Sunday, 27 March 2011

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Monkey Challenge: Pearls Before Swine

Monkey and the others come up against the three Animal Strength Immortals, who have taken over a country so they can drink all their wine and eat all their paper and jewels (as you do if you're an evil Immortal).

Pigsy fights them first, trying to impress a girl he met, but they demonstrate their magic power of being able to shoot laser beams at him, and Pigsy runs away - though not quickly enough to avoid being shot in the backside as he goes.

Big Gay Longcat says: I saw Pigsy's bum! Rude Pigsy is rude!

Monkey and Sandy take them on while equipped with a table polished so it will reflect their laser beam, but at full strength, with the energy they have drawn from the wine, paper and jewels of an entire country, they are powerful enough to melt the table away.

With the help of some locals, Monkey hatches a plan to defeat the Immortals, a two-pronged plan where he will distract them and the locals will guide Pigsy and Sandy to the place where the Immortals keep their wine, paper and jewels - by denying the Immortals their sustenance, they will be unable to recharge their magical energy.

The plan almost goes awry when Tripitaka is (of course) captured by the Immortals, but in the end they are defeated and chased away from the country for a happy ending.

I think this is based on one of the stories in the book of Monkey, the tale of the three Taoist Immortals who take over a country, but very heavily adapted to the point of being almost unrecognisable. I think I'm right in saying that a later episode is also based on the same story - but we shall see when I get to it.

This is another enjoyable and very silly episode, with most of the silliness, as usual, coming from Pigsy. The physical actor Toshiyuki Nishida, and the voice actor Peter Woodthorpe, compliment each other very well to make Pigsy a great comedic character.

Sorry about the picture showing Pigsy's bum, but Big Gay Longcat insisted on it.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Monkey Challenge: The Difference Between Night and Day

Despite using up its best special effect within the first two minutes of the episode, The Difference Between Night and Day is worth watching to the end (though does anyone watch Monkey for the effects?) as it is a memorable story for several reasons.

The pilgrims find an invisible barrier blocking their path, which Monkey breaks through using his Magic Wishing Staff to reveal that, while it is daytime on their side of the barrier, it is night on the far side. The effects to show this are quite well done, and certainly get the scenario across.

It turns out that the Queen of Night has separated from the King of Day, and so now instead of endlessly cycling between the two, she rules a domain of endless night while he rules a kingdom of perpetual day. And the magic barrier between them ensures that never the twain shall meet.

On top of that we see that she is a vampire while he is a vulture spirit. The queen spends the neverending night-time sucking the blood of her subjects without having to fear the dawn, while the king works his subjects to death as there is no dusk to bring an end to the working day.

This sounds like a problem that Monkey could easily solve. But unfortunately he meets a girl in the land of night and, for reasons that aren't entirely clear but seem to be because she looks a bit like Tripitaka (I shall refrain from commenting on the psychological significance of this since it's obviously played for laughs), he falls in love with her and this infatuation causes him to lose all his magic powers.

Pigsy, meanwhile, falls in with the Queen of Night and looks to become her new consort. He's not at all put off by the fact that she's a bloodsucking vampire - in fact, when she bites his neck he says "You're a vampire? How do you do? That's just incredibly sexy."

It is actually her that is put off by him, and she only allows him to stay with her when he promises to fight Monkey for her. Pigsy doesn't look forward to this at all, until he finds out from Sandy that Monkey has lost his magic, after which he takes some joy in beating up the helpless ape.

With Tripitaka's help, a pair of star-crossed lovers defy the ban on men and women crossing between the two kingdoms, and this drives events toward the climax of the episode at the King of Day's palace.

Tripitaka uses the headache sutra on Monkey until he regains his powers, and he battles the Queen of Night, defeats her, and then, before Monkey can kill her, the king offers to die in her place and so the two are reconciled and everything ends well.

This is a well-plotted story which balances silly moments with a serious - and, at the end, rather heavy-handed - message about relationships. On the silly side, of particular note is Monkey losing his powers and causing dozens of pictures of the girl to be materialised whenever he tries to do his magic tricks, much to his embarrassment.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

What does this mean?

I noticed this when I was watching The Avengers:

What does it mean?
Is Avengers set in the same world as Blakes 7?
Does this mean John Steed could go on adventures with Avon and Tarrant?
Ooh, just think of the possibilities...

Saturday, 12 March 2011


This is my friend Doggy. He is looking serious because he is wearing Gamma Longcat's glasses in this picture, but he isn't always serious. He can be very silly and mischievous and he has a loud woof. He is a robot doggy.

This is Charlie. She is a real doggy, not made from socks or anything. She is being quiet and sleepy in the picture but usually she is energetic and curious and she can be quite bitey when she is in a naughty mood.

Friday, 11 March 2011

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Monkey Challenge: Pigsy's In The Well

The version of Monkey that I have read is the Penguin Classics version, which spends about half of its time leading up the beginning of the journey to the west, which means it doesn't have as much space as you might think devoted to the various escapades along the way.

But one of the stories that is told is the one that is the subject of this episode. The king of the land of Cock Crow has been murdered by a magician that was his friend, and who has now taken his appearance to replace him as both king and husband to the real king's wife.

The dead king appears as a ghost to Tripitaka and, after the priest recounts his dream to the others, and shows them the king's jade seal as proof it was not just a dream, Monkey gets straight on it.

Monkey goes to the king's son and partially convinces him of what has happened to his real father with the jade seal, but the prince goes to his mother and asks her if the king has acted strangely recently - which he has.

Final proof is obtained when Pigsy is sent down the well (hence the story title) where the murderer dumped the real king's body to fetch it.

The most amusing part of the episode is when Monkey and Pigsy trick each other - Monkey fools Pigsy into doing a silly dance in front of Tripitaka, who is not amused. Pigsy gets his own back by telling Tripitaka that Monkey knows how to bring the dead king back to life.

This backfires when it turns out Monkey does, in fact, know how to do just that, and so he goes off to heaven to obtain some of Lao Tzu's elixir of immortality. The patriarch of the Tao, one of the most revered of philosophers, is portrayed as a bit of a fool, who Monkey easily outwits to acquire the necessary elixir.

With the king returned to life and his son the prince on-side as well, they accompany the pilgrims to visit the false king, who is exposed as an impostor.

After a brief attempt at disguising himself as Tripitaka - foiled when, to Monkey's discomfort, the real Tripitaka is the only one who knows the headache sutra - the villain is at bay and then the queen turns out, suddenly and randomly, to be in love with the impostor instead of the real king, before being killed by her son accidentally.

This is a change from the ending to the story in the book, where the magician is revealed to be a heavenly lion, acting under orders to usurp the kingdom for three years as part of the king's karma. Then the land and the king are restored and there is no tragic aspect to the tale's ending.

It only goes to show that Hamlet's father would have done a lot better if he had enlisted the help of the Great Sage Equal of Heaven, instead of his son.

Sunday, 6 March 2011