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It was almost a week before Christian saw Pennington again. This wasn't good news. Christian was holding onto his job by a thread, and he was terrified that he'd be fired before he could speak to the alchemist.

A whole dozen people had been fired. Low performers, chronic latecomers, suspected pilferers. To be fair to Ms Shan, she didn't play favourites – though to be unfair, that might just be because she never remembered anyone's name. Only a couple of weeks before, Christian would have thought himself invulnerable to anything less than a complete shutdown of the Handy Pavilion, but his KPIs were all down since the Phantasm's disappearance. He might have escaped the last round of layoffs, but the next round would take him out.

He needed Pennington's help before that could happen. ...continue reading "Do It Yourself: Chapter 43 – Never Pay Retail"

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Sand dunes and electronic music meant to sound like woodwinds. Nimoy says that 'it seems impossible that an empty desert could hide one of the world's greatest secrets.'

Does it? Honestly, 'an empty desert' sounds like a great place to hide something.

This picture of Leonard Nimoy playing with a toy pyramid warms my heart more than I can say.
This picture of Leonard Nimoy playing with a toy pyramid warms my heart more than I can say.

Anyway, we start looking at the Pyramids, from that very specific angle that filmmakers have to use to disguise the fact that they're not in the 'empty desert', they're in the suburbs of Cairo. Nimoy wonders if the Pyramids are tombs, beacons for alien beings or energy generators. If they were tombs, he asks, why aren't there mummies in them?

So… not going for the 'tombs' theory, Leonard?

Footage of temples and sarcophagi. Some stuff about Egyptian and forces that they believed controlled their lives… There's not much point summarising this bit, it's basically just mush. We're talking about how the Egyptians wanted to defeat time and death. 'Is it possible that they succeeded?' ...continue reading "In Search Of… S02E09 Pyramid Mysteries"

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A while back, I decided that I was going to review every Frankenstein-based movie and TV show I could find. In today's episode: I regret that decision.

And how.
And how.

So, the Flintsones are Flintstoning it up, when some new neighbours move in next door. They are the Frankenstones – Karloff-like father Frank, absent minded mother Oblivia, children Hidia and Frankenstub and pet 'octopup' Creepy. They're basically a stone-age knock off of the Munsters or Addamses.

Fred is outraged to be living next door to these weirdos, and so goes out of his way to make them unwelcome. He is entirely alone in this. Wilma likes the new neighbours and Barney is more upset with Fred's rudeness than the Frankenstones' eccentricities. ...continue reading "The Flintstones Meet Their New Neighbours the Frankenstones – 1980"

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Adam: Works in garden furniture. Seems perfectly normal.

Alfred J. Pilbrook: Owner/manager of Arthur C. Clock's timepiece shop. A timid, middle-aged gentleman.

Ali: Head of the Handy Pavilion power tools department.

Angela MacGregor: Head of the curtains and blinds department. Angela rarely impacts on the plot directly, but is often present when someone makes an uncharacteristically unpleasant or ruthless decision. Sister of Sadie MacGregor.

Axel Platzoff: a 'reformed' supervillain, formerly known as Professor Devastato. Axel has been channelling his villainous tendencies into the struggle against the DIY Barn. Archenemy of Captain Stellar, sometimes mentor to Norman and Fiona.

Belinda: An extremely annoying Pavilion staffmember. She changes departments frequently, presumably deliberately shuffled around by irate superiors.

Bruce: The ghost of one of the electrician. He was one of contractors who originally built the Handy Pavilion. Another contractor – a concreter – discovered that Bruce was sleeping with his wife, and buried him in the concrete. Bruce finds the afterlife somewhat unrewarding.

Buck Dusty: A cowboy who works in power tools. Buck reports to a mysterious organisation of mysterious western types known as COWBO. COWBO seems to report to something called the 'Grey Barn'.

Captain Pete: Sinister one-handed aquarium specialist at the Place O'Pets.

Captain Stellar: aka 'Vincent'. Superhero and member of the Vigilancers superhero team. Former archenemy of Axel Platoff. Boyfriend/former boyfriend of Cycloman.

Carol: Owner/barrista at the Super Centre's only good source of coffee. A slightly annoying new-agey hipster type, Carol is also completely fearless. In love with Zorbar.

Carlos: Works at the Pavilion key-cutting counter. Carlos is the object of Laura's affections, but it has not been revealed how he thinks about her.

Christian: A young but highly successful sales assistant in power tools. Christian's rise in the power tool department is orchestrated by his mistress, the Phantasm.

Claudia Lebeau:  Manager of the South Hertling Super Centre. Girlfriend and ally of Ms Shan. Senior to Karl Wintergreen.

Cycloman: Boyfriend/former boyfriend of Captain Stellar.

Delia Crispin: Owner of the Storage Universe store. Severe, but basically good hearted.

Donna: Junior member of the lighting department. A disciple of Sadie and, later, a friend of Fiona.

Fanaka: A time traveller from an alternate history, Fanaka hails from a nineteenth century Steampunk-futurist Africa. He is a friend of Nalda.

Fiona: An initially hapless young worker in the plumbing/bathroom section. Fiona has water control powers of unspecified origin. Initially an ally of Axel, a friend of Norman and Wellsey.

Gwen Harper: A dryad who takes the appearance of a middle-aged Kiwi woman. In love with Norman.

Jemmy Harrison: Owner of the music shop and possessor of a powerful holographic projector.

Karl Wintergreen: Owner of the local stationary shop, editor and sole reporter for the South Hertling Super Centre Newsletter. A conspiracy theorist and a genuinely terrible writer, his researches do occasionally hit upon the truth.

Jane Nguyen: Works on the equipment counter. Seemingly normal?

Laura Cho: A new employee who gains super powers when one of Axel's superweapons explodes. She becomes the superhero Voyager, and is vexed by the appearance of her own doppelganger from the future. In love with Carlos.

Marlon Dillinger: The duty manager at the Handy Pavilion. A soft-hearted tyrant. Ally of Ms Shan.

McKinley: A cartoon cat.

Mildred Po: Owner of the Stars in their Eyes telescope shop and amateur rocket scientist.

Mr Smith: The General Manager of the DIY Barn. A somewhat inept Fascist who is nevertheless a threat. Fortunately he is entirely fictional; in the real world inept businessmen/Fascists never threaten anybody.

Ms Shan: Jasu Shan, the General Manager of the Handy Pavilion. Ms Shan wants to view the Pavilion in a bloodless, corporate sort of way but discovers a hidden sense of loyalty to her employees. In love with Claudia Lebeaux. Occasionally also spelled 'Ms Shen' for reasons that I can only assume stem from subconscious racism on my part. Seriously, I can't remember a four letter name?

Nalda Teheintausand: A killer cyborg from the future who works in the arts and crafts department. Also an excellent arts teacher. Very good with children. Friend of Fanaka.

Norman: A young man who dreams of being a big deal in power tool retail. Friend of Fiona, after their involvement in Axel's first plot against the DIY Barn. Comes from a strange family background.

Phantasm of the Pavilion, The: A mysterious hooded and masked figure who seems intent on causing chaos in the Handy Pavilion. Served by Christian.

Professor Femur: Atlantean scientist and woman of mystery.

Richard Pennington: A customer. An alchemist, almost certainly with sinister intent.

Ron: An inhabitant of an alternate world, stranded in South Hertling.

Sadie MacGregor: Head of the lighting department. Sadie is an extremely moral person, possibly supernatural in nature. She is often present when someone makes an uncharacteristically high-minded decision. Sister to Angela MacGregor, mentor to Donna.

Seamus: A garden gnome who comes to life under the full moon. Speaks in a stereotypical Irish dialect, but the good people of Ireland would like to disavow all knowledge of him. Friend of Zorbar and Bruce.

Stavros Theopoulos: Owner of the Super Center's kebab shop.

Wellsey: Former petty criminal, now head of the plumbing/bathrooms department. Well meaning, but basically in over his head.

Woman in Laplander Hat: See Professor Femur.

Voyager: See Laura Cho.

Zorbar Ofthechimps: The son of a wealthy Sydney family, for unknown reasons he was raised by a family of chimpanzees. He used to work in the Pavilion garden centre. In love with Carol.

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My favourite stories on In Search Of… are undoubtedly the sightings ones. They're fun and spooky and almost completely harmless. I don't think that there's anything unusual to be found in Lake Okanagan, for example, but a) if there is, it's pretty cool and b) if there isn't there's no real harm in thinking that there is.

Take note of this. It will get super funny later.
Take note of this. It will get super funny later.

But while they're the most fun to watch, they aren't always the most interesting to review. Basically, they run the formula of crappy re-enactments and lots and lots of people delivering their 'I saw it' anecdote straight to camera.

Will this episode do better? Let's see. ...continue reading "In Search Of… S02E08 The Ogopogo Monster"

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Nalda distrusted the thinking of the humans. It was erratic, contradictory, illogical. In her downtime, she'd seen lots of episodes of old television shows in which some character or other claimed that the erratic basis of human intelligence was a strength, not a weakness. But Nalda had seen the future Empire of the Machines crushing humanity beneath its chrome-plated jackboots, so she knew that those old shows had it oh-so-wrong.

Even so, she was dependent on Fanaka and his frail human brain. She was a war machine and her hardware was optimised for tactical reasoning, split second decision making, rapid calculations of vectors and trajectories. Worse, she'd had to reallocate much of her capacity for deep abstract thinking into the arts and crafts in order to keep her job at the Handy Pavilion. So if she was to solve the conundrum of keeping her cold, robotic future intact, she needed Fanaka -- even if he was a something of a scatterbrain. ...continue reading "Do It Yourself: Chapter 42 – Time Considered as a Helix of Gossiping Retail Employees"

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Well, at least there'll be some good visuals in this one.

The seashore, rising wind, spooky music, immediately followed by a bunch of stock footage of storms. I don't want to jump to any conclusions, but this episode might just be a pretty straightforward show about hurricanes without too much craziness.

Aftermath of Hurricane Camille.
Aftermath of Hurricane Camille.

Nimoy praises the work of newsreel cameramen, as we watch the footage. Really, mostly just a cool montage, and Nimoy saying pretty obvious things about hurricanes – property damage, hard to predict, dangerous. Nimoy claims that the etymology of the word 'Hurricane' comes from a powerful Carribean god. Not going to look that up. Sounds cool, don't really care if it's true. ...continue reading "In Search Of… S02E07 Hurricanes"

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Frankenstein Island… Okay… Uh…

Yeah, what's up with that?
Yeah, what's up with that?

Synopsis! Yeah, maybe start with a synopsis. The balloonists from Mysterious Island land on the Island of Dr Moreau where they're met by Tarzan and the Leopard Women. Then they meet Sheila Frankenstein and her husband Dr van Helsing, who was the assistant of Dr Frankenstein, because WHAT?

This plastic Halloween devil pitchfork is actually supposed to be a high tech superweapon. No, really.
This plastic Halloween devil pitchfork is actually supposed to be a high tech superweapon. No, really.

...continue reading "Frankenstein Island – 1981"

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Bruce was parked in his usual spot in the Handy Pavilion lot. He had a good position, not far from the main entrance. His life had become more sociable since he'd merged with the killer robot, but that was a mixed blessing. Carol still came around to visit, and try to get him to tell her something mystical. Zorbar was still scared of him, but he came with his fiancé anyway, grateful to Bruce for saving both of their lives. On nights of the full moon, Seamus the gnome came by. And most evenings Marlon would discuss the ongoing struggle against the DIY Barn.

And then there was Karl Wintergreen. Bruce wasn't certain about Karl. He was the only one outside of the Handy Pavilion family who knew about him. Bruce hadn't told anyone yet about Karl. Maybe he should…

"As a ghost, you can walk around invisible and unseen, right?" Karl was saying. "You could go anywhere. You could walk into Cabinet meetings… Boardrooms of huge corporations… The Vigilancer's Justi-Building… Anywhere!" ...continue reading "Do It Yourself: Chapter 41- The Night Talker"

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