Life and class and all that jazz. But neither we nor the site are dead, and TarsTarkas.NET will return before you know it with more weird and wonderful trash and treasure from around the globe!
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Bear Left Then Bear Writer is a mixed bag episode, the storyline exploring the Kermit/Fozzie friendship is supported by two very weak B-plots, producing a show that has what may be the best long joke in the series so far, but makes us wander in the wilderness too long to get to it.
Kermit and Fozzie’s friendship isn’t really harped on that much in Muppets fiction, even though the two are always depicted as best friends. They just are friends, so an episode that gives some depth to the friendship is a welcome thing. We see Kermit’s reluctance to tell Fozzie the truth about his awful skit, first trying to hide from Fozzie, then lying so much Fozzie thinks he should quit his job and become a movie screenwriter, running off to the woods to work. Of course Kermit has to go bail him out of the latest jam, but not before we see via slideshow Kermit explaining how Fozzie helped him get out of a funk when he was striking out in getting Hollywood work.
The b plots are: Gonzo doing online dating, only he used a photo of the lesser Hemsworth brother on his profile and is meeting the lady, Debbie, later that afternoon. They use the Muppet influence to get Liam Hemsworth into their plot to do a switcheroo, except Liam decides he wants Debbie all for himself. They try to lead you away from the obvious conclusion by making Debbie a Muppet as well, but that wasn’t enough, and we get sadsack Gonzo as our payoff. =(
The Muppets returns with a strong followup to their pilot episode, and without the burden of the setting up the premise and the uncomfortable dating reality, they can get right to the wacky jokes and hijinks ensuing.
Miss Piggy is on the rampage lately, because she doesn’t have a date for an upcoming award show. Kermit has the solution: set her up with Josh Groban and have some peace at the office. This works a little too well, as now Josh Groban is in a position to offer suggestions for the show. Suggestions Miss Piggy is more than happy to force Kermit to implement, even if they mean the show’s quality nose dives into the crapper. Laurence Fishburne has a hilarious cameo complete with some sick burns (sick Fishburnes???) on the state of Miss Piggy’s show. That is enough for Kermit to step into action and try to de-Groban the area.
Killers on Parade
aka 夕陽に赤い俺の顔 aka Yuhi Ni Akai Ore No Kao aka My Face Red in the Sunset
Written by Shuji Terayama
Directed by Masahiro Shinoda
Killers on Parade is a dark comedic flick that features a group of gimmicked hitmen and women as eventual adversaries to our plucky hero, who is on a mission to bring down a corrupt construction firm and the newspaper editor that is attempting to blackmail it. The plot is less important than the colorful characters that are part of the Downtown Killer Club. Killers on Parade is set in a garish comic book world filled with colors and items that bother to label themselves so you know what they are. The villains have gimmicks and costumes that leave you with no doubt as to their gimmicks and roles, and scenes are shot to play up common film locations. While things are overtly goofy, there is enough danger seeded to try to raise actual stakes, but this factor doesn’t seem to have aged well enough to make it to modern day without seeming like a distraction instead of an integrated part of the show.
The Murderers 8 present as a united front, but are fiercely competitive, though follow a sense of honor when being assigned jobs, preventing others from interfering and disrupting all their down time. Despite all the characters having day jobs, all they seem to do all day is hang out with each other and get into marksmanship competitions. The Murderers 8 include (please excuse the lack of names for some, they just didn’t get their name mentioned out loud!):
- Hong Kong, a Yakuza gangster stereotype in black suit, who is the most dangerous of the group.
- Senti, a gun champion.
- The bespectacled Doctor, who handily always carries around a black bag that says “Doctor” on it in English.
- Sergeant, a former soldier.
- An Older Guy who appears to dress as a shrubbery cutter.
- A Sports Guy who wears jerseys and during the final battle, a full football uniform and helmet.
- Scarf Guy, whose gimmick is he has a scarf (Okay, they didn’t have time to give everyone personalities!)
- Nagisa (Kayoko Honoo), the lone female killer who often dresses in red and has a pet goat named End. She ran off from home to be a killer, but is starting to grow disillusioned with the lifestyle.
The overall tone is comedic with random bursts of song, providing a send up of the then-recent spate of neonoir/borderless action flicks in Japanese cinema, dosed in wonderful technicolor and layered in sensible silliness. Things seem to make both perfect logical sense in universe, but are also ridiculous when you stop to think about them. The killers demonstrate their marksmanship by shooting at an apple on a kid’s head before the credits. Later they have another shooting competition at the race track to see who gets the new contract.
I am a huuuuuuuuuuuuuuge Muppets fan, so of course this will be the series I’ll be reviewing as it airs from now on, as Sleepy Hollow decided to go on a sophomore slump that cratered deep into the ground, along with my interest in the show. After a successful movie and a less than successful movie, the Muppets return to tv with their new series, The Muppets. It’s done in a pseudo-documentary format in the same vein of The Office, except instead of Jim and Pam (or Tim and Dawn), we got Frog and Pig!
Miss Piggy is hosting a late night talk show (which means as of this show airing, only female late night talk show host is a pig Muppet played by a guy, as Samantha Bee’s show doesn’t premiere for a little while longer!), Fozzie is her sidekick/announcer/insult target, Kermit is the executive producer, Gonzo is the head writer (with Pepe and Rizzo), The Electric Mayhem is the house band, Sam the Eagle is working for ABC’s standards and practices, Scooter is a talent coordinator, Bobo is a stage manager, Swedish Chef does the catering, other Muppets do background work on the show, and Rowlf is supposed to own the bar they all hang out at after work (not show in this episode!)
The show gained a bunch of viral buzz due to the announcement of Miss Piggy and Kermit’s breakup, and Kermit subsequently dating a new pig named Denise. The fallout was hilarious, even if we are totally Team Miss Piggy here at TarsTarkas.NET. The breakup is the worst part of the series, even if I understand that they did it in order to have an actual romantic plot with the main characters. It lead to a huge group of people upset because the Muppets are being given actual romantic plot lines, and the plot lines aren’t the ones that are classically associated with the characters. But as a fan of Kermit and Piggy together, it is sad, and will take some getting used to. (And we all know they will be back together by season 2!)
3 Seconds Before Explosion
aka 爆破３秒前 aka Bakuha 3-Byo Mae
Screenplay by Hideichi Nagahara
Based on the novel by Haruhiko Oyabu
Directed by Motomu Ida (as Tan Ida)
3 Seconds Before Explosion uses the basic war treasure plot we’ve seen from flicks such as Black Tight Killers, but dials back the ridiculousness to try to become more James Bond than anything else. Yabuki (Akira Kobayashi) is the secret agent hero who fights to solve the case, which contains a bunch of kidnappings and treasure hunting in between the random action scenes.
At this point Akira Kobayashi was at the height of his popularity, having helmed multiple series for Nikkatsu, even becoming a pop star along the way. When you work through Nikkatsu’s Borderless Action films, you’ll see him just as often as Joe Shishido pops up, sometimes alongside Joe Shishido. While Shishido may have the fake cheeks that somehow made ladies swoon, with his natural good looks and bad boy charm, Kobayashi is much better suited to play a suave secret agent type that would have a numerical code name. When each actor walks into a nightclub scene and stands around smoking, Shishido looks like he’s sizing up the room to beat everyone up while Kobayashi just looks so cool he make everyone else look like rabble.
The comparison to Black Tight Killers bears repeating, because not only is there a war treasure, but people related to those involved in hiding the treasure are kidnapped. This time the villains are part of an international gang lead by a rapist German named Galen (Galen the German??), and the treasure belongs to the made up new nation of Rabaley. This switch from the treasure being ostensibly owned by Japan lowers the stakes, because nobody cares if a fake nation gets a random treasure. In fact, you might cheer for them to not get the treasure, because I hear Rabaleans are a bunch of jerks. Allegedly. Please don’t invade me, mighty Rabaley!