Tuesday 28 July 2009

DVD Reviews

Secone To None: Best of TNA Tag Teams
TNA Entertainment
Review by Brad Harmer

First things first - Second To None: The Best of TNA Tag Teams – is huge. It clocks in at nearly seven hours, and even with a price tag of £24.99, that’s a serious bang for your buck – especially considering that all the leading on-line retailers are selling at less than £15. But is it all good stuff, or is it all filler?

One of the main strengths of TNA, as a promotion, is its Tag Team division. Tag Team wrestling has been sidelined since the late ninties/early 21st Century, but thankfully it’s now coming back to the fore, mainly thanks to TNA.

The disc covers the profiles of several top TNA Tag Teams including Team 3D, LAX, Beer Money and the Motor City Machine Guns, through a compilation of their matches, and a series of shoot interviews. Team 3D (copyright be hanged, they’ll always be The Dudley Boys to me), open things up, and their segment is definitely the strongest of the set. They are, after all a historically significant tag-team – having been involved in the rise of ECW, bring tag-team wrestling to the best it has ever been in the WWE, and helping TNA to become highly established.

The match selections, however, are questionable. An electric cage match against LAX? What the hell were TNA thinking? Electric cage matches are dumb at the best of times, as wrestlers can only either oversell or undersell an electrocution. This match could have been in “Classic Examples of Matches Where The Gimmick Has Only Served To Undermine Rather Than To Enhance the Overall Performance”, but in a Tag Team compilation? No way. Most of the other matches are good, but there is an awful lot of filler in here too. From the off, it’s obvious that this is a case of quantity over quality.

Across all the profiles featured, one thing is consistent – the shoot interviews are absolutely top-notch. Insightful, interesting, and well spaced out between the matches. It’s just a shame that the matches themselves, in the words of Fry from Futurama “average out to be quite good”.

A major point against this release, unfortunately, is that the picture quality is terrible. For the interviews, everything is fine, but there must have been some kind of error when transporting the footage from TV to DVD, as the picture often pixellates, which is doubly noticeable during fast moving sections, often rendering the wrestler as a messy blur. One does get used to it after a while, but this is a major oversight for a large wrestling promotion – I’ve seen pirates with higher quality than this.

Aside from the unforgivable picture quality issue, there’s much to recommend this disc. It features those who are undeniably the best tag-teams in TNA at present, and features truly great matches from all parties. Some not-so good bouts do knock down the overall quality – and this could have been a great one disc compilation, rather than an okay two-disc one, but as value for money it can’t be beaten.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Well, besides the usual affair associated with modern day pro-wrestling, the electrified cage match and a few chair shots is about as violent as it gets. This isn’t CZW, you know.
Sex/Nudity: None
Swearing: A few fucks and bastards, uncensored.
Summary: A good compilation, let down by the odd duff-match and the dodgy picture quality. A good compilation for pro-wrestling fans, but not good enough to label it essential. – 7/10

The Monster Squad
Fabulous Films
Available from 3rd August
Review by Brad Harmer

Monster Squad was a series from the mid-seventies that was basically a mish-mash of The Munsters and the Adam West Batman show. It was cute, entertaining summer holiday/tea-time fare. Walt, a criminology student works as a night watchman in a wax museum, and has built a prototype "Crime Computer" to pass the time. When he plugs in the computer, "oscillating vibrations" bring to life the wax statues of Count Dracula, the Wolfman and Frankenstein’s Monster.

The supposedly evil monsters want to make up for the misdeeds of their pasts, and become superhero crimefighters who use their abilities to defeat various supervillains. If this seems a little twee or childish – you’re right, it is...but that’s also the show’s charm. The jokes and slapstick comedy are nothing but pure pantomime, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was still entertaining to children today, as there’s a timeless quality to the antics and gags.

The budget isn’t exactly high, but the show knows that its own special effects are rubbish, and more importantly, it knows not to care. The Dracula changing into a bat sequence is a perfect example of this – Dracula snarls, a flashbang goes off, and then an obviously fake bat on a fishing line flies shakily out of view. It’s all crap, but it’s also all cute.

As mentioned earlier, fans of the 60s Batman TV show will find this all feels very familiar, and it should as Stanley Ralph Ross, one of the head writers of that show was also at the helm for Monster Squad. Slightly bungling but loveable superheroes, and the stereotypical villain of the week perpetrating his or her heist of the week. For all its fun though, there are several elements that let the show down. For one, virtually every episode is the same, and only the names and horrendous puns change. The Squad will be sent out by Walt to investigate some bizarre and gimmicky villain, the villain will foil the heroes' attempts to bust him, and Walt will have to come to their rescue. You’d figure that after the third episode he’d no longer switch on the Monster Squad and just solve the crime himself, cutting out the middle monsters, so to speak, but hey, maybe he’s not that bright either.

With Monster Squad, however, it's the journey and not the destination that’s the fun part. The plot's just a vehicle to carry the gags, which, whilst childish, aren’t half bad. The writing is actually surprisingly clever. It’s a fun kids show, and would probably hold the attention of Mum and Dad, if they happened to catch it.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Some slapstick comedic fighting. Some weapons are used, but they too are always silly.
Sex/Nudity: None
Swearing: None.
Summary: A good fun kids show, but likely only worth the purchase if you remember it from your childhood and fancy a stroll down memory lane. As nostalgia, it’s great – if it’s new to you, chances are you won’t get it. – 7/10

1 comment:

  1. 'Monster Squad was a series from the mid-seventies that was basically a mish-mash of The Munsters and the Adam West Batman show'

    -- It sounds so good on paper...