings) was worth it - he's entirely devoted to the idea that their job is to catch killers... whatever the cost!

It seems that Greg's first case, some ten years ago, was trying to catch the Zodiac - and now it's coming back to haunt him! The retired detective dies that very night. Now all Greg can do is wait for the killings to begin. Which happens really quickly. Zodiac drives up on a disabled car, beats a guy with a tire iron, then threatens to shoot a woman in the head with a preposterously large revolver-

Before stabbing her to death with an equally preposterous knife, then finishing the guy off with a bullet and leaving a set of glasses on his corpse. Why the odd signature? I'm guessing we'll find out... after the opening credits!


Harvest of Fear and the Three Unities

1 - The unity of action: a play should have one main action that it follows, with no or few subplots.
2 - The unity of place: a play should cover a single physical space and should not attempt to compress geography, nor should the stage represent more than one place.
3 - The unity of time: the action in a play should take place over no more than 24 hours.

No one would be crazy enough to suggest that these rules should apply to all forms of fiction. They're simply a simple guideline to keep in mind when writing a play. By following them an author can be increase the chances that their play will be simple for the audience to keep up with and understand, and will avoid breaking their willing suspension of disbelief.

There's a reason that the main action of most slasher films takes place over no more than a few hours, or a day at most, and it's not because the filmmakers responsible for them have any particular love of those three unities. The fundamental reason behind this laser-like focus on time and place is a simple question of plausibility, that is to say: “Why don't they just leave?”


TheAvod: April 5th!

That's right, folks, it's time for a new TheAvod, one that can be downloaded by right-clicking here!

At this point you may be wondering just why you should go through with the whole 'downloading' thing. Excellent question. Here's one reason: We reveal the terrifying truth about writing/directing team Neveldine/Taylor! (Spoiler alert - it's that they're not good at their jobs!)

We also discuss some fun upcoming television, I'm ridiculed for my lack of knowledge concerning pawn shops, and then the DiveMistress and myself debate the relative merits of Sucker Punch! Also, I kick off the first themed month in the history of Castle Vardulon! So be on the lookout for that, too!

After that build-up, how could you not want to check it out?


The Forty-Fifth-Greatest Panel in the History of Comics!

And if he doesn't, I certainly do!

Gosh, remember when reporters were two-fisted action heroes, solving crimes and making the world a better place? I don't. No, my most prominent memories about reporters involve Geraldo Rivera wandering through barren, dusty rooms.


Tales From the Darkside 123: The False Prophet

With a title like 'The False Prophet' and a main character who wanders into a bus station talking about signs of the Zodiac, it looks like this week's episode is going to largely feature a criticism of new-age mysticism! Yay!

It seems that the flighty woman was told by a spiritual adviser told her to head South to Texas as quickly as possible so she could meet someone with a compatible sign. While prattling on about fate the flighty woman spins an apple to take the stem out of it, using the number of turns befire it pops out to determine what the first letter of her husband's name. Which is a method I'd never heard of before, and it seems like it would insure that a husband couldn't have a name that started with anything lower than an M - after all, how well connected are those stems, anyhow?

After the flighty woman mentions that she keeps all of her money in quarters in case she finds a fortune-telling machine in her journeys, the truck-stop owner tells her that they just happen to have one right in room! The flighty woman uses one called 'The Prophet Madame X', and the truck stop has one called 'Horace X', which the flighty woman identifies as the 'son' of Madame X. How that works, I'm not entirely sure.


Saturday Night Live RapeWatch: Elton John Edition

The mandate of this series of articles is to review episodes of Saturday Night Live in two simple steps: 1 - Count the number of rape jokes. 2 - Compare that to the number of (more socially-acceptable) homophobia-themed jokes. As a consequence, I was left without much of a critical leg to stand on with this week's episode. It was absolutely filled with gay-themed humour, but since Elton John's flamboyant homosexuality is central to his whole persona, can any of those jokes be considered 'attacking' him specifically, or gays in general. And since there were no rape jokes that required a baseline for comparison, is there any real value in reviewing the episode at all?

If it weren't for one sketch, I'd give the whole episode a pass, saying only that I appreciated the reappearance of Laser Cats, Tom Hanks was an excellent choice to co-host with Elton, and the lower-class Queen of England was surprisingly fun in her second appearance.

The one sketch that killed the episode for me, however, was the reappearance of a little something that I hate so much I almost considered doing a 'MisogynyWatch' addendum to cover it. It's the ESPN classic segment, where two men in tuxedos watch women's sporting events while making crude jokes about feminine hygiene. It's an unpleasant little sketch, which reminds me of nothing more than this segment from 'Knowing Me, Knowing You'.

I'd hoped that Will Forte's departure from the cast had put the nail in this particular sketch's coffin, but apparently they were able to lure him back with the promise of more unpleasant disgusting comedy!

So thanks for that, SNL.


Suspect Behavior 107: Jane

Tonight's cavalcade of stupidity opens with a guy being slashed in a parking lot after a doctor House-style fakeout. An excessively drunk woman is led out of a club by a man - is he a murderer? No, just a guy who tries to stop a kidnapping, and winds up with his throat slashed for his troubles!

He's still alive, though, and I'm not sure why he's not clutching his throat. Was he just that surprised? Anyhoo, the team rushes to the hospital to see the guy, where they discover that he has, at most, a few hours left to live! Huh? What's killing him, exactly?

Okay, so there he is, lying in a hospital bed - he tries to talk, but his throat was slashed, so he can't. Here's the thing, though - he can still move his arms and legs, so there wasn't any spinal or nerve damage. Also he's awake, focused and able to attempt communications, so it's doubtful that he lost enough blood to do any major damage to his internal organs.

So I'll ask again - why, exactly, is this guy dying? Is it so that Forest Whitaker can have a dramatic scene with a dying person, David Caruso-style? Almost certainly, which just makes this additionally contemptible!


Criminal Minds 417: Demonology

It's time for a halloween-themed episode of Criminal Minds! Which, given that this episode probably originally aired in March or April, seems a little weird. Although they copped out on doing a Santa killer, so let's move on. How do we know it's Halloween-themed? Because the episode opens with music that's designed to remind people of The Exorcist, while an exorcist heads into a room to confront a guy tied to a bed!

At possibly the same time (unless the guy she's meeting turns out to be he's the killer), Emily goes to a bar to meet with...

Boyd Crowder! Yay! Nice to see there was work for him between the Shield and Justified, isn't it?

Turns out they're old friends, and he's there to report the murder that happened in the show opening! Apparently he was a known drug user who had a heart attack (a common side effect of exorcisms!), but he'd told Boyd that he was 'next', and that some people had already killed someone in Georgetown named Tommy V! Georgetown, incidentally, was where the movie The Exorcist was set. Not that I'm calling anyone unoriginal.

Emily has Garcia check on the cases (Tommy V died of dehydration - also a common result of exorcisms), then asks Greg if she can take some time to investigate the death of her closest friend. Meanwhile, the real killer, who I guess I didn't get a great look at before now-

Is burning a picture in a porceline wash basin. But is this man his next target, or the man he just killed? I guess we'll find out after the opening credits!

We did learn, though, that the killer really is a priest or monk - because, seriously, where else but in a church's living space are you going to find a wash basin these days?