How to Spend $20
By David Mumpower
July 19, 2011

Some of us are more intent on tracking the length of the NFL lockout than outhers.

For people who want to learn the secrets of Dr. River Song: Doctor Who Series Six Part One

The cash-strapped BBC did something a bit unusual with their anchor program’s sixth series. Doctor Who was split into a pair of six episode runs rather than a single 12 episode season. This means that consumers can catch up to the first half of Series 6 before the second half begins in September. And you are going to want to do that.

In the past, I have stated my frustrations with Doctor Who, a decidedly British series whose decisions do not always translate well to my impossibly American sensibilities. As an example, our resident Doctor Who expert, Edwin Davies, considers Series 4 to be the best of the new iteration. I actively disliked most of that year and wanted no part of companion Donna Noble. British comedian Catherine Tate is much beloved in her native England, but the only thing I would have enjoyed watching her do was be shot out of a cannon. Her presence ruined Doctor Who for me.

Enter the goddess Karen Gillan as the much more subtle Amy Pond, an inexperienced woman given the opportunity to explore the universe from the start until the end of time. This was exactly the concept that initially gripped me when introduced to Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) in 2005 and I hadn’t realized how much I had missed it until I had it back again.

Surprisingly, Gillan isn’t the best part of the season to date, though. Badger himself, Mark Sheppard, continues his quest to appear on every show I enjoy (he’s checked Firefly, Leverage, NCIS, Burn Notice, Chuck, Battlestar Galactica, Supernatural and now Doctor Who off the list) with an impressive part of the terrifying two-parter that begins Series Six. While none of the characters can remember the details, they are aiding Richard Nixon (you heard me) in investigating a run of alien abductions yet each time they run into the aliens, their memory gets wiped. This is a genius concept very well implemented by current showrunner Steven Moffatt (of Coupling fame). After this two-parter, the series leads directly into an episode about pirates followed by one written by living legend Neil Gaiman. Finally, the first half of Series Six finishes with a two-parter that explains the heritage of Dr. River Song. This is quite possibly the best six episode run in the show’s storied history and I say that as someone who wasn’t really a fan of the pirate episode. The other five episodes are all A+ material, and I cannot recommend this DVD purchase enough. If you have never given Doctor Who a shot in the past, Series Six Part One is the perfect opportunity to discover why this series is considered the pre-eminent television program in England.

For people who saw Abbie Cornish in Sucker Punch and thought “More, please”: Limitless

As I have stated before, I am not a comic book aficionado, although I occasionally consume this form of media just as I do all of the others. Over the past few years, the one non-Gail Simone/Brian K. Vaughan title that has gripped me the most is Identity Crisis, a DC property that is centered upon the Justice League but encompasses a lot of their comic book universe. One of the villains in that story is Deathstroke, a mercenary capable of using 90% of his brain. His intelligence allows him to counteract several members of the Justice League simultaneously. I find the premise engaging and its implementation in that comic book sublime. In fact, after The Dark Knight Rises is released into theaters and Christopher Nolan moves off to new projects, this is the Justice League movie I believe Warner Bros. should create. But I digress.

The point is that Limitless uses a similar concept to identify the positives and negatives of how such behavior could impact an ordinary man, Eddie, played by Bradley Cooper. Given an experimental drug that functions as a brain steroid, Cooper is suddenly able to connect previously unattainable logic strands in his mind. The problem is that the drug is not only addictive but also has a side effect of erratic behavior. As such, Cooper’s character experiences a series of highs and lows that even the most extreme junkies cannot imagine. After he loses his job and is disavowed by those closest to him, the protagonist notices in an interview that the head of the company administering the drug behaves in similar fashion; he is just as much of an addict as his customers. This causes Eddie to seek him out and get some answers.

When Limitless was released, I stated in Monday Morning Quarterback that I felt this movie had one of the best premises of any 2011 title and I still stand by that. Reviews are largely positive as well, and the movie is a massive hit ($79.3 million domestic, over $150 million globally) relative to its paltry $27 million budget. This is a blueprint example of a good idea leading to a good movie that also happens to sell well. We as snobby movie goers want to support such behavior, because it means fewer fat suit comedies get greenlighted. Limitless narrowly misses being the DVD pick of the week, but it’s still highly recommended.

For people who miss That 70s Show and/or That 80s Show: Take Me Home Tonight

In case you have forgotten, there was in fact a That 80s Show; it lasted a whopping 13 episodes. Still, Foreman from That 70s Show was always popular, at least up until he put on a dark Spider-Man costume and wound up ruining the most popular franchise of the early 2000s. In spite of this, Topher Grace is much beloved by BOP’s staff for his deadpan sense of humor. Take Me Home Tonight is a 1980s period piece as well as a pet project for Grace. Alas, it was filmed in 2007 but not released until 2011, making it something of a period piece in and of itself. Movies do not sit on the shelf for four years without good reason, and that’s a sad statement to consider for a movie wherein Grace and Anna Faris are two of the leads. Its $6.9 million final domestic tally reflects the fact that it is a financial disaster and its 28% Rotten Tomatoes score indicates that most movie goers made the right choice in passing on the project. If you enjoy 1980s jokes about puffy hair, skinny ties, and spandex, maybe you will be entertained. Otherwise, the logical conclusion is that 1980s period piece television shows and movies are not an idea whose time has come yet.

For people who have gotten over their disappointment of the DOA: Dead Or Alive movie: Tekken

I purchased the original Playstation on the day of its North American release (yes, I’m old) back when the idea of 3D fighting games was relatively new. Virtua Fighter was all the rage at arcades, which were still en vogue at the time. The Playstation featured two popular franchises in the early days, Battle Arena Toshinden and the game that would steal its thunder, Tekken. The former game was a flash in the pan, a huge deal in 1995 and for about three months in 1996. After that, all anybody could remember about it was the blonde chick with the whip. It…wasn’t a videogame that embraced the idea of sexual equality. Tekken was much different in that it was fun to play, everyone had ridiculous hair, and animals were unlockable playable characters. Over a decade before Jack Black popularized the idea of a kung fu panda, Tekken was training a generation of videogame addicts how to disembowel humans with ursine claws.

While there have been comic books and animated adaptations of the popular game, Tekken the live action martial arts film is a franchise first. The production features a couple of established faces from previously popular martial arts films. Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa is perhaps best known as the villain Shang Tsung in another videogame adaption, Mortal Kombat. He portrays the similarly evil Heihachi in this movie, and I hate that character for being one of the hardest bosses of the 1990s videogame era. Tamlyn Tomita, recently seen on Eureka and 24, was introduced to North American audiences in The Karate Kid Part II. While you may not know their names, both of their faces are easily recognized. Tekken is not about their generation, though.

Instead, the focus is on Ian Anthony Dale (of The Event and Day Break) and Jon Foo (you don’t know him) as a father and son, Kazuya and Jin, who are not friends. It seems that papa may have been a bit rape-ish with Jin’s mother and that all of the men in the family have that dark streak. Jin wants to end the family curse, either with the aid of Heihachi or in spite of him. In order to do so, Jin must win The King of Iron Fist Tournament. This is a long description for a much more basic premise. People punch and kick one and another in a matter that you may find enjoyable if you enjoy the genre. If you are looking for anything other than an inscrutable plot, this probably isn’t the best choice. None of the videogames ever made a lick of sense, but it was always fun to kick someone in the face with a bear claw.

For LeBron James: 2011 NBA Champions: Dallas Mavericks

I really have nothing to add to the discussion about this title, which is self-explanatory. Like everyone else in the world, however, I enjoy drinking LeBron’s tears. Having said that, the latest ESPN The Magazine has a fabulous article about a form of cryogenic treatment used by all of the aging players on the oldest championship team in NBA history. What I take from the article is that Ted Williams’ head is stored at the wrong facility. Also, I suspect that missing pizza delivery specialist Philip J. Fry is trapped in the facility somewhere. Anyway, Dallas is the first NBA team in ages that seems like a real team rather than one prima donna and a bunch of also-rans. So, this disc is a good suggestion for the sports fan in your life, a person who I guarantee hates LeBron James. Everyone does.