Tread Perilously — Punky Brewster: The Perils of Punky

Tread Perilously continues its annual horror month with two episodes of Punky Brewster collectively known as “The Perils of Punky.”

When Punky, Mr. Warnimont and the gang head for a weekend in the woods, Punky and the kids discover a cave where an ancient evil exists. A group of “Injuns” name Punky the prophesied white hero who will combat the evil and restore the land. So Punky and her friends head into the depths of the cave to face spiders, poorly realized demons and the inevitability of death itself.

Erik reveals his extensive memory of Punky Brewster based on his one-and-only viewing of the series back in the 1980s. Justin devises Sicario Hall for wayward children to learn a trade in contract killing. He also tries to cast Soleil Moon Frye as the host of an Investigation: Discovery program. Both try to avoid talking about Small Wonder. They also name Punky’s friend Alan as “The Pride of Gilead.” Justin’s knowledge of 1940s Los Angeles baseball teams comes in handy. Erik reveals his objection to the Police Academy films. Justin notices certain similarities to the plot of the episode and Stephen King’s It. He also advises against loving clowns. Punky’s dog Brandon gets special mention as Erik attempts to understand why the gang hangs out with Margot.

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Tread Perilously — Nightmare Cafe: Aliens Ate My Lunch

Tread Perilously begins its annual horror month with a visit to the short-lived Wes Craven television series, Nightmare Cafe.

When Blackie (Robert Englund) moves the cafe out to the sticks, Frank (Jack Coleman) and Fay (Lindsay Frost) meet tabloid reporter Harry Tambor (Bobby Slayton), who must deliver a story about aliens to his editor or get fired. He plans to fake a close encounter utilizing three little people he picks up on the side of the road. While Frank, who loves Tambor’s work, is disappointed to meet his hero, Fay ends up part of events. Will she be able to stop a mob of yokels from taking Tambor’s fraud way too far?

Erik and Justin try to determine the best way to explain Nightmare Cafe‘s premise. They also introduce Cal, the post-ironic genie. Their attempt to figure out the appeal of Slayton’s comedy leads to a discussion of gay panic in 1980s stand-up. Erik has a hard time holding onto the character name “Frank” and explains his position on Tim Burton. Justin takes a close look at the episode’s Canadian yokels and the problems in appreciating the work of H.P. Lovecraft. The pair also discusses the morality of killing people impregnated with Aliens and why Wes Craven chose to write and direct this episode of Nightmare Cafe.

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Tread Perilously — Star Trek ENT: In a Mirror, Darkly

Tread Perilously’s annual Star Trek month concludes with the consensus best episode of Star Trek: Enterprise: “In a Mirror, Darkly.”

After staging a coup aboard the I.S.S. Enterprise, Commander Jonathan Archer leads the ship out of Imperial space and into a Tholian controlled zone where a rebel coalition of alien races has captured the U.S.S. Defiant. Not only is the starship from the Prime Universe, it also originates from the 2360s; 100 years in the Mirror Universe’s future. Archer is convinced he can take control of the Terran Empire with this advanced ship, but he will have to face his own treacherous crew, his former commanding officer and maybe even a Gorn to have a fighting chance at the throne.

Erik and Justin’s latest attempt to Tread Safely with Star Trek: Enterprise leads to an analysis of the episode’s first 30 seconds. It also leads to a debate regarding Yoda’s species and terrible first-contact situations. They also end up debating an obscure point in Babylon 5. Erik claims “In a Mirror, Darkly” is the nerdiest episode of Star Trek ever produced. Justin falls in love with Mirror Reed. Erik praises the realization of Mirror Phlox. Both also pay more attention to Mayweather than the show ever did. The CGI Gorn gets compliments and the Alien Nation television series gets a shout-out.

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Tread Perilously — Star Trek VOY: Year of Hell

Tread Perilously’s Star Trek month continues with an attempt to tread safely with the consensus best episode of Star Trek: Voyager, “Year of Hell.”

When the Voyager wanders into an area of space contested by the Zahl and the Krenim, a Krenim commander (Kurtwood Smith) uses his ship’s ability to alter the timeline; making the Krenim much stronger in a flash. So much so, a suddenly outclassed Voyager finds itself fleeing from Krenim war vessels. Soon, a week of Hell turns to months and Captain Janeway must make a fateful choice for her crew and command staff. Eventually Tom Paris and Chakotay find themselves guests of the Krenim commander as the situation aboard Voyager gets worse. Will they be able to alter time and undo the Year of Hell?

Erik and Justin try to find good things to say about “Year of Hell,” and end up complimenting Star Trek: Generations and the TNG episode “Yesterday’s Enterprise.” Erik also finally admits that The Dark Knight is not a fun movie. His hatred of Tom Paris — but not actor Robert Duncan McNeill — comes up once again. Justin calls out Janeway and Chakotay for leaving the bridge in the middle of a fight. Both wonder why the Vulcan isn’t in charge. Justin suggests Bajorans would make pilgrimages to New Orleans and examines the notion of leisure in the 24th Century. Also, both dissect why “Yesterday’s Enterprise” gets away with erasing itself while “Year of Hell” does not.

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Tread Perilously — Star Trek TNG: Shades of Gray

Tread Perilously’s annual Star Trek Month continues with the worst episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, the infamous clipshow known as “Shades of Gray.”

When the Enterprise scouts a newly discovered planet, Commander William T. Riker gets barbed by a carnivorous plant, which pants a microbe in Riker’s nervous system. Geordi and Data beam back down to the planet to investigate the creature as Riker’s condition worsens. Finally in a coma, Dr. Polaski can only stave off the infection by forcing Riker to relive some of his best — and worst — memories of his first two years as the ship’s first officer.

Erik and Justice try to talk about an episode with a terminal case of senioritis. Justin introduces Red Dog, the old time Paramount stage hand. Erik suggests Dr. Polaski is Gene Roddenberry’s laziest creation. Dr. McCoy’s racist tendencies also get examined. The lack of standard issue hardsuits gets raised — not that it would’ve helped the crew of the Prometheus. Erik recalls how much he hated Riker as a child even though he loves him now. The discussion turns into a clip show of some of Erik and Justin’s favorite topics, including Riker’s sexual prowess, their difficult time with anime, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and their love of Airplane II: The Sequel.

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Tread Perilously — Star Trek: The Way To Eden

Tread Perilously begins its annual Star Trek month with the TOS episode “The Way to Eden.”

The Enterprise intercepts a ship stolen by an ambassador’s son and his pals, who all follow a cult leader known as Dr. Severin. Their youth, colorful clothes, and love of music put them at odds with the square Starfleet staff and Captain Kirk, whom they call “Herbert.” Dr. Severin has a plan to get to a planet known as Eden, which happens to exist in Romulan space. When he manages to take control of the Enterprise and cross the Neutral Zone, it’s up to Kirk and company to stop him from reaching landing on a planet which may not be what he or his group expects.

Seth Linker joins Erik and Justin for an hour of fake hippies and scenes of Gene Roddenberry discussing sex. Erik tries to game the politics of writers D.C. Fontana and Arthur Heinemann. Seth points out some merit in the universally panned third season episode. Justin discusses the problems with future slang. He also posits that Captain Picard and Michael Jordan helped normalize balding for men in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Seth suggests the music is consciously recreating the worst of 60s folk rock and everybody enjoys the truth about Eden, which is in no way related to Sha Ka Ree.

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Tread Perilously — Dr. Strange: Pilot

Tread Perilously concludes a month of failed TV pilots with 1978’s attempt to bring Dr. Strange to the small screen.

When a demon gives Morgan Le Fey (Jessica Walter) three days to prevent Dr. Stephen Strange (Peter Hooten) from learning the mystic arts, local sorcerer Lindmer (John Mills) realizes he must finally train the young psychology resident. At the Manhattan area hospital where he works, Strange must deal with cooky patients, a psych ward nurse dispersing too much medication, and the absentee head of the department. But when Clea Lake (Anne-Marie Martin) comes to the ward after becoming bewitched by Morgan, Strange learns about his special heritage. His nascent skills will be tested as Morgan offers him the chance to join her side and rule a dimension which happens to look like a Dio album cover.

Justin and Erik praise Dormammu for sitting this out. They also finally discuss Avengers: Infinity War. Justin calls Erik on his habit of showing people terrible movies and television. Erik praises anytime Jessica Walter finds herself in Led Zepplin-land. Justin tries to describe the terrible claymation demon in the pilot. He also points out the Hollywood executive fear of magic. Erik explains both the film Pumaman and why it’s sometimes called “Pyumamin.” Both note the attempt to make Wong (Clyde Kusatsu) a less egregious character and discuss the problem of classic comic book love interests. But will they declare Dr. Strange the worst failed pilot they watched?

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