It’s that time of year again, folks, and I am so excited! Rachel, Heidi, and Olivia are once again hosting the Legends of Western Cinema Week, complete with all sorts of fun festivities as we celebrate our favorite Western films and characters. I’ve got a blog post about Hour of the Gun (1967) planned for later this week, but right now I’ll be answering the tag questions created by our hosts.
1) Favorite western focused on a lone hero?
I love Shane (1953). A quiet stranger defends the lives, freedoms, and peace of a small group of farmers, then leaves as suddenly as he arrived. Shane is the quintessential Western loner—he represents everything I like and admire about the character type.
2) Favorite western focused on a group of compadres?
The Magnificent Seven (1960) is the obvious answer, and it’s certainly my favorite. But Rio Bravo (1959) is worth a mention as well. Four very different guys band together to ensure a murderer is brought to justice. My favorite of those guys is Dude (Dean Martin), but they all have their good points.
3) Favorite western with a female main character?
True Grit (2010)! Mattie is brave, resourceful, and stubborn—one of my favorite female characters in general. The fact that she’s only fourteen makes her daring deeds all the more impressive. A close second on my favorites list would be Cat Ballou (1965). Jane Fonda’s plays Cat, another young woman who hires a grubby gunfighter to avenge her father’s death. Almost a comedy version of True Grit, if you think about it!
4) Favorite western with a POC main character?
You know, I don’t think I’ve ever watched one. Sigh. I’ve started one: The Magnificent Seven (2016), which I should really give another chance. (It bored me, so I gave up. I think I’d like it better now though.) Any other recs for POC-led Westerns?
5) Favorite western with kids in it?
Does Old Yeller (1957) count as a Western? I think so! Anyway, that’s my pick. If I can manage to type through my tears, that is… 😉
6) Favorite western set somewhere other than the United States?
You know, I thought that The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1966) might have been set in Mexico—but nope. It takes place in New Mexico. So I’m going with Hidalgo (2004), because sometimes The Vibes are more important than The Decade In Which the Film Is Set.
7) Favorite “western” that doesn’t fit the genre’s dictionary definition?
THE MANDALORIAN. Impeccable Old West energy. Din sounds like a young Clint Eastwood and it’s delightful. He also protects the weak, has a fast draw, and tames a blurrg. What more do you want in a cowboy???
Support Your Local Sheriff (1969) because I LOVE JAMES GARNER.
(I just rewatched Hour of the Gun last night, so I’m a bit hyper when it comes to JG. Apologies extended. XD)
Seriously though, Support Your Local Sheriff is an absolutely hilarious Western. Jason McCullough (James Garner) arrives in the town of Calendar, CO and is almost immediately elected sheriff of the brawling town. Jason cleans up the town, falls in love with the mayor’s daughter, and faces off against the dastardly Danby family. Such a fun film—I can’t recommend it highly enough for fans of Westerns!
9) Favorite tragic/sad western?
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) is steeped in sadness from its very first scene.
Like…the cactus rose. CAN YOU NOT, JOHN FORD?
10) Favorite western TV show?
Wanted: Dead or Alive, starring Steve McQueen, has been my favorite for several years now. Each episode is short (less than a half hour), but many of them pack a narrative punch unmatched by some longer and more well-known shows. I also love F Troop and I think I’d love Maverick if I watched more of it. Oh, and there’s Bonanza and Rawhide of course! But Wanted remains my favorite. ❤
What are some of your favorite Westerns? Let me know in the comments!
‘Billy the Kid’ is one of my top ten favorite C! episodes; I’m super excited to share it with all of you. There will be spoilers—if you want to watch this episode spoiler-free, it’s available on YouTube.
And now, on to the episode review!
We start out the episode with a good bit of archival footage. Shelling, explosions, all of that. Actually, this episode probably has the highest concentration of archival footage that I’ve ever seen in a single Combat! episode. Kind of boring, tbh, but the rest of the episode more than makes up for that.
Anyway, we then cut to the squad enjoying a little rest and relaxation—well, maybe not relaxing so much since they seem a bit nervous about all that shelling nearby. But still, it’s a rare moment of downtime for the squad. Nice to see. Honestly, this show could just be scenes like this and I would still watch and rewatch it (as evidenced by my love for the episode ‘Losers Cry Deal’, which is almost nothing but the guys sitting around, talking, etc.). But I digress!
Hanley shows up and announces the Mission of the Day. Saunders and his squad have been assigned to escort an artillery spotter in an attempt to find the Germans’ big artillery gun—the one that’s been making so much noise and causing so much trouble. Hanley also lets them know that the officer who will be leading today’s mission is Lieutenant Benton, the son of the famous, heroic General ‘Bull’ Benton. (According to rumor, General Benton led an attack on a village while standing in his jeep, a .45 blazing in each hand.) The squad perks up a little—maybe this Lieutenant Benton will share his dad’s tenacious spirit and dogged courage.
Then the scene cuts to a shot of Lieutenant Benton (Andrew Prine) travelling toward HQ (or the outpost or whatever it is). The truck (bearing Benton, his sergeant, a couple random GIs, and the artillery spotting equipment) pulls up alongside the squad. Benton steps out of the truck. As he gets out, he accidentally bumps his head against the top of the truck’s doorframe (is that the right word?). I don’t know if that was an intentional choice on the part of the director, or if it really was an accident. But either way, I love that detail. It’s very small, but it speaks to Benton’s inexperience. We learn in a few minutes that he’s never seen combat, that he’s been more or less behind a desk ever since he got into the war. So yeah. I love that little detail.
Sergeant Stoner introduces himself, then Benton: “He’s here to knock out that big German gun.” There’s a bit of a shocked silence before Saunders walks over and leads Benton away to see Hanley. The opening scene ends with Littlejohn grinning and shaking his head. At this point, the squad doesn’t know that Benton has never been in combat before. I just think they’re all a little surprised, simply because Benton is so young. Andrew Prine was 29 when this episode aired, but he honestly looks much younger. (Like, very early twenties, in my opinion.)
With Benton off to speak with Hanley, Sergeant Stoner explains to the squad that Benton hasn’t seen any combat and generally runs Benton down in a pretty disrespectful way (calling him ‘Billy the Kid’, which is where the ep title comes from).
Stoner also asks about Saunders’ date of rank in an attempt to figure out who will be in charge of the mission—him or Saunders—”when the kid fouls up.” Saunders shuts him down brilliantly. “I don’t care what your date of rank is. I still run this squad, Stoner.” (One of Saunders’ many talents is getting guys to shut up when they’re being annoying.) Stoner subsides, obviously embarrassed. It’s a great moment in an episode chock-full of great moments. XD
Hanley calls Saunders back into his office so Benton can brief Saunders before they head out. Benton’s briefing is, well, brief, and it’s obvious that Saunders already knows everything Benton is telling him. But Saunders doesn’t say anything, just listens and agrees with what Benton says. It’s a nice contrast to Stoner’s disrespectful, dismissive attitude a couple minutes ago.
Saunders heads back outside to round up the squad. Benton thanks Hanley for his help. And then comes the moment that makes me love Benton.
Hanley: “By the way, how’s your father [super famous General Benton]?” Benton: *pauses* *smiles the tiniest bit* “He’s fine.” Hanley: *nods* Benton, oh-so-casually: “How’s your father?”
Yep, I love him. And I wonder just how many times Benton got asked about his dad before he started throwing out that little comeback.
When Benton leaves Hanley’s office, Saunders points out that they’re bringing along double equipment. Two scopes, two radios, etc. Saunders suggests that they leave some of it behind, since the squad will have to carry everything themselves when they reach the front lines. Benton calmly overrides Saunders’ suggestion—all they equipment will be taken, no matter the extra hassle. It’s important to note that Benton is not nasty or abrasive about this. He simply says what he means, what he wants to happen, and leaves it at that. He doesn’t posture, make demands, or become petulant. He lets his rank and his word speak for themselves.
Hanley walks over to Saunders for a final word before the squad leaves.
“Lieutenant, he hasn’t had five minutes in the field,” says Saunders, referring, of course, to Benton.
“You have,” Hanley says.
(If I haven’t mentioned yet that I love these guys…I LOVE THESE GUYS. I wish that Saunders and Hanley had gotten more scenes together throughout the show. They did in the first season, but then it kind of petered out. And that’s a shame, because the two of them understand each other so well and have such a great friendship. We love to see it.)
The squad sets out with Lieutenant Benton, Stoner, a couple extra GIs, and a whole lot of equipment in tow. They haven’t travelled very far down the road when they’re stopped by a soldier who tells them that there are snipers up ahead. Benton listens to what the soldier, Saunders, and Stoner have to say (basically telling him he shouldn’t go on in the truck and that they can take all the equipment by hand), but all he says is “Thank you, sergeant. Let’s drive on.” Very calmly and coolly. And so they drive on (though not without a look from Stoner).
Of course they do run into some Germans. And of course there’s a firefight, which I won’t detail—except to say that, for someone who hasn’t seen combat before, Benton handles himself well. His rifle even jams for a bit, but he figures it out.
After the fight is over, Benton announces that they’ll now go forward on foot, carrying all the equipment. Once again, Saunders brings up the fact that there’s double equipment—a seemingly unnecessary burden on his men. Benton says “I know, sergeant. Everybody take a load.”
So they do. However, one of the random GIs forgets to bring both radios. When he goes back to the truck to retrieve the radio—surprise! One of the Germans from the firefight faked being dead. The German kills the GI and then Saunders kills the German.
“I hope it’s worth it, lieutenant,” Saunders say to Benton, as they stand around the dead GI.
Benton doesn’t respond as he stares down at the fallen soldier. Is this the first man he’s seen killed in combat? The first person he’s seen dead who was alive just a couple minutes earlier? We don’t know—the script doesn’t tell us. I tend to doubt it because, while there’s definitely something going on behind Benton’s eyes, I don’t think it’s shock at seeing a dead body for the first time. Plus, I don’t know if he’s been that shielded from the realities of war. But whatever the case, it’s a great bit of acting from Andrew Prine.
The squad keeps going until they reach the spot where Benton will do his artillery observer stuff. And he’s pretty competent! Which is nice. I like competent characters. Benton relays a bunch of information to Saunders and Saunders and Stoner send it in to headquarters or the artillery locations or…wherever. I’m kinda vague on the technical aspects of this episode. Guess it’s a good thing I watch this episode for the characters and interpersonal drama instead of ‘How to Be an Artillery Observer 101’. 😉
“He gets on target real fast,” Saunders says to Stoner, speaking about Benton. And of course Stoner has to be a jerk. “He’s only following the data I plotted for him, sergeant. Any corporal that can divide by two can do the same thing.”
Okayyyy, Stoner. Whatever.
Benton finishes registering their position—seems like their mission is complete. But before Stoner hangs up the radio, a new message comes through: the infantry in the area is pulling back, which means that Saunders and the rest will be all alone on the front lines.
They report the news to Benton. He thinks about it for a moment. Then, “This could work for us.”
Saunders explains that, with the infantry gone, the Germans can bring out their big gun and shell Benton, Saunders, and the rest off the ridge. And all Benton says (once again) is “Yes, I know, sergeant” before going back to observing the valley before him.
“Well, what are we going to do?” Stoner asks. You can hear nervousness in his voice.
“Finish the mission,” Benton replies.
Stoner protests. “I was sent on this mission because I have the field experience you haven’t had. I say we go!”
Benton regards him. “You’re out of line, sergeant,” he says. Calmly. Quietly.
Then he walks off.
Stoner and the rest stand there for a moment, and Stoner starts yelling at the squad. “You’re going to stand there and get killed just because you’re too afraid to talk back to Bull Benton’s little boy?” he demands.
“Lieutenant Benton’s in command,” Saunders snaps. And then he, too, walks off to talk to Benton himself.
In the conversation that follows, Benton opens up a little bit. Up to this point, he’s remained remarkably self-possessed. But as he goes into a bit of a monologue, there’s some frustration and bitterness that comes to the surface. We learn that Benton knows exactly what everyone says about him, what everyone thinks of him. Benton has to get that big gun, to prove to everyone that he is capable, that he’s not just ‘Billy the kid’. And, I think, to prove something to himself as well.
But as relatable as his motivations are, Saunders “isn’t concerned with [Benton’s] personal problems”. He’s concerned with the lives of his men.
“So am I, Saunders,” says Benton. “But I’m sticking to my plan.”
Up until this point, Saunders has given Benton a lot of space to do his own thing. But when it comes to the possible demise of everyone in the squad, Saunders can’t keep silent any longer. “You’re asking my men to risk their lives on a plan they know nothing about!”
I love Benton’s reaction to those words. (Or, more specifically, how Andrew Prine portrays his reaction.) It’s all in the eyes. A sudden realization. “Oh. That’s right. I haven’t actually explained my plan to anyone.” It’s like the thought that other people might have questions never occurred to him before, with how wrapped up he was in his own thoughts and worries and plans. “Oh…” he says. “I’ll fix that right now.”
So Benton goes back to the rest of the squad and explains his plan. The reason they drove to the front lines, even with the risk of snipers, was that Benton actually wanted the Germans to know that an artillery observer team was coming up to the front. The reason they hauled an extra set of equipment was so that they could leave one set to make it seem that they’d fled in a panic, while actually staying holed up in a cave nearby. Why? Because, if the Germans think that there are no artillery observers in the area, they might roll their big gun out of hiding—and then Benton can spot it and call in artillery to destroy it.
(Just want to say that whatever Benton lacks in experience, he makes up for with intelligence.)
After Benton explains, enemy shelling starts. Searching fire. “Let’s get out of here,” Benton says. He orders the squad to take one set of equipment to the cave and leave the other set at their primary position.
“We’re going to get clobbered,” Stoner insists. “We’ve gotta go back!”
“We’ll go back when he orders us to,” Saunders says.
But then a couple shells hit really close. Benton gets hit in the face with a bunch of rock dust, debris from an explosion. His eyes fill with blood and will soon be swollen shut, according to Doc, which obviously means that Benton can’t do anymore artillery spotting. (I know I keep bringing up Andrew Prine’s acting, but he really does SUCH a great job after Benton gets hit. Jerky hand movements, keeps instinctively trying to touch his eyes, but then forces himself not to…soooo good. Prine really sells it.)
“Let’s get out of here,” Stoner says. “He’s blind—he can’t finish the mission.”
“Sergeant Saunders,” says Benton.
“I need one man to go back to the cave with me. You tell the rest of the men to go back. I just need someone to spot for me when they bring that gun out.”
Of course Saunders volunteers to stay. And of course the rest of the squad won’t let him go it alone. How will he defend himself when the enemy comes searching the area for any remnants of the squad? I just love how Littlejohn, Kirby, Caje, and Doc all insist on staying behind. My guys. ❤
But you know who doesn’t love it? Stoner. Because…naturally. “What are you?” he asks scornfully. “A bunch of heroes?”
(Yes, Stoner. Yes they are. XD)
“If you don’t like it, Stoner, take off. Nobody’s holding you,” Saunders says.
“Okay. All right.” Stoner moves off. “I’ll tell ’em where to pick up your dog tags.”
“Don’t let those [sergeant’s] stripes get to heavy for you on the way back,” Kirby mutters to Stoner. Stoner stops, looks at him…and then keeps going, away from his lieutenant, the squad, and the mission. Sigh.
This is getting very, very long, so I’ll quickly recap the next several minutes. The rest of the squad + Benton moves to the cave. A German patrol noses around in the search of any remaining observers. Saunders and Benton work together as a team to relay the big gun’s position back to the artillerymen so they can shell the gun into oblivion. It takes a few minutes and a few tries to nail the gun, but at last Saunders and Benton (and the shells) do just that. And Benton’s grin of pure relief is a lovely thing to see.
However, it’s not over yet! A firefight broke out while Saunders and Benton were spotting the gun, and it’s still raging around them. With the Germans’ big gun destroyed, Saunders joins the fray.
And someone else does too—Stoner. A few minutes earlier in the episode, there was a shot of him pausing in his walk back to friendly lines, adjusting his rifle, and then noticing his sergeant’s stripes. Kirby’s words come back to him. (Side-note: I absolutely love that it’s what Kirby says that gets Stoner to change his mind. Kirby has come a long way from his first season days where he would’ve been complaining right alongside Stoner.)
So yeah, Stoner pulls a Han Solo and comes back in the nick of time to help save the day. “What took you so long?” Saunders asks him when the fighting is over. And Stoner just shrugs, a little smile on his face. I’ve spent most of the episode greatly disliking Stoner, but somehow I always really do like him by the end. I’m a little bit amazed how the writers were able to give Stoner such a great, genuinely moving character arc in less than an hour’s run time (along with all the other stuff going on in the episode).
The two sergeants rejoin the rest of the squad. Everyone prepares to head out. Benton starts to stand, struggling a little, and Stoner reaches out and steadies him, helps him to his feet. “Thank you, Doc,” Benton says, unaware in his blindness.
Stoner pauses, like he’s searching for the right words. Then, “It’s me, Lieutenant Benton.”
(I always get a little choked up during this scene. Always.)
“Yes, sir. Let’s go, lieutenant.” It’s the same kind of thing Stoner has said several times in this episode, but this time it’s said differently. Respectfully, even. Benton smiles. And Stoner guides him as they walk back down the hill.
Now that we’ve reached the end of this episode review, I’d like to say a few general (hehe) words about Benton. Benton is a young, inexperienced lieutenant, the sheltered son of a famous general. He could have been weak and cowardly. He could have been demanding and entitled. He could have had a chip on his shoulder, a relentless bad attitude that exploded in bitter outbursts and tirades. He could have been immature and stupid. I’ve seen many, if not all of those ‘qualities’ in other one-episode characters on this show.
But Benton is none of those things. Rather, he is a mature, intelligent, cool-headed young man trying to do the best he can with what little respect and responsibility he is given. He is under a lot of pressure—both external and internal—but he remains polite, (mostly) unruffled, and professional. The same can’t be said for many other characters who are much older and more experienced than him!
And Andrew Prine’s portrayal of Benton? Perfection. Literally. Combat! had some pretty great guest stars—James Coburn, Lee Marvin, Robert Duvall, Charles Bronson, Jeffrey Hunter, Roddy McDowall…and the list could go on! But there have been only two guest stars whose characters I have liked so much that I view them as (almost) on par with The Squad: Rip Torn as Sergeant Avery in ‘A Gift of Hope’—and Andrew Prine as Benton. (They are also the only one-episode C! characters I’ve written fanfiction about, for what that’s worth.)
TL;DR—I love Lieutenant Benton and Andrew Prine, Your Honor.
Wow. That was quite a long blog post. XD Even if you just skimmed through it, thank you for taking the time to check out this episode review! Again, if you want to watch the episode yourself, it’s available on YouTube. (And, of course, I highly recommend it. *wink*)
Have you watched any episodes of this show? I’d love to fangirl over it with you!
So. The third wheel, love triangles, and why I’m kinda mad right now.
Maybe there’s a better name for this character than ‘the third wheel’ (TV Tropes, help me out!). I don’t know. But if you don’t understand what I’m talking about…let me explain!
Say you’re watching a TV show, and there are two people on said show that you just know are going to end up together. You know it, your friends know it, the other characters on the show know it. That couple is endgame, no question. And then, perhaps in season two, another character is introduced, a character who starts dating one half of The Dream Couple. Drama ensues. But it’s all pointless. We, the audience, know that The Dream Couple are going to end up together—no matter what. And that new character? They end up getting shunted to one side when the writers decide it’s time to bring The Dream Couple back together.
And that infuriates me. (We’ll get to the whys and wherefores in a bit.)
A few specific examples of what I’m talking about:
—Arrow. When Oliver Queen is rescued from a deserted island (after having been presumed dead), he returns to find that his best friend Tommy is in a tentative relationship with Oliver’s former girlfriend Laurel. Tommy loves Laurel and wants their relationship to work out, but eventually Oliver and Laurel cheat behind his back and Tommy spirals to the dark side because…that’s what had to happen, I guess. *fumes*
—Downton Abbey. Matthew and Mary have been destined for each other ever since that first meeting. (*feels*) But in Season Two, Matthew engages himself to Lavinia Swire. Lavinia is an amazing woman. Sweet, kind, courageous, self-sacrificing…I could go on. But Matthew and Mary still have feelings for each other, and so Lavinia must die.
—The Flash. Eddie commits suicide and thus the way is clear for Barry and Iris’s relationship. Eddie’s death is held up as a noble sacrifice, but it is horrific, heartbreaking, and ultimately pointless in the grand scheme of things (he killed himself to prevent time travel stuff from happening—but it still happened). This is the most infuriating example of all, in my opinion.
Why I get so mad about this:
It makes the characters look bad. Loyalty in a relationship is such an essential quality. And when you have two characters pining away for each other behind the third character’s back, cheating on their boyfriend/girlfriend, trying to justify their actions, not being clear and open about their feelings, not really trying to tamp down feelings for someone who isn’t available to them, etc.—I can’t respect that! Who could? Love triangles so often make at least one of the characters involved look like a jerk. And I don’t want to spend time with jerks.
The whole thing is a waste of time for the audience. Like I said, we know that Main Character #1 and Main Character #2 are going to end up together. That’s just how storytelling works, ninety-nine percent of the time. (For the other one percent, watch Lost.) So having a third character pop up for the sake of drama? Yawn. Glare. Hard pass.
It’s unfair to the ‘third wheel’ character. Are these people fictional? Yep. Do I care? Nope. Not when it comes to this. Lavinia dies! Tommy dies! Eddie dies! Not only that, but they die with a broken heart. Plus, many audience members view the ‘third wheel’ characters as annoying hindrances to their OTP’s happily ever after—and they end up hating on those poor, defenseless characters because of that.
So what’s the solution?
You know what’s better than a messy love triangle that makes everyone look bad? A couple who remains loyal and true to each other, even when circumstances beyond their control drive/keep them apart. Or enemies to friends to lovers. Or no romance at all (for a change). Or a character who is already married. Basically ANYTHING besides the dreaded love triangle. And if you are going to have a love triangle, please, please treat the third wheel gently. Let the main characters be open and honest with the third wheel when they begin to realize that they have feelings for each other after all. Let that third wheel find a love of their own. Let everyone behave honorably.
So! What are your thoughts on this? Do poorly resolved love triangles make you mad? Or am I getting too worked up about this? XD I’d love to hear from you!
In case that title was a bit confusing, here’s what I’m doing in this post: I’m going to take several of my favorite old TV shows and then talk about my top favorite episode from each one. I feel like I don’t talk enough about my favorite classic shows (and there are several I love). So this post today will begin to rectify that!
COMBAT! – ‘The Hostages’
Saunders, Caje, and Doc are taken captive by a couple German soldiers in a town that had supposedly been cleared out. Saunders and Caje are held as hostages to force Doc into helping the Germans escape. Since Doc is my favorite Combat! character, it’s no surprise that this episode is my favorite. Conlan Carter got an Emmy nomination for his performance in ‘The Hostages’, after all–well-deserved too! Additionally, the main villain is absolutely chilling (I can never trust Mark Richman in other roles now, lol). And the plot is tense. Simply an excellent episode all around.
RAT PATROL – ‘The Chain of Death Raid’
It’s been aaaages since I last watched a Rat Patrol episode, but you can’t get much better than Troy and Dietrich being forced to cooperate in order to survive in a North African desert. To be honest, Rat Patrol is not the *cough* greatest show on the planet. 😉 But it is still rather a nostalgic favorite. And Eric Braeden/Hans Gudegast is pretty fun to watch!
GET SMART – ‘The Expendable Agent’
Choosing a favorite Get Smart episode was a little hard–partly because there are so many good ones and partly because I don’t have an intense love for any one episode. But the hijinks in ‘The Expendable Agent’ are very fun, and there’s a rather good plot twist at the end.
HOGAN’S HEROES – ‘Reverend Kommandant Klink’
Hogan’s Heroes is a really goofy, crazy sitcom. But occasionally, it moves beyond the goofiness to be genuinely moving and heartwarming. ‘Reverend Kommandant Klink’ is one such episode. A new POW is about to give the Germans important information. In order to prevent this, Hogan & Co. work things out so the POW can marry his sweetheart. And if that doesn’t really make any sense, it’s okay. It’s a convoluted storyline, like so many sitcom plots tend to be. What matters is that the heroes are splendid, the wedding is super sweet, and some of the dialogue is just plain hilarious.
GILLIGAN’S ISLAND – ‘The Producer’
The castaways workshop a Hamlet musical. It’s great.
WANTED: DEAD OR ALIVE – ‘Secret Ballot’
I wrote an extensive blog post about this episode of Wanted: Dead or Alive, so I’ll send you over there. TL;DR – Plenty of character development, plot, and heartache make this episode a stand-out in an overall top-notch show.
THE FUGITIVE – ‘Nightmare at Northoak’
Richard Kimble enters a small town and ends up saving a busload of children + the driver from burning to death. The townspeople are hugely grateful to him, naturally…and then they find out that he’s a fugitive. Kimble is imprisoned, about to be dragged back to death row by Gerard. But the townspeople just might have other ideas, seeing as how Kimble saved the lives of everyone’s kids. ❤ I haven’t seen very many episodes of The Fugitive, but I can’t imagine there’d be many I’d like better than ‘Nightmare at Northoak’.
MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – ‘Submarine’
THIS EPISODE. First of all, it’s hugely nostalgic. (Almost all of Season 4 is, actually.) But beyond that, Submarine is such a good M:I episode in general. To make an old Nazi tell them where he’s hidden tons of money, the M:I team make the guy believe he’s on a submarine, being taken back to Germany. The plot is legitimately tense and all the actors involved do a great job (including in-universe, with making the Nazi believe he’s on a submarine and all that). And the ending? ICONIC.
BONANZA – ‘Death at Dawn’
And now we come to the reason I wanted to write this post in the first place: so I could highlight this expectational episode. When I was growing up, there were two episodes of Bonanza that my siblings and I would watch over and over again. One was ‘The Abduction’ (we liked the novelty of the circus setting). The other was ‘Death at Dawn’.
Virginia City is being corrupted by a Big Bad who was originally brought in to keep peace in the mines, but who has since overstepped his bounds. One of the guy’s thugs murders a storekeeper and is set to hang for the crime. But then the Big Bad kidnaps Ben, saying that he’ll hang Ben if his own man is hung. What follows is a desperate search for Ben and then, as the minutes swiftly tick away, Adam having to make an agonizing choice: do what he knows to be right and effectively sentence his father to death, or capitulate to the bad guys.
Even if you’ve never seen a single episode of Bonanza, I have no hesitation in recommending you watch ‘Death at Dawn’. It is a fully formed, miniature western movie. Everyone on-screen is given depth and character development, whether it’s the Cartwrights or the one-episode-only characters. Adam in particular gets a chance to shine, as the decision-maker in the Cartwright family once Ben has been kidnapped. (That makes me very happy, since Adam is my favorite character on the show.) And Ben gets a couple Moments of Awesome while he’s a prisoner. All in all, it’s an awesome episode. And it’s free on YouTube!
Have you seen any of the episodes I talked about in this post? What are some of your favorite TV show episodes? Do let me know in the comments! ❤
Since I haven’t posted anything gushy and fandom-related in a while, I thought I’d write this post to fangirl over some of my favorite fictional couples. Although I dislike most romance novels (as in, stories that are totally centered around a romantic relationship), there are many, many fictional couples that I wholeheartedly ship. And there are a few romantic moments between those couples that make me squeal internally (and/or tear up). Here are a lot of them!
And then THE NOD HE GIVES HER. (Yes, call me crazy. It’s ‘just a nod’. BUT I SWEAR.) So full of understanding and softness and a hint of “I told you so” because it’s Peter Quill after all. Made my heart melt for him AND ship them the first time I saw GotG2. Chris Pratt, y’all.
The heart of Éowyn changes – The Lord of the Rings
Really, the entire section in ‘The Steward and the King’ where Faramir gently helps Éowyn is golden and perfect. But the moment where she realizes that she does actually love Faramir? *cries*
Steve and Peggy’s dance – Avengers: Endgame
I don’t think I have to explain why I love this moment. Literally getting choked up just thinking about it. It was the moment we’d all been waiting for ever since Steve’s “I had a date” way back in 2011. And eight years later, Marvel Studios delivered. Not only that, it was the final scene of the Infinity Saga. The perfect capstone (*snickers*) to an era of spectacular films centered around flawed, yet intensely lovable characters.
‘Priority of Life’ – Flashpoint
Bit of context, because this police procedural show isn’t well known: in this episode, a police officers is trapped in a lab where gases have been released and will soon reach lethal levels. Another police officer (who loves the trapped officer) goes into the lab to rescue the civilians. One of the guys watching the rescue is sure that this officer will break the ‘priority of life’ rule and save his girlfriend before saving the civilians.
But the officer doesn’t. He walks past the love of his life and watches her lose consciousness as he puts the civilians’ lives before hers–because that’s his job. It’s so heartbreaking and heroic. </3
(They do both make it out alive in the end, thank goodness.)
“I said ‘what if?'” – Tooth Fairy
(Tooth Fairy is a comedic masterpiece and you must watch it!)
This squeal-worthy moment comes in the last few moments of the film. Dwayne Johnson’s character (Derrick) finally proposes to his girlfriend and, while I’ve seen a lot of on-screen proposals in my day, this one always gets to me in a special way. (Along with Hobart’s proposal to Bea in Ramona & Beezus.) Maybe it’s because it so perfectly shows how much Derrick has changed throughout the film. Anyway, I love it.
The ‘So Close’ dance – Enchanted
As I’ve said before, I consider this dance the most romantic in any Disney film. The combination of the song lyrics, the dreamy lighting, the fact that Robert sings to Giselle…simply the best!
Everything about Robin and Marian – BBC’s Robin Hood
Yep. I can’t pick a favorite moment between these two. Every time they’re together (and every time Marian’s leitmotif kicks in), I LITERALLY CAN’T. (Probably because I know what’s going to happen and it breaks my heart. But also because they’re one of the most perfect couples ever.) Yes, they can be infuriating at times. At the end of the day though, it’s Robin and Marian! You can’t stay mad at them!
(I’d also like to point out that I haven’t met a version of Robin and Marian that I don’t wholeheartedly ship. Book, movie, TV show. They’re simply Meant To Be.)
Emma realizes – Emma
Any adaption, I don’t care. (Including Clueless.)
Emma’s realization that no one should marry Mr. Knightley but her is pitch-perfect. For the first time in her life, Emma wants something, someone…and it’s impossible (or so she thinks). This may not seem like one of the most romantic moments, but I think it is. Like Éowyn, Emma finally knows her own heart. She’d never even considered Mr. Knightley as a potential partner before that moment, but now they have a chance of being a couple! (Even if she doesn’t think so.)
Katniss and Peeta grow back together – the Hunger Games trilogy
After suffering so much, in so many ways, the fact that these two characters can finally have the relationship they’ve both longed for is both beautiful and poignant. Poignant because Prim isn’t there to be happy for them. Neither is Katniss’ dad or mom. But Katniss and Peeta become their own family. ❤
Suzanne Collins spends very little time talking about Katniss’ life after she returns to District 12, but she does say enough for us to know that Katniss and Peeta don’t have a perfect happily ever after. There are still nightmares, PTSD, healing and hurting. However, they finally have each other and, eventually, kids–and that is what pulls them through the hardest times.
“You were my new dream.” “And you were mine.” – Tangled
Reader, I cried.
And still do.
What do you think of my list? What are some of your favorite fictional ships/scenes with that ship? Let me know in the comments! ❤
Hey, guys! I’ve been recently watching a lot of the TV show Lost (currently in one season with my family and another on my own–can be a tad disorienting, but very fun). While I fully plan to write a blog post (or posts) about my thoughts on the show (and especially its characters), I thought that I’d whip up a quick list this evening about Lost + writing well. The show has been a help to me as I’ve finally started chipping away at Flicker again. I hope these tips can help you as well!
SPOILERS AHEAD. (And, trust me, if you haven’t seen the show yet, you don’t want spoilers.)
I. CHARACTER BACKSTORIES ARE IMPORTANT
I don’t know about you, but I’m the kind of writer who will outline their plot pretty well, but not do much pre-writing character development work. I don’t fill out those character questionnaires and I often don’t figure out their backstory beyond some bare bone basics. Since watching Lost, I’ve realized that not having a solid character backstory can often be a mistake.
Lost is famous for its flashbacks (as well as flash-forwards and flash-sideways) and those flashbacks are GREAT at explaining why the characters act, think, and even speak the way they do. I’m not saying that every single detail of your characters’ pasts should be brought up in your story. But it’s important that you, the author, know those details because they can really help bring your characters to life. After all, everyone in the real world has a past, one that informs their present choices, which in turn changes their future.
II. DON’T REVEAL EVERYTHING AT ONCE
Pretty obvious, I know. But I also know that there’s a very strong temptation (for me) to show my readers everything about my characters’ personality at once. Otherwise, how are they going to know what my character is like? I want to explain relationships, character traits, the story world, and so much more all in a series of info dumps. But where’s the fun (or art) in that?
Obviously, Lost does not reveal its secrets quickly–there are six seasons, after all! Though it can be difficult to subtly weave character development and worldbuilding into a storyline, the pay off is so much sweeter than if you simply tell the readers everything from the get go. And it makes things fun for them to discover as well!
III. LET YOUR CHARACTERS BE WRONG
Have you ever read a book or watched a movie/TV show where the main character was pretty much always right about everything? It can be pretty annoying, and also unrealistic–nobody is right all the time. But I think that writers (myself included) often want their main character to accurately and quickly read a situation or another character. Things are simpler that way. But when your MC is wrong, that’s where things get interesting. Someone he thought was a friend turned out to be a traitor. Someone he thought was an enemy turned out to be an ally.
In season 2 of Lost, John Locke comes to the conclusion that pushing the button in the hatch is pointless. That nothing will happen if the clock runs down and the button doesn’t get pushed. But in the season finale, we learn that he was wrong. That the button was real and that Desmond (almost) sacrificed his life fixing Locke’s mistake. It’s a bold move by the writers (especially since Locke has been so smart and faith-filled up to this point), and one that pushes the story in interesting directions.
IV. MIX AND MATCH CHARACTERS
This depends a bit on how big your story’s cast is (obviously, Lost has a zillion characters), but if you’re looking to find out more about your characters and move the story along, you might want to try putting two characters together who don’t really get a chance to hang out much. (Or who just haven’t really spent a lot of time together in the course of the story.)
This could be simply a fun character building exercise that doesn’t make it into the novel (such as having your characters trapped in an elevator for a few hours, however improbable that might be). Or you could find that putting two characters in the same scene sparks a new plot thread or gives you inspiration in other ways. Some examples of unlikely pairings from Lost include Hurley and Sawyer going after the tree frog or Sun and Juliet heading into the jungle to find the ultrasound machine. Putting characters together in a new pairing and/or a new setting can ‘freshen up’ the story.
V. DIALOGUE IS NOT FOR TELLING
Okay, yes, sometimes it is. You’ve got to have at least some telling in your dialogue or else your hands are going to be pretty well tied. But I’ve come to see the importance in having characters withhold information, stretch the truth, talk around issues, and generally do everything but say exactly what they’re thinking. Again, subtlety! And intriguing the readers! Lost does this soooo much. It’s great. And then of course there’s the times where Jack will yell at you and demand answers until you break down and give them. *eye roll* But…I don’t recommend using that technique more than once a book. 😉
Have you seen Lost? Did you like it? (I know it can be controversial. Also, no spoilers past season three please!) Let’s discuss it in the comments!
P.S. If you found these tips helpful and you’re looking to improve your novel’s writing, I have a freelance editing business! I’d love to give you a free sample edit and see what you’re writing. ❤
Do you know that feeling when you discover something you never knew existed before and it’s awesome and you’re so hyped? Like a sequel to your favorite book? Something like that? Well, yesterday I discovered something that’s just…too cool. And that something is Hobbes & Me, a series of short videos (like usually less than a minute) that are adaptions of specific segments of the Bill Watterson comic strip Calvin and Hobbes. I am a HUGE fan of the original comic, so when I found Hobbes & Me, I freaked out internally.
I’m a huge fan of Disney Plus because, well, it’s Disney! Sure, the streaming service isn’t perfect (where are you, The Happiest Millionaire???), but it’s made me happy time and time again with great content. With a library of titles as vast and varied as Disney Plus has, some films and TV shows are almost certain to slip through the cracks. With that in mind, I’ve curated a list of some lesser-watched movies/shows that I think you should check out.
(Byt the way, I have Canadian Disney Plus, which seems to have a somewhat different collection than the American version of the website, so apologies in advance if some of these titles are unavailable for you.)
DAN IN REAL LIFE (2007)
When I realized that I would be able to write about Dan in Real Life for this post, I literally felt giddy. This is such a good movie! Don’t let the poster fool you though, because despite the silly vibes and Steve Carrell playing the main character, this isn’t a screwball comedy (or even really any kind of comedy). Yes, there are some funny parts. But overall, this is a sweet, melancholy, quiet, nostalgic look at coming to terms with grief and navigating the sometimes tricky, sometimes impossible ins and outs of romance. A lovely setting, awesome cast, and engaging storyline make this film near-perfect fall/winter viewing.
Disney Plus originals kind of have the reputation of being a bit mediocre (The Mandolorian excepted). But Encore! is a fun reality show all about different high school musical casts that come together again (in their thirties and forties) to re-stage ‘their’ musical in just one week. Sounds pretty crazy, right? It is, but it’s also pretty good entertainment (especially if you’re a fan of musicals). Each episode deals with a different show/cast, and they have feature some of the most iconic musicals–The Sound of Music, Annie, High School Musical, Fiddler on the Roof, and more! Go check it out!
CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN (2003)
I remember catching this movie on TV at a hotel once with my mom. #goodtimes Even though it won’t be for everyone, if you’re looking for a funny, heartwarming family film Cheaper by the Dozen is a great choice. It’s genuinely funny, not just slapstick comedy (which I personally don’t like) and the cast fits together well. As is typical with these types of movies, the ending tries to pull on your heartstrings (and your tear ducts), and…it kinda works.
ONCE UPON A MATTRESS (2005)
Okay, so I’d never heard of this musical before I found it on Disney Plus. Have any of you guys heard of it? It’s a retelling of the Princess and the Pea fairytale, with a bunch of musical numbers thrown in (the quality of those songs varies widely, but they’re not all bad). I will say that even though this is a fairytale musical on Disney Plus, I wouldn’t recommend it for kids. There are definitely mature themes/songs…so just keep that in mind. But anyway, this musical isn’t the absolute best, but it is fun and joyous and sweet. ❤
FREAKY FRIDAY (2003)
Disney’s done at least three different Freaky Friday films and this one is my personal favorite (I haven’t seen the 2018 one though). A lot of that has to do with the cast. Lindsay Lohan and Jamie Lee Curtis play off each other wonderfully and the film as a whole is such a good time. (Well, except for the annoying ?subplot? with the mom and the daughter’s boyfriend *shudders*).
CINDERELLA III: A TWIST IN TIME (2007)
Y’all can say whatever you want about Disney’s direct-to-DVD sequels, but there are actually some not terrible ones out there. I personally enjoy The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea and Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World. And then there’s Cinderella III! You need to watch this! Cinderella and Prince Charming actually get personalities, one of the stepsisters gets a happy ending, and there’s time travel involved (always cool and fun). This is the perfect movie to watch when you’re looking for a dose of nostalgic, simple Disney magic.
HERBIE GOES TO MONTE CARLO (1977)
Have you seen any of the Herbie movies? He’s like the Kevin McAllister of cars. Herbie Rides Again (also recommended!) and Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo were childhood viewing staples, and I’m here to share my personal fave with you. First all, this film is classic Disney live-action. Clean, hilarious fun that isn’t too dumbed down. You’ve got a couple bumbling villains (including one played by Bernard Fox, an old friend from Hogan’s Heroes), the immortal Don Knotts, and a European adventure/mystery. This is such an entertaining film…I want to watch it again myself now!
THE GREATEST SHOWMAN (2017)
“What?” you say. “The Greatest Showman? That’s hardly a hidden gem!”
Oh isn’t it? I’d just like to know why everyone thought it was okay to stop talking about this glorious movie just because it isn’t 2017-2018 anymore. Come on! Now more than ever we need that type of energy back in the world! Go forth and watch it and never stop singing ‘A Million Dreams’, I beg of you.
So tell me: do you have any Disney+ hidden gems that you’d like to share with me? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!
But before I knew who Spock was, I’d already been blown away by Leonard Nimoy’s mesmerizing, precise acting skills. My family owned exactly one season of Mission: Impossible during my childhood years – Season 4, the first season starring Leonard Nimoy. I watched those episodes over and over and over again with my siblings; Paris (Nimoy) was undoubtedly my favorite character (and continues to be so).
Leonard Nimoy actually didn’t enjoy his stint on Mission: Impossible all that much because the character of Paris never really changed. Never grew as a person. Leonard Nimoy preferred portraying multi-faceted characters with hidden depths and goals and emotions. (Like Spock.) But I’m so grateful that he didn’t quit playing Paris after a couple episodes because, honestly, Mission: Impossible Season 4 is EVERYTHING to me.
Anyway, I thought I’d highlight three different episodes from this season, focusing on Paris’s role in each one. That way, you’ll hopefully be able to understand why I found Leonard Nimoy so cool right from the start.
Episode 7: ‘Submarine’
If y’all only ever watch one episode of Mission: Impossible, it needs to be this one. The IM team is at the absolute top of their game and it’s really, really cool. You don’t get to see much of Paris as, well, Paris in ‘Submarine’ because he’s pretty busy being different people. First he’s a monk, then a brutal and sadistic SS officer. It’s too complicated to explain why he’s playing these roles, but trust me – it makes for a super compelling episode. A very layered performance, out of necessity.
(I kinda love how whenever Paris and Jim have to impersonate other people, they’re always at each other’s throats. (Like, for tension or whatever.) It’s funny, especially because Paris/Leonard Nimoy is usually so cool and calm.)
Episodes 14-16: ‘The Falcon’
In this three-part story, Paris has yet another persona (or three). But there are three things about him/the character he plays that make this performance stand out. First of all, Paris is impersonating a magician and he’s basically already a magician? Or a disguise artist at least? He doesn’t have to reach very far to be all theatrical and yet you can see how Leonard Nimoy fully embraced the deceptive aspects of the role to make everything that much more interesting.
Secondly, there’s a LOT of face-switching that goes on in ‘The Falcon’. Far more than usual. And yet all the actors involved (but especially Nimoy, of course) do such a good job of remembering who they are under the face masks. It sounds really complicated (and it is) but just…yeah. Great acting all around.
And thirdly, this is one of the few episodes (if not the only one) where Paris is actually found out. Where his disguises fail him. So that’s really intriguing, how Leonard Nimoy was able to do some out of the ordinary, acting-wise, with that. (Though I don’t think the script gave him much time to explore the situation.) I like to think that he enjoyed the challenges that ‘The Falcon’ brought – it shook things up a little, with all the twists and turns and extra bits of acting expertise that were needed.
Episode 21: ‘Lover’s Knot’
This is probably my least favorite Season 4 episode because it feels very out of character for Paris. But it’s also the only episode (in this season at least) that gave Leonard Nimoy the chance to explore Paris’s inner life. I would love to know what he thought about it, if he thought Paris’s actions were out of character, etc. Basically, Paris falls in love with the IM team’s target – Lady Weston. And there’s a lot of sappiness and weird, awkward flirting and stuff. *scratches head* However, it’s still interesting to watch, as a Nimoy fan.
I’m forever grateful to Mission: Impossible for introducing me to such a talented, amazing actor as Leonard Nimoy. He’ll always be special to me because of Paris and that thrilling theme music and “Your mission, should you choose to accept it…”.
Have you seen any episodes of Mission: Impossible? Who’s your favorite character?
I’m in many fandoms. If a book or movie or TV show is quality stuff and has great characters, I can become obsessed very quickly – sometimes, I even track my life by the fandom I was in at a given point in time. First it was Jane Austen. Then Les Miserables. Then BBC Robin Hood and period dramas in general. And so on and so on.
Anyway, I’ve noticed a sort of pattern in my fandom life. It’s like ‘the cycle of fandom’ or something and it goes something like this:
Become mildly interested in book/movie/TV show.
Become madly obsessed and learn everything there is to know about said fandom.
Rewatch/reread book/movie/TV show to death.
Get sick of book/movie/TV show.
Continue to revisit it from time to time in the future because some of the warm, fuzzy feelings are still there – but a much more pallid version.
Get a new fandom.
(The above also applies to actors I like/have liked in the past.)
So, basically, I have this obsessive love for a fandom and then it just sort of…fades. Really weird and highly annoying most of the time. I’ll revisit whatever the fandom is a few months later and it’ll be like “this is so booooring now” when just a short while before it was all I could think about. Does this mean I’m fickle? Weird? Unable to form a lasting attachment to anything? WHO CAN TELL?
There are a few fandoms that have stood the test of time, that I still love and adore. BBC Robin Hood is the main one that comes to mind. Also Jane Austen. But those sort of permanent fandoms are few and far between. I can still fangirl over the ones I’ve fallen out of love with, but it’s like the magic is gone, y’know?
I think the problem is overexposure to the material – I watch/read it so much that it becomes tired and boring and dull. (Whyyyyy do I do that to myself??? Even now, when I know what will eventually happen, I can’t stop immersing myself in my current fandom.)
I’m not sure why I’m even writing this blog post, except that it would be interesting to know if any of you guys have experienced something similar. So do let me know in the comments!