BONES has wrapped up its latest season, and even more annoyingly than it did last year: arch-foe Pelant’s ability to hack into any computer, anywhere and make it sit up and do tricks would be fine if he were taking on Batman, but for a nominally real-world show, it’s laughable (I’m fully aware the use of computers on the show has all kinds of absurdities but this goes way beyond that). Thus his mind-game plan at the end really left me out of sorts; up until that point, a fun season as Booth and Bones struggle with their domesticity status-quo.
DOCTOR WHO: The Gunfighters has the Doctor, Steven and Dodo arrive in Tombstone,Arizona, right before the OK Corral for a supposedly whimsical four-parter story in which the Doctor gets mistaken for Doc Holliday and Steven and Dodo have to sing for their supper before the big showdown. A very poor one—the cowboys’ English accents are obvious and by the end I was heartily sick of the song “Last Chance Saloon” (there are singing-cowboy movies without this much music).“You are embracing every cliché of the so-called Old West.”
MATEWAN (1987) is John Sayles’ stunning drama about a brutal 1920s mining strike, with Chris Cooper as the union man rallying the eponymous West Virginia town against the mine owners, though the miners see him as almost as much a manipulative outsider as management. On top of that, Cooper has to convince them they’ll do better with James Earl Jones and other black miners in the union than out of it. With Mary McDonnell as a miner’s wife and David Straitharn as a straight-shooting sheriff, this would double bill well with a variety of labor dramas, including Salt of the Earth and Black Lung. Dark at the ending, leaving it ambiguous whether the long battle accomplished anything. “There’s only two sides in this world—those who work and those who don’t. You work. They don’t.”
Abbott and Costello are IN SOCIETY (1944) when the usual series of improbable events result in them crashing a weekend house party, with complications including an art thief and a similarly misplaced female cabbie’s romance. This is weaker than Hit the Ice because the romance plot (and the related musical interludes) eat up a lot of time (ironic since the subplot was intended to punch up the script). The final fire-truck chase is fun and the old burlesque routine “Fluegel Street” (which includes some of the cast of the duo’s radio show) is hysterical. Still Animal Crackers did much better setting a comic team in high society. “He wouldn’t have died when that safe fell 15 stories onto his head if he’d only been wearing a good hat!”
SEPTEMBER (1987) is the kind of movie people used to say Woody Allen should go back to making funny movies instead of (even though that cliché started several years earlier) as Mia Farrow (like other female leads in Allen’s films, her character is an intelligent woman unable to focus her talents), Elaine Stich, Jack Warden, Sam Waterston, Dianne Wiest and Denholm Elliott sit around either proclaiming their love to each other or explaining why it can never be, mostly in as mopey a fashion as possible. This lacks any of the warmth or humor of Hannah and Her Sisters and also any real plot (the obvious advantage of stretching the earlier movie’s timeline over 12 months is that the romances have an actual arc). Avoid. “God’s testing us and I intend to be prepared—where’s the vodka?”