Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Let's Talk About Rambo: Episode 8: SAVAGE Island

Image may not represent the actual activities available on SAVAGE Island.
This episode begins with Rambo facing his most deadly enemy yet: military red tape! He's been called to a base because SAVAGE has created its own island from which to launch nuclear missiles at the rest of the world: SAVAGE Island, but the MP gate guard won't let him into the base because his credentials have not yet arrived.

So instead of doing something reasonable, like calling Col. Trautman to straighten it all out, Rambo enacts a different, more Rambo-like plan: He has Turbo take off in a plane, then jumps up and grabs the landing gear and slowly climbs on the plane while it's in flight until he can get inside.

The wind resistance from his cut-off hoodie added a degree of difficulty.
They crash land on SAVAGE Island and a tree falls through the windshield onto Turbo, meaning that Rambo must face the dangers of SAVAGE Island alone, which, to be fair, is probably just how he likes it.

The first danger? The plane has crashed into the middle of an alligator-filled river. So he grabs a vine and swings to safety while kicking an alligator in the face!

The next danger? A cliff! How to get to the bottom? Rambo simply climbs into a hollow log and rolls off the edge. The log protects him during the fall, you see.
This will do nicely.
Remember, in just the previous episode, he free-climbed down an equally steep cliff, which was also icy, and he was carrying someone with altitude sickness! So I think he was just showing off with this log trick.

Then! He's in the log at the bottom of the cliff. Instead of climbing out of it, he just flexes his muscles really hard and the log explodes. Then he does a kip up and walks away.

ONLY TO BE ATTACKED BY A BLACK PANTHER! He wrestles around with it for a bit before apologetically tying its mouth shut with string.
Maybe it's twine, I don't know.
Rambo finally finds the hidden base on SAVAGE Island and has to infiltrate it.

Meanwhile, back at the crashed plane, an anaconda is attacking Turbo and KAT! Turbo literally ties it in a knot and then throws it into the river. They get the plane fixed and take off just in time to see the launch of a nuke! KAT is ready to blast it out of the sky, but wait! Rambo is riding the nuke!

She fills him in on how to disable the warhead, then he sends the missile back to sender (by turning the dial on the guidance system 180 degrees, naturally). Even without an active warhead, the missile still explodes when it hits the base. 

Mission accomplished.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Let's Talk About Rambo: Episode 7: Trouble in Tibet

Given that title and Rambo's penchant for freedom, I thought this might be the first episode of the show to have a plotline ripped from the headlines of real life. But China is not even mentioned in the episode.

Instead, the show seems to imply that Tibet's troubles only began recently, when SAVAGE showed up to kidnap the child who will become the future Dalai Lama. Their plan: to hold him hostage until the Tibetans reveal the location of King Solomon's legendary gold mines.

So, of course, Rambo is brought onto the case. For some reason, though, Col. Trautman doesn't drop him off at the top of the mountains, so Rambo has to hike all the way up.

He hires a local guide who is so inept that I started to wonder if he was actually a SAVAGE agent. But no, he was just a really bad guide. For example: When Turbo gets buried by a small avalanche, the guide says they have to get him out of there "before he freezes!" Apparently the guide thought Turbo could breathe just fine in there. Then the guide himself almost gets crushed by a falling ice spike, only to be saved by Rambo. Then, when KAT is suffering from altitude sickness but refuses medical attention because she wants to prove herself as tough as any of the men, the guide brushes off Rambo's very reasonable concerns until things get so bad that Rambo has to carry KAT down the mountain by himself.

Not that that was a problem.

At this point, he's earned the guide's respect, who calls Rambo "a man for this mountain!"

Things don't get any easier when Rambo (solo, of course, since those other losers were just holding him back) finally makes it to the Tibetan village. I thought the Tibetans were a peace loving people, but the first thing they do when Rambo shows up is put him into an arena battle with the toughest Tibetan ever! Rambo defeats him, so the spectators throw him a knife and demand he FINISH HIM.

Jesus Christ, these Tibetans are bloodthirsty.

Rambo refuses, and for his disobedience, they make him run across a glacier while being chased by a jungle tiger. Rambo outsmarts the tiger and traps it in an ice cave.

Did I mention that they didn't let him wear shoes?

So, having finally earned the respect of the villagers, Rambo returns just in time to get the keys to Turbo's newest vehicular invention: the Rocket Sleigh!

From there, it's a simple job to infiltrate SAVAGE's mountain fortress and rescue the Dalai Lama. The Rocket Sleigh is tragically destroyed in the subsequent helicopter battle, but Rambo quite easily finishes off his opposition with an automatic rifle, and all is well in Tibet.

Except for that whole Chinese rule thing.

Monday, May 26, 2014

The WCCW Report: Episode 56: Kerry Is So, So Dumb

January, 1983: Two weeks ago, the Freebirds screwed Kerry Von Erich out of his chance to beat Ric Flair for the World Heavyweight Championship. This week, announcer Bill Mercer finally has a sit-down interview with Kerry in the fern-filled WCCW studio. Why didn't we hear from him last week? Was the pain still too near? Did he suffer a vocal chord injury from the vicious attack in Reunion Arena? Or is it because it takes more than a dozen days for Kerry to mentally compose a complete sentence?

As he tells Mercer about how disappointed his mom and dad are, and how he was planning to win the title on behalf of "the United States and the world" (a little presumptuous! I'm sure Ric Flair had plenty of fans!), I realized that I've never heard someone sound more like an idiot than Kerry Von Erich. He speaks like an intelligent caveman who's been brought to the future and has been studying English for 10 years—he understands most words and concepts of language, but his primitive mouth can't quite form all the words correctly.

Kerry also reveals that he hasn't even watched the tape of the match yet, and isn't really sure what happened. When they replay it for him, we get a picture-in-picture presentation of his reaction—pretty impressive production values for the time! Unfortunately, when he asks them to replay the cage door incident, they're unable, for some reason, to rewind the tape for several minutes. You win some, you lose some, I guess.

Finally, they're able to rewind and replay the moment when Terry Gordy slams the cage door on his head. Kerry's commentary on this moment: "BAM! Son of gun! Man I wish had him by throat right now." The more upset he gets, the more words he forgets to use in his sentences.

In his defense, though, Kerry is wearing a very luxurious-looking fur coat. Kind of takes away from his all-American image, but who knows, maybe he killed those animals himself on one of the patented Von Erich family hunting trips.

His final words of of the interview: "When we get you in the ring, baby, I ain't going out to hurt ya, I'm goin' out to cripple ya. And I guarantee ya that." That escalated quickly.

The in-ring action this week includes Gordy dominating Von Erich family friend Brian Adias (who's so bad the announcers can't be bothered not to call him "Brian Adidas" half the time), and, in the main event, King Kong Bundy squashing, as the ring announcer says, "From Samoa, the Samoan!" You know how you can tell when a wrestler is never going to win a match? When they don't have a name, just a nationality. More interesting is that in a pre-match interview, Bundy tells Mercer that he and "the man" won't let any of his matches be aired without written permission. Possibly the tamest threat I've ever heard!

Also, hilariously, it appears that Bundy was supposed to say something else during the interview, but forgot. Mercer keeps trying to prompt him ("I know you had something else to tell us!"), and Bundy tries to cover by claiming he has a lot of thoughts in his head, but doesn't always like to share them. I think we can all live with that.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

What's Rambo Doing on His Day Off? #3

John Rambo sits Indian-style on a frozen lake in the middle of winter, his eyes closed, meditating shirtlessly (not pictured).

As seen in Rambo: The Force of Freedom episode 7: Trouble in Tibet.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Let's Talk About Rambo: Episode 6: Subterranean Holdup

No time for a prologue here. This episode starts in medias res with Colonel Trautman filling in the team that he has heard that SAVAGE is in Chicago, and that more information might be had at the riverfront bar known only as "Bar At River Front," according to its sign.

Rambo goes there and gets into a fight with a non-SAVAGE-affiliated biker gang. After beating them all up (and throwing a jukebox at them!), he turns on the TV at the bar and the news is saying that there's going to be a delivery at the city's Federal Reserve building.

"Aha!" he says. "That must be what SAVAGE is after!"

Just think about that for a second.

He was sent to the bar to gather information on SAVAGE's activities. But instead he decided to beat up some bikers. Then he turned on the TV and decided that SAVAGE was after the first thing he saw on the broadcast. That has nothing to do with the bar!

But here's the insane part: He was right.

So thanks to a distraction, SAVAGE is able to invade the Federal Reserve and steal the printing plates used to print $100 bills. They assume that this will allow them to print billions of dollars and become rich. They escape into a series of abandoned railroad tunnels underneath the city. Rambo, Turbo and KAT follow them down there, using one of those classic railroad carts that has the double-handled lever that you need to pump up and down to make it go.

This lever gave Rambo more trouble than expected. Must've been rusty!
They're able to track SAVAGE down because all the rats in the city are terrified of them and are running away. So Rambo and company just go in the opposite direction of the rats.

When they find SAVAGE, General Warhawk and Rambo get into an underground helicopter chase! They eventually find their way above ground, and Rambo lets himself get shot down so as to prevent any collateral damage to the city.

Not sure why there's a public exit for a secret underground tunnel system.
 He doesn't have a parachute, so he just dives into the river... right next to Bar At River Front! He goes inside and requests to borrow one of the biker gangs' motorcycles. They are terrified of him and lend him one.

He puts a helmet on (always practice proper motorcycle safety, kids!) and chases after the SAVAGE chopper. Also, this motorcycle is not a badass hog, it's more like a '50 touring model with sidebags and everything.

Rambo follows the bad guys to a steel mill, where they are hiding the printing plates inside steel bars in order to smuggle them out of the country. Why does SAVAGE need to secretly smuggle these plates out of the country when they seemingly have a small army of vehicles that already allows them to secretly go wherever they want, whenever they want?

Good question. It is not addressed in the episode.

At this point, SAVAGE member Gripper shows up for a minute and, as usual, mucks everything up.
First, he thinks some random steel girders are the printing plates (clearly he has no idea what a printing plate is), much to the derision of Warhawk.

Then, as Gripper is driving a forklift that's carrying a small box with the steel bars/printing plates in them, Rambo drops a huge girder onto the ship where it's all happening, making the vessel rock a few degrees to either side. Gripper totally panics and somehow flips the forklift, ruining all the plans! 

Gripper! You only had like 20 feet left to go!
Rambo and company laugh as the SAVAGE has to run away, continuing this show's run of legendary episodes.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Murder She Wrote Recaps: Season One Finale: Funeral at 50 Mile

While visiting rural Wyoming to attend an old war buddy's funeral, Jessica is forced to reluctantly team up with a hayseed sheriff to solve a murder. He's read one of her books and pays her a compliment, saying she's a pretty good writer, "for a woman."

She also encounters a latino farmhand literally named "Hay-Soos."

Monday, May 12, 2014

What's Rambo Doing on His Day Off? #2

John Rambo seeks out the disadvantaged children of the nation of Tierra Libre and teaches them soccer tricks, such as how to roll the ball across your shoulders and down your arm (not pictured).

As seen in Rambo: The Force of Freedom episode 5: The Taking of Tierra Libre.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Let's Talk About Rambo: Episode 3: Battlefield Bronx

If you're anything like me, you've always wanted to see how John Rambo would fare in an urban combat environment. Well, it seems like the producers of Rambo: The Force of Freedom had the same idea, because they wasted no time in getting Rambo out of the biological jungle and into the concrete one.

The beginning of this episode sees President Mean Gene of Tierra Libre flying in a chopper with his kidnapping bait/daughter to the headquarters of the United Nations in New York. They're hoping for some international intervention, since SAVAGE just won't stop trying to invade their country for what we can only assume are its precious natural resources or the dangerous karate skills of its old ladies.

More importantly, though, since he's not currently on-screen, the rest of the characters are obsessed with the whereabouts of Poochie-oops-I-mean-Rambo. "I don't know [where he is]," Trautman says with a stoic look in his eye, "but I know he'll be there when you need him."

Sadly, we don't get to see what Rambo's doing on his off day this time. But sure enough, when SAVAGE starts shooting surface-to-air missiles at Prez, Rambo shows up just in time to throw his own plane in front of the chopper like he's taking a bullet for them.

Later, the conference in the UN building has barely begun when a battle breaks out! Showing that he's no stranger to urban warfare, Rambo quickly takes a (possibly a Chinese?) flag and turns it into a roped harpoon!

But the bad guys escape by collapsing a giant stone pillar on him. Then there's like a minute of close-ups of Rambo's bulging and quivering muscles as he tries to lift the pillar off himself––while the crowd just watches and doesn't help.

Now it's time to visit SAVAGE's secret base in "the south Bronx," which looks more like a bombed-out Sarajevo. It also has a lot of rural land surrounding it for some reason. I don't think the animators knew what the Bronx is.

Rambo's only option? To infiltrate their base by utilizing Turbo's experimental new rocket hang glider. As he's taking the rocket hang glider, Turbo goes, "Be careful! That hasn't been tested yet!!" 

And Rambo doesn't even acknowledge that he said anything. Very cold.

Meanwhile, one of the bad guys is really, really excited about his booby traps, which he is sure will ensnare Rambo. The traps consist entirely of:

1. A clearly-electrified barbed wire fence that stands about 4 feet high

2. A big hole in the ground that isn't even covered or anything

Rambo defeats him by dropping a giant boulder into the pit, the sound of which makes him think that Rambo himself has fallen in. Then, when he goes to look, Rambo just pushes him in.

Later, Rambo gets chained up in a dilapidated tenement building, and a SAVAGE guy lets rats loose to run around on him!!!

 But Rambo breaks the chains after another extended bicep-bulging scene, and throws all the rats (which aren't biting or anything, just crawling) onto the bad guy, who freaks out!
Mission accomplished. This is still the best show ever.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Murder She Wrote Recaps: S1E21: Murder at the Oasis

Who needs a futuristic alarm system when you have JB Fletcher? Jess visits some friends at a desert homestead in California, but when one of her hosts is killed mob-style, the rest of the household is certain their high-tech security system will sniff out the killer in no time. But they soon learn that all those large microphones and dozens of feet of audio tape don’t mean a thing if you don’t have a keen, deductive mind to interpret them.

Friday, May 2, 2014

What's Rambo Doing on His Day Off? #1

John Rambo slumbers peacefully in a simple fishing boat in a tiny forest pond, a book covering his face and a fishing pole at his side. He only awakens when Colonel Trautman hovers above him with a helicopter and yells down at him using a megaphone.

As seen in Rambo: The Force of Freedom episode 1: First Strike.