Let The Wars Begin!

No I ain’t referring to any civil wars or world-based wars or the war occurring in Syria. This is a catchphrase that Craig Charles would often belt out whilst presenting a game show, where robots competed and fought against each other. That show was called Robot Wars.
There was a number of game shows we watched when I was a kid. Robot Wars was without a doubt one of them. The first episode came out when I was seven. It was broadcast on Friday on BBC2 and I enjoyed it right from the start!
So it was no surprise how excited I was last year (yes, 2016!) when Robot Wars was rebooted. Plus I’ve just heard a new season’s coming out sometime this year. How will it fare compared to last year’s season? Well, as a matter of fact, last year’s season was enjoyable, but not as great as the classic era (1998-2004). It was great to see some of the house robots again; Dead Metal, Matilda, Shunt and Sir Killalot. But where’s Sergeant Bash? Bash was my favourite! It had the flame-thrower! Oh well, I’m glad they didn’t bring Refbot back. That one did sod all, but put out the fires and pointlessly count immobile robots out. And I wasn’t too keen on Mr Psycho and Growler (actually Growler was okay).
It was also great to see some newcomers and some old favourites; Behemoth, Terrorhurtz, Thermidor, Razer. Though it was a bit of a shame to see Razer eliminated from the competition so soon after pushing Kill-E-Crank in the pit and ending up in there itself. Personally, Razer’s been one of my favourites. But with that said, driving one’s own robot in the pit is a mistake anybody could make, so I shouldn’t complain. We saw a lot of that in Season 3 i.e. Cassius, Milly Ann Bug, Killerhurtz (what Terrorhurtz was originally) and Eric.
Another small nitpick I have with last season is how each heat was set up, compared to the original seasons. The 1st two seasons began with a gauntlet, then a trial competition, then the heat semi-finals; robot fights, then the heat final. From season 3 to 7, the championship took the form of a straight knockout tournament and split it into 3 rounds. Fair enough. That was easy to follow. But as for the revival series, it is a knockout tournament, but once you get to round 2, it’s like watching a football match and the robots’ progression to the heat final all depends on who gets the most points from each head-to-head battle. Er, what?
Also, Dara O’Brien’s okay as a presenter, but I don’t think he could replace Craig Charles and I sometimes wonder what Phillipa Forrester’s doing nowadays. Jonathan Pearce remains commentator, awesome!
Let’s see what the 2017 season can bring us.

Top 12 Festive TV Episodes

Jingle Bells, Santa smells, Rudolph ran away,

Oh what fun it’s been to ride, but Santa’s just crashed his sleigh, Hey!

Hey guys, how’s the Xmas shopping going? Well some of you viewed my personal Top 12 Christmas songs. Now here’s my personal Top 12 TV episodes which are about Christmas. For this list, I’m only going to include one episode per show.

So here’s my Top 12. Why Top 12? Because of Christmas!

#12;

Little Girl Lost – Starsky & Hutch (1976)

We begin this ranking with an episode from the classic 70s buddy cop show.

In this one, Starsky & Hutch are attempting to help a little girl named Molly ‘Pete’ Edwards whose alcoholic ex-con dad has been killed. Worse to come, she is being searched by her dad’s ex-criminal partners.

Imagine losing a relative sometime before Christmas due to a certain death. Heartbreaking, ain’t it? One of my relatives lost an aunt several years ago a few weeks before the vacation and it felt tough. Though in actual fact, she died due to an illness. Pete on the other hand has lost a father due to murder by gunshot. Adding to the conflict, Mr. Edwards is an ex-gang member and the murderers are searching for some diamonds which they believe Pete is hiding. We can understand how defensive and rude Pete is when we first see her and how much of a tear-away she is. But of course, she comes from a small and poor family who are struggling financially; which I would presume is why Mr. Edwards turned to crime in the first place. And yes, the fact that the girl calls herself Pete; bit of a tomboy, but what do you expect from someone who grows up with men around her.

I also like the conversation Starsky & Hutch have about their festive plans. Starsky’s getting into the spirits, but Hutch see’s it as overrated and commercialised, though he does gradually change his views through the episode as we see him bonding with Pete. Both cops are sympathetic towards the girl and are against the idea of her going to juvenile hall, since Christmas is coming. I never went to juvenile hall myself, but it seems a bit like prison and it ain’t her fault she’s turned to crime in the first place and Starsky and Hutch are both trying to help her.

As well as some inspirational scenes, we do get plenty of car chases, gunshots, all the exciting stuff you get from an awesome cop show like Starsky & Hutch.

 

#11;

How The Ghosts Stole Christmas – The X-Files (1997)

The next Christmas special is a truly dark and haunting one from the paranormal series the X-Files about two FBI detectives, named Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, who take on some strange cases.

The case that Mulder & Scully take on in How The Ghosts Stole Christmas takes place in a haunted house, after Mulder calls Scully to investigate on Christmas Eve. According to Mulder, the house was run by a couple who apparently died during Christmas 1917, one killing another and the remaining one committing suicide. But as the duo explore further in the house, they realise they may not be alone.

Chris Carter, the writer and creator of the X-Files, certainly went by the book and kept in mind the protagonists’ traits, Mulder as the believer and Scully as the sceptic. We can understand how Scully is reluctant at first, because a, she doesn’t believe much in ghosts or aliens, and b, she was hoping to have a nice peaceful Christmas. But as a detective agent, she can’t get a break. Mulder on the other hand claims that the house has been haunted by the two corpses ever since. And yet, they come across an elderly couple, played by Ed Asner and Lily Tomlin, who are presumably ghosts. Are they really ghosts? Well I shouldn’t give too much detail in case I spoil the ending, but they’re most certainly not exactly the ghosts of Christmas pasts, presents and/or futures.

How The Ghosts Stole Christmas is basically a cross between David Fincher’s Panic Room and House On A Haunted Hill with a bit of Christmas spirit mixed in and one such chilling experience to check out one Christmas.

 

#10;

Christmas – Malcolm In The Middle (2001)

I talked quite a lot about this episode when I ranked my personal top 10 episodes of Malcolm In The Middle. But I shall talk a bit about this Christmas special.

The Wilkerson boys are causing enough chaos to annoy their mom, Lois. Lois, who hopes for a nice happy and peaceful Christmas, announces it to be the final straw and confiscates all the gifts and locks them away, ensuring they stay there until the lads start behaving themselves. Meanwhile, Francis is forced to spend a torturous vacation with Grandma Ida.

The Wilkersons are one of the most dysfunctional families in TV history. You have the boys; Malcolm a grumpy and socially awkward genius, Reese, a simple-minded jock, Dewey, who has a strange sense of imagination and a photographic memory, and Francis, who’s hugely rebellious, and the parents; Hal, a sympathetic guy who’s prone to tantrums, and Lois, a control freak with an anger management problem. And Christmas is one of the most well scripted Xmas episodes. We deal with the family’s scars and scrapes and all Lois wants is for something more positive. She lays down the law and even Hal is proud of her, but the boys worry that this could continue and decide to take matters into their own hands. Meanwhile Lois feels pretty bad over what she’s done.

One of my favourite scenes is when the boys throw baubles at each other which has always tickled me, and that’s when Lois begins to lay down the law.

I had also talked about Francis and Ida’s time together, how they resent each other, yet begin to bond and how he finds that through all the years, Ida did indeed buy the family some gifts, only to stash them away due to past petty offences. The Wilkersons may be dysfunctional, but it doesn’t mean they don’t love and/or care for each other. And without giving anything away, the episode proves so and it does indeed have a happy ending.

 

#9;

Give Or Take A Million – Thunderbirds (1966)

So you think you believe in Santa Claus and that he (or she) uses a magical sleigh and flying reindeer? Well, what if the Santa Claus and the workshop employees were actually a family-run not-for-profit organisation who help people from dangerous situations and own a wide range of cool looking futuristic vehicles?

This one and only festive episode and final episode of Gerry Anderson’s masterpiece in general (if one excludes the CGI remake and them three audio recorded episodes which later got visualised) is told mostly in flashback as International Rescue’s founder Jeff Tracy recounts the time he and his fellow members of IR helped a Children’s Hospital with funding for a new wing. They also arrange to pick up the lucky winner, one of the patients, who will be spending Christmas on Tracy Island. Meanwhile, two thieves named Scobie & Straker plot to rob the vault of a toy store.

Give Or Take A Million may have closed the original Thunderbirds series, but it was an excellent final episode for a show. Here, we begin with a scene where Jeff is dressed as Santa and talking to a boy named Nicky, who’s impressed with how summery the island’s beach is and how wintry the Tracy Villa is. Nicky also wishes to see one of the Thunderbird vehicles launch. The one that does is Thunderbird 3; good choice. Then begins the flashback story of how it all began.

This episode also relates to my personal and sceptical belief in Santa Claus. When I wrote Is There A Santa Claus?, I pointed out that if there was a Santa, that person would use some sort of aircraft, maybe in the style of the Thunderbirds vehicles. What I didn’t point out is that Santa might not live in the North Pole. It might be somewhere around the Pacific, which is where the secret base is located (only we don’t know whereabouts in the ocean it is). Why the Santa Claus business could be International Rescue. I know they usually specialise in saving people’s lives, but Jeff is dressed as Santa and it’s kind of them to help the Children’s Hospital, and talk about Tin-Tin doing some of the Christmas shopping. Many people just assume that Santa’s hometown is the North Pole, that his employees are elves and he owns a flock of reindeer. Gerry Anderson saw it a different way.

I also like how this episode’s written. Yes, there’s an occasional goof, including a calendar mistake; a personal, but minor nitpick, but it’s the smallest of mistakes. Actually, what I’m referring to are certain other scenes; while the two thieves are making their robbery, they realise the heavy weight of the gold bars they’re carrying, while attempting to avoid touch the floor which is triggered by an alarm, and things get much hairier when a pen is hanging over the edge of a shelf (kinda like that Mission Impossible movie). Another awesome plot point in the episode is how much time Brains is spending in the science lab and some of the IR staff are wondering what he’s up to, then thinking; let’s leave him be, he’s probably very busy. This of course doesn’t seem like a festive activity, but that point and the bit where he surprises both Virgil and Tin-Tin and explains that he’s checking the weather, does lead to a festive and beautiful final scene.

 

#8;

Road To The North Pole – Family Guy (2010)

Family Guy has had plenty of Christmas specials and some Road To episodes before this one and I have to say Road To The North Pole is one of a kind, also one of the darkest. Some of you may not agree, but let’s take a look.

Road To The North Pole begins with Seth McFarlene’s dad giving an introduction to the episode’s narrative, which begins with a musical opening where many residents of Quahog are getting into the Christmas spirit and writing their Xmas lists, with Brian questioning the quality and quantity of gifts they’re asking for. Later on, Brian takes Stewie to see a department store Santa Claus, but after waiting in a tremendous queue, ‘Santa’ rudely exits his post before Stewie can get his turn. Furious at the employee’s attitude, Stewie plans to teach Santa Claus a lesson. Brian, who doesn’t believe in Santa, reluctantly takes him to the North Pole. However, once they arrive, the duo discover what a state the real Santa, his reindeer, elves and workshop are in.

Not many people liked this episode when it came out. Part of it is due to its heavy violent content and swearing. But this is Family Guy and it’s always been so violent and foul-mouthed. Plus, it was never intended for kids in the first place. I think the music’s awesome, the story’s awesome, the originality’s awesome and even the messages are awesome. I’ll explain all this one by one.

Road To The North Pole contains two fantastic musical numbers, the first one being All I Really Want For Christmas which I explained about, but somehow feel in the mood to sing along to. It’s also important to bear Brian’s lyrics in mind, since he’s trying to advise his family to go easy on the Xmas lists since one can’t always get everything one wants and that they maybe creating more and more workload, but Peter dismisses them by incorrectly stating that “Christmas is about getting”. The next number is Christmas Time Is Killing Us, which sees Santa and the elves put under so much stress in constructing the gifts everybody around the globe has asked for. That song apparently won an award, but I’m surprised none of them got released as singles, unlike that song from that South Park episode, Mr. Hankey The Christmas Poo.

Speaking of Santa Claus, I love the idea of Stewie wanting to kill him. It’s dark I know, but also amusing. I have yet to see a film or TV episode which has a similar plot to that. I also like how Brian is attempting to talk Stewie out of what appears to be a silly activity by trying to tell him that Santa doesn’t exist. Of course, he eventually proves himself wrong when they do meet Santa. Plus, the idea of Santa being too ill to deliver the presents is also original. Again I can’t think of any other show or film or media product that came up with that idea.

I also have to admit how inspiring the third act is; Brian and Stewie kindly help out with the deliveries, but they eventually screw up when they debate on Santa’s traditions (“you’re supposed to take one bite out of the cookies”) and realise they brought certain gifts to the wrong house. Then when everybody in the world notice the absence of any presents, we get Brian interrupting the news report to state the reason why this has been the cause and stating that each Christmas has increased on greed and Santa has given, but the residents just took. He also suggests that the world’s population cut back on their demands and ask for just one gift each year. Of course, had it not been for the episode’s pure graphic content, this would have been a great message for children (yes, The Animals Of Farthing Wood and Captain Scarlet are rather violent, but they weren’t that graphic). But it’s Family Guy. What do you expect?

Anybody who’s thinking of making a TV Christmas special for kids, this Family Guy ep is worth researching. I of course don’t mean make it that viol.

 

#7;

Holy – Bottom (1992)

Some British readers were probably expecting to see some festive episodes from British comedies. Well now’s your chance since we have an episode from Bottom, a sitcom about two unemployed friends who share a run-down flat, known for its constant slapstick and starring Adrian Edmondson and the late great Rik Mayall.

Holy centers on Eddie and Richie who come across a Christmas miracle. In-between, they present each other with nonsensical gifts, invite their two mates, Spudgun and Dave Hedgehog, prepare a disastrous Christmas dinner and briefly become guardians of a baby who has turned up at their doorstep.

Many Christmas episodes of British sitcoms get so much credit that the viewers seem to overlook other specials outside of that category. Personally I think the majority of those are overrated, especially the ones from the Royle Family. However, one British Christmas comedy special that seems to get overlooked is this episode of Bottom, which is one of my favourite shows.

There are so many classic moments from Holy, it’s impossible to name them all. First of all, the opening; Richie dresses up as Santa Claus and presents himself a stuffed pair of tights (“this is for Richie, he’s been a good little boy”) and Eddie a minuscule sock and Richie finds his gifts are ingredients for the Christmas dinner. Love it! What he gets from Eddie; an empty miniature bottle of Malibu and a play-telescope (made out of a bog-roll and a bit of tissue). Eddie’s gift; a self-portrait of Richie. I also love how conservative, well, traditional, Richie appears towards Eddie and their mates; banning television until the Queen’s Speech and his presentation of the food to the others. And do I need to mention the accident Richie has with the turkey?

I should also mention how Bottom takes advantage of the Christmas spirit. During the third act, we get a mickey take out of the nativity story, starting with the baby’s arrival, followed by Richie attempting to entertain the baby by playing ‘peekaboo’ with the baby-sheet, making him look like the Virgin Mary, and Eddie, Spudgun and Hedgehog, still wearing their party hats, donating their strange gifts to the infant; a box of Terry’s gold chocolates, a Frankenstein mask (which Eddie originally intended for Richie) and a bottle of aftershave called ‘Grrr’. Get it kids? One thing they’re curious about is where the baby came from, but it’s not revealed until the end, which I shan’t talk about, in case I spoil it.

The humour is also very British. We see Richie struggling to teach the others how to play charades and there’s mentioning of Jonathan Ross, Noel Edmonds, The Queen’s Speech and Emmerdale; the episode was made sometime after Emmerdale Farm was changed to just Emmerdale, and some people had not yet got out of the habit of calling it by its original title, a subject Spudgun brings up in conversation.

 

#6;

Yuletide Spirit – The Thin Blue Line (1995)

Another Britcom episode. For those of you who don’t know and not to confuse you with the documentary film, The Thin Blue Line is a cop-related sitcom set in a police station and aired on BBC1 during the mid-90s. One of its main themes saw the rivalry between the uniformed squad led by Inspector Fowler (played by Rowan Atkinson) and the CID led by Detective Inspector Grim, despite being on the same sides of the law. The Thin Blue Line had plenty of laughs, but because it’s also a cop show, also tackled some serious and emotional issues.

Yuletide Spirit begins with Inspector Fowler preparing for an audition for an upcoming pantomime of Peter Pan and his girlfriend Sergeant Dawkins reading in for him. As Christmas nears, conflicts occur when PC Goody gives presents to two of his fellow officers, but accidentally switches them, Dawkins and Constable Habib attempt to aid a homeless woman who’s heavily pregnant and the CID experience trouble with some carol singers who turn out to be thieves.

Yuletide Spirit is such an awesomely scripted Christmas episode and manages to balance the narrative points throughout and there’s so many classic moments. The bit where Goody delivers the presents to Fowler and Habib is comedy gold!; he means to give Fowler a puncture repair kit and Habib some lingerie, but gives them the wrong presents, and to complicate things further, Dawkins thinks that Fowler bought her the lingerie.

I should also mention the scene with the homeless couple whose baby is about to be born. Like Bottom, The Thin Blue Line references the nativity story so well. Once we see Fowler stare at the couple’s baby, he points out that although the police station is not much of a birthplace for a baby, there was another baby who was born at a lowlier place and grew up to do great. Good point and such an inspirational scene. And yes, Goody’s response is hilarious. In fact, everything he does in this episode is hilarious, i.e. the present bit and during the birth scene where Dawkins commands Goody to bring some hot water, but comes back with something ‘more special’ (since it’s Christmas), a carton of Ribeana!

I would say the same thing about Inspector Grim, who’s out-casted Fowler as the villain in the pantomime and obsesses over it while on the trail of the criminal carol singers. Speaking of the carol singers (one of them played by Jake Wood, actor of Max Branning in EastEnders), I love their rendition of Away In A Manger. And talking about the pantomime, I’ve appeared in pantomimes myself and helped out backstage, so you could say I can relate so much to that.

But of course, being a police-officer is tough business, which is why we see the force operating, even on Christmas Eve, in case trouble occurs, i.e. the carol singers. Even Grim can’t get a break. He has the pantomime to think about as well as his assignment and problems do occur when he and Constable Kray go to arrest the carollers… best not say too much.

 

#5;

The Big .22 Rifle For Christmas – Dragnet (1952)

Here we have an episode from another crime related show, this one from the fifties and quite a dark Christmas special.

Detectives Friday and Smith are assigned to search for a missing boy. They soon learn that the boy’s parents gave him a rifle for Christmas and the weapon has been removed from its packaging, becoming clear that he may have used it.

The Big .22 Rifle For Christmas both celebrates the Christmas spirit and brings out an anti-gun violence message simultaneously. It also warns parents to really think about the gifts they buy for their kids. In the episode’s case, the boy gets a rifle and trouble does occur when he gets excited and unwraps the gift sometime before Christmas Day, but then uses it and another kid gets wounded as a result.

A lot of kids want to act tough and want dangerous items for Christmas. It’s understandable, but there are age-restrictions on owning guns, certain gifts must be used in a responsible manner and guns do kill, which is what The Big .22 Rifle For Christmas is trying to point out.

 

#4;

Santaclaustrophobia – Hill Street Blues (1983)

Another crime related show. I know, but let me make clear that the reason for them rankings ain’t because I’m a fan of the majority of crime TV shows. They just happen to have some of the greatest festive episodes the TV industry has to offer.

For those of you who don’t know, Hill Street Blues is an American police drama which was produced during the eighties. It contained such gritty camera-work and some unforgettable characters. It dealt with such tough issues, how the police precinct is operated and it kicked ass!

In the show’s only Xmas themed episode, many events occur; Frank and Fay Furillo’s son, Frank Jr, is scheduled to spend Xmas with Frank (they’re divorced by the way), Det. Washington attempts to make it up to the wife of the liquoir store owner he previously shot during a robbery, the police force hosts an Xmas-themed play for a children’s hospital and Mick Belker goes undercover as Santa Claus.

Christmas can be a nail-biting experience for some people and we can relate to this episode. The fact that Frank Jr is staying with Frank is tough for Fay, considering their previous divorce and divorces can affect people, and we can relate to how emotional Fay is and the way Frank comforts her during their conversation. The same is said for the scene with Washington’s heart-to-heart with the store owner’s wife. We side with both, because the lady’s sad and angry that she lost her husband right before Xmas and Washington killed the guy by accident (as seen in the show’s previous episodes).

Speaking of which, being a cop is tough business. The police are working on Christmas Eve, in case some criminal activity occurs (duh!). I love the introductory roll call which finishes when SGT Esterhaus warns the officers ‘Let’s be careful out there’ and wishes them a Merry Christmas. Plus when the officers including Hunter, Goldblume, Bates, Hill and Renko finish their play, they receive an emergency call and head down hastily to investigate the incident. We do empathise with them, because they can’t get a break.

Hill Street Blues may not exactly be a comedy, but Belker as Santa; gee, that’s an incredibly amusing scene. Imagine having a growling detective dressed as a light-hearted fictional legend. The police’s play is also fun to watch.

 

#3;

Simpsons Roasting On An Open Fire – The Simpsons (1989)

Simpsons Roasting On An Open Fire – The Simpsons (1989)

The famous yellow family’s first Christmas special and their pilot episode too (if one excludes Tracey Ullman’s shorts).

The episode begins with Homer, Marge and Magiie watching Bart and Lisa performing for their school’s Xmas-themed show. Then we see the family doing their Christmas shopping, but Bart’s tattoo gift for Marge causes her to spend all the Xmas savings on a device which removes tattoos. As a result, the family are broke for the vacation. Things don’t look anymore helpful when Homer is refused a Christmas bonus from his workplace and is afraid to tell his family, so he decides to work part-time as a department store Santa Claus.

The Simpsons has had so many Xmas specials. This one in particular is one of a kind. Not only did it begin one of the greatest shows in TV history and I can’t believe how long it’s been in production since then, but it’s one of the greatest festive stories ever told. The Simpsons has dealt with some emotional issues, such as environmental disasters, suicide and xenophobia. This episode is no exception. It sees the family in a financial crisis with very little money to spend on gifts. Personally if I was Marge, I would’ve been more cool about Bart’s tattoo. That way, the Simpsons would’ve been more financially secure, but this is a comedy and Marge is the stereotypically paranoid mother (don’t take that the wrong way moms). In fact, Homer’s boss Mr. Burns seemed very unreasonable to not give any of his employees the Xmas bonus. So it makes sense that Homer works an extra job (i.e. as Santa), but even the staff at the department store don’t pay him enough money.

The episode even questions the gambling system. Since Homer has been paid a terribly low amount, he bets on a greyhound race when he hears that there’s a dog called Santa’s Little Helper, in order to raise more money. For those who have never seen this episode, I’d advise you to skip this paragraph, because there’s a spoiler alert. Homer and Bart are unlucky when the dog they placed their bet on loses (goes to show that only a small percentage of people are likely to win a gambling bet). They then witness Santa’s Little Helper’s heartless owner disowning him. Bart asking Homer if they can keep the dog is a heart-warming moment as is them introducing him to the rest of the family, thus they have a happier Christmas.

Seeing Homer act like Santa is a fun moment, especially when he reprises the reindeer’s’ names “Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Nixon, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Dixon”. I also thank this episode for introducing me to the Batman version of Jingle Bells, through Bart and his fellow 4th-graders singing the song. It’s a lot more fun than the original.

 

#2;

The 1986 Christmas edition – EastEnders

Not many people had had a very merry Christmas every year and this classic episode of EastEnders, which apparently got the most viewing figures, doesn’t exactly bring sunshine, lollipops and rainbows to the vacation.

We had such memorable moments from a lot of the Christmas Day editions to EastEnders, including some jolly moments with Phil Mitchell dressing up as Santa Claus, Billy and Little Mo marrying, the Butchers’ food fight and when Max Branning and his kids had a turkey malfunction and Max was like “we could always have pizza”, some raging moments; Terry Raymond banishing Troy for sleeping with his wife Irene, the 1996 Mitchell dinner table squabble and Trevor Morgan’s ghastly dinner, and some sadness, i.e. Jamie Mitchell’s death. But this edition from 1986 stands out as one of a kind.

This edition features some of the memorable characters; Ian Beale, Dot Cotton, Pauline Fowler, Pat, Den Watts, Sharon Watts, Angie Watts, Arthur Fowler, Pete Beale, Kathy Beale, Lou Beale, Ethel Skinner, you name it. We have the then-teenage Ian receiving a motorcycle for Christmas, Pat spending the vacation with local punk Mary Smith and most of Walford seem to be having fun with some exceptions; Arthur is in a panicking state and Den’s gift to his wife is a set of divorce papers.

The reason for placing this episode on the list is not because it had such high viewing figures. It’s much more than that. If you compare EastEnders to other soap operas i.e. Coronation Street, Emmerdale and (sighs) Hollyoaks (!), it contains totally unforgettable characters i.e. the ones in this ep and storylines. The 1986 Christmas Day ep is no exception. It’s well acted and written and very character driven. Firstly, it came out before I was born, but I managed to catch up with it on YouTube, so bad news out of the way. I’m quite amazed how rarely Ian used his motorbike after this ep, but oh well.

Let’s talk about the most classic scene, when Den announces his divorce to Angie. He doesn’t shout or snap or anything like that. He stays calm, but we know he’s clearly annoyed and he’s speaking in a rather sinister tone. Basically, what’s happening is that their marriage has been falling apart and Angie’s made a fool of herself with her alcoholism which is why Den wants to get rid of her, but Angie hasn’t let him divorce him in the first place which is why she had faked an illness. However, Den is not stupid and has realised that she lied to him. I also love how he smiles and ends his speech with “Happy Christmas Ange” and hands her the gift. We do feel for Angie as well, because she doesn’t want Den to leave him. Though it’s a bit of a jerk move to lie about an illness.

If you thought that Simpsons ep was the only one which tackles financial problems, look no further. Just when you thought things couldn’t get grimmer, Arthur has a nervous breakdown. He’s sitting alone with no lights on and Pauline’s worried about him. Well she would be, she is married to him. What’s happened to him is that he’s attempting to financially secure his family’s future and ensure they have enough money to cover Michelle and Lofty’s then-upcoming wedding, which is why he’s stolen some of the church’s money. You’d be thinking “hang on, ain’t this guy got a job?” Actually no, he was made redundant from his factory job since the show started. It’s no wonder he’s in a state.

EastEnders’ 1986 Christmas special highlights some of the realities of working-class families and how they spend Christmas, some events we can all relate to and empathise with.

 

Before I reveal the number one pick, here are some Honourable Mentions;

Merry Christmas Mr. Bean – Mr. Bean (1992)

The Pageant – Keeping Up Appearances (1995)

A Pinky & The Brain Christmas – Pinky & The Brain (1995)

The Man In The Long Black Coat – One Foot In The Grave (1991)

A Christmas To Remember – Stingray (1964)

Xmas Story – Futurama (1999)

 

And the number 1 Christmas episode is;…

The Night Before Christmas – Tom & Jerry (1941)

I know what some of you guys are thinking. Tom & Jerry? But that’s just a collection of short films. Though when I watched Tom & Jerry, it felt to me like a TV show. There have been over a hundred shorts and ironically, The Night Before Christmas, despite being the third ever episode to be shown, is Tom & Jerry’s only Xmas special to date and the best Xmas special in general I’ve ever seen in my life.

The Night Before Christmas commences with a narrator who briefly recites the first few lines from the famous story of the same name;

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all thro’ the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse

Then enter Jerry, who starts having fun with some of the toys lying around the Christmas tree. However, he mistakes a sleeping Tom for a toy, waking him up and leading to a manic chase around the lounge. The final straw for Tom occurs after an event involving mistletoe and he chases Jerry out of the house, but wonders if it was the right thing to do on Christmas Eve.

This Tom & Jerry short deserved that Academy Award nomination and the ultimate Christmas special I grew up with the most. We had some of the episodes on VHS. This episode was an exception, but I remember it showing a few times on BBC1. Gee, them were the days. It’s also great how they can get a TV festive episode which doesn’t rely much on dialogue. This one is pure-dialogue-free apart from the opening narration and some background carol singers. Tom & Jerry are an awesome example of a silent comedy duo. Sure they would talk now and then, but who needs dialogue when you have the actions.

The Night Before Christmas captures a lot of the Christmas spirit. The fact that it obviously parodies the famous poem by an anonymous author, through the intro, is part of it; the bit where the narrator states ‘Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse’ is interrupted by Jerry’s present. It also demonstrates the fun of celebrating Xmas, through Jerry’s bouncing through the gifts. His fun is scuppered when he accidentally wakes Tom up; Tom of course is hoping for a quiet nap and easily gets frustrated by his friend’s antics and we all want a bit of peace now and then. I mean we wouldn’t want anything rowdy now, would we?

We witness plenty of funny moments, such as; Jerry hiding in a light and Tom attempting to catch him only to electrocute himself, Tom getting punched by a boxing glove in a jack-in-a-box and the mistletoe scene, which I’m surprised didn’t cause much debate. I mean, homosexuality is now widely tolerated, but this was made at the time when there was still a law on such a thing. Though I reckon there was a bit of innocence within William Hanna and Joseph Barbera when they directed this short.

Christmas is of course a time of sharing and being nice to one another. After when Tom shuts Jerry out of the house (and I can’t talk about it without spoiling a bit of the ending), he feels that now he can have a peaceful nonsense-free night. However he still can’t get a break when he hears heavenly choirs sing Silent Night and I have to say, I still get emotional when I see Jerry outside in the snow attempting to get back inside, from that point till the end. Yet Tom starts to feel bad about what he’s done and goes to help Jerry. Then Tom gives Jerry a candy cane inspiring Jerry to fish a mousetrap out of Tom’s milk dish, which was presumably a prank Jerry planned earlier. It does show how much they do care for each other, despite their troubles. And do I need to mention that lovely tune the mousetrap provides? Gee, I so love that ending.

Message for Hanna and Barbera who are probably listening up in heaven. God bless you for giving us the most beautiful festive themed episode ever to have existed, one that’s got something to appeal to all ages. And as Tiny Tim would say; God bless us everyone.

So that was my personal top 12 festive TV episodes. Some of you may agree, some may not, but it’s just my opinion. Do feel free to leave your comments below.

Thank you and Merry Christmas.

Top 10 One Foot In The Grave episodes

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After reviewing my personal top ten episodes of four family TV shows, three British sci-fi puppet shows and an American family-based sitcom, I thought I’d try something a little different. For this post, I’m reviewing my top ten episodes of a British sitcom which is a little less family friendly that is One Foot In The Grave. Not to say that the show isn’t child friendly whatsoever, I remember first watching One Foot In The Grave when I was seven years old. Though if you compare it to the other shows whose episodes I previously ranked, it’s much more adult.

For those who don’t know, One Foot In The Grave is a series about an elderly couple who live in a Southern English suburb. Victor Meldrew, a former security guard, is forced into involuntary retirement after being replaced by a box with a recorded message and struggles to cope with the modern world, basically hating being retired, while his wife Margaret is stuck in the middle of the mishaps.

The series was written by David Renwick, the sort-of Vince Gilligan of British comedy. And such writing! One Foot In The Grave is as intelligently written as Law & Order, The X-Files, some to name. It’s known to include MacGuffins, a plot element also known to be used in most of Alfred Hitchcock’s feature films, which describes a minor plot point that later becomes important to the synopsis. David also combined elements of farce and tragedy with the comedy.

A few months ago, Richard Wilson, the actor of Victor, turned 80, so a late happy birthday to him. So without further ado, I shall be ranking what I personally consider The Top 10 Episodes of One Foot In The Grave.

Number 10;…

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The Broken Reflection (S03, E03)

The Broken Reflection introduces Victor’s brother, Alfred. In this episode, Alfred travels from New Zealand to visit/stay with Victor and Margaret for a fortnight vacation. He brings some some pictures and some strange items which link to the history of the Meldrews. While that’s going on, next door neighbours Patrick & Pippa Trench also have a vacation and Victor is at war with a bunch of hooligans.

At first, the relationship between Victor and Alfred starts off not so well; when we at first see them together, they’re having some dinner conversation. Victor points out that Alf already said certain things in previous letters. Alf struggles to hear what Victor’s saying, forcing Victor to repeat what he’s said and causing him to be exasperated. We know that sort of thing can tick people off, but then as you get older, some of your body parts or mobility begin to function less.

This brings me neatly onto my favourite part of the episode; Victor’s view of the modern world. It begins with a scene where he has a technician round his house in order to enact revenge on him in regards to some road related incident. The man is using a dicta-phone to record memos. This presumably gives Victor an idea; to get a dicta-phone himself, so that he no longer has to repeat himself every time Alfred mishears. At first, the  dicta-phone proves useful to Victor, but then as the episode progressed, the technology turns against him when he realises he forgot to switch the item off while talking to Margaret about his rocky brotherhood.

I should also mention Alfred’s artifacts; one of them being his and Victor’s great-grandpa’s skull, surprisingly striking a resemblence to Victor. And also Victor’s lawn being trashed by two hooligan women, leading to Victor to trash their doorway and the hooligans to put something really nasty in his letterbox, unaware that they’ve got the wrong house, leading to a hilarious finale.

 

Number 9;…

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The Trial (S04, E05)

The Trial is Victor’s solo episode and the only one where we don’t see Margaret (if one excludes that Comic Relief sketch).

Victor has been selected to take part in the jury for some unnamed court case. Nobody know what crime’s been committed, who the defendant is or when the session takes place, which means Victor must stay home for the day in case he gets an important call.

Try and imagine if you was selected for jury service and had to wait a while till you could step into a court and know what the case is.. My dad’s experienced it as have some of my friends. This is exactly how Victor feels in The Trial, and yet he’s trying to find something to pass the time, such as writing a thank you letter to his brother and having a go at a cryptic crossword puzzle.

Speaking of the crossword, that is one of my favourite scenes. The questions i.e. “Mad poet mugged by banjo player sees red when eating pickles”, hilarious, but also shows how impossible such crosswords are to complete. Even Victor’s pen leads to amusing consequences. My other favourite scene is when Victor finds his newly delivered yucca plant is literally in the downstairs lavatory!

 

Number 8;…

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The Valley of Fear (S01, E03)

And this is the episode that stirred up a lot of controversy due to the fact that there was a frozen cat in it. Why is it that I always love the controversial episodes?

The Valley Of Fear sees Victor, who while photographing the sunset gets mugged and finds graffiti sprayed on his house. As a result, he begins a Neighbourhood Watch meeting. Meanwhile, he and Margaret are having to deal with central heating problems, a woman in the attic and a cat which they find in their freezer.

The controversy that occurred in the first place was due to the fact that the cat looked real and as a result may have angered the RSPCA. Of course, it’s no different to the fact that the horse Francis Ford Coppola used when he filmed The Godfather was real and its head was detached from its body (though in Francis’ defence , that horse was already dead) and I once mentioned the concerns Gerry Anderson had when he filmed that Thunderbirds episode with the alligators.

The cat scene is my favourite bit in The Valley Of Fear. The scene is both very amusing and farcical. Seeing the way Margaret panics says it all, as does Victor’s slight annoyance over the fact that Margaret didn’t close the freezer door properly and his sarcasm (Margaret: “how long do you think it’s been there”, Victor: “I don’t know, I’ll look for its sell-by-date”).

But there’s more to it than just the cat scene. The Valley Of Fear was released a couple of episodes after the pilot, which saw Victor being involuntarily retired at an early age. We can easily empathise with Victor as he’s trying to adjust to retirement. Things certainly don’t get better for him when he experiences the mugging and the slight vandalism to his house. We therefore can’t blame him for heading the Neighbourhood Watch meetings.

 

Number 7;…

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Dreamland (S03, E02)

Dreamland is a well-scripted episode. Most of it is told in flashback through a story Mrs. Warboys is telling some women at a cafe.

Margaret experiences some nightmares she has in which she kills a man that resembles her husband. Victor, meanwhile, is bored of Margaret’s fussing over some items Victor intends to purchase, i.e. black shoes, and his obsessions with them. One day, when Victor returns home, Margaret ain’t home. He and Mrs. Warboys discover she’s been missing for some time and it’s feared she could be dead.

Dreamland signals One Foot In The Grave as one of the most dramatic sitcoms ever to have been produced. One expects to have a good laugh whenever one watches a comedy, but that doesn’t mean they can’t shed a tear or cover serious issues, hence The Simpsons, Bird Of A Feather, The Thin Blue Line, some to mention. One Foot In The Grave is no exception and Dreamland proves so. We get some amusing moments such as when Victor finds that the shoes he purchased are from a corpse, then he disposes of them, leading to the scene with the hobo.

But then, there are moments of sadness. As soon as Jean (that’s Mrs. Warboys by the way. I don’t want to keep calling her Mrs. all the time. It’s frustrating and Jean’s her first name anyway) reports to Victor that Margaret never showed up for work that day and none of her work colleagues saw or heard from her since. Then when they receive a call from the cops reporting they found Margeret’s raincoat by a canal, that’s when we start to really feel for both Victor and Jean. It’s like “oh no, Margaret’s dead”. Even during the bit where Victor turns down Jean’s offer for him to come round for a cup of tea, I was unable to keep a dry eye.

Now I’m afraid I’ll have to spoil the episode at that point, so I’d advise anybody to skip this paragraph. Dreamland does have a happy ending. While Victor is spending a quiet night in and still grieving, he notices Margaret in the bed, alive! That’s when the laughter kicks back in. Seriously, seeing Victor in surprise at that moment is just great. Then again, we do have a bit of a quiet moment when Margaret reveals that she needed to escape for a bit (following her nightmares of course) and recalls a story of when she was five years old; she had two budgies, one of them accidentally killing itself when she offered to let them out of the cage for a bit, and then had a bad experience at school with an unsympathetic teacher. There are a couple of moments of giggles of course, especially when she states how she wanted to basically kill him, but we can easily sympathise with Margaret. I’d be in that position if I was humiliated like that.

Dreamland, a well recommended ep!

 

Number 6;…

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Love and Death (S02, E05)

In this one, the Meldrews visit a couple of old friends of theirs, Vince and April, in their boarding house of the south coast. However, some unfortunate coincidences nearly put Victor and Margaret’s marriage in danger.

Ain’t it lovely visiting old friends? I certainly jump for joy when I see some people I ain’t seen for a long time. Though often, you do experience some changes. And it appears that Victor has a bit of a bad start, apparently noticing a seagull in the bog, and of course, cheerful April offers him breakfast in bed, including a runny egg. Geez, not my kind of breakfast.

Love & Death is one of the funniest episodes of One Foot In The Grave. We get a lot of memorable moments; including Vince introducing Victor to his gravestone (a very unusual gift). Victor ending up chatting up two Romanian ladies, much to Margaret’s annoyance, Victor getting a beer glass super-glued to his forehead and let’s be honest, April’s wig.

But the best part of the episode is the finale; (spoiler alert!) the Meldrews pay their friends back for causing them trouble; Victor literally proving April breakfast in bed and a bad hair day!

 

Number 5;…

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We Have Put Her Living in the Tomb (S02, E02)

If you thought The Valley Of Fear was the only episode of One Foot In The Grave that involved killing animals, than you ain’t seen much yet. And if you thought the only time we saw a tortoise during the intro, again, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

The Meldrew’s are set to look after a family’s pet tortoise while the family are on vacation. But disaster strikes when the tortoise wanders around and Victor is burning some garden trash. Meanwhile, their wallpaper has been stripped, considering that somebody has used TCP.

We Have Put Her Living in the Tomb was the second episode of the second season following In Luton Airport No-One Can Hear You Scream which saw the Meldrews moving house after their previous one is destroyed. And in this episode, they’re attempting to adjust to the house they have now and are already having trouble with their wallpaper.

One Foot In The Grave most certainly never steered away from dark humour and We Have Put Her Living in the Tomb is no exception. It goes to show that one must take great care when looking after pets and that there are strict rules. The Meldrews do their best when they look after Kylie (the tortoise that is) and when she wanders off, they look for her. Victor at one point finds Kylie on the road with a road marking painted on her shell. Then we get to the biggie; the tortoise wanders off again. Victor is burning the garden trash, while Margaret is searching for Kylie. Then they realise that Victor has clumsily dumped Kylie in the burning basket, unaware that she buried herself in the trash.

This brings me onto my next point, the truth vs the lie. Victor tells the family the dark truth via phone call, ensuring that he doesn’t mention that he was the culprit, while Margaret, being more light-hearted, makes amends by buying them a new tortoise and hiding the evidence. And this is what the mix of the two elements leads to; a truly dark ending! I won’t give too much away, but it’s black comedy at its best!

 

Number 4;…

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The Return of the Speckled Band (S01, E06)

The one that introduced Victor’s catchphrase “I don’t believe it”, but that’s not the only reason why I placed this episode on the list.

Victor and Margeret are set to spend a vacation in Athens. Before then, they must deal with Victor’s fear of flying, Mrs. Warboys’ food-poisoning and a snake which has escaped from a garden centre. Plus they are unaware that the snake is in their house.

The title, The Return Of The Speckled Band, references to one of the Sherlock Holmes novels, The Speckled Band, which included a snake. That’s probably why they called it Return Of The Speckled Band. Because one of the plot points includes a snake which escapes from the same garden centre Victor visited. Speaking of plot points, this is what I was getting at when I briefly spoke about the fact that David Renwick included MacGuffins in the episodes.

The main plot explores the Meldrews’ planning for their vacation and Victor attempting to get over his fear of planes. First time we learn that is through Margaret’s conversation with Mrs. Warboys near the start of the ep (“he’s terrified. But this year I put my foot down”), which also brings up the off-putting things about Athens Jean points out. In another scene, Victor and Margaret are in the lounge, Victor states “Sometime tomorrow, we’ll be up in the air” and Margaret’s like “I wish you’d be told. It’s as safe as crossing the road”. Then we hear a violent car skid, which shocks Victor. That bit I love! Both hilarious and contributes to Victor’s aviophobia.

Okay, on to the MacGuffins! These include:

  • a hat which Jean has kindly donated to Victor and originally belonged to a dead relative of hers. Victor feels put off by that fact, because after all, he’s old and as Eric Idle’s theme tune goes. He attempts to get rid of it, but always seems to get it back.
  • Jean feeling sick, due to food poisoning. The Meldrews give her some videos to keep her entertained, including Alien, Victor’s idea (smiles). Yes I mean the Ridley Scott movie. The next time we see her is when Victor gives her some eggs for breakfast, which came from alligators.
  • The snake, which I briefly mentioned earlier and my favourite one. I would presume when it’s cage wasn’t properly shut and therefore it escape, it may have sneaked into Victor’s car, hence why it ends up in his house. The Meldrews remain unaware of its presence, despite Victor feeling it on his leg the night before they set off. When Margaret calls for Victor to get up, we hear Victor screech “Oh my God, no!”, as if he’d seen the snake. But then we discover he freaked out at a TV show which he despises. Then the snake crawls into their suitcase. We then see Margaret carrying the case down and complaining about its weight. Then as they’re in the cab to the airport, Victor thinks he forgot to pack something and briefly unzips the case, but then remembers he did pack it and closes it again, again ignoring the fact that the snake’s present. Lol.
  • A Scottish dustman who comes to the Meldrews’ door. He brings some of the MacGuffins together: the hat which he apparently finds in a crusher and gives back to Victor. Then the man discovers the snake slithering up the stairs (keeping in mind that Victor does not notice it) and says he knows someone who is a reptile expert. Next morning, Margaret explains to Victor that the man came round and kindly donated alligators’ eggs, speaking of the eggs Jean eventually has for breakfast and oh gee that scream she gives when she cracks one of the eggs open!

Return Of The Speckled Band; one of the best written episodes in comedy history.

 

Number 3;…

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Things Aren’t Simple Any More (S06, E06)

Yes folks, the final ever episode of One Foot In The Grave, if one of course excludes that Comic Relief special which came out the following year. And unfortunately I can’t talk about Things Aren’t Simple Anymore without spoiling it.

The episode begins with Margaret talking to a solicitor via phone in relation to an incident which saw Victor throwing a syringe in a man’s butt and asks them to withdraw Victor’s conviction considering that a, the man was deliberately provoking Victor and b, Victor’s been dead for sometime, so it’s too late to charge him. Some of the episode is told in a series of flashbacks; Victor is invited to a works reunion, but it turns to be a disappointing one. Afterwards, while waiting for Margaret to pick him up, Victor is killed in a hit-and-run accident. In-between the flashbacks, Margaret is attempting to get over her husband’s death and swears vengeance on the culprit. She meets a new friend named Glynis Holloway, who has also recently been widowed. It is not long until Margaret discovers who is responsible for Victor’s killing.

Things Aren’t Simple Anymore may be the last episode of One Foot In The Grave, but it’s also very differently written compared to the previous ones. It’s like watching a comedic episode of Breaking Bad, considering the various flashbacks used. Actually, it’s more like an episodic version of Reservoir Dogs. Of course, if the episode was written entirely in chronological order, it would’ve probably ended up as either a two part ep or a feature.

Many of us can easily relate to Margaret’s mournfulness and revenge and I’m sure those who was widowed following their partners’ killings would agree. It does indeed take time to get over losses. But then anybody could be the killer. Suppose if it turns out to be one of your friends? Speaking of which, I should also point out, and I’ll try not to give too much away, Glynis is also widowed and her husband happened to die on the same day Victor did, due to some unknown cause.

I also admire how Victor demonstrates his concerns about his health and fitness sometime before his death. He has an appointment with a physiotherapist, who doesn’t seem to be concentrating when he’s instructed to jog up and down the stairs. We also have the Meldrews clearing some old junk and Victor purchasing an old cordless phone much to his wife’s annoyance. The finale is also spectacular; a montage of some of Victor’s finest moments, including him stumbling across a Christmas-themed advert being filmed in the month of June and the incident involving the yobs and the syringe. Also, through a really clever bit of writing, we never find out whether Margaret completed her intention to kill the culprit when she finds out.

Things Aren’t Simple Anymore is a splendid, yet emotional and one of the greatest endings to a TV show in TV history.

 

Number 2;…

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The Pit and the Pendulum (S04, E01)

Not to confuse readers with the Roger Corman movie. Speaking of, that’s what the Pit & The Pendulum is named after and gee it was a fantastic start to season 4.

Victor believes that the Trenchs’ cherry tree is damaging his garden, so he hires a Neanderthal gardener to deals with the stray roots. However, the gardener’s antics annoy Victor so much they have a heated argument which alerts the gardener to an alternative use of the pit. Meanwhile, Patrick has bought a new pet dog and Margaret receives tragic news.

I remember when I was doing one of my college courses. We looked at TV genres and The Pit & The Pendulum was the example our lecturer showed to us. Then we was set to write an essay on the episode. Before then, I had no idea what a MacGuffin was. Of course now I know. Return Of The Speckled Band also demonstrated such plot devices, but I believe The Pit & The Pendulum demonstrates much more.

Let’s point out the MacGuffins;

  • Patrick’s dog and how small it is and the fact it wanders off
  • The unwanted sack full of seaweed delivered to Victor
  • The phone calls Victor receives
  • A crab which nips at Patrick’s testicles

All of these keep the episode flowing and link loosely to the gardener, his incompetent tasks and his quarrels with Victor. My favourite parts of the episode are when Victor receives a phone call and accidentally picks up the dog instead of the phone (which makes me cackle every time) and when we see Victor buried in the soil with only his head showing.

We also come across a moment of sadness and there’s one more MacGuffin; Margeret’s phone calls to her mom without an answer. We soon find out that the mother has died. Even Victor’s sorry to hear the loss.

Too much to say about this episode.

 

Before I reveal the number one pick, here are some Honourable Mentions:

1.1 Alive and Buried

2.6 Timeless Time

4.4 Warm Champagne

5.2 The Affair Of The Hollow Lady

5.5 Hole in the Sky

 

And the Number 1 episode of One Foot In The Grave is;…

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Hearts of Darkness (S04, E03)

And Thunderbirds are go! Hearts Of Darkness is the darkest, one of the most well-written episodes of One Foot In The Grave. And I believe some of the themes are so darn relatable.

Okay what’s the story? Victor, Margaret, Mrs. Warboys and Nick Swainey are spending a day out in a countryside. However, they end up lost, so Victor decides to go and get help. The nearest place he finds is an old folks’ home, where he soon learns that the place is run by abusive nurses. It falls up to Victor to rescue the old residents.

What to say about this episode… The reason is not because it’s at the moment the top rated episode of One Foot In The Grave according to IMDB. Though in a way, it’s an honour. We begin with a montage of humorous events demonstrating what David Renwick does best when it comes to humour. We see the Meldrews and their friends heading to their trip and Victor getting into a variety of scrapes with passers-by i.e. Victor telling some drivers off for holding them up and them at a bar and him cheering at some sports result a bit so much he hits a table plank which catapults a beer glass into a nearby customer, on both occasions, Victor getting a nosebleed. Gee, I sense elderly abuse, which is pretty much the main theme of the episode.

But before we get to that, we have to deal with the foursome attempting to get home or at least some place they recognise. Try and imagine visiting a place you’ve never been to before and ending up in the middle of nowhere. We of course come across hilarious consequences such as Victor and Mrs. Warboys getting their feet trapped in a heavy bag of cement while sheltering themselves in an abandoned van from the rain. Eventually they do get help from the yob drivers, but unintentionally, the cement bag eventually comes off. But they still need to find a way out. And this leads to the best part of the episode.

And here’s what I was talking about when I mentioned elderly abuse. Victor stumbles across an old folks’ home. The residents kindly give him a shower and the staff gives him directions, but before he can leave the place, Victor realises he forgot his watch and notices that the staff are beating up the residents. This episode debates what kind of staff members the National Health Service hires. I’m not saying that the whole NHS is a hellhole. It’s a great service and there are some good staff members who have made a positive contribution. But others have demonstrated incompetence, abuse and betrayal to the service. The nurses in this episode are a prime example. And it’s happened in reality as well. There were some news articles about it.

Apparently, Hearts Of Darkness was heavily edited after broadcast, because many viewers moaned about the violent content included. But they’re clearly unaware that the episode demonstrates awareness in such an act. It does indeed go by its title. The nurses are not the kind of people you want to come across. They’re neglectful, they take harsh control over the elderly residents and schedule their lives and they booze. But it does have a happy ending. Victor maybe a grumpy old guy, but it doesn’t mean that he doesn’t care. He does. He questions the nurses actions and does his very best to liberate the old folks. Of course, he’s one himself. It goes to show that people deserve dignity and respect, no matter what their age.

So that was my personal top ten list of One Foot In The Grave episodes. If there was an episode I missed from the list, I apologise for the disappointment, but you can feel free to comment below. It’s just my personal opinion.

Thank you for reading.

Top-Ten Malcolm In The Middle episodes

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Once upon a time, there lived a little boy named Frankie Muniz. Frankie teamed up with another three lads; Justin Berfield, Erik Per Sullivan and Christopher Kennedy Masterson, and a high-profile actor, Bryan Cranston, and actress, Jane Kazmerek (well, sort of high profile, they did have numerous TV/Film credits before then), and thus was born one of the greatest American sitcoms to have ever existed, Malcolm In The Middle.

It’s ten years since Malcolm In The Middle ceased production and would you believe after all them years how grown up the youth actors are with Frankie turning 30 last year, Justin reaching his age a couple of months later. Hell, Erik has recently hit 25, so happy birthday to him for last week.

Also, there maybe a chance for a cast reunion later on (see this link for details: http://www.indiewire.com/2016/06/bryan-cranston-malcolm-in-the-middle-reunion-1201692100/). Oh and Bryan Cranston is to appear as Zordon in a new upcoming Power Rangers movie, so good luck to him.

In celebration to all them events, I shall observe what I personally regard as the top ten episodes of Malcolm In The Middle.

 

Number 10;…

Home Alone 4 (1.3)

I suppose the producers had to name this episode that, considering how many Home Alone movies there were at the time. In this one, Francis comes home from military school to sort-of babysit his younger brothers, while Hal and Lois are attending a wedding. Looking after Malcolm, Reese and Dewey proves questionable for Francis, being that he is their older brother and not their parent. Plus, stereo-typically, the brothers are occasional slobs and as a result, the house is in a bit of a mess. However, when Francis’ old friends hear that he’s returned to the suburb, they decide to pay a visit and end up throwing a wild party.

As a result of the party, the house is over-trashed. Knowing that the parents, especially Lois, will kill the boys, especially Francis, because he’s been left in charge, the quartet set to cleaning up the house. This leads to one of the most amusing parts of this episode; they find that they’ve over-cleaned the house and thy know that the parents are more used to the boys not being that tidy. So they make a few alterations; you have Francis sprinkling scrabble pieces on one of the side tables, Dewey putting footprints on the wall, etc. But then Malcolm has an accident when he dirties the book shelf, causing it to break and injure his head.

Again, the boys attempt to keep out of trouble with their parents and need $400 to heal Malcolm’s injury. The price puts them in a much more awkward situation, because who could possibly help them besides their parents and if they find out, Francis may be harshly banished back to military school. Plus they’re away, so they can’t get the money in time. They even ask Malcolm’s teacher who’s passing by in the hospital. She initially refuses, so Francis comes with a backup plan, an emotional talk with Dewey, which then talks the teacher into helping them after all. And I have to say, I often get teary-eyed every time I see Francis telling Dewey that he may be back in the military academy forever, Dewey in tears and Francis feeling emotional himself.

The entire series is a coming-of-age tale, but Home Alone 4 is more than that. It’s an episode about taking mature responsibility.

 

Number 9;…

Reese Drives (3.13)

Those who took driving tests in the past, think back to how you felt before you took your test and during your test. Reese Drives sees Reese taking his very first driving test. Before then, he tries to stay calm and ensure he focuses. This, I can so relate to. I remember before I took my test, I was constantly trying to eliminate everything from my mind that was not related to driving. Of course, it was all worth it, since I passed my test and now hold a full licence.

Anyway, enough about me, back to the episode. Speaking of pre-test experiences, Reese attempts to remain calm (because of course, stress could lead to road rage, which could lead to disaster) and Dewey takes advantage of his stress by stabbing Reese with a fork and Reese very nearly hits his brother, but calms and relents. In another moment, he has himself tied up in bed ready for the big day and then Dewey hits him with a sack of heavy items.

Now onto the ultimate moment; the driving. At first, he has to sit in the car with an abysmal driving student, named Jackie, who clumsily knocks down numerous traffic cones and other obstacles. Jackie’s clumsiness wastes Reese’s time and he loses his turn due to the fact that the instructor wants to nip to the post office, despite a long queue. We know that Reese is the least intelligent of the Wilkerson family, but we can’t really blame him for protesting and driving the car himself, without the instructor. However, he also goes to war with the law, a very dangerous task. Reese proves to be a great driver, but being that Jackie is with him and he’s driving without the instructor, he ends up being chased by the cops. I know how he feels when he finds out his test has been cancelled at the last moment. I’d be annoyed if that happened to me. And when he hijacks the car, I remember when I first saw the episode, I was cackling, as soon as Reese told Jackie to move over, she refused and he belched into her face causing her to give in. How can that not crack a smile? Of course, it didn’t happen to me, but if that was me, I would’ve called the company to complain, but Reese’s actions are part of the comedy to this episode.

The sub-plot is also enjoyable; Craig’s at his usual roguish ways when he tricks Malcolm into believing that he egged his house only to find that Craig wants a hand with his home cinema. Malcolm eventually enjoys his new job. However, when he sees a news report on the TV with Reese’s car chase, he runs off to help him, because despite their occasional irritation and Reese’s low intelligence, they are after-all family. This of course leads to one of the funniest Craig related scenes in the show; he falls off the roof and the next moment, his cat is watching and… you know the rest.

 

Number 8;…

Christmas (3.7)

I know, I know, but Christmas is one of the greatest festive-themed TV episodes in general to have ever aired and it ain’t hard to see why.

The Wilkersons have just about finished their Xmas shopping and as usual, Malcolm, Reese and Dewey are driving Lois insane with their constant fights. The final straw occurs when the boys play a game that involves throwing baubles at each other. Lois issues an ultimatum; either the boys behave or the vacation is cancelled. This leads to Malcolm, Reese and Dewey, fearing that she could use that sort of blackmail on them for the next few Christmases, to teach their mom a lesson, only to find that things are not as bad as they thought. Meanwhile, Francis is forced by Lois to spend a torturous Christmas with his grandma Ida, despite his objections.

Not many festive editions are great, but this one certainly is. As Lois points out, Christmas is meant to be one of the happiest times of the year. But this is a TV episode and just because it’s about Christmas, doesn’t mean it has to be all Sunshine Lollipops and Rainbows. TV shows and films need to include conflict to tell a story. This one tells it brilliantly. Lois wants a nice family Christmas, but her plans are constantly ruined by the boys’ rough games/activities, which she views as basically hell. We can see both sides of the conflict; the mother wanting a nice peaceful holiday and the boys only having a bit of fun and the way they view fun. While they protest against Lois’ authority, (spoiler) they discover that she and Hal did indeed buy them what they wanted for Christmas. It does go to show that although the Wilkersons are a dysfunctional family and have so many conflicts, they do indeed care for each other and that’s what the vacation is all about, caring.

This also goes for Francis and Ida. Lois cares about her mom, because this is Ida’s first Xmas without her husband Victor. It’s a mystery how he died, because I don’t think there’s an episode where we see him die. But Francis has doubts, because he knows how evil she is, which I’ll explore later on. When he does visit her, he shows how much he cares by giving her a card. Ida hates it, because the card plays Jingle Bells every time it’s opened and she hates songs that are about Christmas. Francis of course doesn’t mean to ‘torture’ her. Later, after a rocky start, Francis and Ida do sort of bond and he finds that she did indeed buy the family some gifts. She does have love for her family, but she happened to withhold them, due to some petty offences they committed. So Francis at his usual rebellious mode plays a trick on his gran and stashes multiple musical cards around the house, driving her mad.

Christmas is one such awesome episode I recommend you get a hold of during Christmas.

 

Number 7;…

If Boys Were Girls (4.10)

We all know that Lois is the only female member of the Wilkerson household. And with that, she’s forced to put up with the male antics around the house. If Boys Were Girls takes place an episode after Lois discovers she’s pregnant with Jamie, the fifth child, who was later introduced at the end of the fourth season.

In this episode, Lois takes Hal, Malcolm, Reese and Dewey clothes shopping. The boys (excluding Hal, of course) constantly fight and bicker and Lois, suddenly, enters a dreamworld and imagines her kids as girls. Lois feels more secure in that world, then in the real world and sees the ‘girls’ as more light-hearted and co-operative, just like her, well almost. I mean she would be that way  if she hadn’t have had to put up with the boys.

Before I was born, my mom apparently predicted I was going to be born a girl. Of course the prediction was wrong and one can’t always be right about what gender the baby’s going to be. Lois hopes the baby is the girl as soon as she see Hal, Malcolm, Reese and Dewey rushing off to play basketball. Being that she’s the only female in the house, we can understand her imaginations. One moment, the boys are pigging on their hamburgers. The next moment, she pictures them as girls, feeding on salads and having a nice lunch conversation with Lois. I also love how she pictures Hal as more obese and with a comfort eating disorder and struggling with the terms that he’s the only male in the family.

But then in reality, the majority of females are just as difficult as males. As If Boys Were Girls progresses, we find out that the girl versions of the boys also have problems. Mallory (Malcolm’s female version) turns out to be a spoiled brat, wanting make-up, Renee (Reese) is as dumb as Reese and is revealed by how younger loud-mouthed sister Daisy (Dewey) to be pregnant at teen-age. This is when Francis as Frances steps him and would you believe that it’s the same actor? She turns out to be a college-drop-out and stripper. How I love that image and scene!

 

Number 6;…

Red Dress (1.2)

Another Lois-dominated episode, Red Dress contains just the one simple plot and it involves a red dress owned by her.

Lois and Hal are getting ready to eat at an expensive restaurant in celebration for their wedding anniversary. Lois intends to wear her favourite dress, a red one, but finds out that it’s been destroyed; burned and flushed down the lavatory. This drives her wild and while poor Hal is waiting for her at the restaurant, Lois furiously interrogates the boys in an attempt to find out the truth of who burned her dress.

Red Dress was only the second episode of Malcolm In The Middle that came out and this is a great debut for Lois Wilkerson. Well technically, her control-freak personality. This is one of the episodes that demonstrates Lois at her best; a woman full of rage. In this case, she’s raging over a simple piece of clothing, but it is in fact her favourite dress. So in the end, we can understand why she’s as mad as a hippo with a hernia. Her anger management is one of the reasons why I rank Lois as my favourite character in the series. I understand how hard it is to have a bossy loud-mouthed mother like her, but for some reason and despite the fact that I’m a male, I can kind of relate to that. I’ve been known to lose my temper easily, especially when something went wrong. By the way, on the topic that I said Lois was my favourite character, I just like to make clear that I can’t think of one character from the series I like the least. I can’t decide which of the other characters I like better than one another, but I have to rank Lois as my fav, her raging attitude being one of the reasons.

(spoiler) In the end of course, we discover that Hal is the culprit, though he actually burned the dress by accident, hence why he flushed it down the bog in order to hide the evidence. And I have to say I agree with the Nostalgia Critic, who once ranked him and Lois as one of the eleven best if strange fictional couples. They do truly love each other, but even Hal can get frightened of Lois, so we can’t really blame him for trying to get rid of the dress following the accident.

Lois’ raging persona would prove to be a trademark throughout the series, and I thank Red Dress for it.

 

Number 5;…

The Grandparents (2.15)

The Grandparents marks the first appearance of Grandma Ida and the first and only appearance of Grandpa Victor.

The grandparents (also Lois’ parents) pay a surprise visit to the Wilkersons. Lois and Hal are of course delighted to see them, yet surprised that they didn’t bother to tell them that they was coming. Reese is especially thrilled and bonds with Victor. Malcolm feels positive at first, but then doesn’t feel approved of by them. Dewey on the other hand is horrified and his childhood fears come flooding back. In-between this episode, the family is having trouble with their refrigerator.

Have you ever wondered what it would be like if any of your relatives were pure evil? I never experienced that myself, but apparently one of my distant relatives used to bully his cousins at a younger age. Yet, many families have their own burden(s). When I ranked Christmas, I mentioned that Francis pointed out how evil Ida is. Even The Grandparents points out the evilness within Ida and her husband. Of course, Francis ain’t the only one who knows so. Dewey doesn’t exactly sense any luminosity within them. With that said, I should like to mention that this episode is probably his quietest role. When he sees his grandparents for the first time, he looks afraid. Then we get a brief flashback of him as a baby and the grandparents dropping him on the floor on purpose. As soon as it flashes back to the present, you’d expect Dewey to scream, but actually, he just runs away like hell without making a sound. Later Dewey sees Hal and Lois having a conversation with Victor and Ida and Hal tells him that Victor and Ida are staying longer. We then see Dewey remembering another haunting memory where as a toddler, he nearly got carelessly run over by Victor. Then back in the present, he runs off again. It may be cliched, but it’s also funny and subtle. It’s actually one of my favourite bits in the episode.

Reese of course gets on really well with Victor and this leads to another favourite scene of mine. Victor’s present to Reese turns out to be military equipment, including a grenade, which Reese clumsily handles and ends up removing its pin. We then get into both a bit of a panic and some giggles when Reese, Victor and Malcolm of course get into a stew with the grenade, which Malcolm ends up placing in the refrigerator, which blows up, something you’d expect to see on The Young Ones. We can just about imagine how Lois reacts; “You gave my son a live grenade? You brought live ammunition into this house?! WHAT IS THE MATTER WITH YOU?!!”. And at her own parents too.

A perfect introduction to a recurring character, classic scenes and an explosive finale, you name it, that’s The Grandparents. Shame they had to kill Victor off later on in the series.

 

Number 4;…

Traffic Jam (2.1)

Traffic Jam is the first episode to the second season of Malcolm In The Middle and a continuation to Water Park (the final episode of the previous season). While I state what this episode is about, I shall give a brief overview of the previous episode.

Hal, Lois, Reese and Malcolm are heading home, after being kicked out of a water-slide park when they suddenly end up in a traffic jam, caused by some car wreck. Meanwhile , Dewey, who has had to miss out on the outing due to his ear infection, is trying to get home himself, following his babysitter’s heart attack and him chasing a red balloon (get it, Red Balloon?) and ending up in the middle of nowhere, leading to some strange adventures he has.

Traffic Jam maybe part of a two-part episode, but you can get the jist out of what’s going on in this ep, without needing to watch the first part (though I’d recommend watching that episode as well). Most of this one’s about coming across a traffic jam and how hard it is to cope when one is in the jam for a while. Lois is furious that the workmen are doing very little to clear up the mess which she knows looks blatantly easy to do and poor Hal is attempting to calm her down. You’ve got Reese at war with an ice cream man who refuses to sell the products. I can definitely see why, considering that as Malcolm points out, it’s 95 degrees Celsius and how questionable the ice cream man’s attitude is; Reese at one time points out that the man could’ve sold some ice cream while there’s a traffic jam going on and to make some money. Malcolm on the other hand doesn’t feel fantastic about the jam either, but he feels more positive when he meets a Canadian girl and to pass the time, they begin chatting and bond together. I love how they admire the view, including when they see Reese violently jumping on the van and when they see Lois shouting on the emergency phone. Speaking of which, let me talk about Lois’ angry phone call. She tries to call home to see if Dewey’s okay, but because it’s an emergency phone, she can’t get through. The best bit is when Lois asks to speak to the supervisor and then the man lowers his voice; “Hello this is the supervisor”, but Lois is not dumb enough to fall for it; “No it isn’t. You’re just disguising your voice,” “No I’m not. I’m really the supervisor.” I do in fact empathise with her eventual emotional breakdown. The thing with being stuck in traffic jams for hours in the hot blazing sun can lead to boredom and stress.

I should also mention the sub-plots which I think are amazing! Dewey finds his way home through various ways; with a store robber, a group of hillbillies on a truck, then in a limousine, then in a tour bus and then with a motorcycle gang. Meanwhile Francis enters a contest which involves eating 100 pieces of candy.

Traffic Jam is definitely one to check out.

 

Number 3;…

Hal Coaches (3.16)

Games can sometimes be frustrating. When I talk about games, I mean both video and physical.

Hal Coaches pictures Hal coaching for Dewey’s soccer team, who seem to be failing against the opposing teams. Meanwhile, Malcolm becomes obsessed with a video game after a new computer is delivered to the household.

Sometimes when you play for a sports team, the games require a bit of logic and geometry and strength and stress. Near the start of the episode, we see Dewey on the verge of quitting, because he feels that he and the team such at soccer. Hal is obviously optimistic that he can do better and urges his son to rethink about quitting. Then, because the original coach walked out, he decides to fill in, despite Dewey’s objections. Being that he is his father, he proves to be soft on the team, while the coach for one of his opposing teams is a tough ass. Sometime afterwards we see that Hal and Dewey’s team have lost. So Hal suggests that the team imagine themselves as superheroes i.e. “the X-Men” and that the opposing team is the force of “evil”. Though the kids do end up taking things literally. This episode does go to show that although sports coaches should treat the players like they would want to be treated, they should also try and introduce a logical way of fighting to win the game.

But Hal Coaches couldn’t be complete without the awesome sub-plot, which I personally find the best part of the episode; Malcolm becoming addicted to the newly delivered computer and a video game called the Virts (an obvious reference to The Sims). First of all, I give a lot of credit to the producer for the way they created the game; its commodore-64 style music and the ludicrous graphics, lol. I also admire how Malcolm creates a virtual version of his family (raising his mother’s aggressiveness to 10, lowering Reese’s hygiene level to 0, then upping his positives (appearance, intelligence, social skills) to 10). He at first enjoys the game, but then some games have its own problems. I remember as a kid when I cursed through some complications I experienced playing certain games. The Virts eventually turns against Malcolm. The funniest part is that his virtual self experiences negatives whereas the others are getting on fine, too fine, no matter how hard Malcolm tries. When the final straw occurs, guess what Malcolm does with the computer. It left me cackling and thinking ‘I bet that computer was expensive’.

 

Number 2;…

Book Club (3.3)

Yeah I know, another Lois-related episode. But believe me, Book Club is a really great episode and here’s why.

Book Club, apart from the cold open of course, begins with the Wilkersons having dinner and the males are constantly making obnoxious noises. Lois gets bored of the antics and so decides to join a local book-related society in order to escape from the family. However, on her first meeting, it turns out to be a group of other mothers having the same family troubles and looking for an excuse to socialise and get drunk. Meanwhile, since his wife has gone into the outgoing habit, Hal must watch over the boys.

First, let me start with the opening scene. It’s one of the funniest moments in worldwide comedy history! One would think that some of the British comedians thought of that idea. The males are belching through speech at the dinner table, and formal dinner conversation too. For instance, Malcolm’s belching “Could you pass the peas please?”. Hell, even Hal’s at it as well! Everyone but Lois, who hopes for a more pleasant atmosphere. When the males finally cease with the sound effects, we then get Malcolm talking about how he witnessed a fight in school. Hal, Reese and Dewey are invested, but Lois obviously ain’t and has hoped to hear about something more pleasant.

I’m a lad myself and as a result, and because my old elementary classroom was mostly full of boys (there was a few girls too), I occasionally joined in with their obnoxious antics. I can remember one time when one of the boys farted out-loud and we cackled and our teacher, a woman, went absolutely wild. There were few girls in my class and the majority of them were the more sensible ones. So in a way, I can pretty much relate to what’s going on in this episode.

It does go to show the understanding between males and females. I do feel for Lois. She’s surrounded by boys and listens to “boy talk and boy noises” every night, so I can’t really blame her for joining the women’s ‘book’ club. Yet again, every member of a family needs a chance to socialise and see the outside and I’ll get to that later. But I ought to say that when Lois does attend the club, the other members explain that they formed the club to unite the females into socialising, drinking and, guess what, plotting against some wealthy PTA-mother, whose car they soon go to vandalise and as a result, face the cops. Lois does question the rights and wrongs. I’d be in favour of joining a political society, but then something that resorts to violence and/or destruction would be a dangerous move. And Lois wanted to do was discuss books.

We also feel for Hal too. We too know Lois needs a break, but she’s still a control freak and orders Hal to keep an eye on Malcolm, Reese & Dewey. He’s like “if I’m to do what Lois does, I have to think like Lois”. He pretty much over does his job of ensuring the boys are out of trouble and stresses so much that he makes hilarious outbursts in front of the kids and do I need to mention the bit where he sees smaller versions of himself, who try to give him advice? God I love that scene! It also goes to show that Hal is not Lois. Message; be yourself.

Book Club is an episode that really defines Lois and Hal’s characters.

 

Before I reveal the number one pick, here are some honourable mentions;

Watching the Baby (5.2)

Bowling (2.20)

Reese Comes Home (6.1)

Hal’s Christmas Gift (6.6)

Water-Park (1.16)

 

And the number 1 episode of Malcolm In The Middle is;…

 

Zoo (4.1)

And Thunderbirds Are Go! The first episode from the fourth series has got to be the most hilarious, adventurous and cleverly written episode I’ve seen from Malcolm In The Middle. It’s one such episode that shows that life can be unfair sometimes, as was once quoted through the theme tune.

What’s the story? Malcolm, who has reached the age of 14, is going through a depressed teenage crisis. But that doesn’t excuse him from a family trip to the zoo. He and Dewey end up in a tigers’ den, Reese butts heads with an aggressive goat and Hal and Lois encounter an old friend. Meanwhile Francis gets a new job.

Starting with the opening scene, following the credits, I absolutely adore that bit, but also relate to that. Lois finds Malcolm wrapped up in his quilt and moaning. She orders him to get up and his response is; “I’ll get up when the world stops being a cruel joke, which is never!”. This, I can’t help smiling through, but of course I remember going through that phase when I was a teenager. I remember hating life and wanting to run away. A lot of teenagers do get depressed sometimes, as Lois does point out; “I did, your father did, Francis cried in the shower everyday for 6 months, Reese wouldn’t get out of the dryer”.

But the best thing about the episode is when the family come face to face with the animals they meet in the zoo. Reese for instance pokes fun at one goat, then another carelessly head-butts him and he ends up in a fight with it. Then you have Hal and Lois attending an exhibit held by Lois’ old boyfriend Matt, who offered Lois and the family a ‘coupon’, which contributes to Hal’s jealousy, and he ends up getting bitten by a tarantula. And gee, check out that mark he gets. They then of course end up in a row over their past lives involving Matt.

Then you have Malcolm and Dewey; Dewey gets excited when he notices the tiger exhibit, but falls in the den. This is when Malcolm’s grumpiness lowers and goes to help his brother, ending up in the den himself. But before they can get to the exit, they get surrounded by tigers. Malcolm is clearly scared, hence why he repeats; “don’t move, don’t move, don’t move”, but Dewey is calm and more optimistic and you’d often expect the younger one to be more scared, but it’s the other way round. And we as viewers really fear for their lives and worry that they’re about to get ripped to shreds, and considering how young they are. Even Lois’ panicking reaction as soon as she sees them (“oh my god”) says it all.

The music is awesomely written too. Most of the soundtrack for the series is written in a techno/funk/alternative format, but if you listen to the music whenever Reese comes across the goat, it’s written in hard-edged staccato piano notes. Amusing, but it also contributes well to the fact that Reese is facing real danger. The same is said for Malcolm and Dewey as soon as they come across the tigers, except the music’s more synthesised and written in a diminished tone, which creates the tension.

Zoo is a very well written episode; Lois has ‘coupons’ for the zoo, her excuse to get Malcolm out of bed and join the family at the zoo. The coupons are actually free tickets provided by Lois’ ex-boyfriend, contributing to Hal’s jealousy and his and Lois’ row over relationships. Malcolm’s depression sinking when he goes to help Dewey, but puts himself in danger too, which stops Hal and Lois’ argument. But then as I forgot to mention, Reese’s fight with the goat, that soon proves useful to (spoiler!) Malcolm and Dewey’s eventual rescue; Reese throws the goat in the tiger’s den (that gets a lot of laughs too)! Right after Malcolm states “Superman isn’t going to save us.”

As for the cold open (the scene before the credits), it is one of the best. Malcolm and Reese are playing ball and Lois scolds them each time (“Don’t play ball in/on/through the house”) which is without a doubt hilarious!

So yeah, Zoo is an adventurous, fun-packed flick which all the family can enjoy. It’s no wonder that Malcolm In The Middle is often compared to The Simpsons.

 

That was my personal top ten episodes of Malcolm In The Middle. Thank you for reading. If there are other TV shows whose episodes I should construct top ten lists of, by all means throw ’em in.

Top-Ten Thunderbirds episodes

It’s a few months since the new reboot launched and the original series is due to celebrate it’s 50th anniversary. This is why in celebration, I have decided, after listing my top ten episodes of Stingray, to list what I regard as my personal top ten episodes of Thunderbirds.

As some of you know from one of my previous blogs (25 Best UK Kid’s Programmes Ever To Be Broadcast), Thunderbirds has led a huge impact on me since childhood and is one such show I shall never erase from my memory. So I thought it would make sense that I’d contribute to the 50th Anniversary. So if we get through this list, we shall be go!

10. The Impostors

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This one pictures International Rescue in an extremely difficult situation. Two men disguise themselves as members of the organisation in order to steal top-secret files from a military organisation. Due to the ‘uniforms’, International Rescue get the blame and are forced to remain scarce until Lady Penelope tracks down the frauds, therefore clearing their names. But a spaceman who is attempting to repair his satellite finds himself trapped in space, which requires the help of the Thunderbirds.

The Impostors contains so much conflict that you kinda worry both for the organisation and those they are not allowed to save as a result of the scandal. But of course, they do have a hard think about keeping a low profile. Sure they do keep a low profile, because they’re a secret organisation. I mean, think of Batman and Spiderman and those guys out of the film Kingsmen: The Secret Service. They keep their identities a secret to avoid stuff like pressure, public scrutiny, to allow themselves to live a normal life under normal aliases and to prevent themselves from exposure to their enemies. In short, to avoid public gossip. But what I meant was, International Rescue’s primary purpose is to save people, which is what creates the drama and questions them; should they just let the spaceman die or should they risk exposing themselves to danger.

Another awesome thing about The Impostors is that we get to know a few more IR agents around the globe. While Lady Penelope and Parker are on the case, they team up with Jeremiah, an American hill-billy and Jeff’s old friend, and his mother. At one point, Jeremiah calls the base, which Alan picks up and passes the message onto Jeff, addressing Jeremiah as a ‘hill-billy’, which Jeff humorously explains their brief backstory. We also briefly get to know a bit more about International Rescue and their networks with the various agents worldwide.

Another highlight; Penelope and Parker trudging through the trenches. Hilarious moment, but you’d certainly feel for poor Penny. After all, she is a woman.

9. Lord Parker’s ‘Oliday

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An episode from the rather short second and final series. In this one, Penelope and Parker are on vacation in Monte Bianco, the first fully solar powered town. However, once they arrive, a storm erupts and lightning strikes the satellite, causing the dish to be-tumble and point directly towards the town. This may look harmless, but worse to come is that the dish acts like a huge magnifying glass, meaning that when the sun reflects on the dish by dawn, the heat will strike the town, thus killing the residents.

We all know Brains is a pure smart ass. He knows a lot of things in full detail. For instance, in Sun Probe when Jeff mentioned that a rocket was going into orbit in five minutes, Brains corrected him “four and one quarter minute to be precise Mr Tracy”. Hell, he even makes a solid estimation on the satellite dish’s weight (“It must weight a few tons”). Well sometimes, as a result, high intelligence leads to what you could call ‘know-it-all-ism’. First, he and Alan harshly debate who should go down to the dish for inspection. When Virgil sends Brains down to inspect the dish, he warns him not to take too many chances, to which Brains responds “Don’t worry, I know what I’m doing.” I remember when me and the family watched this episode and my mom thought “how rude!” The next moment, Brains is like “why didn’t I think of it before!”, as soon as Virgil informs that the hotel is smoking, so comes with the solution; Scott to use Thunderbird 1 to cover the sun’s relection, and right at the last minute! Ya know, a bit like having Professor Frink working for International Rescue, lol.

Lord Parker’s ‘Oliday is one of the most amusing episodes of Thunderbirds. If you don’t believe me, check out the scene where Parker has to ensure the hotel’s guests are kept occupied, by waking them so early in the morning for a bingo game. Strange I know, but we can’t really blame Parker for this bizarreness, because things do literally hot up in there! Oh and there’s a bit where Brains plays dead! Even fooling International Rescue! No more detail will be given away.

8. Trapped In The Sky

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Why do I always love the pilot episodes? Well, this one I think is an extraordinary opening to the show itself. We witness International Rescue’s first rescue mission and first session in operation.

For those who don’t know, this episode sees The Hood waiting for International Rescue to commence operation. Through voodoo interrogation with Kyrano, he finds out that the organisation is all loaded and ready, therefore providing him the chance to expose their secrets. In order to do that, The Hood plants a bomb in an aircraft known as Fireflash and warns the airport crew that the landing will trigger the bomb, thus luring International Rescue into a trap; a trap which involves secret exposure.

Trapped In The Sky demonstrates a mission which goes to show that one is likely to witness certain technical faults when attempting something for the first time. In this case, Virgil uses a set of elevator cars to ensure the Fireflash aircraft lands safely, but one of them goes berserk, forcing Virgil to order the pilots to remain in air for a few moments and bring a spare car. This occurs when the plane is due to face radiation explosion if they don’t land soon. Being that it’s the first episode, the Fireflash crew are unaware of IR’s existence, not even knowing that John the space monitor of Thunderbird 5 has listened in, and try contacting some other organisations for help, each of them failing. That’s before IR step in.

Another plus point; not only those residing at International Rescue’s headquarters i.e. Tracy Island, but all the other main characters are introduced; Lady Penelope, Parker and of course The Hood, and into one cleanly scripted episode as well, in which the plot points link so well together. The Hood drags the organisation into the mess, therefore attempting to expose the identity by photographing Thunderbird 1, triggering the photo alert, leading to Scott to call Penny for assistance, which she does in James Bond-style-ish. And I can’t conclude this position without discussing her badass quote; “We’re going for a little drive!”

7. The Perils Of Penelope

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This is one suspenseful, frantic and dramatic episode of Thunderbirds.

In this one, Lady Penelope joins Sir Jeremy Hodge, fellow member of International Rescue, to investigate the disappearance of Professor Borender, creator of a new rocket fuel made from sea water and Hodge’s personal friend, who was last seen travelling on a monorail train from Paris to Anderbad. During the case, they come across Dr. Godber, who wants to know about the fuel conversion formula, in order to boost his wealth. The pursuit leads to the Anderbad tunnel where they find Borender held hostage by Godber, and leading to a final and heart-pounding showdown in the Anderbad tunnel.

The title of the episode says it all. Sure, Lady Penelope occasionally takes on the role of James Bond, firing guns, owning a car filled with explosive gadgets, though mostly driven by Parker and she’s a resourceful character. But she is an occasional damsel in distress. The Perils Of Penelope demonstrates the best scene in which she acts as one. First, Penelope and Hodge are enjoying a drink, but luckily, Parker shoots the glasses, because the drink is drugged, thus saving them. Then he saves them from a locked room full of tear gas. Then as Penny and Hodge arrive at the tunnel, Godber ties Penny to a ladder in the path of the next train to arrive, giving Hodge and Borender a choice; give info of the chemical formula or Penelope dies. Geez how harsh can this jerk get? And I seem to wonder what he would do with his money. No doubt do what Mr. Burns does and purchase a whole company of snow ploughs to use for games of soccer.

The best thing about this episode is the finale. Soundtrack-wise, it starts off quiet with just the ambience of the mono-train in the background, with Virgil and Gordon struggling to figure out whereabouts in the tunnel Penelope is and Godber interrogating the men without receiving an answer. Then as Godber’s assistant informs him that two minutes till the train’s destination remains, music! Fast-paced, energetic, the sort of score to pound your heart and you’re like “c’mon Virgil/Gordon, quick before Penelope gets splattered!” As they do come across Penny, you’d think Penny would state “About time! Where the hell have you been?” To add to the tension, Hodge orders the train controller to stop the vehicle, but the dude is killed by Godber, who then shoots the control panel. As Borender puts it; “That means we can’t stop the train!” A few more breaths and it’s like “Oh my god, Penelope’s gonna die! Aaaargh!”, etc.

Have a look and see for yourself.

6. Atlantic Inferno

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Atlantic Inferno was a fantastic start to the second series of Thunderbirds, although alas, it was the last series and a very short one. But the episode made up for it.

This episode centres mainly on the organisation itself. It begins with Penelope about to set for her vacation on her Australian sheep farm. She invites Jeff to join her, considering he ain’t had a vacation for a while. At first, Jeff is reluctant in case any further operations are needed, but his sons agree with Penelope, so Jeff gives in. Scott takes charge as the mission controller, but his leadership skills are tested when an incident in the Atlantic Ocean involving a drilling rig and fire jets occurs.

We all know that Jeff Tracy is the guy in charge of International Rescue, so we can understand his scepticism and his worries on such public events, therefore lacking relaxation. When I first watched this episode, I knew Scott would be the obvious choice for second-in-command, a) because he’s the oldest brother and b) due to his turbo thinking. Being that he is temporarily in charge while his dad is away, we can really feel for this guy. At times, he’s stressed. He also debates whether the event is in need for a rescue operation. If his dad worries about people’s lives, surely he has the right to do the same, hence on the first rescue mission, despite Jeff reckoning that it ain’t too serious, Scott dispatches Virgil, Gordon and Alan to extinguish the fire jet in case anything else happens.

Of course, a second rescue is required when the pressure of the underwater-bed fire proves too much and creates more jets, putting Seascape’s lives in peril. Scott has been reprimanded by his dad for the dispatch despite the low risk of the human life, so decides against it at first. But the emergency gets more serious, so IR once again come to the rescue. Jeff also hears it and decides the organisation need his help.

One other thing I admire about this episode is Scott’s social calls to John, which is not like the contacts you see in every other episode, which are mainly focused on emergencies. Scott demonstrates an interest in how John’s getting on. Quite dramatic, and I sometimes feel sorry for John, considering he’s stuck in Thunderbird 5 by himself and with a limited social life. His responses to Scott are that “it’s a bit quiet up there”. Mind you, this episode was made years before Facebook was invented.

Another high point is how relaxed Penelope is compared to Jeff and her high trustworthy persona. During the final few moments of the second rescue mission, Jeff is about to land on Tracy Island, “Permission to land”, and Scott is like “Permission rejected. Still waiting for the other vehicles”, Jeff is surprised by that response, but Penny calmly reminds him that Scott is handling the situation well.

The message; give your children a chance to experience something.

5. Terror In New York

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Well I can’t talk about this episode without mentioning what happens to Thunderbird 2. Seriously, how many of you was traumatised when the navy attacked the iconic vehicle? Answer, I was one of them guys. And by the shot of Tin-Tin’s emotional face, my emotions raised.

But I’ll get to that later, what’s the story? International Rescue have just finished some rescue mission in New York City and are about to set off, only for Thunderbird 1 to briefly hold back and sort out local anchorman Ned Cook who is attempting to expose the organisation’s secrets for a big news report. On the way home, Thunderbird 2 is ambushed by the navy who mistake the vehicle for an alien spaceship, leaving Virgil injured and the vehicle out of action for some time. Worse to come, another rescue in New York is required when the Empire State Building collapses and traps Ned and his assistant Joe underground. Scott manages to get there in Thunderbird 1, but with Thunderbird 2 under major repairs, Thunderbird 4 will require travelling assistance.

Terror In New York is one of the most dramatic episodes of this series. I’ve already mentioned TB 2’s attack, Virgil surveying the damaged parts whilst steadying the vehicle and about to make an incredibly violent landing. And as his lands, various explosions, Virgil emotionally fearing he’ll crash. And I’ve mentioned Tin-Tin. It’s very traumatising to witness. It goes to show that it can sometimes be dangerous to keep a secret identity. We understand that the navy doesn’t realise at first that the vehicle belongs to International Rescue and thinks it’s a UFO, though I have to admit the chief is a bit of a paranoid red-neck. We as the viewers do feel thankful that Jeff informs the navy and the navy eventually ceases the attack. I guess it also makes sense that they help Gordon and TB 4 across the ocean to the danger zone, considering after all, they’re making amends.

Speaking of drama, to add to the topic, things do indeed get emotional when Gordon informs Scott on the time and distance he and the navy are travelling. Time is in fact running out and it makes us, the viewers, pray to god they’ll arrive on time to save Ned and Joe, before they drown. Sure, Ned is a big jerk, having attempted to exposed IR’s secrets and made rude confrontations with Scott. But he’s still a human, as Batman would certainly point out, and it’s IR’s job to save a human life after all. They would be too late to stop a suicide or a murder or a hit-and-run event, but if people are trapped somewhere which endangers their lives, that’s the signal for IR to operate.

Many people were traumatised when the Twin Towers fell during the 9/11 attacks. Some of those people may feel the same way about seeing the Empire State Building fall. I’d feel quite sad if it really happened. But keeping in mind that this episode was produced way before the 9/11 attacks and in this episode, the building does not get attacked by terrorists. It tumbles by accident, due to something that couldn’t be helped. It’s a sad sight to see a landmark building fall, but it pounds our hearts more when Ned and Joe end up trapped underneath and close to drowning. It does show that a human life comes first.

4. Desperate Intruder

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Desperate Intruder is probably The Hood’s most prominent role in the series.

What’s the story?; through what I regard as his most torturous magical interrogation with Kyrano, The Hood learns that International Rescue are taking part in an archaeological expedition at Lake Anasta in the Middle East, when in fact, only Brains and Tin-Tin are involved. He also learns there may be hidden treasure in the lake and wants the treasure for himself. As Brains and Tin-Tin meet up with Professor Blakely, The Hood arrives at the location and sees this as an opportunity to terrorise the threesome and lure IR into another trap, not just by revealing secrets, but through colder blood.

And would you believe what The Hood does to Brains? Yes folks, and I don’t think Gerry was referencing Rocky & Bullwinkle at that point, he buries Brains in the sand, some feet away from his caravan and the lake and nowhere near a shaded area. This is like the most painful thing The Hood has ever done in the series. This scene may look peculiar, but it is the most powerfully dramatic scene of the episode. Imagine if you was buried in the sand, far away from shade and water. Adding to the emotions, Brains looks like he’s increasing sun-stroke and is begging The Hood for a bit of water and The Hood is refusing, unless Brains tells him the location of the treasure. Geez, what a nasty guy! This is why The Hood is such a definitive villain. Speaking of torture, I’d say the first scene is the scariest of all the various interrogations The Hood makes to Kyrano, by the way The Hood is really forcing his questions and Kyrano is screaming the loudest he’s done.

I suppose I should talk about the second rescue IR must make. This is when Brains blames himself for causing trouble for IR after discovering that a trap was made for IR, so to make amends goes back to the underwater temple to track down The Hood, thus leading to an awesome and heart-pounding climax. He get’s trapped by rubble from the collapsed temple, Gordon goes down to save him in TB 4, but is distracted through an epic battle with The Hood, who tries to destroy him. Even the torpedoes The Hood fires sounds painful. This is without a doubt one of the greatest scenes in Thunderbirds history! There’s Gordon attempting to save a colleague who’s trapped and has very little time of oxygen left and The Hood distracts him, causing Gordon to fight back and cut valuable time. After the brief battle though, the awesomeness does not end yet. Scott joins Gordon by using a balloon-device to life the heavy stuff off Brains and what really gets us hyped up is when the rope holding the rubble comes close to snapping before Brains can be saved.

Heart-thumping and dramatic, you name it!

3. Ricochet

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Imagine being forced to rescue a celebrity who annoys you so much you want to strangle him/her. Because this is the episode where Alan experiences the ‘torture’. Plus, like on Terror In New York, Ricochet demonstrates another dangerous side of identity secrecy.

In this episode, a disc jockey, known as Rick O’Shea (get it, Rick O’Shea?), hosts a pirate radio station, called KLA, in a small two-manned satellite spaceship. Meanwhile International Space Control launches a rocket via computer, but due to a technical fault, it explodes in the station’s vicinity. As a result, the station is knocked out of orbit. Loman, the engineer susses out the damage, but finds that the explosion has broken the satellite, the inner door is too damaged to re-open and the men are on collision cause with the Earth. Meanwhile, International Rescue have problems of their own; Thunderbird 5 is out of reception and until John and Gordon can fix the panels, the organisation will have to rely on emergency calls through TV or radio, i.e. KLA. With luck, O’Shea raises the alarm through his station and Thunderbirds 2 & 3 take off, despite Alan’s reluctance.

Thunderbirds was produced during the time when pirate radio stations were so common. Ricochet debates the use of pirate stations, as Jeff points out. Of course, presenting a pirate station can easily put one in jail, and we can understand why Rick O’Shea presents his station in an isolated spaceship. And yet the Space Control knows nothing of KLA’s whereabouts, so we can assume their damage to KLA was an accident and they didn’t know they was nearby during the rocket’s explosion. Speaking of radio, I’m also very fond of how Brains discusses chart music and states how repetitive it is nowadays. Personally I tend to agree with him and see not much difference with today’s chart singles, but that’s a personal nitpick.

Another thing great about Ricochet is the conflict and how IR’s communication is limited due to Thunderbird 5’s damaged reception device. This means that Alan and Scott, who are on board TB 3 cannot update Virgil and Brains in TB 2 on the rescues and Virgil cannot contact the base when they hear O’Shea’s voice and spot the falling satellite, during the finale, which means he and Brains assume O’Shea’s still on board and must make their own decision before the ship falls onto the refinery. The way they handle the situation is awesome! They use TB 2 as a bumper car to tilt the ship off course, which is exciting, but also cringe-worthy, each time TB 2 scrapes itself against the ship.

Somehow, I think Gerry Anderson and Matt Groening have some things in common; one of them being that their fictional celebrities behave like jerks (hence Matt Groening’s characterisation of Krusty The Clown in The Simpsons). Rick O’Shea is without a doubt no exception. He moans about Loman’s breakfast cooking, he’s addicted to his shows and demonstrates little interest in science. Plus he even argues with Alan, refusing to leave the satellite, due to his fear of heights. For that, we can’t blame Alan for his frustration on him. He openly expresses his cynicism amongst O’Shea’s shows and thus feels punished when he discovers O’Shea and Loman need rescuing. This is an important theme to bear in mind through this episode, because the ending, without giving anything away will stick a smile on your face, but also question the rights and wrongs of International Rescue.

2. Brink Of Disaster

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I have yet to know whether Gerry Anderson demonstrated any political views, but Brink Of Disaster seems like the most political episode of Thunderbirds I have ever seen in my life. And I shall tell you why through a brief overview of the synopsis;

Warren Grafton is a businessman seeking an investment of $40 million (geez!) to extend the building of his cross-country monorail. He enquires Lady Penelope, who turns the offer down and offers the position to Jeff. Jeff, along with Brains and Tin-Tin, join Grafton aboard the train to observe the technology, but they are suspicious that Grafton is a trickster, who has the hots for money. Elsewhere, heli-jets are observing the track; one gets struck by lightening and crashes into the track. As a result, the track is on the verge of crumbling and the brake pipe snaps deactivating the automatic signals, thus putting Jeff, Brains, Tin-Tin and Grafton into danger.

What I was getting at when I discussed politics; Grafton is someone we can easily describe as a capitalist. At one point, Brains expresses his doubts in regards to the ‘too many loopholes’, with Jeff agreeing; “Grafton is more interested in money than people’s lives”. Jeff is of course interested in how the monorail works and whether the signals may go wrong, but Grafton does not provide enough information to convince him and claims that his company’s spent millions on safety devices. Er, is he sure? The next moment, the four discover they’re heading for trouble. Grafton is like “how do we stop this thing?” and as a lefty, I can relate to Jeff’s bemusement (“you should’ve thought about that before”). Message to all entrepreneurs ; if you start a business, ensure it’s 100% operational and not fully prone to risks and hazards. If Grafton was on Dragon’s Den, all the Dragons would declare themselves out without a doubt.

We can most certainly tell Grafton is a fat cat, and also a crook. Earlier in this episode, we see Grafton negotiating with his two criminal colleagues, Malloy and Selsden, who are assigned to burgle Penelope’s mansion. This is one of Penelope’s great scenes in the whole series. As we observe the thieves hijacking FAB1, Parker worries about shooting the car, leading to Penelope giving one of her greatest lines “for one thing you might not succeed, and for another there’s no need”. She’s resourceful, and smart and relaxed. It’s like she’s a female version of Tom Cruise and/or Pierce Brosnan. Earlier on, we see her getting rid of a couple of assassins through a car chase using her gadgets. This episode really defines her character!

Back to the monorail bit. Another great thing about Brink Of Disaster is the climax leading to the finale (I know, I know). We start to worry whether Jeff, Brains, Tin-Tin and Grafton will survive as they’re clinging onto each other, while Brains is attempting to apply the brakes. As it finally starts slowing down, the brakes become pretty violent and harshly vibrate the vehicle. I mean listen to them scrapes! Even the music marks a thrilling contribution! Of course after the stop, they end up dangling from the broken bit of rail. Do I need to mention how emotional Tin-Tin feels? To add to the thrills, following Scott’s instructions to leave the train and use the platform, it collapses before they can do so – a bit of exasperation added there, even Scott must be feeling it!

There’s a similar-ish episode of The Simpsons called Marge Vs. The Monorail, except that it’s of course a comedy and no international organisation is required to rescue the monorail’s passengers. Not to say that Thunderbirds steers too much away from comedy, but elements are more occasional. Both episodes do share the same politics against capitalism leading to death, if you get what I mean.

Brink Of Disaster is a thrilling edition which is well-worth watching!

1. Attack Of The Alligators

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And we are go! Now I know what you readers are thinking. A lot of Thunderbirds fans have expressed their positive impression that the production of Attack Of The Alligators involved real alligators (well, youth reptiles, but the team were trying to ensure that their sizes contrasted with the sizes of the puppets). This was like nine or ten years before Jaws came out and I’m sure we all know that the shark is in fact a robot. But we’re talking REAL animals on set. It’s no surprise that the RSPCA was involved in production.

Okay, what’s the story; Blackmer, a businessmen, and Dr. Orchard, a scientist residing in a remote house near Ambro River in South America, discuss business on a new food additive called Theremine, which is decide to enlarge the sizes of animals. Blackmer’s boatman, Culp, listens in and decides to leave with the drug to sell in in order to become rich (geez,what’s it with these jerks and wealth?). But due to his clumsiness, he spills the drug in the sink. As a result, it strikes the river, infecting the residing alligators. This leads to the alligators to wreck havoc. And this is why we understand how strict the RSPCA were about this; the Thunderbirds must fight off the reptiles in order to save the scientists in the house.

We all know International Rescue wouldn’t dare kill anybody and that anybody I’m sure includes animals, because they are after all living things as well as people and, as I keep saying, they save, not kill. While I observe this episode, I understand that the Thunderbirds are not trying to kill the alligators, but are making sure they don’t kill the humans. This episode logically thinks out of the box on this one; TB 1 to use its smoke, diverting the alligators away from the house, and TB 2 to use tranquilliser guns, manned by Gordon and Alan, to put them to sleep. One scene I’m particularly fond of is when the third alligator avoids the tranquilliser darts and heads to the house, Alan comes up with a solution to distract it with his hover-bike, despite Virgil and Gordon’s objections; “Alan, come back!”, (sighs) I love that line. Speaking of; the acting is so great. For instance, when John picks up the emergency call, he’s like “giant alligators?”, a second after that, Scott repeats that line, epic!

Back to the alligator-fight scene, after mentioning TB 1’s bit, the tranquilliser bit and Alan’s bit, I should also mention Culp. He gets in the way of things, limits the communication between Scott and Virgil. Virgil worries about the fact that Scott ain’t responding, but there’s a reason; Culp’s holding Scott at gun point. There’s so much conflict through the alligator crisis. Next thing, we see Culp dropping the vial containing the drug in the water, which means that Gordon, using TB 4, must retrieve it. Next thing, he and us lot freak out when we see a conscious alligator in the river and the music really helps! I should also point out the scene where he washes the drug down the sink, which does indeed cause an environmental problem, and for the animals as well. This is a really important scene to all viewers and especially asks those who throw their garbage in rivers, spill oil without cleaning it up and/or don’t bother to recycle to really think about their consequences.

Attack Of The Alligators is an episode which not only was very well produced, but also indicates incredible scripting, so much thinking about the box, scientific elements and brings forward environmental issues and viewers of any age can enjoy the epic fight between the Thunderbirds and the alligators.

So that was my personal top ten list of Thunderbirds episodes. One important thing to note; for those who ain’t familiar with the series, I would encourage you to try and get hold of the original extended episodes (the ones that run for 50 minutes each). I have also come across the Fox Kids version and the episodes are disastrously shortened to 30 minutes; the soundtrack is altered and some of the most important scenes are cut out, each episode is too rushed for us to appreciate the drama and thrills, even the voices are dubbed and you don’t want that. If you look at the extended episodes, they’re much less rushed, you can easily follow through them, the sound is so in sync and you won’t be like “wait a minute, what have I just scene?”. So go for the original longer episodes. That’s my advice.

Thank you for reading and before I end this post, here are some honourable mentions;

Cry Wolf

Pit Of Peril

The Duchess Assignment

The Man From MI5

Martian Invasion

A post based on my personal top ten episodes of Captain Scarlet & The Mysterons will arrive soon.

Top-Ten Stingray episodes

Gerry Anderson may be gone, but there is no excuse why I can’t write this blog. For the next few blogs, I intend to state what I personally regard as my favourite episodes from certain of his programmes.

I will explore three of what are regarded as his most popular TV shows; Stingray, Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet & The Mysterons. I will start with the earliest one, Stingray. We’re about to launch my personal top-ten episodes of Stingray.

10. A Christmas To Remember (12)

Keeping in mind it ain’t Christmas yet. But out of every festive episode of a UK show I’ve ever seen, A Christmas To Remember is without a doubt one of the best. So what’s the story? Troy Tempest is helping this orphan named Barry, the son of a deceased WASP aquanaut. Meanwhile, Phones is kidnapped and, through blackmail, forced to betray the crew. The whole synopsis is depicted through the story Troy is telling Barry.

Yeah I know, cliched storytelling to kids and flashback-based episodes, which is common for Gerry Anderson programmes. But this episode does not contain clips from previous episodes, thank God. It’s a more original story-line. Not many British festive editions are great, but this one has plenty to do with Christmas. If you don’t believe me, check out the sequence where Marina and Atlanta are ice-skating. It’s one of the most beautiful moments Gerry has ever brought out to us. I may sound like a girly saying this, but it’s just beautiful. Yet do you have to be a girly to love this ep? There’s plenty of action, keeping in mind it’s a Stingray episode. Sub fighting of Aquaphibians, etc. Also there’s quite an amusing scene with Phones dressed as Santa Claus.

9. The Golden Sea (36)

In this episode, Titan overhears that a group of scientists are converting sea minerals to gold. Knowing that the goods belong to him, he attempts to sabotage their plans by using a radio controlled sword fish, which is programmed to ram into obstacles each time the beacon is inserted. This obviously leads to WASP to stop him.

A bit like terrorism, isn’t it. We can understand that Titan needs the sea minerals for survival. But the humans are unaware of that. They don’t even know of Titan or any of the Aquaphibians’ existences, hence why they go for the mineral/gold conversion. So in a way, there is a sense of innocence within them. Titan cannot tolerate this for the sake of their power source, so comes with his dastardly plan to kill the scientists.

What especially stands out about The Golden Sea is the finale where the Stingray crew are helping the scientists out and Troy discovers Titan who realises the crew’s involvement and so, in an extremely frantic move, rushes to de-plant the beacon from Stingray and position it in a place where the swordfish can’t strike at their submarine. It’s very fast-paced and heart-pounding and the music awesomely fits the atmosphere. We’re aware of Titan’s long-planned mission to destroy Stingray for ‘kidnapping’ his slave Marina and we’re meant to feel that because she was her slave, we often side with the Stingray crew. He’s the main villain, so what do you expect? And without giving the ending away, the heart-pounds turn to a few laughs, helped by Titan’s cursing to his… business partner.

Speaking of humour, the quirkiness is another strong point about the show in general. For instance, there is one scene in The Golden Sea which still makes me cackle; when Oink the seal plays about with the globe and vandalises it. Lolololololololol!

8. Plant Of Doom (34)

This is the episode where we get to know a bit about Marina’s relatives and how they communicate without the use of voice-boxes.

It’s ironic that Plant Of Doom was the thirty-forth episode to be broadcast, because this is an obvious follow-up to the pilot episode. It begins with Titan swearing vengeance on Marina’s ‘kidnap’, then with Marina wishing to see her family again. As WASP take Marina to visit her home, Titan’s hatches a plan to kill her relatives by delivering a venomous plant, thus to make her his slave again. However, Marina gives the plant to Atlanta as a gift, leading to the rest of the crew to question their friendship.

Gee, Titan would do anything to get Marina back to harsh labour, even if it means destroying lives, wouldn’t he? But I’ll explain a bit of that later. So we see Marina reunite with her family and I actually find her’s and her relatives’ form of communication quite unique, the way they nod their heads without speaking. It’s like they was all born without a voice-box. Of course then she starts thinking about the crew. Notice how the camera pans back from the family as the crew prepare to leave and how Marina and her father stare at each other. This demonstrates that although she loves her family, she does have a soft spot for the crew.

This brings me neatly onto the venomous plant. Neither are aware that the plant Titan sends is dynamite. We see Marina smiling and delivering it to Atlanta as a gift. Atlanta adores it and thus places it on her piano. This is when the protagonists notice how dangerous the plant is and yet, Troy wonders if Marina intended to kill Atlanta. We’re used to seeing Troy romanticising with both women and are aware of the jealously between them as a result. However, we’re proved wrong when Marina wonders how Atlanta passed out and so plays a rather bad tune on the piano and due to the flower’s fumes, she passes out herself. This goes to show that although the jealously between both women remains through the series, it doesn’t necessarily mean their enemies. Friends can get jealous of each other in reality, but would you really expect them to send each other death threats or attempt to incinerate one another? This is an extremely valid point Plant Of Doom attempts to make. Family values, communication, revenge, friendship, all these themes add up to this episode.

7. Raptures Of The Deep (9)

It’s many kids’ dream to be rich, isn’t it. I sometimes imagine it myself. Yet this episode demonstrates that theme. And it’s one that I sometimes wonder “shouldn’t this have been the last episode for broadcast?”, but we’ll get to that later.

During the usual sea exploration, Troy Tempest falls into a large hole in the ground. His oxygen tank is low, but for some strange reason discovers that he no longer needs it and is able to survive without it, even taking off his mask. Of course I personally find it impossible to keep my eyes wide open underwater, but then again, some people don’t. Anyway, he finds he’s able to breathe underwater and as he carries on with his exploration, he discovers some treasure and immediately becomes mega-rich. This leads to the foundation of his new kingdom.

As I said earlier on, I’ve always wondered what it would be like to be rich. Of course, every kid seems to dream the same thing. The same is said about obtaining the ability to breathe in water. We’re of course aware that this is a hallucination Troy experiences when he worries about his oxygen running out. But these are among the reasons why I placed Raptures Of The Deep on this list. Hell, Troy also gets rather political when old Commander Shore orders him back to Marineville which Troy refuses, because he has started a new life.

My favourite part of Raptures Of The Deep though is when Troy states to Marina that he wishes she could speak and sings a rendition of that lovely closing theme Aqua Marina. Then Marina does speak (again another part of Troy’s fantasy dream). She doesn’t open her mouth. We just hear her voice. Kind of like a frog.

And yet, Troy’s new kingdom, the song and the fact that this is the only time Marina speaks are the reasons why I think this episode should’ve been broadcast last.But oh no, they had to broadcast some lousy clip-based episode last. With that said, Raptures Of The Deep is an awesome episode. One I would truly recommend.

6. The Ghost Ship (3)

Some people have a fear of ghosts. And The Ghost Ship may spook you a bit. I mean, check out the way the ship floats upwards slowly during the opening for starters.

What’s the story? Well, I’ve just explained the opening. The Stingray crew pick up the reports of an ancient and long abandoned galleon, so they investigate, and ironically are accompanied by Commander Shore. How interesting. Normally when he dispatches Troy and Phones, he would remain at his base and drive around on his… maglev chair. But there’s always the first time.

And this is one of the reasons why I rate this episode high. It’s probably the only time Shore has gone on a mission. Most dispatchers would sit around on their arses back at base. I mean Shore ain’t exactly M, is he. As we progress through the episode though, we learn that Shore has regrets when he and Phones board the ship and are sentenced to death. And what follows is the best part; Shore orders Troy to destroy the ship, which Troy rightly questions. Although Shore is insane for a traditional dispatcher to accompany his employees on a dangerous mission, the other codes and conventions do remain. Shore, like many bosses, does behave in a rather conservative manner, hence wanting Troy to destroy the ship, even if it means eliminating him and Phones. Geez! What a jerk. Troy on the other hand and like most heroes is the democratic one, who refuses to kill Phones and Shore, because he knows that if he does so, human rights are violated. Atlanta is against this too. She would be, because her dad is on board. So Troy disobeys Shore’s orders and boards the ship to rightfully rescue the crew.

And speaking of spookiness, have you checked out the ghost designs? The man who attempts to kill Phones and Shore is literally a ghost; grey and with an outer skeletal system. Ya know, for kids?

Aside from that, it does get political through the middle and Shore does appreciate Troy for his efforts.

5. The Big Gun (17)

UFO and Captain Scarlet & The Mysterons have been known to tackle terrorism. But I sometimes wonder if this episode does the same. I mean there’s mass destruction involved, yet it could be a metaphor.

What’s the story? A group of underwater aliens, known as Solarstars, use some kind of vessel mounted with a gun powerful enough to destroy an island. The lead attacker is Mauritimus. After destroying an island of San May, he is given instructions for his next target; the West Coast of the United States. Yes folks, that includes Marineville. Stingray is a target. And it’s up to the crew to stop the Solarstars.

And this is why I was debating myself whether the Solarstars count as terrorists. I mean they ain’t exactly like, “give us the money/dignity/good/whatever or we’ll blow up your city”. In fact, they seem relaxed and patient for this sort of act. Each time they set themselves to blow up an island, they begin a calm countdown and then BOOM! However, they still pose as a threat to the world and are symbols of mass destruction, hence the destruction of the islands and the reports WASP receive, being that they’re an international organisation. What they don’t know, because the Solarstars don’t go round telling people about it, is that their country is set for destruction.

And here’s what I especially love about this episode; the climax, leading to the finale. Stingray tracks down the Solarstars’ vessel. Mauritimus notices them and drives the festival back to base in order to lure Stingray into a trap. And some trap. With Maritimus’ ‘help’, Stingray also tracks down the enemy base, which produces so much heat that all the crew on-board Stingray, except Marina, pass out. Geez. Of course, Marina is an Amphibious woman and the heat doesn’t affect her one bit. And this episode demonstrates one thing I love about Marina; even with no voice, she is so damn competent. And without giving anything away, even Troy and Phones know she comes in so useful.

4. Secret Of The Giant Oyster (28)

This is the episode where the crew attempt to recover a beautiful pearl from the seabed. Secret Of The Giant Oyster contains such beautiful visuals. The scene where Troy, Phones and Marina find the large stone in the oyster. That’s awesome. This was made sometime before Steven Spielberg and George Lucas made the Indiana Jones films. Whilst at it, they come across two guys who work with them and later turn out to be criminals. But one of the best moments is when them brown dots, which I have no idea what they’re called, hover over Stingray and clamp themselves to the sub, making it extremely difficult for the crew to operate it.

And I have to admit, this episode really defines Marina’s character. Those who have seen Wallace & Gromit will probably understand what I’m on about. I know I keep pointing out that Marina can’t talk. When Stingray gets the glue, Troy and Phones are near the surface at that point. Marina dives down without letting Troy know and because of her lack of voice which Troy obviously knows about, he still gets a tad paranoid and is like “Marina? Where’s Marina?”. Then after Marina notices the condition Stingray is in, she returns to the surface and Troy is like “Where have you been Marina?” and all Marina can do is point downwards and all Troy can soon suggest is that he and Phones follow her, so she can show them. Marina is resourceful, but also voiceless, which Troy and Phones both understand, but she easily gets people worried without giving notice. Though after all, we can’t really blame her. With that said, this is what I call smart script writing.

The ending is also another highlight. And without giving anything away, Marina worries Troy once more and pays a final visit to the oyster and the rest, oh I can just about visualise the beauty of it.

3. Stingray (1)

I of course am referring to the self-titled pilot episode which marked the beginning of the whole series. This is the episode that introduces the WASP crew, the signature submarine, Marina and of course Titan.

In short, Stingray is the back-story to the series. We’re not introduced to WASP or the signature sub straight away. Instead, we see a ship which is attacked by a strange organisation, which we later believe to be Titan and his fellow Aquaphibians. WASP are notified and so Troy and Phones set out in Stingray to investigate, but they too are attacked. This is where Troy meets Marina. He wonders why she ain’t speaking and gets a little paranoid. Then in steps the mighty Titan. who introduces Marina as his slave and of course himself and states that Troy is in fact in an underwater city, that is Titanica. And this is what puts us in a suspenseful position. He sentences Troy to imprisonment. And this is where we’re praying to God that Titan ain’t going to execute Troy. Not bad for a pilot, eh.

Meanwhile, Commander Shore wonders what the hell happened to the crew and arranges a sea strike against the area where Stingray was last relocated. Geez, what a conservative maniac! Luckily that doesn’t happen, but another awesome plot point is when Marina unties Troy and Phones and sets off with them. This goes to show the negatives of slavery and Marina therefore achieves her freedom and dignity, thus beginning Titan’s recurring aim to get her back.

Stingray is without a doubt one of the greatest pilot episodes to any TV show of all time. It’s like watching a short version of 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea or an underwater version of Star Trek. It does get political half-way through and suspenseful and the scripting is badass. Definitely another one to check out.

2. Pink Ice (26)

We’re all familiar with global warming, right? But could it be possible that in the future, there could be a similar disaster, only the slight opposite, known as global freezing? By that, I mean freezing entire oceans. And in this episode, it happens to be via a strange chemical liquid, hence Pink Ice.

Only the disaster happens not to be a natural one. It is actually deliberately caused by an unidentified vessel. And the slush expands, hardening so much that even Stingray becomes trapped, even attempting to use its missiles to clear its way.

Pink Ice is one such environmental episode. I, myself, demonstrate my concerns for the world’s environment; how much oil is polluting the water, global warming, the fact that people ignorantly trash public areas and don’t bother to dispose of their garbage in the cans around them. With that said, I do wonder what environment/danger-related disasters could occur next. And this is why I thought about global freezing. The pink slush that the unknown vessel produces clearly  contains cold chemicals. Sometimes, very high temperatures can kill people, but surely that’s the same with ridiculously low temperatures. Those who have seen Frozen (I’m sure most people have) may be aware that we all do need a bit of warmth as well. And those who know a lot about sea life in general probably know that certain sea creatures would certainly need an opening for them to breathe out of the water, i.e. dolphins. There are a number of reasons why something like producing such thick ice and covering the whole surface poses a threat to the world and good job Stingray investigates in this episode.

It is also very atmospheric. If you don’t believe me, take a good listen to the beautiful music played when we first see that vessel produce the ice!

1. The Master Plan (35)

I have yet to find out whether anybody else agrees with me on the topic of citing The Mater Plan as the number one episode. There have been certain moments in Family Guy which have sparked tears and scenes in EastEnders which are upsetting. Exactly, this is one of the main reasons why I ranked this episode number one. The Master Plan really shattered me when I was a kid and it still does. This is one of the most dramatic and emotional episodes I’ve ever seen in my life.

In this episode, Troy gets poisoned by the Aquaphibians and the doctor struggles to find a way to cure him, which I have to say gets me real hyped up, leading to both Atlanta and Marina crying over the body. Of course, he doesn’t die (spoiler), but it really does hype up the crew, and the viewers. We then discover that it’s an antidote sent by Titan who is blackmailing WASP to give Marina back to him. Marina does go back, in an attempt to save Troy’s life. This of course lures the crew into another trap.

Seriously, imagine if somebody you truly love gets poisoned as a form of blackmail and yet you don’t know whether that person’s going to survive. Not nice, is it. And Titan most certainly ain’t a very nice guy. This is why I personally rank him as one of the greatest TV villains of all time. The Master Plan really defines his character! His plots are so evil that you’re glad you ain’t living in the same nation as him. Yet, this is without a doubt, the most evil thing he has done in the entire series; victimising the protagonist. And with Troy in a coma, you really feel this could be the end of an era for the series. Well the beginning of the end for Troy. And seeing Atlanta sobbing over the body is an incredibly powerful scene. Even I burst into tears thinking about it.

For an episode of Stingray, or for a show in general, The Master Plan is a masterpiece! Kids, before your parents drug you with CBeebies nonsense, check this episode out. And the nine others as well.

So that was my personal ranking of what I consider the ten best episodes of Stingray. Which episodes do you think should’ve been included. Feel free to comment. Here are some honourable mentions;

Subterranean Sea (4)

Titan Goes Pop (10)

Deep Heat (19)

Loch Ness Monster (5)

Set Sail For Adventure (6)

The Disappearing Ships (27)

The next blog will be based on what I regard as the top ten episodes of Thunderbirds.

Nick Nick Ni-Nick Nick Nick Nickelodeon! The Worst to Best Nicktoons

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After viewing one of WatchMojo.com’s clip on YouTube based on their Top 10 Best Cartoons made by Nickelodeon, I decided to share my personal rankings on the Nickelodeon-produced cartoons I have seen. For those who don’t know, WatchMojo.com is a ranking/review-based website company which posts Top Ten based videos daily on YouTube and sometimes history lessons on certain topics. Categories include Film, TV, Books, Politics, Music, Sport and Video Games.

As for Nickelodeon, I’m sure most of you are familiar with Nickelodeon. It is an American TV channel which broadcasts and sometimes produces TV shows aimed for children. I never owned Nickelodeon myself, but I knew some mates who did. And them lot are how I got to know most of the shows I am about to explore through this blog.

As the Nostalgia Critic once pointed out, Nickelodeon was the first channel made for kids by kids (well, technically not by kids). At first, the channel mainly broadcast British and Canadian shows, but soon they began producing their own material. One of the brands was a category of cartoons titled ‘Nicktoons’. This is the category I intend to explore;

10. SpongeBob Square Pants

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If there’s one nicktoon I despise the most, it’s SpongeBob Square Pants. God, this show irritates me! I can’t see anything great about this nicktoon, nor appealing, nor even funny. I don’t even understand the popularity and as Rhett Butler from Gone With The Wind might say, frankly my dears, I don’t give a damn. SpongeBob has one of the most annoying voices in cartoon history. Why did WatchMojo.com have to rank it number 1? Why, WatchMojo? Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyy?!

9. As Told By Ginger

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I never cared for As Told By Ginger. There’s nothing really that unique about it. Just about a ginger girl who goes to junior-high school and is apparently a social geek. ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
I ain’t bovvered. That’s all I have to say. Next!

8. Doug

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As a kid, I thought Doug was a rather pleasant viewing. But looking back to it now, I can definitely understand why the Nostalgia Critic hated the show so much. Personally I don’t hate Doug, but I do agree that it is indeed a lame show. It’s bland and forgettable, apart from this particular episode where Doug Funnie purchases some comic book and encounters some hilarious lie-detector, but the comic purchase, we’ve all seen before. Yawn. Actually, there was another episode where he dresses as a superhero called Quail-Man. In fact, they should’ve renamed this show Quail-Man and altered the show’s whole plot, rather than make it about just some high-ish school student who is constantly bullied by some guy walking a cat (don’t make me laugh!). Quail-Man,… something like Batman? Or similar style to Spider-Man? Superman? Condorman?
Anything would be awesome compared to how it is now! Before I move on, I also want to add that the title; I’d give it credit for it’s limited use of 4 letters. After all, Jaws was certainly a great title for a summer blockbuster. But the title is just as rubbish as say Madeline or most of the titles given to them shows you get on CBeebies.

7. The Wild Thornberrys

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Some how, when I think of The Wild Thornberrys, I think of Jumanji. Okay, it ain’t based on a magical board game. It’s about a girl who can talk to animals which is unique, but I think I remember seeing that sort of thing elsewhere, like, for instance, er…, The Jungle Book. Yeah, I’d say it’s more comparable to The Jungle Book than it is to Jumanji.

And of course, along with the rest of her family, they’re international travellers. Dunno what else to say really. Adventurous, but I can’t remember much about this one.

Apparently there was a movie based on the show. I never watched it, but I listened to that Paul Simon song which I have to say has a nice relaxing tone to it.

6. The Angry Beavers

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I don’t remember much about The Angry Beavers. But I remember it being broadcast on BBC2. And what I can gather is that it’s about two mentally ill beavers who become bachelors in a forest. And that’s it, about a couple of mentally ill beavers who live a bachelor life in the forest. Adventure Ho!

5. CatDog

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We’ve all known that cats and dogs are not easy going amongst each other and, of course, conjoined twins are easy to come across but are quite rare. CatDog mixes them two facts together and voila, you get conjoined animals, one half being a cat, the other a dog, both with different personalities, the dog who has a chasing habit which the cat finds very hard to stay out of. CatDog is a Nicktoon which I’d place in the okay pile.

4. Hey Arnold

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What nineties kid could possibly not remember good old Hey Arnold? Well I certainly ain’t that kid. Hey Arnold is about this kid who lives with his grandparents in the Bronx and the show kinda deals with his experiences with the city and various problems he and his mates encounter. Memorable for the city’s atmosphere, certain episodes and of course Helga, who I think is the best character in the show. She constantly bullies Arnold, but has a secret love for him. Kudos for that! And speaking of episodes, I have hilarious memories of ’em; one where Curly lashes out at the school for being rejected as the post-recess ball collector. Another where the school puts on a play based on Romeo & Juliet and all the boys, except Arnold, reject the role of Romeo, because it involves kissing. Lololololololololololol.

Great memories.

3. Rugrats

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I used to be rather cynical about Rugrats, but looking back, this was without a doubt a great show. Maybe it was the music, but it actually does fit the atmosphere. However, that’s beside the point. The main focus is the world a group of babies live in and how their communication differs to the older generation of, er, people. Like Hey Arnold, Rugrats contains memorable characters; Tommy, the adventurous one, Chuckie, who’s very much comparable to Milhouse from The Simpsons, Anjelica, Tommy’s older cousin and my favourite one; the one who scares the hell out of the babies. For instance, one episodes depicts her warning them that they’ll transfer into chickens through chicken pox which results in them screaming. Lol. Or what about that episode where she tells Tommy and Chuckie about the time when some kid got washed down a bath plug hole. Again I say lol.

Too much to say really.

2. The Ren & Stimpy Show

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The unforgettable Ren & Stimpy. The Tom & Jerry of the nineties, only a little vulgar. Very explosive, psychological, cringe-worthy, domestically violent. These are the terms that best describe Ren & Stimpy. Imagine getting bashed with irons, you’re eyes popping out so hard they burst and/or turning to pulp and various other actions which would feel so painful in reality. Yet, with all these pieced together, it’s still an awesome and enjoyable experience when it comes to Ren & Stimpy.

1. Aaahh!!! Real Monsters

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And Thunderbirds are go! Whilst watching WatchMojo’s clip, I was shocked to discover that Aaahh!!! Real Monsters was not included. How come? This is like the best nicktoon I have ever seen in my life. When it comes to shows about monsters, this one is so unique. Yet of course, Pixar nicked the idea from Real Monsters and turned it into ‘such a big block-buster’ that was Monsters INC. (sighs) I can’t believe WatchMojo neglected to include this one on the list. Let me just point out I do not hate Monsters INC. I think it’s an okay film. Just not super great. I think Pixar made better films.

Okay, back to Nickelodeon’s masterpiece and enough of my moaning, because this is supposed to be a happy occasion when I talk about number 1 spots. For those who don’t know, Aaahh!!! Real Monsters centres on a college of youth-monsters whose missions are to scare the hell out of people as part of their assignments and then return to the school to tell the story. See what I mean by unique? Another thing distinctive about Real Monsters is the design of each monster character, especially Krumm. Oh my god, Krumm is like simply the most unique character that comes into mind when I think of monster designs. The fact that because there are no attachments to hold his eyes, he has to hold his eyes. And yet, there were some awesome episodes which demonstrate how hard it would be to cope with the ability to hold one’s own eyes. He is joined by Ickis, who appears harmless due to his rabbit-like body but can extend sizes and Oblina a candy cane shaped creature whose speciality is to implant nightmares into humans’ minds. Their lecturer is the Gromble who I have to say is without a doubt a mad professor. Get it?

The humour often consists of double meanings and occasional adult jokes (that some younger kids may not get) and of course Krumm’s eyeball gags. The show is occasionally dark, but it’s about scary monsters. What do you expect? Aaahh!!! Real Monsters is one of them shows children would expect to see when it comes to the horror genre. Horrifying moments, unique designs, shadings to depict darkness. I liked it so much better than Paranormal Activity.

The strangest thing is, I never knew Real Monsters was a Nicktoon until of course I saw the logo after the closing credits. When I knew the show, it was broadcast early Sunday mornings on Channel 4.

Yell at me if you want for placing such an underrated Nicktoon above the hugely popular Ren & Stimpy, but Real Monsters is the Nicktoon that got me the most invested in.

Before I go, I will leave you with a Special Mention:

Rocko’s Modern Life

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I give this Nicktoon a special mention, because I’m not sure I’ve actually seen a full episode of the show in my life. But when I saw the Nostalgia Critic’s review of Nicktoons, Rocko’s Modern Life did look familiar-ish. Voices, great, designs, great, but humour, so-so. I can see where the Critic was coming from when he said about plain ripping-off.

So that was my personal ranking of the Nicktoons I watched in my life. I know I’ve missed out many of the 21st Century Nicktoons, but I didn’t grow up with them. Anyway thank you for your readings.

Ni-Nick, Ni-Nick, Nick, Niiiick. Nickelodeoooooooon!