Back home in Japan again, after a nice (if frenetic) vacation. Here I am, up since 3 a.m., still getting over jet lag. Over the past week or so I watched an eclectic batch of shows, most of them viewed with friends and family, which always adds a little extra something to the experience. The rest of the year, I mostly watch these old shows by myself; luckily, I have you fine fellows to share my thoughts with. God bless the internet! The Twilight Zone (1980s version) 1.6 "Examination Day / A Message from Charity" I remember this mid-'80s remake, narrated by Charles Aidman, quite fondly. It had a number of cool, high-concept sci-fi story adaptations, particularly in its first season. As with Night Gallery, some of the shorter segments don't work so well; however, the hit rate is better with this series. "Examination Day" falls in the middle of the pack, quality-wise, an OK if predictable (and predictably nasty) little tale, but the much longer, and meatier, "A Message from Charity" is by far the more memorable of the two. It's a charming telepathic time travel romance, between a modern boy and a Puritan girl in the year 1700, residents of the same town, but somehow psychically linked after they both suffer a severe fever. Kerry Noonan (as Charity) and a young Robert Duncan McNeill (Tom Paris from Star Trek: Voyager) give earnest performances. I'm a sucker for any kind of time travel yarn, so this one went over well. Also with James Cromwell (as Charity's father). The Rifleman 1.5 "The Brother-in-Law" 1.6 "Eight Hours to Die" 1.7 "Duel of Honor" All three of these continue the strong episode streak. I particularly enjoyed "Duel of Honor," with Cesare Danova as a principled Italian count who gets harassed by slimy Jack Elam and challenges him to a duel, with Lucas McCain as his "second." "Eight Hours to Die" depicts the usually fearless McCain in an uncharacteristically worried light, but is redeemed by a committed performance by George Macready, as a deranged father out for revenge. The Scooby-Doo Show 3.16 "The Beast is Awake in Bottomless Lake" The DVD set I picked up at Walmart lists this series under the Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? banner, but as far as I know, it never aired that way. The episodes do seem to follow the original series' blueprint, however, and the animation, while not up to the standards of the 1969-71 version, seems better than that found in The New Scooby-Doo Movies. I found this final episode quite similar in tone and quality to the original show as well; not genius material, certainly, but typically fun; what can I say, other than original recipe Scooby-Doo, along with Jonny Quest, is my favorite Hanna Barbera cartoon. Laverne & Shirley - 3.14 "The Horse Show" The comedy is laid on with a broad trowel, but this show (at least in its early years) remains very funny. The ladies are great physical comediennes, but it's Lenny and Squiggy who repeatedly steal the show. Not a series I'd likely buy for my own collection, but one I'm happy to sample here and there, especially with my Mom, sister and wife, who are all big fans. Fantasy Island 2.10 "The Island of Lost Women / The Flight of Great Yellow Bird" This show is pretty dumb...in fact, the "Lost Women" segment is one of the stupidest things I've seen in a long while, with sailor Robert Morse parachuting onto an island and into the arms of a tribe of Amazonian babes, who plan to give him the time of his life before he's sacrificed. Lots of jiggle here, and a welcome appearance by a still quite beautiful Cyd Charisse as the Amazon Queen, but how this one plays out utterly defies belief. "Great Yellow Bird" is much better, but still ends on a sappy note. Disillusioned adventurer Peter Graves, on the island to give a lecture on Bigfoot, is drawn into the fantasy of an anthropologist (Barbara Rush) who wants to prove her father's wacko theory about the supposedly ESP-sensitive hairy hominid to the world. A mild but reasonably entertaining outdoor adventure ensues, and the Sasquatch costume is pretty good. I picked this one to view first from my new Season 2 set because of this "monster hunter" premise, the type of story I just can't resist. The second season seems to veer more into the fantastical, which is why I bought it before Season 1. Despite the silliness of it all, I think I'll enjoy watching more of this slice of late '70s cheese. The DVD transfers look very nice, BTW. The Night Stalker (on Blu-Ray, with Tim Lucas commentary) I've seen this excellent telefilm many times over the years, so I opted to watch Kino Lorber's stunning Blu-Ray edition while listening to Video Watchdog maven Lucas' commentary track. Diehard fans of the Kolchak movies and subsequent series perhaps won't find too much new info here, but Lucas gives a solid overview of the key players and making of this horror classic. Especially interesting is his discussion of the similarities between this film (including Jeff Rice's novel upon which it was based) and Leslie H. Whitten's earlier Progeny of the Adder. He also highlights the political aspects of Richard Matheson's teleplay, putting it into context with the turbulence and paranoia of the early '70s. The 4K remaster of this puppy looks fantastic, and I especially marveled at John Llewellyn Moxey's moody, cinematic direction, as well as seeing Las Vegas in all its seedy, early-'70s glory. And I've said it before, but I'll say it again: Darren McGavin's Carl Kolchak is easily one of the greatest TV characters of all time.