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Friday, September 30, 2016

Jem Reviewed: Episode 28 - The Talent Search, Part Two

Previously on Jem Reviewed, Shana left the Holograms to work for a super diva named Liz Stratton, prompting Jem and the Holograms to find a new drummer.  The contest prompted the Misfits to recruit a new member themselves in the form of British sax player, Jetta.  Meanwhile, two semi-finalists have emerged to join Jem and the Holograms; the shy but sweet Raya, and Craig, who seems to have a crush on Aja.  But when Raya finds out that Jem is really Jerrica Benton, she's faced with a moral dilemma...especially when Eric Raymond is promising her anything she wants if she'll reveal who Jem really is.

Fortunately, as we begin Episode 28 - The Talent Search, Part 2 - Raya decides that she can't betray Jem's confidence and walks out on Eric.  Of course, she didn't really tell Eric to go flock himself.  Rather, she says that she'll think about it.  Seems like there's a fighter inside of Raya waiting to get out, but for now that fighter remains dormant.

At Starlight Music the following day, Jerrica, Kimber, and Aja are talking about the big contest which will feature Raya and Craig in a drum duel to determine which one will win the chance to join the Holograms.  The three of them wonder what Shana would think of this and they decide to invite her to the drum duel.  Whoa...way to rub salt in the wounds, ladies!  No wonder Shana has to be the sensitive one!

Okay, okay...I get that they are doing it to make Shana feel that she is still a part of their family, which is sweet.  But when Jerrica tries to talk to Shana on the phone, Shana is so busy with trying to satisfy Ms. Stratton's eight hundred demands that Shana unintentionally blows her off.  Jerrica shrugs her shoulders and tells Kimber and Aja that she's vurry busy, not realizing just how much hell Shana is in.

And before you can say "The Devil Wears Prada", Liz Stratton is in Shana's face about how her co-stars have better outfits than her, and she rips Shana's designs in half right in front of Shana's shocked face.  Liz then tells Shana to make her look better than everyone because she's Liz Stratton and she's much better than the peons she works with.  Okay, she doesn't exactly say this, but you know that's what she's thinking.  And Shana's thinking that she made the biggest mistake of her life.

It's another reused song.  This time, it's "Show Me The Way", originally seen in Episode 7.  I said before that there is nothing wrong with the song, but that it lacked a little oomph.  I still feel that way about the song, but Shana's confusion over taking the dream job that turned into a nightmare, and trying to find a way to come back to the Holograms definitely illustrates the meaning of the song very well.  So far the repeat songs seem to have better videos for Season 2 as they did with Season 1.

Let's peek into Misfits Music now, where the Misfits are giving Eric grief over being unable to convince Raya to spill her guts about Jem.  But Eric hasn't given up.  His next target is Craig Phillips, and Eric is determined to make Craig talk.

Conveniently, Craig happens to walk into the offices of Misfits Music with Stormer.  And if the blue hair on both of them isn't any clue to the real relationship between Craig and Stormer, I don't know what else I can do.  Turns out that Craig Phillips is Stormer's older brother.  And Craig volunteers that Stormer's real name is Mary!  Yeah, Mary Phillips sounds like either a folk singer or a member of a Motown group.  No wonder she adopted the stage name of Stormer!

Naturally, Eric makes the same offer to Craig that he did with Raya the night before, but Craig instantly tells him to flock off.  And besides, it's not as if Craig even knows Jem's identity anyway.

But here's where things start to get a little bit mean.  And it's new recruit Jetta that seems to get the ball rolling when she manages to convince Pizzazz and Roxy to tell Stormer that if she doesn't convince big brother Craig to help them, they will kick her out of the Misfits.  That is really cold.  Honestly, Stormer should probably tell them to flock off too.  But Stormer's self-worth is almost at rock bottom levels, so Stormer pathetically begs Craig to help Eric.  Because Craig loves his sister, he reluctantly agrees.  Okay, I'm gonna say it.  I hate Jetta.  I love the actress who plays her, but I hate Jetta.

Craig's plan to get Jem's identity involves him going on a date with Aja jogging through a park, and it seems as though a love connection has been made between them.  Craig admits his feelings for Aja, and Aja tells Craig that she hopes that he wins (which kind of sucks for Raya), and they share a moment.

Aw...isn't that sweet.  Well, at least it's sweet until Craig starts hitting Aja up about who Jem really is.  Aja, who is fiercely loyal to her band, naturally refuses to tell Craig anything, and Craig nearly tells Aja to flock off - but Aja surprises Craig by being understanding about it, and gently tells Craig that she made a promise to Jem that she would never tell and she has to honour it.  Craig's temper fades, and his heart melts into much over Aja's integrity, and the two of them play tonsil hockey as swans swim underneath the bridge they're on.  It's melodramatic, but how often does Aja even get screentime let alone a love interest?

Aja's integrity and compassion makes Craig so happy that he runs back to Eric's office and tells him to flock off, informing him that he will NEVER help him discover Jem's identity.  This angers Eric who is back to square one, and he makes the decision to try and work with Raya once more.  But he knows that Raya is difficult to read and that one false move will scare her off forever.

But wait.  Leave it to nasty Jetta to come up with an evil plan.  We don't exactly know what that plan is yet, but it involves a lot of dosh (slang term for money in the UK).  And Pizzazz and Roxy get a kick out of the fact that Jetta gets the dosh by pickpocketing Eric!  Yep, Jetta's a Misfit, all right.

While Jetta's evil wheels of scheming are turning in her head, Jem and the Holograms are gathered around a crowd of eager voters to watch the drum duel between Craig and Raya.  But of course, we can't have a drum duel without a song to play along with.  And I'll tell you...this season, the songs are definitely better.

It's hard to determine whether Craig or Raya did the better job, but one thing I can say is that "Beat This" is one hell of a song!  I think the thing that is awesome about this song is that it could also be sang by the Misfits with its lyrical content, but yet Jem and the Holograms make this song all their own.  That's a credit to Britta Phillips who definitely shows her talent here.  So far, the music is a major improvement over Season 1.  I hope this trend continues.

The way the contest works is that everyone is given a ballot.  They vote on which person they want to see win.  To prevent cheating, Jerrica has arranged to have an independent ballot counting service come in to count every vote, and the person with the most votes wins.  It's impossible to know which person did the best...but given that one of the two finalists was made into a doll and the other one wasn't - well, that should be a BIG clue.

While the drum duel is going on, Jetta is meeting with some unsavoury characters on a deserted Los Angeles city street.  Armed with Eric's cash, she bribes a local gang to do a task for her.  She gives half the money to the gang now, and will give them the other half when they provide proof that they did the job.  Uh-oh...this doesn't sound good.

The group breaks into Alonso Nurseries and armed with baseball bats and other assorted weapons, the group completely trash the place.  Windows are smashed, flowers are uprooted, topiaries are kicked (hmm, maybe they're related to Rio), and saplings are squashed.  Ah, so that's Jetta's horrible plan.  Destroy Raya's father's business and scare Raya into taking Eric's offer and revealing Jem's secret so that she can repair the damages.  It's cold, calculating, cruel...essentially, it's all Jetta.  I get the feeling that not even Pizzazz and Roxy would be that heartless.  And Stormer would outright stop this madness before it began.  Jetta's pure sociopath.  No wonder Roxy was right to be concerned!

Oh, and for proof of their destruction?  One of the creeps picks up a rare black orchid and tells the others that she'll love it.  I'm sure we'll NEVER SEE THAT ORCHID EVER AGAIN.

Daylight falls and the damage to Alonso Nurseries is severe.  Everything is completely destroyed and Papa Alonso is heartbroken over the loss of his plants.  It's so heartbreaking to see Papa Alonso so hurt, and it only intensifies my hate of Jetta even more.  Raya is upset and remarks that it will take a lot of money to fix all the damage, and she remembers Eric's offer.  Despite her brother trying to get Raya to stick around, Raya makes the decision to take Eric's offer in hopes that he will pay her enough to fix the damage that Jetta was ultimately responsible for.

And I am only guessing that Stormer has no clue what Jetta did because her main concern is getting Craig to find out who Jem is.  I'm assuming that the pair are at Stormer's house, which is on a nice quiet street and looks nice and cozy!  Craig is confused as to why Stormer is not only determined to find out Jem's identity, but why Stormer would allow herself to be taken advantage of by the Misfits in the first place.  Finally!  Craig asks the question that we've been wondering the last 27 episodes!  Why would Stormer continue to stay with a band that treats her like garbage?  Craig doesn't understand why Stormer insists that she would be nothing without the Misfits - but then when Stormer tells Craig that the Misfits will throw her out of the group if Craig doesn't discover Jem's secret, his big brother instincts kick in, and he storms out of Stormer's house in an anger filled beeline towards Misfits Music! 

Craig arrives at Misfits Music just as Raya is inside Eric's office about to accept Eric's deal.  And Craig happens to overhear everything about how Raya's father's business was vandalized and how she needs the money to fix it, and he hears Eric tell Raya that he will help her if she tells him who Jem is.  Craig also happens to notice that Jetta is in the room wearing a gigantic flower in her hair.  A flower that happens to look like a black orchid.  I wonder if Raya has noticed...

You remember how I said that Raya had a fighter inside of her just waiting to come out?  At the sight of the black orchid in Jetta's hair, Raya instantly grabs the orchid and tries to yank Jetta's hair right out of her head!  Raya is absolutely pissed, and by all rights she has every right to be!  Jetta is screaming in pain, but Raya refuses to let go until Jetta confesses that she was the one responsible for destroying her family business.  Jetta relents and Raya shoves her into Pizzazz and Roxy!  Okay, whereas I completely hate Jetta, I absolutely LOVE Raya!  This girl can stay!  To add insult to injury, Roxy snaps at Jetta that her plan was a failure!

Raya spews even more anger at Eric, telling him that she almost betrayed Jem, but after seeing what kind of a slimeball he is, she will NEVER help him and that he can flock himself!  She storms out of the office and past Craig, who by this point is ready to tear Eric apart himself!

Instead, he grabs a desk lamp and physically wraps it around Eric's neck!!!  Wow, Season 2 of Jem is more intense than the last season!  Don't worry though, Craig doesn't kill Eric.  But Eric is so frightened by Craig's temper that he is willing to give Craig anything he wants.  What Craig wants is lots of money.  Money that he plans to use towards the repairs for Alonso Nurseries.

Craig then sets his fury towards Pizzazz, Roxy, and Jetta, and angrily lets them know that he thinks that they are garbage and that Stormer can do much better than them, but also knows how much being a Misfit means to her, so he won't do anything yet.  But he angrily tears a Misfit poster to shreds and warns them that if they hurt her in any way, they'll have to answer to him.  Now, I don't think Craig would wrap a lamp around their necks as he actually does seem to respect women, but he has made it perfectly clear that he won't tolerate their abuse.  And with that, Craig leaves the building, making it clear that the Misfits can flock themselves.

But not before running into Stormer, and reassuring her that everything is okay and that he has made sure that nothing bad will happen.  Amusingly, Eric, Pizzazz, Roxy, and Jetta are hiding behind a doorway when Craig and Stormer are having their final conversation.  Who's big and bad now, Misfits?

So, with that, Craig makes a decision.  Knowing that he will end up going against his own sister's band if he wins the contest, he announces that he is taking his name out of the running, which devastates Aja.  Aja wants to know where Craig is going.  Amusingly, Craig announces that he is going back to Europe where he can avoid conflict.  And, how many wars began in Europe over the last two thousand years?  Aja is about to cry, but she understands Craig's decision, and gives him her scarf to remember her by.  But Raya is less than happy, as it means that she will only win the contest by default.  But Craig's final words in this episode are directed to Raya, and he tells her that she has so much talent and heart to share with the world and that Jem and the Holograms can help her a lot better than they can help him.

Okay, can we keep Craig and kill off Rio?  Please?

So, with Craig officially out of the contest, it's time to find out who would have won.  And well...let's just say that Craig's decision to quit wouldn't have changed the outcome.  Raya is the true winner of the contest and she officially becomes the newest member of Jem and the Holograms!  And while everyone in the crowd cheers the new line-up for Jem and the Holograms, Papa Alonso cheers the loudest!  Aw...I love Papa Alonso!

So, Raya is now a Hologram.  And right about this time, Shana is really regretting walking away.  After Liz Stratton once more spews her venom at Shana, Shana finally remembers that she has a backbone and promptly tells Liz Stratton to flock off, to choke on her opinions, and to strangle herself with orange scarves!  And the newly unemployed Shana discusses her future with Anthony Julien and how uncertain it is.  Anthony reminds Shana that she can always go back to the band, but Shana figures that they've already picked their new drummer and that they have no use for her any more. 

Well, she's right about the band choosing the new drummer, and as the press is interviewing Kimber and Aja about the contest, a representative for the ballot counting company approaches Jem looking for Jerrica to pay them.  Jem ducks behind a curtain to do her "Show's Over, Synergy" spiel, but when Raya sees a couple of journalists approaching the curtain, she rushes towards Jem and warns her not to change!  Raya redirects the journalists to another area of the room and Jem gives Raya a "what the flock are you talking about" look.

In a secluded area, Raya reveals to Jem, Kimber, and Aja that she has known that Jem is really Jerrica Benton for several days now, and that she almost sold her secret to Eric Raymond after Jetta arranged for her family's greenhouse to be destroyed.  Aja stares in silence - still likely upset about Craig not being chosen - but she seems supportive of Raya.  And Kimber isn't shocked that Eric would go to such lengths.  But Jem is very proud of Raya for not sharing the secret and reassures Raya that they made the right choice in adding her to the band.  Kimber even expresses delight over introducing Raya to Synergy!  Raya's just thrilled to be accepted by the band, and I'm thrilled that a character with as much heart as Raya is here to stay. 

But when the Holograms return to Starlight Mansion and see Anthony's car parked outside, they are very confused.  Jem, Kimber, and Aja ask Anthony what's up and Anthony basically tells them that Shana told Liz Stratton to flock herself.  The girls are thrilled by the news because apparently schadenfreude isn't a part of their vocabulary.  But also they're thrilled because Shana can now come back to the group.  Anthony reminds them that they said that they didn't need her, but they tell Anthony that they only said this so that Shana wouldn't give up on an opportunity and that they really miss her, which causes Shana to come out of hiding and have a happy reunion with the rest of the band.

Sadly, Raya doesn't see this happy reunion as being all that good news for her, and she comes to the conclusion that being a member of Jem and the Holograms for an hour is the best she can hope for.  She quietly leaves Starlight Mansion and goes back home where she is happy to hear that Papa Alonso received an anonymous donation from a friend to fix the damage to the nurseries.  I'll bet that friend was a man with blue hair named Craig.  

Raya is sad though because with Shana rejoining the band, she feels that they don't need her any longer.  So, imagine Raya's surprise when Jem, Kimber, Aja, Shana, and Rio arrive with their musical instruments telling Raya that if their drummer didn't want to go to Starlight Mansion that they would come to her instead.  Jem is insistent that Raya stay on as their drummer because they like her and she's talented and she can rip flowers out of Jetta's head...oh, wait.  They didn't see that part.

Raya is still unconvinced, but it's Shana who really brings her into the fold, saying that now that Raya is their drummer, Shana can play the instrument that she wanted to play in the first place, so all is right with the world.

And what a fitting note that the last song of the episode is a song called "All's Right With The World".  Again, the song is fantastic, and I really have to say that it's a nice video.  It welcomes Raya to the band, and I particularly love the scene in which Shana is the one to pull Raya onto the train, as if she's giving her seal of approval to the fifth Hologram.

Okay, seriously, if this is how Season 2 begins, I'm kind of looking forward to the rest of it.  Raya is a fantastic addition to the Holograms, and I think she could bring some fire to the band that can sometimes seem bland.  Jetta is an evil witch of a character, but fits in with the Misfits very well.  And it's nice to see some characters get more of a background story, and the Stormer/Craig story arc was very well done.  The music has definitely improved from last season, and all things considered, this two-part episode has very little wrong with it.

Oh, and your Jem Trivia for today?  Raya is voiced by Linda Dangcil, whose biggest role prior to Jem was on "The Flying Nun".  Sadly, Dangcil passed away in 2009 at the age of 67 from throat cancer.

Next week, one of the Holograms in embroiled in a scandal!  But, which one?

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Sixteen Things I Like About Myself

Absolutely serious about this too.

I'm not going to really tag anyone here, because I don't think anyone should be forced to do this activity.  By all means, if you want to take part, I encourage it!   But, I think that we all need a reminder of all the good things that we like about ourselves.  Some may constitute this as a bragging note, but I personally see it as an exercise in building up self-esteem, and exercise that some people should do to remind themselves that they are important and that they do have worth in this world.

I'm going to come up with sixteen things that make  Even more importantly, I'm going to give sixteen reasons why I'm a great person to know...and hopefully, it will inspire all of you to look deep within yourselves and find those qualities that you like best about yourself.

So, let's begin.

01.  I've always been obsessed with colour, and I like the fact that I'm not afraid to show them off.

02.  I'd like to believe that when it comes down to common sense, I have quite a bit of it.

03.  I have my own home.  More importantly, I saved up for the down payment for four years to achieve it.  I don't believe in free rides.

04.  Although I am not religious, I do believe in trying to show goodwill towards others because I truly believe that good wins over evil.

05.  I've been informed that I have some of the neatest handwriting they have ever seen.

06.  I can come up with song parodies as fast as Weird Al Yankovic.

07.  I'm a great speller as long as I can avoid typographical errors.

08.  I always give 100% at work...though sometimes I wish it were noticed more...but hey, don't we all feel that way?

09.  I always follow my own path and try not to follow fads.  I don't need to buy the latest TV, I don't need to be attached to a Blackberry, and I always keep my underwear completely under my slacks or jeans.  It's called UNDERwear for a reason.

10.  I initially appear shy when people first meet me, but once I get to know you, it amazes even me how much I open up.  I'm just a little bit socially awkward.

11.  I've never smoked a cigarette, dropped acid, or done any serious out of control drinking.

12.  I can do Christmas shopping on a budget and still manage to pick out perfect gifts.

13.  I'm a great writer.  Or, so I'd like to think I am.

14.  I am a firm believer in standing up for what you believe in, and I most definitely do this.  Sometimes I don't even think of any repercussions that might come from it until after I say it, which can be impulsive...but again, I make no apologies given that I suppressed myself for too long in my youth.

15.  I enjoy writing this blog...mainly because I feel I can get my real feelings out a lot better through written works than if I try to talk to people face to face.

16.  Although it has taken me years to realize this...I have some awesome people in my life who will truly stand by me.  The only thing I wish was that some of them were a lot closer to me, but I know that regardless of geographical location, that they'll always be there for me...and it makes me smile.

So, there's my 16 things.  What are yours?

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

September 27, 1996

And just like that we've arrived at the final Tuesday Timeline for September 2016.  But fear not, I guarantee you that this one will be magical.

This will be your only clue for now.  Ponder on that while I list off some of the other historical happenings for September 27.

1590 - Pope Urban VII dies thirteen days after being chosen as Pope, making his reign the shortest papacy of all time

1669 - The Siege of Candia ends after twenty-one years

1777 - Lancaster, Pennsylvania becomes the capital of the United States - for one whole day

1822 - Jean-Francois Champollion announces that he has deciphered the Rosetta Stone

1905 - The equation E=mc^2 is first introduced in the publishing of Albert Einstein's paper "Does the Inertia of a Body Depend Upon Its Energy Content?"

1908 - The first production of the Ford Model T was built in Detroit, Michigan

1919 - Actress Jayne Meadows (d. 2015) is born in Wuchang, China

1920 - Actor William Conrad (d. 1994) is born in Louisville, Kentucky

1930 - Bobby Jones wins the U.S. Amateur Championship, which allows him to complete the Grand Slam of golf

1936 - "Soul Train" producer Don Cornelius (d. 2012) is born in Bronzeville, Chicago, Illinois

1940 - The Tripartite Pact is signed by Germany, Italy, and Japan in Berlin

1954 - "Tonight Starring Steve Allen" debuts on NBC - the show would later come to be known as "The Tonight Show", whose subsequent hosts would include Johnny Carson, Jay Leno, Conan O'Brien, and Jimmy Fallon

1956 - USAF Captain Milburn G. Apt dies shortly after exceeding Mach 3 in the Bell X-2 craft when the craft goes out of control

1959 - Typhoon Vera strikes Japan, killing five thousand people

1961 - Sierra Leone joins the United Nations

1965 - Silent film star Clara Bow passes away at the age of 60

1968 - "Hair" opens at the Shaftesbury Theatre in London and would host nearly 2,000 performances over the next five years

2000 - The first Olympic medal for tae kwon do was won by Michail Mourutsos during the Sydney Games

2001 - Fourteen people are killed and four more injured when a man goes on a shooting rampage in Zug, Switzerland; the gunman would later take his own life

2008 - P!nk's "So What" reaches #1 on the Billboard Charts

2015 - The television series "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" airs its final episode after a fifteen year run on CBS

And here is a list of celebrity birthdays for September 27.  Birthday greetings go out to Wilford Brimley, Al MacNeil, Kathy Whitworth, Randy Bachman, Barbara Dickson, Meat Loaf, Tom Braidwood, Graham Richardson, Peter Sellars, Shaun Cassidy, Marc Maron, Stephan Jenkins, Steve Kerr, Alexis Stewart, Don Jamieson, Tamara Taylor, Clara Hughes, Gwyneth Paltrow, Carrie Brownstein, Sophie Crumb, Lil Wayne, Ella Scott Lynch, Avril Lavigne, and Austin Carlile.

I also want to wish my niece, Asia, a happy 20th birthday today!  

And while she is NOT the subject of today's blog, her birthday happens to be today's Tuesday Timeline date.  September 27, 1996.

But what in the world happened on September 27, 1996 in pop culture?  Well, at the time, I was fifteen years old so I do remember that day well.  Aside from the birth of my niece, there was something else that I was looking forward to. 

It was the debut of a television show that as I mentioned before was quite magical in a way.  And considering that Halloween is coming up next month, I figure that now is a good time to bring up the fact that this television show was filled with magic and witchcraft, and its storylines often left the viewers feeling spellbound.

It's a television show that was based on a comic book character that debuted in Archie Comics in 1962, and while this character once had her own cartoon show in the 1960s and 1970s, this television series was the first time that the character had been seen in live action - well, aside from the introductory made for television film that aired earlier in 1996.

Yes, it was twenty years ago today that "Sabrina: The Teenage Witch" debuted on ABC!  Twenty years!  My goodness, I feel old just thinking about it!

And, yes...I will definitely admit to watching this show - well, at least for the first couple of seasons anyway.  What was interesting about this show's run was that it ended up running for seven seasons total - but on two different networks.  From 1996-2000, the show was part of ABC's TGIF line-up, but beginning in 2000, the show switched to the WB Network for the remainder of its run.  The final episode of the series aired on April 24, 2003.

Mind you, by April 2003, Sabrina wasn't a teenager any longer.  Neither was Melissa Joan Hart who played the role of Sabrina (she was 20 when the show began).  But yet somehow, I think that Melissa Joan Hart was a good choice for the role.  After all, the Sabrina comic book series (at least the one that was illustrated by Dan DeCarlo) showed Sabrina as being a positive, caring, happy-go-lucky character.  And certainly Melissa was capable of playing such a role.  Heck, she was the star of "Clarissa Explains It All" way back in the mid-1990s!

And I have to say that for the most part, the show stuck with the formula that worked in the comic book series.  Rather than having Sabrina living in Riverdale with Archie, Betty, and Veronica, she lived in the fictional community of Westbridge, Massachusetts.  And the reason for why she has magical powers is because her father's side of the family come from a long line of witches and warlocks, dating back to the Salem Witch Trials period. 

Sabrina discovers her magical powers on the morning of her sixteenth birthday when she finds herself levitating over her bed.  And after talking with her two aunts, Hilda (Caroline Rhea) and Zelda (Beth Broderick), she comes to accept the fact that she can now cast spells.  She also comes to learn that the family pet, a cat named Salem (Nick Bakay) can talk.  In reality, Salem was once a powerful warlock who had a spell put on him that transformed him into a cat because his power got the better of him.

TRIVIA:  Beginning in 1996, all Sabrina comics that featured Salem changed his colour from orange to black to fit the television show better.

Of course, Sabrina had more to worry about than trying to control her powers - the first three seasons of this show clearly showed that she COULDN'T.  She also had to balance her witch life from her normal life, and when you're a high school student, that's not exactly easy to do.  It's especially hard when you're falling in love with your crush, Harvey Kinkle (Nate Richert), but you're competing against Libby Chessler (Jenna Leigh Green) for his attention, that's definitely not a good feeling.

And certainly on Sabrina's first day of knowing that she's a witch, she never expected to get so angry with Libby that she accidentally transforms her into a pineapple in front of the whole school!  Fortunately, Hilda and Zelda come up with a plan to restore Libby back to normal while never revealing Sabrina's secret.  It's quite complicated to explain, but the pilot episode is where it all happened.

Now, over the course of the show, characters came and went.  Melissa Joan Hart and Nick Bakay were the only ones to stay for the whole series.  Caroline Rhea left the series to host her own talk show, with Beth Broderick following suit.  Nate Richert came and went.  And new cast members joined the show at various points including Martin Mull (Mr. Kraft), Soleil Moon Frye (Roxy), Elisa Donovan (Morgan), David Lascher (Josh), and Dylan Neal (Aaron).  And when the show switched from ABC to the WB, it was also a turning point for Sabrina as she left high school and started attending college.  But, that's really all I can say as I haven't seen too many episodes of the last three seasons of the show.  You had to pay the cable company extra to get the WB, and it just wasn't worth the money.  Which I suppose is why the WB is now known as the CW.

I have to say that overall the show did stay true to the comics - well, the first few years anyway.  And while the show was never really destined to win any Emmy Awards, you do have to admit that it was a show that could appeal to all audiences with its family friendly storylines and magical whimsy.  Consider it a 1990s version of "Bewitched" if you will...only Sabrina never had to wiggle her nose to cast a spell.

Besides, the television show launched a comic book reboot, a series of youth novels, a cartoon series, and even a few video games!  And at the time it was airing on TGIF, it was the highest rated series in the block - and this was during a time in which "Boy Meets World", "Family Matters" and "The Hughleys" were airing alongside the show.  That's quite impressive, no matter what your feelings were about the show.

Personally, I liked it a lot.  But then again, I like almost anything associated with Archie Comics.  I wonder if the "Riverdale" series that is set to air on the CW in early 2017 will have the same success as Sabrina did, given that it seems to be wanting to go after a completely different audience.  Who knows, really?

But two decades ago today, Sabrina was the belle of the witch ball!

Monday, September 26, 2016

Monday of Munsch - Love You Forever

It's the final Monday in September, which means that it's time for the final Munsch least for now.

I may revisit this author at another time in the future, but for now, let's savour this moment while we can.

I have to say that a good 90% of Robert Munsch's stories are hysterical to read and usually involve stories that expect you to believe the unbelievable.  From mud puddles jumping on top of you from trees to getting into a fight with your principal and teacher over a snowsuit, to making yourself invisible after attempting to scrub off super indelible markers from your skin, it's safe to say that most of his stories are fun tales that suspend reality.

But perhaps one of Munsch's greatest stories that he has ever written comes from a place in which he was probably at his saddest.

If you read his official biography at, you'll read one sad footnote amongst all of the fun stories that he has shared over his career.  When Robert and his wife were trying to start a family of their own, they had two children that were stillborn.  And the tragedy devastated both of them - which lead to the couple's eventual decision to adopt children. 

But if there could be a positive to come out of the tragedy of losing two children, it was this.  Robert wrote a song about his lost children, and the song was called "Love You Forever".

"I'll love you forever
I'll like you for always
As long as I'm living
My baby you'll be"

It didn't occur to him that song would one day become his biggest selling book - one that has been loved from generation to generation since it was originally published in 1986.

"Love You Forever" is the tale of a mother and her son, and how strong that mother's love grows with each passing year - no matter what sort of trouble the child seems to get into.

You know the kind of trouble I mean.  Flushing Daddy's wristwatch down the toilet, or tracking mud through the kitchen, or sticking gum all over the place, or bringing in strange animals as pets.  These are all things that would most definitely test the patience of any parent.

And yet every single night, the mother would sneak into the room of her son, pick him up, cradle him, and sing the "Love You Forever" song to him, showing him just how much she loved him - even if he wasn't conscious at the time.

Even when the young man grew older and moved out of the house, she would always come over every single night and sing him the "Love You Forever" song, even if it meant that she grabs a ladder, climbs up to his bedroom window and picks him up even though he likely outweighs her by a hundred pounds!

Okay, so maybe there was a little bit of Munsch humour added in.  Not a whole lot, but a little.

Now, here's where the story gets heartbreaking.  Eventually, the mother of our tale starts to get frailer, and although it's not really implied in the story, it's eluded that she has some sort of illness that prevents her from remembering the song that she used to sing to her son.  By that time, the son is now a full-grown adult with a family of his own, and in gratitude for all that she has done for him, he sings her the "Love You Forever" song with a little tweak in the lyrics...
I'll love you forever
I'll like you for always
As long as I'm living
My Mommy you'll be"

Are your eyes dry yet?  Give me a moment to dry mine.

I guess the moral of "Love You Forever" is that a parent's love for a child never dies.  I truly believe that to be true even long after a parent departs this world and leaves their children behind.

And while I am lucky enough to still have both of my parents, I know that one day I'm going to come to the grim reality that they are not always going to be there...but even though there may come a day in which they are no longer here, I know that their love will never truly die.  We carry that love with us and pass it on to future generations - well, those of us who are lucky enough to have children, that is.  Until then, if you're lucky enough to still have your parents in your life, spend time with them.  Let them know how much you love them.  Be there for them.

Love each other forever.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Body Age, 35. Soul Age, 99.

Have you ever heard of the phrase "old soul"?  It's a term that someone might use to describe a person who either acts as though they are older than they actually are, or it's a term that is used to describe someone whose morals and values might seem more mature than the average person.

It's a term that I have heard many times.  And the reason is because I feel as though I have an old soul. 

Growing up in small town Ontario, I always had great difficulty relating to people my own age.  I tried to be friendly with them, and sometimes they would respond back in kind, but when it comes down to it, I always found myself on the outside looking in.  It wasn't really anything that I feel that I did, it's just that I couldn't relate to them as much as I could adults.

I suppose part of the reason for my thinking could have been due to the fact that I wasn't really exposed to many children when I was younger.  In the first five years of my life, I think my family moved to four different neighbourhoods, so I never really had a chance to really get to know people as we were constantly moving.  And by the time my family finally settled on the street that I called home for fourteen years, there were no kids my age on the street at all.  It was 85% elderly residents.

I mean, don't get me wrong.  Many of those elderly people were nice people, and many of them gave me extra treats on Halloween whenever I went trick-or-treating as for many years I was the only child on the street.  But it made for a rather lonely childhood at times.

It wasn't until I started elementary school that I finally got the chance to interact with people my own age.  Unfortunately, the majority of the kids in my class already had a major head start in social skills than I had.  Many of them came from neighbourhoods with lots of children, or they were in daycare programs that allowed them access to other kids their age.  I never really had that experience, and I think it ended up being detrimental to trying to get along with people my own age.

Even at 35, I can probably count all the friends who were born the same year I was on both hands.  I just find it difficult to initiate conversation with people near my age because I feel as though I have nothing to offer in terms of conversation.  And that's nobody's fault.  It's just the way that I feel and my own individual experiences.

When I was a kid, it seemed to me that most of my friends back in those days were fully-grown adults.  I found that I could have better conversations with adult figures than I could with people my own age.  The guy who used to deliver bread to the convenience store was my friend.  The bank teller at the Bank of Montreal was my friend.  Any random person on the street that was older than me, I considered a friend.  Of course, I should reiterate that I just didn't go around the streets of my hometown talking to random strangers.  My parents would have never allowed that.

Thing is, I don't know why I found it easier to talk to adults than I did talking with people my own age.  Maybe it was because I saw adults as being protective figures, and that by talking to them that they wouldn't be mean to me.  And 99% of the time, that was my experience with them.  We won't discuss the mean neighbours across the street from the house I grew up in.

But ultimately, I think it all came down to what I was exposed to as a child.  And as it so happened, most of my childhood experiences were around adult figures.

Even having siblings that were much older than I was sort of explained my gravitation towards adults instead of kids my age.  Because their friends were much older than I was, I was exposed to older people moreso than I was people of my own age group.  And even when I was in situations where there were kids my own age, I still felt more comfortable hanging around the adults.  That was just how I felt, and in many ways that's how I still feel.

Now, do I wish that things were different?  In one way, I do.  I hated being the kid that never fit in with the other kids at school, and I longed to have people accept me for who I was no matter what my age was.  But in many ways, I was a 50-year-old soul in a 10-year-old body, and I suppose it would be difficult for the average 10-year-old to find anything in common with a child who felt more open with adults.  Again, that's not anyone's fault.  That was just the way it was.

On that same token, I'm glad that I can relate well with adults because it taught me that somewhere underneath my goofy exterior was a responsible and mature person who somehow could interact with adults and not feel pressured to get off their lawn.  And as I've come to realize just based on the experiences I've had with my own peers, not everyone born the same year as me end up becoming all that mature.

Still...sometimes having an old soul can be as much of a curse as it is a blessing.  It all depends on how you see it.