Merry Christmas From The’ Tastic! Yet Another Gift For Our Readers: Awesome Commercials From When We Were Kids

Merry Christmas, again!  Yesterday, we were glad to share with you the 1978 Star Wars Holiday Special and today, on Christmas Day, we want to share you something equally as cool.  here’s a selection of some great ads, mostly from when we were kids for toys and cereal and all sorts of good stuff.  Enjoy this nostalgia trip!

Merry Christmas From The ‘Tastic! Our Gift To You: The 1978 Star Wars Holiday Special

Bearing gifts, come I...

Merry Christmas from The ‘Tastic!  Our first gift to our readers is none other than the 1978 Stars Wars Holiday Special.  It’s so bad, it’s awesome.  George Lucas says that if he had the time and resources he would personally see that every copy of this is destroyed.  Princess ‘Tastic and  Lil’ Buddy ‘Tastic watched this the other night and loved it.  Can’t blame ’em.  Below is the YouTube version and the Google video version.  We included both because it was difficult to tell which had the better quality in full-screen.   To watch the Google video version in full-screen you’ll have to watch it on the Google video site.

GEEK ALERT! First Full Trailer for The Dark Knight Rises Released. Watch It Here In HD!

A couple of months ago we gave ‘Tastic readers first taste of The Dark Knight Rises with a teaser trailer and today we are pleased to present the full trailer for the final chapter in the Christopher Nolan Batman series which will premiere in Summer 2012.

Nothing more needs to be said except, enjoy.  For full 1080p you may have to watch it on YouTube.

SCOOP! Gamera Reports: Christopher Meloni Joins Cast of True Blood For Season Five

True Blood correspondent Gamera, via THR, is reporting that long-time Law & Order: SVU detective and former Oz inmate, Christopher Meloni will be joining the cast of HBO’s vampire hit gore-fest, True Blood for its fifth season.  According to show creator, Alan Ball, Meloni will play  “an ancient, powerful vampire who holds the fate of Bill and Eric in his hands.”  Meloni, of course, recently left SVU after twelve seasons over a contract dispute and it’s been unclear until now what his plans were.

Now, don’t forget that in June, it was announced that Scott Foley would appear in the final episode of season four and would continue into season five as a recurring character, presumably with a major story arc.  At the time we had no idea of his role, but now we know that Foley plays Lt. Patrick Nevins, Terry Bellefleur’s, commanding officer when he served in Iraq. So, we actually have a little sneak peek already of what lies head of us for season five, and it’s gotten a huge boost in the credibility department with the addition of Foley and Meloni to the regular cast.

Yes, we freely admit that we have been very critical of True Blood in the past due to its “kitchen-sink” mentality, especially when it comes to supernatural adversaries (this is, if you recall, how Gamera got his job with The ‘Tastic as the True Blood correspondent as he was promised the role of the main adversary in season five), but we have to admit, season four was fantastic and the end was so brutally shocking that it left us speechless.  So needless to say, all of us (including Gamera, who still claims to be part of the fifth season cast) are really looking forward to season five.

Approved by Gamera!

REVIEW: Hell On Wheels (AMC – Sunday, 10:00 p.m.)

Hell on Wheels is a contemporary Western that centers on former Confederate soldier Cullen Bohannon, portrayed by Anson Mount, whose quest for vengeance has led him to the Union Pacific Railroad’s westward construction of the first transcontinental railroad. Developed by Endemol USA and produced by Entertainment One (eOne) and Nomadic Pictures, Hell on Wheels is created, written, and executive-produced by Joe and Tony Gayton (Faster, Uncommon Valor, The Salton Sea, Bulletproof). 

Hell on Wheels tells the epic story of post-Civil War America, focusing on a Confederate soldier (Mount) who sets out to exact revenge on the Union soldiers who have killed his wife. His journey takes him west to Hell on Wheels, a dangerous, raucous, lawless melting pot of a town that travels with and services the construction of the first transcontinental railroad, an engineering feat unprecedented for its time. The series documents the railroad’s engineering and construction as well as institutionalized greed and corruption, the immigrant experience, and the plight of newly emancipated African-Americans during Reconstruction. Hell on Wheels chronicles this potent turning point in our nation’s history and how uncivilized the business of civilization can be. – AMC

78 out of 100

So, thanks to Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead and The Killing, we now watch every single show on AMC and expect that it’s just going to blow us out of our socks.  And that’s exactly what Hell on Wheels did… during the pilot.  Unfortunately, as good as the show is, it could be a lot better.  We honestly expected to give the show a perfect score of 100 out of 100 after the pilot but it hasn’t quite lived up to those expectations.

As noted, the whole premise of the story is that Cullen Bohanon is on a quest for vengeance against the Union soldiers that tortured and killed his wife during the Civil War and his quest leads him to ‘Hell on Wheels,’ which is the nickname of the roving camp for the Union Pacific Railroad during the construction of the transcontinental railroad.  Now, that’s enough to do a series around all by itself but what immediately happens is that the story becomes a drama about the ‘Hell on Wheels’ community, kind of like Deadwood, being more about the ensemble and far less about the protagonist.  Now, you might say, “well, isn’t that what happened in Deadwood with Seth Bullock?” and the answer to that question is a resounding, “no.”  Deadwood was an ensemble piece from the beginning and though Bullock was the hero, from the beginning the show was about Deadwood itself (and let’s be honest, Ian McShane as Al Swearengen just completely stole all of Timothy Olyphant’s thunder anyway so the protagonist was basically negated).

Why this becomes problematic is two-fold.  First, the Bohanon revenge storyline is being woefully neglected and that’s the main reason that we wanted to tune in after the pilot to begin with and we keep getting disappointed that not more is being done to progress it week after week.

The second issue is that, ‘Hell on Wheels’ is just simply not as interesting of a community as Deadwood was and the story, which is no doubt intended to be, at least in theory, a character piece, seems to be far more event-driven than character-driven, i.e., either they aren’t developing the characters very well or they are just developing them very slowly and this strategy is hurting what is a very good show with the potential to be an Emmy winner.

To clarify, we suggest both character development scenarios because we frankly aren’t quite sure what’s going on here, whether there is a problem with the writing staff developing the characters or whether this is an intentional slow-burn.  Either scenario is problematic, though.  The first scenario doesn’t need a whole lot of explanation as to why it’s problematic, however the second scenario is a little more complicated.

The problem with cable television series is that they run a maximum of 13 episodes per season whereas the average Big-5 Network series will normally run 22 episodes.  To make matters worse for Hell on Wheels, its premiere season is only ten episodes. So, the writers on this series have less than half of the time that normally would be afforded to them on a Big-5 network series to flesh out the characters during their inaugural outing.  If the slow-burn approach to character development is in play here, it’s not very effective because we are 60% through the season and we really don’t know much about any of these characters and the plotline for the first season will be wrapped up within the next four episodes. We’re having a difficult time understanding how they are going to be able to do that and richly develop these characters in that short of a period of time which is a necessity for a show like this.  Futhermore, if they don’t, there’s not going to be a whole lot of excitement with fans of the show clamoring for the next season like there is on such AMC hits as Breaking Bad, Mad Men, The Walking Dead and The Killing.

There are a few elements right now that, while they don’t overshadow the aforementioned issues, certainly make you forget about them a little bit.  First, is the trifecta of main characters and the actors that play them and the supporting characters around them. Bohanon (Mount), Thomas ‘Doc’ Durant, owner of the Union Pacific (Colm Meaney) and Elam, a former slave (Common) are the three characters that the show really centers around and all three of them approach the situation from such a diverse perspective that the audience gets easily drawn into the narrative.

As noted, the supporting cast is also magnificent with the two standout performances coming from veteran character actor Tom Noonan as Reverend Cole, the preacher with a very checkered past trying to bring Jesus to this den of heathens and Christopher Heyerdahl who plays ‘The Swede,’ the mysterious and creepy Norwegian (it’s explained that he got his moniker by locals that didn’t know the difference) head of security for Durant whose personal agenda isn’t all that clear.  Again, these characters and performances are all fantastic and all have a huge amount of potential, but they just aren’t being developed fast enough.

What else is right is that the premise and the storyline is very interesting, especially considering the real history behind it that really hasn’t been explored in popular media during any time that we can recall.  Like we said, it is far more event-driven than it should be, but the events do certainly hold our interest.  Again, though, the issue isn’t the story, it’s how long it’s taking to get there.  Hell on Wheels is very slow and plodding and if we didn’t recognize just how much potential all of the strong elements of this series had, we would have lost patience with it by episode four and dumped it.

We definitely recommend Hell On Wheels, not so much for what it is right now, but for what it has the potential (the recurring theme of this whole review) to become if they just pick up the pace a bit.

SyFy: Popular Supernatural Canadian Series ‘Lost Girl’ Premiere Date Announced

Back in June it was announced that SyFy had acquired the rights for the popular Canadian supernatural drama, Lost Girl, and would be premiering it in 2012.  Monday, SyFy announced the premiere date for the highly anticipated series.

Via Press Release:

SEXY SUPERNATURAL DRAMA SERIES LOST GIRL WILL PREMIERE ON SYFY MONDAY, JANUARY 16 AT 10PM

NEW YORK – December 12, 2011 – Syfy will premiere the sexy supernatural drama series Lost Girl on Monday, January 16, at 10PM (ET/PT), immediately following the second season return of Being Human at 9PM.

Anna Silk (The Ghost Whisperer) stars as seductress Bo, a Succubus (a powerful female entity in folklore) who feeds off sexual energy. Raised by human parents, Bo had no reason to believe she was anything other than the girl next door – until she “drained” her first boyfriend to death.

In the premiere episode, Bo discovers she is one of the Fae, creatures of legend who pass as humans while secretly feeding off them. Faced with choosing between an allegiance to the Dark or Light Fae clans, Bo takes the middle path between the human and Fae worlds while embarking on a mission to unlock the secrets of her origin.

Lost Girl co-stars Kris Holden-Ried as Dyson, a homicide detective and Bo’s love interest; Ksenia Solo as Kenzi, Bo’s confidante; Zoie Palmer as Lauren, a doctor who competes for Bo’s heart; Rick Howland as Trick, the mysterious bartender at The Dal Riata Tavern, and K.C. Collins as Hale, Dyson’s partner on the force.

Notable guest stars include Emmanuelle Vaugier as “The Morrigan,” the leader of the Dark Fae.

This series is developed and produced by Prodigy Pictures, in association with Shaw Media and Showcase.

Syfy is a media destination for imagination-based entertainment. With year round acclaimed original series, events, blockbuster movies, classic science fiction and fantasy programming, a dynamic Web site (www.Syfy.com), and a portfolio of adjacent business (Syfy Ventures), Syfy is a passport to limitless possibilities. Originally launched in 1992 as SCI FI Channel, and currently in more than 99 million homes, Syfy is a network of NBCUniversal, one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies. (Syfy. Imagine greater.)

About Prodigy Pictures

Founded in 2006 by Jay Firestone, Prodigy Pictures leads the way in the production of quality film, television and cross-platform media. Its credits include the critically acclaimed feature Stuck and the television series XIII, currently airing on Showcase in Canada and Canal Plus in France. Prodigy’s hit series, Lost Girl, has recently started production on its second season. The company has several feature film and television projects in development, including William Gibson’s Neuromancer, and Weapon, in partnership with Studio 37.

REVIEW: Boss (Starz – Friday, 10:00 p.m.)

Mayor Tom Kane (Kelsey Grammer) sits like a spider at the center of Chicago’s web of power; a web built on a covenant with the people. They want to be led, they want disputes settled, jobs dispensed, and loyalties rewarded. If he achieves through deception and troubling morality, so be it. As long as he gets the job done, they look the other way.

Yet despite being the most effective mayor in recent history, a degenerative brain disorder is ripping everything away from him. He can’t trust his memory, his closest allies, or even himself.

Kane’s wife Meredith (Connie Nielsen) knows nothing. Theirs is a marriage of convenience. Kitty O’Neil (Kathleen Robertson), Kane’s advisor, has her suspicions but stays silent. And Kane’s political advisor Ezra Stone (Martin Donovan), a Yale graduate with a rough edge, remains questionless.

Only Emma (Hannah Ware), Kane’s estranged daughter, has a chance of learning his secret. This is going to be the toughest term yet for the Boss.  – Starz

95 out of 100

OK, so it’s confession time here at the ‘Tastic. You see, we’ve been doing a lot of experimenting lately based on stuff we’ve seen in television and film.  You know how they say on Mythbusters, “don’t try this at home,”  well, we’ve been trying this at home. Our most recent experiment is that we have been trying to create a matter treleportation device like in the two films, The Fly. Wouldn’t you know it, but like Vincent Price and Jeff Goldblum before us, we too let something get into the device that we shouldn’t have.  In our case, somehow we left DVD sets of HBO’s The Sopranos, The Wire and Boardwalk Empire in the thing and what came out was this show with Kelsey Grammar about the Chicago political machine called, Boss.

And that’s what Boss is.  It’s a hybrid of only the best parts of those great HBO series that have preceded it (and Showtime’s Brotherhood… wouldn’t want to leave them out) and we have to imagine that HBO is kicking themselves in their collective asses over not having this on their schedule.

We hate to say this, but this show defies all logic because it goes against all of the principles of good drama.  We’ve often said that in order for a show to succeed it has to have characters who are likable and relatable.   The cast of characters on Boss (including the protagonist, Mayor Tom Kane (Grammer)) is the most unlikable, unrelatable and despicable group you will ever encounter on television.  We absolutely hate these characters and want to see them all suffer yet we are uncontrollably compelled to keep tuning in.  What’s worse is that we keep trying to find some glimmer of humanity in these people and just when they seem a little vulnerable and – well, human – it’s gone as quickly as it came.  They are downright disgusting without ANY redeeming value and when they try moralize it just makes that impression worse.

In fact these characters are so awful that even though we recognized early on how well the show was written and how good the drama was, we were planning on suggesting that people pass on this simply because you feel dirty after watching it.  Then we got to the fourth episode and all bets were off and we recognized that this show is indeed the guiltiest of guilty pleasures and you can’t help but to fall in love with it.

Boss is absolutely epic and Shakespearean to the point that you realize if Shakespeare were alive today, he wouldn’t have written about Julius Caesar in Rome, he would have written about Tom Kane in Chicago.  The whole cast is absolutely brilliant in this with Grammar leading the way to shake off the Frasier Crane role once and for all and be recognized for the brilliant dramatic actor that he is.  And we have to say, this show is way more clever than we are because we were sure that the subplot regarding Kane’s estranged daughter was going to drag down the show but it turned out to be perhaps the most important aspect in understanding the nature of Tom Kane.

The only issues we have with the show are issues that most people would probably just overlook but we’ve been a around the block a few times and realize when we are being obnoxiously and cheaply hit over the head with a plot device.

The first issue is that Shakespearean dialogue that is laced ad nauseum with allegorical metaphors that often involve long, drawn-out historically relevant monologues that are designed to imply a connection to the current situation on the show and make the audience go, “Hmmmm… now I get it.”  What bugs us about this is that it’s a device that’s been used time and time again on dramatic television and Boss seems to overuse it as if they think the audience isn’t smart enough to get what’s going on without a PowerPoint presentation.  It’s a little insulting to us and we hope that they won’t beat that horse to death in season two like they did in season one.  We don’t mind its use but its overuse comes off as cheap and obvious, like the writers are overcompensating for an inability to write well and we know that’s certainly not an issue.

Speaking of being hit over the head, although we don’t mind beautiful naked women on television, Boss seems to be gratuitous about it, adopting the HBO mantra of “we do it because we can.”  In the past we’ve pointed out with HBO that the excessive use of sex, violence and profanity on their original programming has become a gimmick due to the fact that a lot of the writing on their shows isn’t what it used to be.  As noted, Boss doesn’t have this problem.  The characters are excessive and gratuitous all by themselves without the need for random nudity and sex scenes every five minutes.  Again, not that we mind T & A, it’s just that the excessive nature of it is a little unbecoming for the show and serves to cheapen it, slightly.

The only other issue that we have had is that the big, sudden twist at the end of the first season wasn’t really that much of twist.  We saw it coming because in the era of dramatic series that thrive on plot twists, the last guy you would expect should always be the first guy that you suspect.  Don’t get us wrong, there were enough other fantastic plot twists during the first season (especially during the last four episodes) to more than compensate for the “big one” so it really doesn’t bother us that much and it won’t bother you either and in fact, like we said, we just happen to be more attuned to these things, most people will still probably be surprised.

As much as we hate everyone on this show, Boss is by far one of the best shows on television.  You will not regret watching it and we think it’s a reason in and of itself to subscribe to Starz if you don’t already have it.

A note to Netflix subscribers:  Keep in mind that the Netflix/Starz content deal expires in January 2012 and will not be renewed.  The current contract has Starz programming airing sixty days after the final episode of a series airs, i.e., Boss will not be available for streaming on Netflix so the only way that you will be able to see it legally is on OnDemand through your cable provider, when it’s released on home video or through iTunes.