Archive for the ‘Silvio Horta’ Tag

The Chronicle: News from the Edge–Episode 13: The Cursed Sombrero (2001)   4 comments

Above:  The Cursed Sombrero of Izamal

All images in this post are screen captures.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Cursed Sombrero

Canadian Television Rating = PG

Hyperlink to Episode

Aired January 18, 2002

Production Number = 5009-01-115

Starring

Chad Willett as Tucker Burns

Jon Polito as Donald Stern

Reno Wilson as Wes Freewald

Rena Sofer as Grace Hall

Curtis Armstrong as Sal the Pig-Boy

Sharon Sachs as Vera

Octavia L. Spencer as Ruby Rydell

Main Guest Cast

Elaine Hendrix as Kristen Martin

Bonnie Brewster as Nancy Silva

Jordan Liddle as Brad the Frat Boy

Behind the Camera

Writer = Silvio Horta

Director = Sanford Bookstaver

Above:  Kristen Martin

Brief Summary

The Cursed Sombrero of Izamal is on the loose in New York City.

Apparently, the priest-kings of Izamal, a Mayan city on the Yucatan Peninsula, were evil.  According to Sal the Pig-Boy, researcher extraordinaire, they “made Jim Jones and David Koresh look like tour guides at Legoland.”  The evil priest-kings conducted many human sacrifices.  The souls of the evil priest-kings are trapped in colorful stones long buried in a Mayan pyramid yet excavated in the 1880s.  At that point, a peasant worker found the soul-stones, stole them, decorated his sombrero with them, wore the sombrero, and died.  Since that time, the souls of the priest-kings have caused all who have worn the cursed sombrero to die in the most unlikely of ways then harvested their souls.

Wes, Tucker, and Grace have to track down the cursed sombrero on Cinco de Mayo, 2001.  The quest to save lives becomes complicated when irresponsible fraternity boys steal the cursed sombrero and pass it around at a drunken party at a sorority house.  If that were not enough, many people are wearing sombreros at that Cinco de Mayo party, and there is a lookalike sombrero.  A sorority girl places the cursed sombrero on Tucker’s head.  He nearly dies at a restaurant where he and Kristen are dining.  Kristen witnesses the ritual whereby Donald Stern conducts the ritual to lift the curse from Tucker, free the trapped spirits from the stones, and destroy the sombrero and the stones.

In the B-plot, Kristen Martin is experiencing difficulty adjusting to having seen an alien space craft take off and fly away in Take Me Back.  She takes a week off from work, stays home, eats bagels, and watches The View.  Kristen also ponders breaking up with Tucker, despite his offer to help her adjust to the crashing down of her worldview around her.  By the end of the episode, Kristen adjusts somewhat (for a while, at least) and does not break up with Tucker.

The evil spirits escaped into a toilet.

Above:  Sal the Pig-Boy

Character Beats

Wes Freewald despises Jar-Jar Binks and opposes a fan cut of Star Wars Episode I:  The Phantom Menace (1999) that removes the annoying character.

Kristen Martin is proceeding on her character arc for this series.  She also prefers to ignore her problems.

Great Lines

Donald Stern:  “If people want something stale, they can buy a Mariah Carey CD.”

Kristen Martin:  “I’m having a nervous breakdown.  Bagel?”

Wes Freewald:  “Maybe that sombrero’s just misunderstood.”

Donald Stern, at the sorority house:  “It’s a good thing I don’t need the blood of a virgin for this ritual.”

In-Universe

The yard sale at the beginning of the episode is perhaps the most overpriced yard sale ever.  $7 for a glass ashtray?  $50 for a sombrero?

May is usually a slow month for supernatural news.

This episode occurs mostly on May 4 and 5, 2001, two months after the events of Take Me Back.

About eleven months have passed since the events of the pilot episode.

Above:  The Ritual

Comments

Prior to my recent binge-watching sessions of The Chronicle at archive.org, this was one of the few episodes I remembered, if only vaguely.  I remembered the cursed sombrero on Cinco de Mayo, mainly.

Much of the fun in crazy lines is due to the delivery.  The actors make the most of these lines, primarily by underplaying them.  Their characters have seen so much that they can be blasé about a cursed sombrero, for example.

The looks of shock on Elaine Hendrix’s face when she portrays Kristen Martin witnessing bizarre events are such that dialogue is not necessary.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 2, 2020 COMMON ERA

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Chronicle: News from the Edge–Episode 2: What Gobbles Beneath (2001)   5 comments

Above:  The Tumor Monster, with Mr. Bailey, Soon to Become Monster Food

All images in this post are screen captures.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

What Gobbles Beneath

Canadian Television Rating = PG

Hyperlink to Episode

Aired July 14, 2001

Production Number = 5009-01-105

Starring

Chad Willett as Tucker Burns

Jon Polito as Donald Stern

Reno Wilson as Wes Freewald

Rena Sofer as Grace Hall

Curtis Armstrong as Sal the Pig-Boy

Sharon Sachs as Vera

Octavia L. Spencer as Ruby Rydell

Main Guest Actress

Elaine Hendrix as Kristen Martin

Behind the Camera

Writer = Silvio Horta

Director = Adam Davidson

Consulting Editor = Naren Shankar

Above:  Reno Wilson as Wes Freewald

Brief Summary

This episode opens shortly after the conclusion to the pilot episode.  Wes and Tucker at at an Arby’s because an angry ghost is there.  Tucker, attempting to interview the spirit, asks, “Does this happen to be your first haunting?”  The ghost slimes Wes and Tucker with ectoplasm, in the style of Ghostbusters (1984) and leaves.  Shortly thereafter, Tucker, in need of a new place to live, accepts Wes’s offer to become a roommate at Wes’s rent-controlled loft apartment.  Wes offers Tucker the use of of one of two beds.  One bed is in the design of a sleeping chamber from the Nostromo (Alien, 1979), and the other bed’s design comes from Titan A.E. (2000).

The newest model of cellular phone is the Yamaguchi 9000, a satellite phone one can use from anywhere.  The Yamuaguchi 9000 is about to go to market.  Unfortunately, when one (a prominent figure at Yamaguchi Wireless, for example) uses a Yamaguchi 9000 cellular phone on the island of Manhattan, one attracts the attention a large, growing tentacled tumor monster that emerges from the earth and drags its victim into the planet.  Yamaguchi Wireless has a more prosaic problem; the Yamaguchi 9000 works as well as it does because of dangerous levels of radiation more hazardous than cigarettes.  An executive, Mr. Bailey (who wisely chose not to call the company Bailey’s), really wants to keep the danger of irradiation secret.

Tucker spends much of the episode not working on his assigned story, about how Minnie’s Chips makes precise animal-shaped chips.  He, Wes, and Grace instead investigate the disappearance of an executive of Yamaguchi Wireless in Central Park in the middle of the day.  They get their story and earn Donald Stern’s high praise.  During the investigation, Tucker meets class rival Kristen Martin, who received the Student Pulitzer Prize he lost in disgrace.  She works for The New York Times.  He lies and tells her he works for Newsweek.  She discovers this lie quickly.

Wes, Tucker, and Grace confront Mr. Bailey, who accidentally summons the tumor monster, which feeds off radiation and consumes the executive.  Wes, Tucker, and Grace kill the tumor monster.  The full force of the law descends upon Yamaguchi Wireless, and Kristen becomes a media darling for reporting the story, minus the tumor monster.  That is fine, for Donald Stern has Wes’s Wolkswagen van, far past its prime, towed away about one minute before he presents Wes with the keys to a brand new car.

Above:  Kristen and Tucker

Character Beats

Ruby Rydell, the psychic on staff at the World Chronicle, is jealous of Miss Cleo, the faux-Jamaican fake psychic.  Ruby has been making obscene phone calls to Miss Cleo from the offices.

Donald Stern likes for his employees to show initiative, even when they disobey him, if they bring a better story to him.

Donald Stern has a mysterious past, which he prefers to leave that way.  He, once a respected journalist, disappeared for five or six years.  He, presumed dead, returned with vast sums of money and founded the World Chronicle in the early 1980s.

Above:  Ruby Rydell

Great Lines

Vera (the receptionist):  “Which of the Baldwin brothers is eating your pet?”

Wes, to Sal the Pig-Boy:  “Hey, do you like pork rinds?”

Above:  Tucker, Vera, and Grace

In-Universe

Tucker reunites with Kristen, a recurring character, for the first time in this episode.

Somewhere in Tennessee, a young woman was at her dentist’s office, having her teeth bleached when the aspirator sucked out half of her brain.  The women returned to work at Starbucks.  Nobody noticed any difference in her.

Tucker continues to adjust to life after becoming an employee of the World Chronicle.  Experiences are blowing his mind.

Based on the decor at Wes’s loft apartment, to call him a science fiction geek is to understate reality.

Comments

The tone of this episode is wonderfully whimsical, despite the sinister corporate agents and the tumor monster’s body count.

Tucker’s efforts to interview the angry spirit at the beginning of the episode are funny.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 17, 2020 COMMON ERA

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Chronicle: News From the Edge–Episode 1: Pilot (2001)   5 comments

Above:  Angry Siamese Triplets

All images in this post are screen captures.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Chronicle:  News from the Edge

Series Creator = Silvio Horta

Executive Producers = Robert Greenblatt, David Janollari, Gina Matthews, and Silvio Horta

Composers = Tom Harriman and Donny Markowitz

Starring

Chad Willett as Tucker Burns

Jon Polito as Donald Stern

Reno Wilson as Wes Freewald

Rena Sofer as Grace Hall

Curtis Armstrong as Sal the Pig-Boy

Sharon Sachs as Vera

Octavia L. Spencer as Ruby Rydell

Above:  Wes Freewald Photographs the Brooklyn Bloodsucker

This Episode

Canadian Television Rating = PG

Hyperlink to Episode

Aired July 14, 2001

Production Number = 5009-01-179

Main Guest Actress

Lori Rom as Shawna Fuchs

Behind the Camera

Writer = Silvio Horta

Director = Marc Buckland

Above:  Chad Willett as Tucker Burns

Brief Summary

A creature known as the Brooklyn Bloodsucker comes out only after dark.  It claims a victim, Chuck, a reporter for the World Chronicle, a tabloid, before the opening credits.

Tucker Burns, who graduated from the Columbia University School of Journalism five months prior, applies for and gets the job to replace the departed Chuck almost immediately.  This is the only job he can get in his field.  He as received 47 rejection notices.  There is a good reason for this.  The previous year, Tucker temporarily became a hero and won a Student Pulitzer Prize for a story about a professor who allegedly harassed female students sexually.  The university, bowing to protests, fired the professor.  The allegations, however, were false; the students making the allegations wanted to ruin the professor.  Tucker lost the Student Pulitzer Prize and sabotaged his career.

Tucker’s girlfriend, Shawna Fuchs, expresses concern that he is making a terrible mistake.  His new job ends their relationship.

Tucker learns quickly that the stories in the World Chronicle are true.  He also learns that, in the archives in the basement, Sal the Pig-Boy conducts research and uses the “Rosetta Stone,” an alien computer, to translate extraterrestrial languages.  Furthermore, Tucker works with photographer Wes Freewald on the story of the Brooklyn Bloodsucker, who kills a cat and a boy off-screen, but is actually a galactic spiritual leader.  The creature’s “people,” thinking humans have kidnapped him, nearly destroy Manhattan, Tucker, Wes, and reporter Grace Hall take the alien to Central Park in time for the galactic spiritual leader to catch a ride home instead.

As the episode ends, Wes and Tucker head out to an Arby’s, to report on an angry ghost.  This scene sets up the beginning of the next episode, What Gobbles Beneath.

Above:  Rena Sofer as Grace Hall

Character Beats

Grace Hall, a reporter for the World Chronicle, objects when anyone questions her accounts of at least six alien abductions.

Sal the Pig-Boy justifies his inappropriate behavior with, “What do you expect?  I’m a pig!”

Donald Stern, publisher and editor of the World Chronicle, hires only reporters with bad reputations.  This is the only way he prevents the loss of journalists to other publications.  He also considers his work a high calling.

Donald Stern is a kind, patient, and understanding employer.

Sal the Pig-Boy, who is short, resents the “height-centered establishment.”

Great Lines

Vera:  “I’m sorry.  The alien autopsy contest has ended.”

Vera:  “Reincarnation of Mother Teresa, Line One.”

Above:  Curtis Armstrong as Sal the Pig-Boy

In-Universe

Somewhere in New Jersey, a girlie poster of Madonna Ciccone in a boy’s bedroom has been bleeding since Britney Spears entered the top-ten charts.

The Polka Massacre of 1978 happened.

Space aliens invented the internet.

Donald Stern prefers that Ruby the psychic predict only events that will happen after the next issue goes to newsstands.  Sal, Tucker, Wes, and Grace prevent Ruby’s prediction of alien devastation of Manhattan from coming true, so Ruby’s powers of prediction are not infallible.

The elevator moves both horizontally and vertically.

Above:  Jon Polito as Donald Stern

Comments

The cast is excellent.  For example, the way Jon Polito, portraying Donald Stern, refers nonchalantly to Britney Spears as a sign of the end times is hilarious.

The Chronicle:  News from the Edge plays like a mish-mash of Kolchak:  The Night Stalker, The X Files, and Northern Exposure.  The series’s mixed tone plays better in some episodes than in others.  I know, for I watched all 22 episodes before writing one note.  I write this post about the pilot episode with all episodes in mind.  In this episode, I notice the abrupt tonal shift with regard to the Brooklyn Bloodsucker, who, despite being a stranded galactic spiritual leader, has still killed at least two humans and one cat.  I do not accept the episode’s explanation that the Bloodsucker is mainly misunderstood.

The cover stories at the beginning of the episode are funny.  “THERE’S A DEMON IN MY TOILET AND HE WON’T LET ME FLUSH!” is hilarious.

Perhaps I am overthinking the reference to 47 rejection letters, but I cannot help but think about the many instances of that number in Star Trek:  The Next Generation (1987-1994).

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 16, 2020 COMMON ERA

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++