Sep 30, 2008

Caitlin's Way: They're all pairing off...except for Griffen, of course.

Season 2, Episode 43: Juliet and Her Romeo
Aired: April 22, 2001

I watched this episode this morning, and I'm so glad I did because it really perked up an otherwise rainy day. Also, much to my immense disbelief, this is actually a decent episode. Of course, when I say that, it's still melodramatic and ridiculous, bordering on still more narcissism on Caitlin's part, but that's just Caitlin's Way for you. It's the quality of the writing I've come to expect these days, so given that I'm thrilled to announce that this is the first episode I actually liked. Well enough, anyway.

So we start out with Griffen playing his guitar and all of the other cast members besides Caitlin recite lines from Romeo and Juliet. The camera shots are moody and deep, you guys. Oh my God, there are shots of sunsets! And people who are back lit and shot at low angles! Holy crap, this show means business now. Naturally I enjoyed this section far more than I realistically should have, mainly because of how moody it was.

Enter abbreviated opening sequence before we focus in on Caitlin, who is sitting alone in the drama classroom singing along to her CD player. Cue drama teacher. Drama teacher walks in and informs her that she's singing. Caitlin's like "what are you gonna do about it?" or something. The teacher flutters on about how Caitlin should try out for the musical they're going to put on, Juliet and Her Romeo. Caitlin thinks to herself that her voice isn't all that bad, so hey, why not? Only the thing is her life is so unlike that of Juliet for she has no boyfriend! Damn. We're still at the point where Caitlin is wearing her hair down, so of course this means Caitlin is still desperate to attract the opposite sex. Namely, she wants to attract Will, who I guess she got together with in earlier episodes and has since broken up with (for amusing least, to me, but I'll get to that in a minute).

Dori and Jim are reading for parts as Juliet's parents, and they manage to read into their parts to the point that we're making comparisons between the Capulets and their parental guardian capabilities regarding Caitlin. Of course this was bound to happen. This isn't really important. They bicker over whether or not Jim made Caitlin break up with Will or whether Caitlin did it because she wanted to.

Moving on, Caitlin is getting something out of her locker when Will and Griffen run up in fencing uniforms. They fence and speak their lines from the play and there is a MOMENT when Will and Caitlin have to look at each other. Oh my God, it's too much! Or something, so they fence somewhere else and Caitlin goes to read for the play. The teacher likes it and has her called back later so she can read some more. Seriously, this is a community play. How much deliberation do we need here?

Apparently we need a lot, or just enough to pit Caitlin against Taylor, the Blond Girl. They both want to be Juliet, and since they sort of hate each other or are friends but are competitive or are friends because they are both so attention starved they have only each other and can't stand it, this was bound to happen. So Taylor and Brett apparently hooked up at some point earlier on, but they broke up recently. Brett is going to be Romeo, so they're going over the play because Taylor figures she's going to be Juliet and she must be prepared, damn it. But she points out that there is no way in hell they are going to kiss on stage because it would be AWKWARD given they, like, kissed in real life previously. Brett takes some time here to push her hair back and find the necklace that she's wearing...the same necklace that he gave her! At some point! Taylor brushes this off and says there's someone else now. Someone who is so way better. And this someone better is Will.

So Taylor and Will drive off on his dirt bike, leaving Brett and Caitlin on the sidewalk to commiserate. Only this eventually leads to Will and Griffen practicing fencing some more at the ranch, resulting in DISCUSSION about how Mercutio and Tybalt apply to their daily lives because dying for friendship/family is relevant in this show? Maybe? Well, anyway, after this practice session, Will runs into Caitlin outside the barn and they get into another fight where Will is mostly right:

Caitlin: "You think she's shallow and stuck-up! You're only going out with her to get back at me!"
Will: "I don't do anything because of you! I like Taylor! She's fun. She's beautiful. And you know what? She doesn't play mind games!"
Caitlin: "I don't play mind games!"
Will: "Yes you do! You pretend you're cool, like you do whatever you wanna' do. But really, you follow the rules just like all the people you put down!"
Caitlin: "That's not true! I just wish I had never even met you!"

So it's established that Caitlin plays mind games and is really uncool, and Will is trying to make Caitlin jealous. That's pretty much obvious. Then they both pull a Joanna Campbell. Caitlin rips out of there on Bandit and Will rides his dirt bike into a ditch. So he gets whisked to the hospital. In the meantime, I guess Taylor has come to her senses about what a bad prospect Will is (don't worry, reasons for this are coming) and tells Caitlin that she more or less doesn't want to be with him and wishes her luck on the try out for Juliet. This means Caitlin has to go to the hospital instead of try out for the play, I suppose. So Taylor goes and tries out for Juliet, acting with Brett during the scene where they would, of course, kiss. They act it out and the drama teacher likes it despite the fact that Taylor turns her head to the side so they don't have to kiss. Then Taylor changes her mind and kisses him. So they start making out on the balcony set, completely ignoring the teacher screaming at them to stop.

Meanwhile, I guess Griffen has a girlfriend? This is the most unexpected thing ever, but then my suspicions of this are proven when they break up because he's spending too much time with the guys and since she's now taken over the part of Mercutio it will be easier to fence with her if he doesn't hold back and keep treating her like a girl he might have been interested in if he was a good boyfriend, which he isn't. So they break up. THAT I expected.

Caitlin goes to the hospital and starts to talk to Will, thinking he's sleeping. Only he's not sleeping and she gets pissed at him for actually hearing what she said. This results in this gem of a conversation:

Caitlin: "I really miss you. I want us to be together but you just keep pulling me into your darkness and I don't wanna' go there."
Will: "I don't wanna' go there either. I miss you too. You're the best thing that's ever happened to me. Caitlin, I'm messed up. I know that. But I really wanna' get my stuff together because I wanna' be with you. Will you help me?"
Caitlin: "Yes. Of course I will."

You guys, he was pulling her into his darkness. Considering I haven't seen any of these purportedly dark episodes, I can only giggle at the possibilities of what his darkness is. Although I think at one point his darkness included getting Caitlin to make a crop circle with him? Or something? Well, anyway, all I can help thinking is there should be no way Caitlin should need to help Will with his darkness problems. She's sixteen. Best not to deal with darkness now, Caitlin. If he has darkness issues at sixteen, who knows how that's going to manifest when he's actually expected to act like a responsible adult.

Coming back to Taylor and Brett, they're walking across a parking lot and she's talking about how she guesses they can do the kiss now without their hatred for each other coming across to the audience. Then they sort of realize how idiotic that is, so she gives him that look that implies that she'd really like him to prove her wrong so they can kiss in public again, and he gets it and kisses her. Yay them. I actually like them. I...feel really weird about this.

And we end with Caitlin singing some song from the musical about Romeo while sitting out in a field with Will and Bandit. Her voice over insists that she's not like Juliet because her love is not doomed. It's starting. Yeah, sorry to break it to you, sweetie, but it's doomed. Please refer back to your earlier hospital room conversation for proof of this.

Sep 29, 2008

The Phantom Stallion plus Russell Crowe equals The Silver Stallion

The Silver Stallion (1993)
aka The Silver Brumby

So I went to the library because they had the first season of McLeod's Daughters waiting for me (I know, but I'm watching The Black Stallion...I don't know why I keep insisting on requesting things all at once), and randomly The Silver Stallion was sitting there with it. So, here we are with another movie to revisit.
The magic of the mountain. The obsession of a man. The beauty of the Silver Brumby.

Deep in the heart of the highest and most remote mountain range are the home and hiding place for the legendary Silver Stallion. The ranchers tell stories about the Silver Ghost Horse, that has led them on wild chases, half seen but never captured. For one man, the desire to capture the Silver Stallion has become an obsession, and he will stop at nothing to tame the wild beast. Told through the words of a mother as she writes page-by-page entertainment for her horse-crazy daughter.

The concept for this movie goes along nicely up until that last sentence, because that's where this movie hits a wall. I've never read The Silver Brumby, or any of Elyne Mitchell's novels for that matter, mainly because they're both ridiculously hard to find and expensive. So I'm not sure exactly what's going on, or how true it is to the book, but I do have a hard time believing she wrote herself into her story. This is unfortunate, because it's a beautiful movie and it has a young Russell Crowe in it (so how can it be bad, right?), but then it has to go stumble over itself with this mom and her daughter who spends her time looking down her nose at the men who gather up the brumbies and break them for auction. many stories like this do we need?

Apparently there is an unrelenting demand for these stories. Who am I kidding? Anyway, our movie begins somewhere in Australia. Out in the bush, or whatever. It's raining and the kid, Indi, can't sleep because of the storm. In the middle of the night, some men visit the house to tell Indi's mom, Elyne, that they patched up a fence for her while her husband is out of town. One of these men is The Man (Russell Crowe). Elyne thanks them and then goes back inside to get Indi back in bed and tell her a bedtime story about Thowra, the silver stallion.

Elyne gets all involved in her story, and so she starts to type it up after Indi has gone to sleep. The rest of the story about Thowra will be told with great amount of voice over from Elyne for the remainder of the movie, which is just about all of it. Thowra is born to this palomino mare, Bel-Bel, who is apparently the most independent mare that ever existed, because you don't see her herd for at least half of Thowra's first year. Until he runs into the Brulga, a gray stallion that Elyne has a lot of bad things to say about, along with describing him as ugly, while I think he's probably the most gorgeous horse on the set. I mean, how can you not like a dark, dappled gray? So there's the Brulga, Bel-Bel, Throwa, and Yarroman, Thowra's dad, who is constantly getting into fights with the Brulga.

(Although for the record, Thowra is the cutest foal ever right here.)

Eventually Thowra wanders across the Man, instigating Russell Crowe's obsession with capturing and taming him.

(Okay, so this shot is mainly gratuitous. Whatever.)

There he is! Russell Crowe, with his dog and his black horse. All three Elyne tries to demonize at some point, and it doesn't really work out well for her. We all know Elyne and Indi are morally superior. It's that irritating quality about horse story main characters that makes me want to punch every author of these plots in the face repeatedly. Indi at least is a rude brat, considering how she fails to speak to any man who rides a black horse because of the book her mother has been writing (which, for all she knows, is totally fictional). Although she figures it out at one point that Thowra is real, which means the Man is real, so Indi can go be somewhat justified in hating everyone who rides black horses. Really, the Man isn't evil at all. He loves the horse just as much as Indi does, he just has a different way of going about putting that love to productive use. So given all of this, I found Elyne and Indi a total waste of my time. If they'd just shut up and moved to Melbourne so Russell Crowe could get on with his story of love and obsession everyone would have been better off.

That all said, the man is getting fed up with trying to chase the horse down. So he finds himself a pretty palomino mare to buy. He names her Golden and he trains her responsibly. Observe:

This scene is only important because we're supposed to see how different the Man is compared to the other guys who just jump on any horse and beat it when they get thrown. But at this point, the Brulga has killed Yarroman and stolen all of his mares, including Thowra's mom, so Thowra is feeling his Oedipus complex pretty hard, and wants Golden for himself. He comes down and steals Golden, knocks her up, and Golden, in a state of confusion over suddenly being free, heads back to the Man to have her baby.

Of course, Thowra's all pissed that Golden has the audacity to leave his splendorous presence, so he has to go back down and get the Man to chase him around while the elements converge and lightning shatters the paddock Golden is in so she and her filly can escape...again. Seriously, that's where the story goes insane. The Man is pissed again. He's not having this, people.

Thowra takes a time out to defeat the Brulga and take all his father's mares back, including his mom, so he can stop obsessing over her. Then the Man and his friend launch Operation Obtain That Damn Stallion, which results in Throwa throwing himself off a cliff.

So he dies in the end. Elyne and Indi have their moment of tearful solitude when they hear about this, but then they hear the stallion's voice on the wind because he's a ghost now and happy or something, so they are happy too. Frankly, the Man also sort of cries on his way back from the cliff, and his reaction was way more satisfying. In that he actually had some contact and relationship with the damn stallion. Shut it, Elyne and Indi.

  • This is a really gorgeous movie, but it spends a little too much time on the scenery after a while. Add in all of Elyne's narration and it gets really slow. So eventually you can just fast forward through a lot of the movie, since there's more narration than dialogue anyway.
  • During the whole episode with Golden and her foal, Thowra comes off as an abusive boyfriend.
  • Again, I watched this on my computer and was amused that I could see the tips of the helicopter blades during some of those grand panorama shots. Oops.
  • There was also some side plot going on with Indi, Elyne, a kangaroo, and listening to the bush. I've decided to ignore this because Elyne and Indi are generally annoying.
I think I first saw this in 1994. It was a while back, and I think I enjoyed it more then. I guess I'm becoming increasingly impatient with characters like Indi, but really, they're so holier than thou anyone would be irritated with them after 93 minutes.

Sep 28, 2008

The Black Stallion: I am grugingly appreciative of this show's simpler ways.

The Adventures of the Black Stallion
Season 1.2: Vigil

I'm convinced this episode should have been called "Hostage" or "That One Time Alec Went Completely Insane." Vigil is a little too peaceful a word for what these people went through in this episode, although they really created their own problems.

Basically, it all starts with Napoleon. That feisty scamp! He's busying himself by working on the latch to his paddock gate, opening it and wandering out into the open field where Catherine is (recklessly) jumping her horse. Meanwhile, Alec is talking to his mom about his aunt and uncle, who are coming to see him race the Black at the local fair. I guess this is where I have to interject that they can't race the Black on normal circuits because he has no papers. Because the series was so fundamentally unrealistic, I give the show some points for reminding everyone that it's basically impossible for the Black to actually be raced, given that no one exactly knows what he is. I have vague memories of the book indicating that he was something more than Arabian, but I can't recall if it ever got into the stickiness of racing the Black against thoroughbreds like Sun Raider and Cyclone. I'm betting it didn't. Anyway, the Black has no papers = the Black is limited to worthless country races that people attend while eating cotton candy. It's the lowest of the low, and I have a feeling they only do it because the Black has to race or he'll go bonkers and kill something.

SO. Back to the plot, Alec's aunt and uncle are going to the fair and that's where Belle is going so she can meet up with them before Alec and Henry arrive with the Black. So she leaves and then Napoleon gets kicked in the side by Catherine's horse.

Totally unexpected, right? And look. There's that damn shirt again. I can't decide whether to hate it completely or be grudgingly appreciative of the fact that shows back then actually thought it was okay for their characters to wear the same thing more than once. Anyway, they get all up tight about Napoleon possibly colicking because of this. I have no idea if this is possible, so I'll just roll along with it. Although Henry keeps saying, "we might have a horse with a colic" like it's A broken leg or A ruptured intestine or something. I find that annoying. So Pierre tells them that the vet is coming and they can leave Napoleon with him and Catherine so they can get the Black to the fair.

Meanwhile Belle is enjoying herself at the fair in her shoulder pads that are attached to that peach jacket. She finds the relatives, who have no real role in this episode other than to hover around Belle and look confused. So they're waiting at the fair, and since these are pre-cell phone days they are unaware of the goings on with Napoleon, which are beginning to disintegrate, and not because the horse is actually getting sick. It's mainly because everyone's social skills completely break down.

While they walk Napoleon around, Henry lets the Black out of his stall. This is a HUGE mistake, because this allows the Black to go into hysterics when they try to lead Napoleon back into the barn. The Black jumps a fence, rushes into the barn to be with his sick friend, and is prepared to beat the living crap out of anyone that dares enter.

Just for the record, I really don't buy this situation. Alec is supposed to be the Black's be all and end all, not Napoleon. This scene culminates in Alec trying to talk the Black down like he's a jumper clinging to the side of a building, and the Black somehow bloodies Alec's nose while Napoleon is lying down in his stall (although not thrashing, which from all I can tell is a good thing). After the Black basically punches Alec in the nose, things calm down a little and Alec can get in to see Napoleon.

So Alec begins to miracle work Napoleon back to health with a sponge while the vet yells instructions into the barn. The Black still won't let anyone in, and everyone outside the barn starts to become increasingly agitated. What if Napoleon dies! The Black might go mad! Mad! The vet seems to be the most vocal about wanting to get in there so she can just put the horse down and get the hell out of there. I mean, I don't blame her. The situation is increasingly crazy, but she's also clearly a bitch. So while Henry talks to Alec, who has apparently been talking to the Black in their secret language between boy and horse or whatever and is all "the Black knows, Henry," the vet and Pierre sneak into the back door and try to get at the stall. But the Black rushes them and this really breaks all of Alec's trust. He starts yelling.

Yes, it's frightening. I know, but there's a lot of this going on around the end of this little drama. The Black knows! You all don't understand my emotional history with this animal! Napoleon is going to be JUST FINE! JUST FREAKING FINE!! Because THE BLACK KNOWS, HENRY!!! Also, Richard Ian Cox has some really crooked teeth. I don't know if I wish he'd had braces or to be grudgingly appreciative of a simpler time when actors didn't have to have perfect teeth.

Well, as it happens, Catherine finds Belle, who abandons Alec's aunt and uncle at the fair (seriously, she just rushes off and they're left with further confusion). She appears at the barn and miraculously understands that yelling at her son will further cause him to slip into insanity, and if that happens she'll probably never get him out of the barn. So she lets him do whatever the hell he wants to do in there and tells everyone else to back off. That means you, bitchy vet. So the vet goes home and Pierre proceeds to not care, I guess, and that leaves Henry to sleep outside in his lawn chair while Alec nurses Napoleon. And in the morning, Napoleon is just fine! What a miracle! Never saw that one coming or anything.

Therefore we learn that the Black is right, and Alec is right, and everyone else with their human logic just suck. Then Alec and Henry fix the gate and Napoleon can frolic in peace and limited freedom. Hurrah!

Sep 27, 2008

The Saddle Club: In which we learn that old people are still useful.

Saddle Club S.1.05 “Horse Shy”

Ok, I ride western and never took formal lessons, so I don’t even know what to call the lesson they’re doing at the beginning of the episode. I think it might be gymkhana, but I am not swearing by it. They are in two teams competing against each other one at a time over a small obstacle course thing. I’m ignorant, but it looks like a lot of fun. Anyway…

Lisa races against Veronica, only Lisa is afraid to canter, so she loses by a lot. It seems like I’ve seen her canter in earlier episodes, but whatever. Veronica is predictably a bitch about it, Lisa is sad, and I have déjà vu of every episode of the Saddle Club ever. Stevie vows that they will teach Lisa to canter, or die trying.

Opening credits here. Ah ha! Lisa canters there!

The little girl, Ashley, seems to think Mrs. Reg knows nothing about riding. I mean, why would she? She only owns a riding stable. Prancer’s leg is better, so she’s ready to be put out with another horse. Max suggests Starlight, and asks Carole to make the introductions. Oh, and Prancer has a very obviously painted on star. Whatever.

Starlight is not thrilled with Prancer’s stunt double and proceeds to kick said doppelganger in the chest. Max tells Carole to leave them to let them settle down, but they don’t. Carole is very upset by this and calls Starlight a bully. If you’ve never been around horses, or even if you have, this sort of thing can be upsetting. My own mare is the herd bitch, and every new horse is initiated with tooth and hoof.

Mrs. Reg compares Starlight and Prancer to the friendship of the Saddle Club, if Max had ordered them to be friends, it never would have happened. She then goes to show a picture of herself jumping to Ashley, who seems impressed until Max mentions that Mrs. Reg hasn’t ridden like that since “the hip replacement surgery.” Ashley says that her mother said old people break bones all the time. Mrs. Reg is not amused. Max says he couldn’t resist.

Carole and Stevie try to convince Lisa that cantering is so much fun, and that they’ll make Veronica eat her words. They try leading Lisa and Patch into a canter, which doesn’t work, then they try lounging Patch, which seems to work until Lisa falls off. I’m confused as to how that could happen because Patch has a western saddle with a horn. It’s a handle, darling, use it if you have to. Lisa is discouraged, again.

Mrs. Reg plans on going for a ride because she doesn’t want Ashley thinking that only young people can ride. Out in the woods, the Saddle Club is walking back when a thunderstorm comes out of nowhere. Carole suggests they take a shortcut, but they’ll have to canter. Lisa tells them to go ahead, but they refuse to leave her. They do send Stevie and Comanche ahead because the horse is terrified of thunderstorms.

Real life advise here. You NEVER try to ride back when there’s lightning overhead. A wet rider on top of a huge, wet animal is a major lightning rod. You get out of the woods, get into the lowest place you can find, and wait it out. Period. Horses are thousand pound, furry lightning rods.

At Pine Hollow, Veronica’s being a bitch until Phil suddenly shows up, then she’s all sweetness. Kristi says he’s alright in a baby faced kind of way, and we are treated to Veronica crooning that he’s “Soooo, kyoot.” Bleh.

Comanche freaks out and throws Stevie, then rears repeatedly at the top of a hill. For once, the show actually scared me due to my aforementioned comment on horses getting struck by lightning. Stevie has rolled over a cliff and is now standing on a very narrow ledge with a very long way down, should she fall. Carole actually comes up with a clever plan of using the lounge line, tied to Starlight’s saddle horn, as a repel line. Lisa walks Starlight toward the end, lowering Carole. Good plan, but for drama’s sake it doesn’t work. The line, rubbing on the rock, breaks. Now both girls are trapped on the ledge.

Lisa now has to go for help and, gasp, she has to canter. Dramatic music please.

At Pine Hollow, Mrs. Reg and Max discuss Starlight and Prancer. Max then asks where the Saddle Club is. Cut to Lisa still cantering through the woods with riderless Comanche following behind. When they get to the barn, Lisa tells Mrs. Reg, who follows her out with Barq. When they get there Mrs. Reg lowers herself down in the same way that Carole had (and I’m not going to lie, I half expected the same result, to which I would have laughed, a lot.) But she doesn’t fall, and Starlight pulls them to safety. Yay. And Carole’s not upset with Starlight anymore. Yay.

So Lisa not only cantered, but she galloped and the whole stable is impressed. Veronica is annoyed that Phil is impressed. Ashley is impressed with Mrs. Reg. In an interesting twist the girls scold themselves while Max applauds their good work with Lisa. And now Starlight and Prancer are best friends. Whee.

End credits.

Ok, this episode did make my heart race a little with the horses in the thunderstorm. Plus ten points. Then it insulted me with the falling off the cliff plot. Minus five points. Then it was cute with the conversations between Max, Mrs. Reg, and Ashley. Plus three points. Then it continued the asinine preteen romance crap. Minus five thousand points. Somehow this adds up to a C+. Whatever.

Sep 26, 2008

The Black Stallion: Reinventing a children's favorite to mild jazz music.

The Adventures of the Black Stallion
Season 1.1: Where There's A Will

So this is the first of my Black Stallion marathon, which would make this the second time I've watched this season this year. Weirdly enough. I decided to go back through it because it proved pretty popular in the online poll here, and what the hell, right?

I should first admit that I haven't read most of the Black Stallion books. I think I mainly determined that they were boring on top of being unrealistic adventures I could never exactly get into completely. In fact, I don't think I've read all of The Black Stallion, but like that matters here. The first thing you need to know about this series is that you don't need to know very much about The Black Stallion, because it reinvents the storyline. For instance, Alec Ramsey is suddenly a teenager in 1990 (instead of the 1940s). Instead of living in New York, he lives somewhere in British Columbia. His parents owned Hopeful Farm before his father died. (I presume this happened during the shipwreck...bringing up some questions about what the Drake was considering this is 1990. A cruise ship, perhaps? What was the Black doing on a cruise ship? Well, whatever.) Hopeful Farm is a showing stable, and this is where the Black is currently training. In a field, I guess. The only thing that still holds true to the original story is that there was a shipwreck, the Black saved Alec's life, and they lived on an island for a while. Afterward they came home and ran into Henry. Then...I'm not really sure where the story goes. It just picks up here, in 1990, in British Columbia.

That said, let's get on with this. I don't know if this is the pilot or whatever aired after the pilot, because if it's the pilot...I have a hard time believing it. It's a really random episode, driven entirely by the fact that Henry (and for the record, I did type Charlie just now and had to delete it...who knows how many times that is going to happen) is OLD. He is, like, decrepit. So he's watching Alec and the Black gallop in a circle in a field (this is their training method) and he has something similar to a heart attack after screaming about how the Black needs a ring bit and everyone comes rushing over to help. They call 911 and rush him to the hospital, resulting in emo!Alec.

After wandering around in the field with the Black for a while, he spends some time cuddling with Henry. Only Henry has to wake up eventually, asking for hot dogs and such. Alec is hesitant to give him any processed meat given that Henry basically had a heart attack (it was something heart related...not that I remember now, and no, it's not that important). The doctors discharge him and Henry goes back to Hopeful Farm so he can be depressed over the fact that he's old and decrepit. He's so old and decrepit, he tells Alec he can't handle training the Black anymore. No one could possibly expect him to drive that giant ass trailer they cart the Black around in, after all. And no kidding. The thing is huge.

I have a feeling that trailer gobbled up the bulk of the show's budget, actually. And that's for hauling around one horse. Maybe two if Napoleon is involved. It must be the most awesome horse trailer ever. I can't remember if it makes its way to France and New Zealand later on (really, this show was very cool. France and New Zealand?), but if it did this show gets bonus points.

Moving on, Alec is upset by Henry's admission that he is no longer going to train the Black. He has a long talk with his mother about Henry's condition, where she assures him that Henry is just scared of living now that he's had his brush with death. He's lost hope that he can live life to the fullest now that he's old and decrepit, you see. It's common, so the doctors have told her. I have a screencap of this scene, just because it involves the Ramsey kitchen, which needs to be documented for posterity.

Yes, those are purple cabinets and counter tops. May this never happen again. I'm not even going to discuss Alec's shirt. I remember fashion in 1990 too well, and if I get into the sheer hideousness of this article of clothing I might have to dredge up my own awful memories of this time period. I mean, this was 1990. This was the era where every television show and movie had that hideous saxophone music playing in the background. Who remembers this? Who wants to just die every time you hear it? This show has plenty of that horrible background music, people. It's earsplitting in its mellow, jazzy way.

So Alec troops out to where Henry has stationed himself in his lawn chair, dutifully waiting for someone to pick him up and take him to a retirement home in Florida. Alec insists that Henry is just waiting to die and tries to motivate him, but it doesn't work and Alec storms off to brood. This results in another chat with his mom (her name is Belle, which I'm sure was not the case in the books) that I also have to screencap.

Yes, she's wearing one earring and yes, it's practically touching her hand. She's going on about how she was feeling (sort of, I can't tell if she just forgot her lines and the director liked it or if she actually wasn't supposed to say anything meaningful) when Alec's dad died, but all I could do was stare at that earring. Alec asks her what they should do with Henry (note: almost typed Charlie again) and she just smiles and they walk off, where I guess they're going to come up with a way to sabotage Henry's Florida dreams.

This happens in the form of Pierre. Pierre is Henry's nemesis. Sort of. In that he is Hopeful Farm's riding instructor and Henry thinks anything that is not racing is a waste of time. Pierre thinks the exact opposite, so they never get along. I was almost always convinced that Pierre and Belle would eventually get married, but since they both disappear when the show moves to France I'll just have to fabricate that story in my head. If I cared, anyway. So Pierre tells Henry that he's going to start training the Black, something that Henry is immediately suspicious of. How dare that French riding instructor take over Henry's job! He's just besides himself as he watches Pierre instruct Alec, who falls off of the Black for seemingly no reason. Henry yells about how they're "doing it all wrong" and that there can only be one trainer and Pierre immediately agrees and walks off, giving Belle a thumbs up. Everyone is thrilled!

And Henry and Alec continue to train the Black to run around in a circle in a pasture. Then they load him into that giant trailer and haul him off somewhere while discussing all the junk food they're going to consume on the road.

  • The guy who is riding the Black is an obvious stunt double, but at one point they use him in a scene where Alec is supposed to be speaking to Catherine (the French girl that is training at Hopeful Farm, but really wants to be a jockey and will disappear after this season), but they're still using the stunt double and trying to sync Alec's words over the image when the double's mouth is not moving. To their credit, I never noticed this before now. And I probably only now noticed it because I'm watching it on a computer. So. Yeah. Anyway.
  • Napoleon is a chestnut in this series. Boo.
  • At one point Alec, in a fit of rage after being unsuccessful in tempting Henry back into his job, throws a water bucket at a wall, upsetting the Black. The Black screams and is upset and Alec just yells, "it's not you!" at him. kidding. You just threw something at the wall next to your horse. I think this kid has anger issues.
So, that's all here. More Black Stallion episodes to come.

Sep 25, 2008

This. This just isn't fair.

Seriously, why didn't the Thoroughbred series have its own television show? The Saddle Club and Heartland have theirs, and apparently there's a Phantom Stallion show in some stage of early I demand to know. Why no Thoroughbred, people who control these things? We get Wildfire and no Thoroughbred? I demand a Thoroughbred tv series so I can be obsessed with it! It could be Canadian. They could take great liberties with the story. Brad could be awesome (I mean, you know he would be). Ashleigh could be blond. I don't care. I'd still watch it. Are you hearing me, television people? I need a Thoroughbred tv series. Immediately.

That is all.

A Summer of Horses: I have a headache now.

A Summer of Horses
by Carol Fenner
Published: 1989

I think I've fulfilled my horsey summer vacation book quota for my lifetime at this point.

Ten-year-old Faith has just one problem with learning to ride during her summer on a horse farm: horses terrify her. As Faith struggles to overcome her fear, she discovers new strengths in herself.

Faith and Gem have been shipped off to their mother's college friend for the summer, kicking both kids out of the house because she's recently given birth to twins and, God, it's so much easier having to take care of two kids rather than four and...wait. Guess this is another one of those foresight issues rearing its ugly head. Given that Faith is ten and Gem is a teenager, I imagine these twins are delightful accidents. So Faith and Gem are at the train station waiting on Beth, the college friend, while Faith whines about how she knows she could have helped out with the twins, but noooo, she's stuck at a train station waiting for some woman with her sister who stuffs her bra. Life sucks. Sort of. Then Beth trots up with her horse and buggy. This is received with some apprehension, but the girls get in and Beth trots them all back to the farm.

It's worth mentioning now that Faith thinks she's some sort of Dr. Doolittle. For instance, she feels animals speak to her and she can understand them. In a non-insane way. More like in an annoyingly confident and juvenile way. So when Faith troops into a paddock full of horses she doesn't know and they get hyper with her, Faith's swollen courage deflates rapidly. This whole acting stupid around large animals you don't know how to handle thing? Not a good idea, Faithy.

So since Faith is now frightened of horses (especially the big black appropriately called Thundercloud), although I have a feeling it's mostly just her ego being bruised by reality, she's a little discouraged about this learning to ride thing. When Beth gets her up on a horse, she sort of sucks. Adding insult to injury, Gem is fantastic. And she doesn't even like animals, you guys. How dare someone who doesn't pretend to speak to animals and expect their undying affection be good at telling one what to do. So Faith continues to suck at riding, Gem continues to shine, and Beth exhibits some astonishingly awful instruction skills. Her teaching style is yell, yell, yell, act exasperated, and then ignore the kids that don't react well to this. Needless to say, Faith and Beth aren't on the same wavelength. Mainly because Faith doesn't know what she's doing and Beth has no patience and is really no good at her job.

Eventually, Faith gets to the point where Beth feels she should canter, but she's royally failing at getting the horse to move faster than a trot. Beth, in an astonishing move, gets pissed about this so she grabs a crop and whacks the lazy horse on the ass. The horse loses it and canters off with Faith, who is obviously upset and has no idea what to do while Beth shouts instructions at her. Unable to follow Beth's instructions, Faith falls off the horse. Beth then basically reprimands her for not following her orders and tells her flat out that she fell because she didn't want to canter and accuses her of basically being a dope. Thankfully Faith doesn't take this lying down and snaps back at her before getting back on the horse, trots around in a circle, and then decides she never wants to ride a horse again. She tells this to Beth after a few days of ignoring lessons, and Beth basically agrees that she's a weakling with no competitive spirit.

After this, Faith gets involved with this kitten that she names Blackie Whiteface. Guess what the kitten looks like, you guys. Just guess. Anyway, the kitten really becomes Faith's while she's there and she's finally a little happier with her situation. Especially after they go to a show in Detroit and she meets this beautiful cowboy that initially she wants for herself. Yes, I find this remarkably distressing given that Faith is ten. Because she notices the cowboy looking at Beth, Faith decides that she's going to give the cowboy to Beth. As a present, you see. Because BETH NEEDS A MAN. A man who cooks. And cleans. And can lift heavy things, you see. Beth is basically a messy whirlwind who can't get her life together if it doesn't involve horses, so the girls decide she needs a husband who can do all the things she can't. God, that is the last thing any disheveled woman needs, I am telling you right now.

So Faith brazenly asks the cowboy (Ben Warren) to dinner and asks him to cook. really pushy when it comes right down to it. Man, she'll be a heart breaker when she's older. So Beth puts on a dress and wobbles around in high heels and Faith is distressed by this because she thinks Beth is more likely to break her ankles than get laid. At least, that's what Faith would be thinking if she was older. It's definitely what Gem is thinking (she refers to Beth as a "potential lover" so I am not far off the mark). So Ben cooks and they drink wine (in moderation, of course) and the two hit if off. Because Ben is a traveling horse show judge or something to that effect, he basically starts to live in Beth's front yard in his van. This is a horrible idea, because eventually the two start arguing because it is so blatantly obvious that he is a neat freak and she is perfectly happy letting the phone bill go until the service is cut off. This is a relationship doomed to failure.

In the middle of this, Faith learns to lounge horses and somehow learns how to communicate with them that way. Then Blackie Whiteface dies. This is tragic. I was actually touched...which I found rather shocking.

Moving on. After one of these fights, Ben decides he's had it and packs up his things (even his socks, so we know this is the most organized man on the planet). Beth very calmly goes out to the barn and gets Thundercloud and tears out of there all Joanna Campbell style. Thundercloud spooks, throws Beth, knocks Beth unconscious, and Faith has to save the day by getting on Thundercloud and racing to wave down Ben before he can van himself out of their lives forever. So the day is saved, only Beth has a broken collarbone and a fractured arm and is still arguing with Ben, who inexplicably decides to stay in a misguided attempt to organize her. Faith gets over her horse issues, and seems to have learned to jump all by herself by the end of the book.

  • Ye Gods, people. Ye Gods. It's their favorite exclamatory sentence and it drives me crazy.
  • It's pointed out that, ye Gods, no man would ever have Beth because she's independent and too willful and would not be a proper wife, or something. This upsets me to a great degree, especially considering the girls later on conclude that she needs a husband who cooks. Then her life will be complete. What does she get? A man who cooks and is organized and can't stand living with her because she's messy, so it's her fault they fight. Just, no.
  • There is mention of going to a disco. I just thought I'd give this a bullet point for the fun of it.
So that's it for A Summer of Horses. I liked it to a certain degree, although I think there's no way some of the language in this book would ever be found in the vocabulary of a normal ten-year-old kid.

I think I'll mix things up and read Riding Lessons next.

Sep 24, 2008

Disney, we need to talk.

Ready to Run. 2000. Jason Dohring and a girl no one has ever heard of race a talking horse that wears headphones. Why is this movie not available to me?


Nick Nolte, no one wants your creepy box of porn.

Simpatico (2000)
How much can three friends share?

What happens when passion and greed surface in the heart of Kentucky's stunning thoroughbred country? Nick Nolte, Sharon Stone, and Jeff Bridges star as three friends who share the bond of a crime they committed 20 years ago. When their secret surfaces, it threatens to unravel the tightly woven fabric of their lives. Now, they must decide how far they will go to keep the secret buried -- or whether to face the consequences of setting things right, in this electrifying drama about the good and evil friends share.

I have wanted to watch this for a while, ever since someone said the best part of this movie was watching the horse in question (Simpatico) run in a paddock for about ten seconds. As you can imagine, the rest of it must be beyond bad. It's not really beyond bad. It's just that it tries in vain for some deep meaning that it completely misses, finding itself in some pornographic quagmire. Pornographic quagmire? Surely that must be interesting! No, no it really isn't. So here we go.

This is Carter. Commonly known as Jeff Bridges. He owns a thoroughbred breeding (and one would assume training, given there is a track there) farm somewhere south of Lexington. We know this because Vinnie (Nick Nolte) starts the movie by circling it several times on a map, as if he could have possibly forgotten where his friend's horse farm is.

This is Vinnie. He spends most of his time drinking and littering. And waving a loaded gun at home films someone took of him and Carter when they were younger. He calls up Carter and starts up this sob story about how some woman is charging him with assault and how he needs his help and he has to come now or the police might shake the awful story of their collective past out of him, ruining everyone's lives. So Carter drops everything (everything being selling Simpatico to Arab interests) and flies to California. Where he meets Vinnie in his ramshackle bachelor pad.

Vinnie convinces Carter to go talk to the woman and convince her not to charge him with whatever crime it is that he committed. They also talk about these photographs that Vinnie keeps in a shoe box he has scotch taped to death. (Yes, the photographs are porn. Obviously.) On the way there, Vinnie drinks some more and makes a crack about Carter's wife, which results in road raging and angry shoving. During this time there's some Important Information dropped about this guy they figuratively and literally screwed (well, the younger Sharon Stone did the screwing, but we'll get to that later) who changed his name and became a bloodstock agent in Kentucky. Vinnie asks Carter if someone doesn't, you know, recognize him and Carter shouts, "He changed his name!" As if that changes what he looks like? Well, whatever. They have to go chat up Cecelia, the lady who Vinnie loves and possibly assaulted.

Back at the farm, the Arab interests are watching Simpatico cover a mare.

And they're taking pictures. And filming it. This is TOTALLY mirroring the porn in Vinnie's shoe box, in case anyone was curious. And yes, this is the movie trying to be smart. Incidentally, the action they're watching is just a horse rearing repeatedly, whereas the camera is filming prerecorded footage of a live cover.

Carter has tea with Cecelia (Catherine Keener), who tells him she has no idea what Vinnie is talking about. Vinnie, meanwhile, steals Carter' s rental and drunk drives himself to the airport, where he flies to Kentucky with this shoe box of photos. The photos Carter wants. For some reason. Carter then goes berserk looking for the photos and makes Cecelia drive him around in her VW Bug. Vinnie goes to find this bloodstock agent guy that they screwed way back when and tells him about the photos in a roundabout way which results in bloodstock agent guy basically telling him off because he's not interested in getting his life back. Vinnie is depressed about this. No one wants his shoe box of porn! Woe is him. Except bloodstock agent guy calls up Carter (I guess they know each other, or something, outside of the aforementioned screwing) and tells him that Vinnie was there with the photos and Carter flips out and has Cecelia go to Kentucky with a ton of money so she can buy the photos. She initially doesn't want to do this, but he offers to get her these fantastic box seats to the Kentucky Derby. He even buys her a dress. So she goes to Lexington to talk to bloodstock agent guy. Observe:

Bloodstock agent: Wow, you're pretty. I'm going to unbutton my shirt and take off my shoes and talk about how pretty you are. Blood is rushing to...places. If you get my meaning.
Catherine: Um, this is uncomfortable. Wait, you're that guy in the porn photos! Oh my God!

This results in a "meaningful" conversation at Churchill Downs. How or why they got there, I don't know. Apparently Hollywood thinks Churchill Downs is in Lexington? Well, whatever. At least her extreme revulsion to his pervyness has convinced him to button his shirt and put his shoes back on. This doesn't stop him from coming on to her later at the airport and later promise to stalk her at the Kentucky Derby when she comes back in May. Creep. Seriously.

So, while that's happening, Carter is getting all drunk in California because Vinnie stole his wallet and he can't get home (Dude, it's called a private plane. Get one.) while the Arab guys are busy dining on his front lawn. Vinnie shows up at the farm and talks to Rosie, who used to be his girlfriend before he convinced her to have sex with the bloodstock agent guy so they could blackmail him into turning a blind eye to their ringer operation that I guess made Carter rich? I don't know how he managed to get Simpatico (a Triple Crown winner...of course he is), but he did and he basically bought Three Chimneys on top of it. Who knows. So, Vinnie goes to see Rosie and does this really pathetic attempt to get her to run away with him? Maybe? By showing her porn? That she's in? I don't know where that was going or what the motivations were there, but regardless Rosie is not impressed. She steals Vinnie's gun and threatens him and then kicks him out.

So Rosie calls Carter, who is still probably drunk, who tells her that Simpatico is going to be infertile in six months (they just know this, like you can track fertility to a point where you know exactly when it stops...I don't know if this is possible. I'd bank on it being false.) Rosie gasps and says, "But they'll kill him!" Because Triple Crown winning stallions are killed after their fertile days are over, of course. Uh-huh. Carter dismisses this, saying Simpatico has had a great life. Who cares if some Arab guys kill him, right? Rosie is not pleased with this idea and goes off to ride Simpatico barefoot in her evening gown. One of Simpatico's future owners looks up from the party and his expression can only be: wtf?

So as he's watching this crazy woman gallop the Triple Crown winner around in her evening gown, Carter and Vinnie gather up wood to burn the porn. They burn the porn. That's not interesting, because we all knew the porn wasn't important to begin with. This means that the entire story wasn't important to begin with. It's basically a waste of film. What is the most astonishing scene is the end of Sharon Stone's random barefoot gallop in her evening gown. Because she takes the horse out to some secluded paddock, pulls his saddle off, whips Vincent's gun out of...her underwear? what?...and shoots the horse in the head.

Then she sits next to the dead horse and I guess she ponders the desolation of life. I bet she also ponders why she always has to do all the hard things. Have sex with creepy bloodstock agent guy? Check. Kill a Triple Crown winner for no apparent reason? Check. She's on a roll.

  • At one point, Carter asks Cecelia if she knows about Swaps, the great racehorse. Then he tells her a story about how they used to watch Swaps in his paddock, and the movie helpfully cuts to the three kids (Carter, Vinnie and Rosie) in a paddock with Swaps. Really. And Vinnie gets on Swaps and races him bareback against Carter on a motorcycle. Really. No, really. Why did I not screencap this? Blah.
  • The great crime was a ringer operation. The bloodstock agent guy was previously the racing commissioner of California. Maybe. I don't know if that's really who they'd need to blackmail, but that's what the movie seems to imply. So they needed someone to turn a blind eye, because he knew about the operation. So Vinnie got Rosie to sleep with agent guy while Vinnie took pictures of it all behind a two way mirror...which I guess existed randomly in hotels in the 1970s? I have no idea about that. None at all. Afterward Rosie gets all pissed that her boyfriend took pictures of her screwing a dirty old man (despite the fact that she agreed with this, and went through with it, I guess her forethought is really lacking in the sex department), so she dumped him and got together with Carter and became an alcoholic.
  • Also, the last ringer that they run should have been fairly obvious. Not only do all three go up to the windows at the same time, they all bet the same amount of cash ($500). I mean, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize what's going on here.
  • The whole scene with Vinnie and the bloodstock agent guy...think Field of Dreams, only with raging alcoholism, questionable morals, and a box of porn. It's trying really hard, guys, but the movie falls so short it's worth watching just for this scene alone.
  • They wouldn't have killed a Triple Crown winner after he stopped being fertile. That's ridiculous. Thus the whole ending is meaningless and stupid.
  • This movie makes no sense. I can't decide if this was a poor adaptation of the play or if the play was just that bad. No one cares about the porn except Carter and Vinnie, who just burn it later. The purpose of all this is what? Nick Nolte gets a free ride to Kentucky, Sharon Stone kills a horse, and Jeff Bridges decides he wants to go on a two day bender for seemingly no reason? What the hell is going on?
The movie ends during a shot of the Kentucky Derby. Catherine Keener is there. It was the best part of the movie because no one said anything and Nick Nolte, Sharon Stone, and Jeff Bridges weren't there to shower the wonderful event with their porn angst. So yeah, that's the best part. If you don't count the ten seconds of watching Simpatico run around.

Sep 23, 2008

The Long Shot: Ice cream can and will ruin everyone's lives.

The Long Shot (TV, 2004)
Can a Blind Horse and an Injured Rider Make a Winning Combination?
Newly relocated to California Annie Garrett is left by her hot-tempered husband with a young daughter and a horse to support so she needs someplace to live and to work. She finds both at the stable where Mary Lou O Brian hires her and barn manager Guido Levits befriends her but the biggest challenge for Annie has yet to come.
Apparently whoever wrote this blurb does not believe in commas. That, or Amazon doesn't believe in commas, as that's where I lifted this from. Anyway, this is a Hallmark made-for-TV movie, so I warn you now about the sappiness. Also, seeing as how this has Julie Benz in it, I keep expecting her to scream "God doesn't want you!" before she has a nervous breakdown and kills someone. So sappiness coming from Julie Benz just really confused me.

Starting out, Annie (Benz) is getting ready to move to California, where her husband has found work as a farm manager or something like that. Annie is getting her horse, Tolo, from the stable she's been riding at since she was a little girl, back when she had a sister (Kate) and all was right with the world. Her old lesson instructor sits her down to ask her if she's really 100% positive that she's making the right decision, tells her flat out that her husband is an asshole, and gives her the name of a woman he knows in California if she needs help/work/a better mother figure. Touched, Annie says her goodbyes and goes home to say goodbye to her parents. Here we learn that her dad is the one Annie most connects with, while her mother is frigid and unfeeling toward Annie after events transpired that made birthdays forbidden in their household.

You see, long ago Annie forgot to pick up ice cream for their father's birthday. Kate had to go get the ice cream, and wound up getting in a car wreck instead. Her mother inadvertently laid all the blame at Annie's feet because had Annie just gotten the damned ice cream like she was supposed to none of this would have happened. So Annie's dad gives her a gas card and some cash, and as soon as she gets in the car with Asshole Husband, he asks her for the cash he figures her dad gave her. She gives him the gas card instead. Good going, Annie.

Annie also has a daughter, Taylor, whose only problem in life is that she's moving to a state where it hardly snows. Don't worry, Taylor's about to get a boatload of problems shoved her way, because as soon as they get to California, Asshole Husband finds out that there is no job waiting for him, so he abandons Annie, Taylor, and their horse. Annie has to find a place to stick Tolo, and because they have no money for the hotel anymore they wind up staying in a stall with the horse at some equestrian center place or whatever. Then she runs into this Mary Lou person her ex-instructor told her about, and they chat and blah blah blah she lands a job with Mary Lou, like we all knew she would, only it was a long, convoluted, hemming and hawing trip to that destination. Okay.

So she's working for Mary Lou. At this point, she's got to tell Taylor that Asshole Husband isn't coming back, resulting in child antics. She runs back to the equestrian center, where Asshole Husband happens to be working, and he abandons his daughter again. The nice vet, John, finds her and all is well. Then Mary Lou starts working on Annie, insisting she enter some competition thing with Tolo. Tolo is a dressage horse. This is a dressage movie. They enter a dressage competition and win, qualifying for some Grand Prix event that will be important later. Only after the event we discover that Tolo is blind (all of a sudden). Crap, you guys. Nice Vet John comes along and gives Annie her options. She decides to teach Tolo how to go on with his life by sticking a bell on Red, Mary Lou's dressage horse, and making them best buddies so Tolo can follow Red around. I have no idea if this is a sound method for teaching a blind horse how to do anything, but there you have it. The horse is taught. Nice Vet John and Annie sort of start to make eyes at each other (this idea is made even further obvious by people giggling all the time when they talk about them), but she is married and will just have to be friends for right now. He's okay with that because he is Nice.

Then she falls off a ladder and breaks her ankle or something. Her frigid mother shows up, intending to take them back home, but Annie perseveres and stays after they blow up over how her mom always remembered how may ribbons Kate won and doesn't seem to care about Annie. Later on, Frigid Mom tells Mary Lou that of course she knows how many ribbons Annie won (well, why didn't you just tell your daughter rather than sit there and look offended, you crazy woman?) and Mary Lou tells her about how her daughter died of a drug overdose when she was 17 and at least Frigid Mom has a daughter, so shut up about your stupid problems all ready.

Meanwhile, Annie doesn't want to ride because she doesn't think she's ready. So she keeps retraining Tolo before Mary Lou lays down the gauntlet on her, making Annie feel it's necessary to test her newly healed leg by riding Red. Alone. At night. It's like all these horse story characters have the same stupid thought process. Who's going to be there if you wind up not being able to ride, Annie? Huh?

Anyway, the most that happens is that she discovers she can't post correctly, so she fashions herself a splint and wins another competition on Red. Then the bank comes calling for $8,000, because Tolo was used as collateral for a loan. So they're going to come along and take Tolo if Annie can't come up with the money. She fixes this situation by going to the Grand Prix event she qualified for on Tolo and Red. Only then Asshole Husband has to show up and try to tempt her to go to Virginia with him, only the car is broken down and blah blah blah, which results in a fight where he shoves her and tries to cripple Red. Only Red beats him up and security comes and Annie makes him sign the divorce papers instead of charging him for assault. Nicely done, Annie.

Then Nice Vet John has to tell Annie that Red is injured and cannot be ridden in the show, so she rides Tolo, the Miraculous Blind Horse, and wins. She gets to keep Tolo, everyone has a birthday party for Annie and Taylor (they are allowed now, you see), her parents show up and Frigid Mom officially gets over it, and Annie tells Nice Vet John they can be friends and kiss. Joy! And Taylor gets two coolers full of crushed ice. The movie ends during a "snowball fight," which is really just everyone throwing crushed ice at each other.

So, yeah, it's corny and sappy and factually inconsistent and a Hallmark movie. I still liked it. Now if only I can get my library copy of The Derby Stallion to work. I know you all want to see Zac Efron fall off of horses, right? I mean, I do. I'm also working on A Summer of Horses, but after the fourth time someone said "Ye Gods" in the first two chapters, I determined that it was a book that warranted note taking. So, all I can say is, prepare yourselves.

Sep 22, 2008

The Saddle Club: In which no one listens to Max, and that’s alright.

Saddle Club S.1.04 “Trail Ride Part 2”

Ok, to recap the last episode: Lisa has low self-esteem, Carole doesn’t really do anything, Stevie hates Phil, Phil loves Stevie, Veronica loves Phil, Veronica’s horse discovers he still possesses his balls and dumps her. I feel I might be evil for laughing as much as I did when Veronica is knocked out. Oh, and Kristi loves Red, who is either oblivious, or kind of a jerk. Meh…

Ok, Kristi’s scheme of delaying Red fails because Barq refuses to fake a limp in the name of preteen romance.

Cobalt has Black Beauty faithfulness for about five seconds before deciding he’d really rather be eating dinner back at the camp. He takes off, leaving Veronica unconscious, because they just don’t make Magical Black Stallions like they used to.

The Saddle Club and Phil are wondering where Veronica has gone. They tell Max, who’s obviously not happy. Cobalt comes running into camp lathered up and spooked. Max tells the kids to stay at the camp while he goes out to find her. I’m not sure why he bothers, because obviously they go out after he leaves. Phil insists on coming because there are wild dogs in the wood, and he knows the trails.

Veronica wakes up, is sore and disoriented, but the biggest reaction is anger that there’s a hole in her brand new riding pants. Jeez, girl, you’re rich, you can get new pants. If I woke up in a similar situation, I’d be terrified that something had happened to my horse. Veronica never once thinks of Cobalt. I know we’re supposed to hate her, but I didn’t until now. She throws a tantrum, then proceeds to wander around aimlessly in the woods for a while. Brilliant.

Stevie and Phil are fighting. They go off on a side trail while Carole and Lisa stick to the main trail. We get a shot of Max on Delilah finding Veronica’s cell phone (the smallest cell phone in the world, remember? How could he even see it?). Then we see Carole and Lisa. Patch is giving Lisa a hard time, trying to eat and then dancing out from under her. Lisa admits that she doesn’t think she’s a good enough rider to keep up with Carole and Stevie. Carole tells her she’s doing better than she had on her first MTO, and that she remembered how hard it was being a beginner.

Veronica fails at survival. As she wanders aimlessly she manages to fall down a rocky hill and injure her ankle. Stevie and Phil are still fighting and get lost.

At Pine Hollow, Kristi’s still trying to get Red’s attention. She now tells him that she can’t find Barq’s bridle. Red’s starting to get a little annoyed, but is trying to be nice, so he follows Kristi to the tack room. There Ashley and Melanie are cleaning tack and have Barq’s bridle. Red thanks them for all their hard work, and Kristi says he should take them out to thank them, but he gives them money and tells them to go get pizza. I have to say, with Kristi’s not so subtle flirting, Red either knows she has a crush on him, or is the most oblivious guy in the world. If he knows, I think it’s more than a little cruel to just ignore her. But that’s just me…

Veronica’s having a pity party in the woods and asks if her life could get any worse, which it does when a wild dog shows up. Lisa and Carole go to find Stevie and Phil. Max is still looking for Veronica. Stevie and Phil exchange weird, supposedly romantic sideways glances. Seriously, how old are these kids? Then they hear Veronica yelling and race off to the rescue. Stevie and Comanche manage to scare off the dog, but it returns with another dog in tow.

I kinda think it’s amazing that neither Comanche or Teddy bolt from these wild dogs, even after their riders dismount and walk away. Where can I get my horses trained like that?

Anyway, Lisa and Carole hear the trio screaming and take off toward the screams, as does Max. Lisa blows the emergency whistle her mom gave her and scares the dogs off. Max tells Veronica he’s sending her home to see the doctor, and that things could have been much worse if the Saddle Club wasn’t there. Yep, you read that right, he doesn’t even half-ass scold them for going out against his orders.

Back at Pine Hollow, the Saddle Club finds out Phil will be coming for lessons on Saturday. Stevie and Phil apologize to each other, then start bickering again, much to the amusement of Lisa and Carole.

Roll the end credit. Yay…

I’m having a hard time rating this episode. I appreciate Cobalt acting like a stallion for once instead of an old plow horse. I had plenty of mean laughs at Veronica’s expense. However, the weird eleven year old romance stuff was really off-putting. Seriously, they are kids. I don’t remember having a real crush until I was fourteen, but maybe that’s just me. Whatever. This episode (I should say these episodes) was alright. It had drama sub par to an episode of Lassie. (What’s that, Cobalt? Veronica’s being attacked by wild dogs?) However, I think I might be developing a tolerance for this stuff. Good times…

Sep 21, 2008

Humiliation, Caitlin's Way style.

Season 2, Episode 32: All Night Long
Aired: January 14, 2001

Well, guys, for this installment I'm going to have to think back to my New Kids on the Block days. Yes, I was in third grade when New Kids on the Block took the teenage female portion of America by storm, leaving us all wondering exactly why we liked boys who lip synced while "dancing" to oddly repetitive music. I remember having a New Kids on the Block poster in my room. After third grade, the phenomenon ended and thankfully we all returned to our lives. I never paid attention to boy bands again, graduating into what I like to call the sane portion of my life (relatively, anyway).

That said, who remembers a band called mytown? All lowercase, no space, group of four kids that are now somewhere between the ages of 28 and 32? All Irish or something? Does Danny O'Donoghue mean anything to anyone? Well, this band apparently existed in all its thrusting-in-time-to-music glory, and Danny O'Donoghue was a part of it. And, you guys, Caitlin totally knows Danny O'Donoghue! It's time to just pass out in shock now, because the absolute last thing I ever expected from Caitlin's Way was this episode. Brace yourself, because this is when Caitlin discovers that she really does want to be liked, be popular, hang out with a boy band, and obsess over the opposite sex.

Starting out, it's time for the school dance. Everyone is pairing up. It's just so cute. Except Caitlin is watching all of this love bird behavior and is so disturbed because she doesn't have a boy to pair up with. Caitlin ponders to herself if she's just above all of it, or outside all of it, or maybe people don't like her and she's going to be the only one without a date. I think it's the last one, Caitlin, seeing as how you're all eager to be liked now.

Anyway, the boy of her dreams landed in Caitlin's life in season 2. His name is Will and he's played by someone called Jason McSkimming, who went on from this role to MTV's Undressed. Do we all remember that show? God, I hope I'm not the only one shamed with this memory. After Undressed, he mysteriously disappeared. He's sort of dark and handsome for someone whose last role was Undressed. The Blond Girl (Taylor) is totally in love with him, but he, of course, is only in love with Caitlin. But in that cool, I'm better than this way. Which allows convenient room for confusion.

Coming back from the abbreviated opening sequence, Griffen and his friends, Brent and Eric, are dancing to, I don't know, probably mytown. I would assume. The whole episode is a mytown vehicle. They are all horrible, and Griffen knows this, so he takes a moment to complain about things. I briefly wondered what on earth they were doing, but then it is revealed that they are going to perform this monstrosity at the school dance. Upset that they suck at boy band dancing, Caitlin appears to say that she totally knows Danny O'Donoghue, you guys! Eric looks at her and says, "That is the stupidest thing you have ever said." I completely agree with him. But Caitlin is not put off. She insists that she can get Danny O'Donoghue to come play at their dance and she's going to call him and just you wait.

So she goes home and calls someone in L.A., and that doesn't go well. So she sulks with Bandit and Dori, telling them that Danny O'Donoghue lived with her in a foster home in Philadelphia and she wants him to know how she's doing and blah blah blah. None of this is at all believable. So Dori suggests Caitlin look at mytown's website and get in contact with them that way and it works! Oh, joy! While the family is playing croquet (...Caitlin, you're starting to concern me), Danny calls her up and they agree that he will thrust his hips and lip sync at the school dance! Oh, wonderful news. Let's all be happy now.

After this, Will rides up on his horse. Of course he has a horse. It's the prerequisite for all horse stories: the main girl's love interest has to love horses too. It could be the only thing they have in common, but seeing as how horse story girls usually have only one interest, I guess this works out. So he hands her the notes she lent him and they get all awkward because they know they want to go to the dance together, but no one says anything, but he asks her if she'll be around later and she says yes. And on my God, you guys, he's so going to call her! Are we excited yet?

Caitlin goes off to groom Bandit, and later she gets involved in some weird phone tag issue that results in all of Griffen's friends asking her to the dance. I don't know why and it's not important. Anyway, Griffen's friends nix the boy band idea for this rap thing that this other guy is doing. So rap guy joins the band, causing band hysterics that we can ignore for right now. Because, you see, Caitlin asks Will to the dance! Only she does it because she doesn't want to go alone and he gets offended and tells her off. Then they all go to the dance, and Caitlin wears her hair down for the first time ever and doesn't wear black. The world ends AGAIN.

Griffen and band have issues in public that cause a band break up at the dance. This, to us, is not important. The main thing is mytown doesn't show. Caitlin stands in the same spot for three hours and waits for them, but mytown is a no show and the dance just sucks. Only Will arrives and Caitlin accuses him of coming to the dance just to rub it in that it was better to go alone than go with her. And he points out that she sucks because she only thinks of herself. He is correct.

Anyway. Mytown shows up late and Danny O'Donoghue is a horrible actor. The extra band members laughing at their stupid predicament in the background are better actors than he is. Then they dance and thrust and sing while Caitlin and Griffen (the only ones still there, I guess because no one can really stand either of them anymore) dance awkwardly.

And that is the end.

Sep 20, 2008

The Saddle Club: In which we get a lot of creepy preteen romance.

Saddle Club S.1.03 “Trail Ride Part 1”

In this episode, we are finally going on the Mountain Trail Overnight we’ve been hearing so much about. There’s also a side story regarding Veronica’s friend Kristi, who stays behind to hang out with Red the stable hand, who she has a crush on. Alright…

Ok, everyone’s getting things loaded for the trip. Lisa’s mom gives her an emergency whistle. I’m not sure why, but this is apparently the most embarrassing thing ever.

Veronica has trouble loading Cobalt, who I guess just realized that he’s a stallion and can therefore act like an ass once in a while. We see that Veronica’s response is to yell and jerk him around. Cobalt the Magical Black Stallion doesn’t like this, so he rears up and takes off. Max, rather than making Veronica catch her own damn horse, gives Stevie a leg up on Comanche, and they take off after him. I imagine this was to add drama or something, I dunno, but she catches him. Yay.

Opening sequence. I skipped it.

Max is nervous about leaving Red in charge. Kristi discovers Red’s not going and decides to fake a cold and stay behind as well. A romance between these two is not going to happen. Red is at least five years older than Kristi. I’m just saying…

Lisa’s sister Melanie hangs out with a younger rider at Pine Hollow named Ashley. Kristi volunteers to help Red with the barn chores, but is disappointed to find that it’s actually work. Go figure.

Up at the camp site, the Saddle Club gives Veronica a hard time about taking care of Cobalt. Later, out on the trail, Veronica berates Lisa for letting Patch crowd Cobalt, claiming that if she can’t control her horse she shouldn’t be there. Patch’s saddle then slips and Lisa falls off. Turns out Patch is a puffer. Lisa’s already low self esteem takes a dive as well.

Enter Phil, who is apparently a preteen god. I imagine I’m too old to get it, but I do not see the claimed “Hawtness.” He shows up on his palomino gelding, Teddy, and Veronica falls for him. It’s kinda sweet to see the romantic side of Veronica. Stevie, however is not impressed, due to the fact that Veronica shoves her into a lake and Phil laughs. Ah, preteens…

Anywho, it turns out Phil’s parents own the land the group is camping on. Max invites him to stay for dinner, much to Stevie’s chagrin. Lisa hides is her tent, sore pride and sore tush from her fall earlier. Veronica schemes to put herself in fake danger so Phil can rescue her. Again, this is kinda sweet, with Veronica’s romantic side conjuring up PG fantasies. Unfortunately, sneaking out on a ride alone and fantasizing while on a stallion turns out to be a bad idea. Cobalt spooks and Veronica gets thrown, and falling on her butt somehow makes her pass out.

Back at Pine Hollow, Kristi tries some ineffective flirting. I have some sympathy here due to my own lack of talent at guy wooing. Red attempts to take off for his band practice, but Kristi stalls him (wow, bad pun) by claiming Barq is lame.

Another shot of a kinda dead looking Veronica, a little “To be continued…” and crappy end credits.

This review, as well, to be continued… Ooo, suspense.

Sep 19, 2008

Caitlin's Way: Money is not important, except when it really, really is.

Season 2, Episode 29: Money Walks
Aired: October 14, 2000

Well, gang, here we are for another fun-filled Caitlin's Way episode, where Caitlin and Taylor (the blond girl) find themselves stuck in "the city," Eric and Brent discover the trials and tribulations of shopping, and Griffin spends all of his time alternating between being stuck on a bench and writing a song. Let's just delve right in, shall we?

The show opens up in class. Taylor informs everyone that they have enough money to buy a gift for their teacher, who's getting married. Caitlin is reading some local paper and discovers a photography exhibit in "the city," which she can't get to because she has no money. Caitlin takes a moment to ponder the unfairness of life, while Griffin notices that some shop in "the city" is selling used amps. The boys really want an amp because they have a band, so they decide to pool their money together and buy this thing. Taylor announces she's going to go into "the city" to buy a tablecloth with the $110 the class raised (because a tablecloth is the centerpiece of a home, you see), and Caitlin sees her opportunity to get a ride into the city, so she stands up and announces that she's coming too. Blond Girl...I mean stunned speechless, but looks pretty pissed. Enter opening sequence.

Since this is season 2, it looks like whoever controls things like the opening sequence realized it was too long and sucked. So they cut it down, thereby giving me less to complain about. It still sucks, though.

Okay, back on point. Taylor and Caitlin arrive in "the city." The city looks to be Calgary, where this show was shot, which would then make some amount of sense given the largest city in Montana is Billings. If you haven't heard of Billings, don't worry. It doesn't matter. All that really does matter is that apparently Caitlin's town does not sell tablecloths. Who knows why. So the two girls arrive in this Calgary-type town that doesn't exist in Montana, and Taylor is already pissed because Caitlin threw coffee or something on her shirt. Really, this is a bitchy move on Caitlin's part. By the age of 15, I'd think kids should be past throwing liquids on each other in retribution, but Caitlin apparently isn't. So Taylor stomps off to look at tablecloths in this tablecloth-filled city in Montana. Caitlin starts taking really shitty pictures of everything around her, which is not remarkable or interesting or remotely approaching being good subject matter. She should really stop wasting her film.

Eric and Brent arrive and head to the guitar shop place or whatever, where they listen to the sales guy talk about amps, all of which I didn't attempt to comprehend. Brent calls Griffin, who's stuck on a bench waiting for his bus, who asks Brent to ask the sales guy about an amp that would fit a more Latin sound. Brent is reticent to do this, but does and is shocked that the sales guy is all into Latin stuff. They pick an amp that is too expensive, so they go out into Billings or Calgary or wherever and try to awe people with their skateboarding skills to get money. Which they don't get because no one cares. In fact, they're mostly nuisances.

Meanwhile Taylor finds Caitlin and tells her all about this great tablecloth she found! Like, oh my God! It's a fancy label and it's $20 more than what she can spend because she bought a shirt to replace the one Caitlin ruined. See, it's all Caitlin's fault. Caitlin gets all bitchy again and goes to play that stupid three-card trick game to get Taylor's $20. Taylor informs her it's a scam, and Caitlin stupidly says that she knows that, therefore she can win the game. So she plays and completely loses. Then she plays again and completely loses. Seriously. It's a scam for a reason, Caitlin. If she knew all the tricks in the book, then she'd know the one where the card she's looking for is taken out of the equation entirely, making winning impossible. I have no option but to presume Caitlin is stupid now. This is pretty much Taylor's opinion also. Plus, she's really pissed off because now they only have $70. Which they lose when Caitlin throws liquid on her again and she snaps, throwing liquid on Caitlin.

So the girls decide to go put the $70 they don't have to use, and Eric and Brent find the $70 and buy the amp. Then they all accidentally meet up and discover what happened, so Brent takes the amp back and they sell their bus tickets and decide to just get the stupid present later. Only this kid wanders by and Caitlin goes all "I was a street kid too!" on the poor thing and insists on buying him lunch and a bus ticket (he wasn't actually a street kid, I should mention, because he was trying to get to Seattle or Chicago and lost his ticket during a bus break, getting him stuck in Calgary/Billings) with the money they have. Then Griffin shows up and plays his new song for everyone. People start to give them money while they play, and that's where we end.

No horses this time around, guys. Perhaps next time.