Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Riches: Season 2

Written by Senora Bicho

Season two of The Riches debuted on March 18, 2008 and consisted of seven episodes. The first season received critical acclaim including several Emmy nominations and was a ratings success as well. The second season received positive reviews but not the ratings; the series was canceled several months after the season ended.

The Riches is the story of the Malloy family, traveling con artists who have managed to steal the American dream after the accidental death of a wealthy couple. The season one finale included the arrival of Dahlia’s (Minnie Driver) cousin Dale (Todd Stashwick) looking for stolen money and Pete (Arye Gross), the best friend of the real Doug Rich, looking for answers.

Season two begins with the family on the run. They have drugged Pete and are about to take off for Mexico when they have trouble with the RV. Wayne (Eddie Izzard) and Dahlia go back to the house to get another car and Wayne decides to go in and bribe Pete. Dahlia takes off with the three kids and neighbor Nina (Margo Martindale) who has decided to run away from her boring life. Once back in the house, Wayne discovers that Dale has killed Pete. While Wayne is trying to figure out how to deal with Dale, his boss Hugh (Gregg Henry) shows up with a brilliant new moneymaking scheme. After some trouble ensues, Dahlia and the group are reunited with Wayne who convinces them to go back to Eden Falls for one last big score so that they can really live a normal life. The season ends with several cliffhangers that we will never know the resolution of which is disappointing.

All of the reasons that made season one so good are still in place in season two: an excellent cast, a well-written and interesting story, and unique characters. The heart of the show is a simple family drama about parents struggling with issues that arise with their children, relationships, and day-to-day suburban life. I thought season two was just as thought provoking and intriguing as season one and the performances just as brilliant. Minnie Driver is especially phenomenal; I can’t take my eyes off of her when she is on screen. Watching her character develop and the issues she faces and tries to overcome is the best part of the show.

There are certain aspects that I didn’t care for. I could care less about Hugh and his storyline for example, but overall the season is definitely worth watching. It is unfortunate that a show as original and well done as this didn’t make it while ‘The Bachelor” and other such nonsense continues to live on. If you didn’t get a chance to see season two when it aired, this is your chance to see what you missed.

The only special feature included is “Eddie Izzard: Revealed,” a featurette focused on Izzard’s character.


Written by Fantasma el Rey

Gulliver’s Travels was Max Fleischer’s and Paramount Pictures answers to Walt Disney’s Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs and is just as visually pleasing if not as overall entertaining. The Fleischer brothers, Dave and Max, with their studio were pioneers of many of the innovations used to further the art of animation and it shows in the work that they achieved with their 1939 masterpiece. Dotted with song and comedy, Part I of the classic Jonathan Swift tale is brought to life and delivers its still powerful message while providing seventy-seven minutes of cartoon entertainment.

The “giant” Gulliver loses his ship during a rough sea storm and is washed ashore in the land of Lilliput, which is inhabited by tiny little people that fit into Gulliver’s hand. Discovered while passed out on the beach by the fussy Gabby, Gulliver is finally set upon by the Lilliputians at the request of the king and brought to town. Once awake and after their initial fright the Lilliputians take to Gulliver very well, cleaning, shaving, clothing, and treating him to a feast and festivities of song and dance. Gulliver is also persuaded to aid the people against the attacking army of the king of Blefiscu. Now the whole feud between the two kingdoms started over what song was to be sung at the wedding of the prince of Blefiscu and the princess of Lilliput.

The kings could not decide, began to quarrel, and war was declared. Gulliver intervened only to stop any loss of life and not really to see one side win. After witnessing the young couples true love, Gulliver comes up with a plan to combine the two songs and bring the two warring kingdoms to peace again. Gulliver does help bring peace, but after the prince nearly loses his life while saving the giant’s, only then do the people of both kingdoms realize that fighting over a song is trivial and friendship is a better option. With all well again Gulliver and company build a small boat for him to sail off into the sunset on, back to the land of giants.

The film contains many great scenes and some good comic moments from the kings and mostly Gabby. Gulliver pulling ships together as they attempt to attack Lilliput is a sequence which has stuck in my mind since I saw the feature as a child on television as well the scene of the giant’s discovery. Gulliver himself is another aspect of the film that has always lived in my mind for the fact that he looks like a real human, through rotoscoping, and not a cartoon individual. The color is great and keeps the eye alive to the movements and scenery. The songs are okay, Gabby’s opening song and “It’s A Hap-Hap-Happy Day” are highlights. “Happy Day” is the centerpiece of the film and was used in numerous other Fleischer cartoons.

Entertaining even though the plot is, it’s a tad thin and the songs don’t pop the same way the Disney features do. Side by side with Snow White, Gulliver’s Travels does fall short. But with its antiwar message, goodhearted vibe and great animation, children should adore the film in the same way that generations before have.

As a DVD bonus there are two Gabby shorts (“Swing Cleaning” and “King For A Day”) that were pieced together from unused portions of the film and in that sense they are interesting but again lack the flair of other toon shorts of the time. A five-minute vintage documentary (“The Making Of A Cartoon”) on the Fleischer studios by the Fleischer studios is interesting to watch as we see the way animation studios used to work.

My one major problem with the disc is the menu. It’s hard to determine what chapter or feature you want to select or jump to; other than that the film and packaging are fine.