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Wicked Wednesday: The Scooby-Doo Show “A Menace in Venice” (1978)

As this post goes live, I’ll be lounging about somewhere in Italy. Lord help us all (especially you poor Italians) as my family traverses the country with the Italian-speakings skills equal to that of a Basterd. But I really do love Italy.

So why the hell not do something Italian themed this week? Write about a giallo film? Pass. Finally get around to watching that copy of The Beyond that has been sitting on the shelf since the summer sales? We’ll pass on that too.

Why indulge in something great when you can have The Scooby-Doo Show? Actually a pretty fun episode in a sort of overly-stereotypical sort of way, as most Scooby-Doo is. This episode from 1978 offers all the good stuff: wacky chases, inexplicable trap doors and (of course) pizza.

The gang are in Venice after an invitation from a friend, Antonio, who studies art AND owns a pizzeria! The gang arrive just as a figure steals a medallion from a statue in the opera house.

The medallion, one of four, belongs to Antonio’s family, and have they’ve been passed down for generations. When the gang arrive in the city, Scooby and Shaggy spot the medallion thief, a hooded figure on a gondola by the name of the Ghostly Gondolier.

Scooby and Shaggy and all the luggage end up in front of Antonio’s pizzeria where everyone else is waiting. Greeting them is Antonio, who has one of the triangular-shaped medallions around his neck. He explains to the gang that he had a famous ancestor, Doge Malvolio IV, who had a vast treasure. Only the fortune was lost and all that remained was the medallions.

After receiving the news about the stolen medallion, Antonio takes the group to look at the portraits of his ancestors. He tells them that the only painting missing is that of Malvolio. Velma notes that the people in the portrait all have something in common with Antonio – their green eyes. But Scoob and Shaggy see a painting on the wall and instantly recognise the subject as the figure on the gondola.

Professor Salari, Antonio and his friend Mario’s professor, tells the gang that the figure in the painting is that of the ghostly gondolier. The gondolier was sentenced to life imprisonment during Malvolio’s rule. He vowed to haunt the city forever. With the gondolier’s help, Malvolio’s enemies attacked the city and overthrew him, but the fortune vanished.

Daphne tries on the medallion after hearing the story, and is almost immediately attacked by the Ghostly Gondolier. She’s grabbed and locked in a dungeon.

The rest of the gang plus Antonio and his friend Mario decide to split up and look for Daphne. Velma then finds her first clue in the form of a small canister.

Back at the academy, they decide to look for the missing portrait of Malvolio, which they think will hold a clue to the medallions. During their search, Mario is grabbed, supposedly mistaken for Antonio. After Mario disappears, Antonio does as well, and Velma finds some red plastic on the ground – yet another clue for the only sleuth in the team.

They follow the phantom’s footprints into the basement and find a gondola. They chase after the Ghostly Gondolier in another gondola, but the ‘ghost’ takes his staff and creates a hole in the bottom of their boat. Scooby accidentally goes flying, and ends up through a trap in the wall. He hits the fireplace, turning it around. Scoob finds both Antoinio and Daphne, and portrait of Malvolio is revealed on the other side.

The portrait reveals that the four medallions actually connect to form one piece. The gang also notice that a symbol of the medallion is on a pillar in the painting, pointing the group to the Piazza San Marco.

When they arrive, they see the Ghostly Gondolier running down the steps revealed by the trap door. They gang slip in behind the ghost and see that he’s found the lost treasure, but they’re caught spying when Scooby sneezes.

The Ghostly Gondolier is eventually caught when he is trapped in a deflated inflatable gondola. The hood is removed to unveil Mario, who Velma says is also a descendant of Malvolio, but wanted the treasure all to himself. He hid the family’s signature green eyes with red contacts (for brown eyes), and used CO2 to inflate his inflatable gondola for a quick escape.

After another mystery solved, the gang sit down to eat. Scoob and Shaggy both end up in the canal chasing their food. Just like I probably will – because no one can let a good sandwich go.

I’ve only been to Italy once before and I’ll be in the Northern part, where I’ve never been before. I’ve long dreamed of a trip like this, but I can’t help but worry. Will there be large amounts of thieves and ghosts around? Does everyone in Italy own a pizzeria? As an American, am I only capable of eating cheese burgers and using bad language skills?

Thank goodness we have casual stereotypes to sort us out.

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An American’s summer in America

Well, it’s that time of the year again. I’m off to Wisconsin for a few weeks to see my family and friends. I have plenty of content scheduled (including a new Are You Afraid of the Dark? rewatch/recap series), but that does mean that I probably won’t be getting to any comments.

I’ll be back before the end of June, though, ready for some more terrible films and cheesy Canadian television!

But in the meantime, I’ll be soaking up that gorgeous sun that’s evading London and the moment and listening to more classic radio than I probably should.



See all ya’ll in June!

MCM London Comic Con 2017 preview

Friday has become Riverdale day for me. Without it, I feel I great sense of loss. But all good things must come to an end… and thankfully there’s plenty of things around the corner to fill that hole in my heart.

COMIC CON IS BACK, KIDS!

MCM London Comic Con will return to the Excel Centre for another three-days of pop-culture goodness. And this time, the minds behind the con have plenty of great things to see.

For one, the one and only Lloyd Kaufman will be in attendance to help promote the British film Essex Spacebin as well as the video game Victor Vran: Motörhead Through the Ages. It’s always a pleasure to see this man, and well worth meeting even if you’re a Troma virgin.

And to really fill that Riverdale emptiness, Archie Andrews himself AJ Kappa will be in London. And for another show that my heart belongs to, both Tam siblings from Firefly. Considering how dedicated of a fan base Joss Whedon has, their panel is bound to be a highlight (if not a personal one).

But the con continues to have a little something for everyone. Doctor Who companions Billie Piper and Catherine Tate will both grace London. And if you’re a more classic sci fi fan, Sam Jones (Flash Gordon), Lou Ferrigno (the Hulk) and Nichelle Nichols (Uhura of Star Trek) will all be appearing all weekend.

New this year is the Forbidden Planet’s author corner, which will be hosting some of the UK’s best science fiction and fantasy writers.

MCM London Comic Con will be May 26 to the 28th. Weekend priority tickets are sold out (and Saturday nearly gone). But you can still purchase day tickets here.

Mystery Science Theater 3000 is back and we can all breath easy again 

It’s back! 

After a successful Kickstarter campaign, cult favourite TV show Mystery Science Theater 3000 is now back and available on Netflix. 

I have to say, as a big fan of the originals (and Rifftrax) I was pretty worried that they they couldn’t pull this off, even with creator Joel Hodgson on board. But after watching the first few episodes since they were made available on April 14th, I’m feeling much more reassured. 

The episodes are good! Hooray! Though I doubt any of the new episodes will crack anyone’s top ten, they certainly have a lot to like. Especially once you get over the more irritating changes (Tom Servo flies, Gypsy has a “normal” voice and Crow’s new body is terrifying). 

For one, it feels modern. And the skits are pretty spot on (certainly much better than the riffing in the early episodes). But things are as silly and nerdy as always. Oh, and the films picked are absolutely hilarious all on their own.

The new cast do a pretty good job, too. Jonah Ray isn’t as easily likeable as previous hosts Hodgson and Mike Nelson, but he does a satisfactory job. I even like Felicia Day in this! I was a bit irritated by decision to cast big names, but it was a decision made to pull in a new audience. And if that means more fans of MST3K, then welcome. 

The premise of the show is hardly changed at all. A man and four robots are stuck on the Satelite of Love in an evil experiment where they’re forced to watch bad movies. Nothing changed here dramatically that could offend fans of the originals. 

It’s a pretty damn good revival. But I’m mostly happy that it’s bringing this show back to the forefront of things. MST3K has always been a niche show, but television today is better than it ever has been for niche. May the future be bright. 

In memory of Mary Tyler Moore

mary-tyler-moore-opening-credits

When I was stranded in Wisconsin during a rather low-point in my life, I had one woman I knew I could turn to: Mary Tyler Moore.

I spent hours sitting in front of my laptop watching episode after episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show being comforted by her smile, her charm and her radicalism.

Mary Tyler Moore has passed away today at the age of 80, and it feels a tiny bit like losing a friend. She was a warm blanket that will live on in her work. I’ll be endlessly grateful for her.

“Pain nourishes your courage. You have to fail in order to practice being brave.” – Mary Tyler Moore 1936-2017

Happy Christmas from American of London!

Happy Christmas from American of London! Hope you and your loved ones have a safe and happy holiday. I’m enjoying my first Christmas with my family in almost four years. Plus, I’m in Texas for the first time ever which means I guess means that I should be saying things like “ya’ll have a merry Christmas now, ya hear?” Or something.

I’m off to a day full of Christmas cookies and translating my husband’s Yorkshire accent into American and turning Wisconsin into “normal words.”

Merry Christmas, all!

MCM Comic Con 16, Day 1: Two Ians, Iron Man in the hands of the Irish and an horrific Italian (almost)

This Friday was the first day of the Autumn MCM Comic Com in London. It was an unusually quiet day for the convention, but there were still some great names from the realm of DC Television to some of Britain’s best indie shows and films. 

But early on in the day were two familiar faces to MCM, Game of Thrones actors, Ian Gelder (Ser Kevan Lannister) and Ian Beattie (Ser Barristan Selmy).

The pair of actors reminisced about their time in set, but mostly spoke about their theories to the ending of the much-loved game-changing series. A bit like watching a pair of fans, but the most charismatic ones you could find.

Beattie noted that the only good thing about not being on the show was not knowing what was coming next for the story. 

As a large fan of the show and the “genius storytelling” that goes on, Beattie mentioned how he had never read the books, which he says he won’t read until series author George R.R. Martin publishes the 6th series or gets near to publishing the series. “I’m not doing Harry Potter again,” said the Northern Irish actor.

But like many of the fans anxious for the next instalment of the series, both Ians agreed that they hoped the book would diverge from the television series, but all ending at the same place with whoever ends up on the Iron Throne. 

Through apologise to Gelder, your dreams of seeing Bron on the throne may be a distant one.

Also at the con was popular Irish author Eoin Colfer talking about his upcoming Marvel novel Iron Man: Gauntlet

Instead of doing a lot of research, Colfer set his YA novel in his familiar setting of Dublin. It was also his way of usurping many of Marvel’s strict rules about what a writer can do with their universe.

The 1980s-fuelled novel serves as a way to look at the iconic Tony Stark character in a way that comics and films can’t. 

Colfer took the time to fill the book with references for 40-year-old dads and small details that fans may not have considered before.

The Artemis Fowl author, whose first love was graphic novels, made sure to include the Mandarin, a character he feels didn’t get justice in the film series.

Iron Man: Gauntlet is now out.

An interesting choice of guest was Italian composer Fabio Frizzi, who unfortunately had delayed flight, was unable to make his panel. 

It was great to get a horror legend at a  London con, even if I was unable to see him. Frizzi is best known for his scores for iconic horror films from Italian horror director Lucio Fulci including Zombi 2, City of the Living Dead and The Beyond. 

Frizzi will playing liveat the Union Chapel on Sautrday the 29th.

A big disappointment was that the convention booklets were printed with the wrong times. Thankfully there were handouts with the correct schedules, but me and my partner in crime, Virginia, we’re not informed – even at the press room. Really shoddy as it completely messed up our schedules. But alas, on to brighter days tomorrow with a (hopefully) correct schedule.

And as Virginia said, “It wouldn’t be MCM if it wasn’t confusing and weird.”