[color=****]MAX STEEL: "Extreme"[/color] "I may be the first secret agent in history to go undercover as himself." Max, as Josh McGrath, comes out of retirement for the Del Oro Extreme Games in order to bust a couple of players who have been stealing electronics, using electronic enhancement patches that adhere to the back of the neck. Reminiscent of slappers (cf Batman Beyond), they boost the user's power but gradually break down muscle and nerve tissue. The stolen goods will be used by a crooked sponsor to fund a massive patch empire. In addition to an anti-drug message, this one also pandered to the celebrity guest angle by featuring Tony Hawk. Plus Josh's biggest fan starts to get suspicious when he keeps bowing out of the race...to the point where she is close to figuring out his double life. Though she doesn't--which means she's a dense child, considering she saw Max on Josh's bike, and Tony all but said that McGrath is really Max Steel to her face (she figured Josh couldn't hack it with Hawk in the race and wussied out). I still can't figure out how electronic steroids made those guys' eyes glow red like that. Creepy effect, though. XMEN: "The Cauldron", part 2 This one was marginally better than the first, but they still really fumbled things with Magneto's characterization. Though megalomaniacal, he's never been depraved enough to artificially boost mutant abilities--control, yes, but not force them to evolve. He simply comes off as a madman with no explanation as to what drove him adopt his views of mutancy, or even how Charles got to know such a man as Eric Magnus. While Wolverine throws a fight (at Charles' order) and Sabretooth is spirited off to Asteroid X, the junior mutants return to the mansion--with Toad Tolansky in tow--and find it trashed. They form a second odd alliance with Mystique, who wants a piece of Magneto as revenge for forcing her to prove her worth for him (though she seems oddly blase that he also abducted her child years ago, even when Kurt refers to her as "Mother".) We see the touching backstory on Scott and Alex and how they were forced to leave their parents behind in a burning plane while they leaped to safety. ..followed by them walking willingly into Magneto machine. Now...Alex, maybe, but I would think Scott knew better than to believe Lil' Maggie's promises of a better life. It seems the machine not only boosts mutant power, but whitens their hair, which may explain why Magnus has such snowy locks yet not a wrinkle, though he must be at least fifty or sixty if he fought in WWII. It also makes Sabretooth more feral than before. Jean forces Scott to realize, after he attacks his friends, that if he wants a better future, then it'll be without her. A battle royal ensues, and Asteroid M goes down in flames. Mystique is thrown into the machine, and comes out a few minutes later looking like a blue-painted lady wrestler, complete with bulging biceps and a bushy haircut. Sister, you're about ten or twelve years late for G.L.O.W. Somehow, in decimating the last of Asteroid M with their powers, Scott and Alex loose their power boost and white hair. (I don't fully realize how.) It's mentioned two ships were seen leaving the wreckage--presumably Magnus and Mystique, but where's Sabretooth?--and the professor offers Alex a chance to train and grow with the X-Men. End with a group pose and smile for the camera, as Charles thunders, "We are the X-Men." Really, this could have been handled better. A couple of good moments of pathos, but not enough real character development. Magneto still comes off shallow and without motivation, and the buffer Mystique just doesn't fit with the slim, sexy shapeshifter from the comics or any other series' continuity. POK JJ: "Hot Matches!" While coming out of a Pokemon center on their way to the Goldenrod City gym, Team Twerp runs into a boy carrying a Growlithe in his arms. Seems the poor dog sufffered a major butt-kicking by a trainer in the mountains . Ash is either very brave or dumber than a bag of horse flop, because he immediately declares he wants to challenge the guy. Brock and Misty suffer the same condition, it seems, because neither or them try to talk him out of it. The moment they get up to the mountains, Brock sees a pretty girl standing by the bridge and goes gaga. Two things struck me immediately: she wears a leather football helmet like the tall, glasses-wearing girl from Digimon, and the voice sounds very similar. Her name is Mickey...and I half expected Brock to start singing, "Oh, Mickey, you're so fine; you're so fine, you blow my mind. Hey Mickey." He doesn't, but he still makes a pass at her, and she's visibly uncomfortable. Brock comes off condescending, talking about a big tough trainer up in those parts...not realizing she is the trainer who whupped that boy and his dog! Mickey's Pokemon is a steel-plated pterodactyl that she wants to pit against a fire Pokemon, since her type is weak against that type. Ash calls Cyndaquil..but it seems the fire-flatulating Pokemon can't muster up enough gas to let one fly. If that isn't bad enough, Team Rocket shows up and makes a grab for Ash's and Mickey's Pokemon...but their plans, like their balloon, are full of hot air. The Meowth Balloon is popped, and...well, you know. Now here's the interesting part. Mickey invites Ash and his friends to dinner, where they talk technique. Mickey says that she beleives a trainer should train alongside their Pokemon. We see scenes of her letting her metal-plated buzzard attack her in the stomach--which tells me that, like Casey, Mickey has a bit of a masochist streak. Another shot shows her in bed with her bird as she says, "We do everything together (oh, what the Pokemopolisters will do with that!)." So Ash secretly takes Cyndy into the woods to train. Watch his tough-guy pose--he looks like he's either badly constipated or has a hernia. After a brief training montage that has everything but Cyndy drinking raw eggs and puching a side of beef--though their is a Beedril attack--Ash feels confident to battle Mickey. Still, I had the feeling that deep inside, Ash misses Charizard...after all, he never had to sit and wait for the big dragon's pilot light to get lit. Cyndy fights admirably, and even seems faster at warming up after training. Long story short, Cyndy wins, and I think Mickey doesn't mind all that much losing. There's something about Ashy-boy I think she likes. Though Brock is persistent, he's a cream puff. Mickey looks like a girl who wants stamina and power, and the Brockster would be lucky to last three minutes with a dame like her. He'd probaby turn tail and run the second he saw her bring out the bonding straps, the candle wax, and the rubber chicken. As for Team Rocket, they end this one dangling from a tree tangled in the balloon's cables, looking like the world's ugliest pinata. ZETA: "Westbound" Or, as I like to call it, "Cuckoo on a Choo-Choo". This plot seems to be another excuse to trot out the "something causes Zeta's holographic talents to short and expose his secret" plot device--in this case it's the electromagnetic transformers along a train track. Honestly, you'd think the government would spend an extra few bucks to put surge protectors in a sophisticated killer droid to prevent this from happening! West is pursuing Zeta and Ro on a train going through flyover country...and he's poking people to find out if they're solid. Great plan, junior. Even Jimmy Olsen and Agent J are laughing at you from the wings. Amusing bit: Zeta morphs into a naked old woman in a towel. "Where'd you see that?" Ro asks. He points to the train window, where there are houses miles away. (He can see naked people from great distances, but not a secret agent ten feet away? Idiot or pervobot, next Geraldo.) "That's just creepy," replies Ro. The baggage car tears away from the rest of the train like it's made out of corrugated cardboard. Watch as Zeta uses an old Roadrunner trick on top of the train to escape capture--he jumps onto another passing train and lets the enemy nearly get decapitated as it goes into a tunnel. DYN the interior of Bennett's HQ looks a lot like the Batcave? Maybe he's a Grey Ghost fan, like Bruce. STATIC SHOCK: "Tantrum" This one was a very touching episode, actually. In it we see Virgil come to terms with his mother's passing; the whole story is told in flashbacks as he sits at her grave and talks to her headstone. Virgil, Richie, and Daisy spend the day at an amusement park, where a disaster breaks loose after a technician hits the wrong switch on a park tram and sends it careening towards the dead end on a stretch of unfinished track. Static has to go into action to save the passengers. Unfortunately, a well-meaning comment by a grateful lady about how his mother must be proud hits him like a kick in the cojones and send him into a deep sulk. Virgil returns home to find his dad and sister watching some old home movies. They're making a compilation tape for her memorial service (which is held several months after her passing, though it isn't explained why)...but Virgil, when asked if he wants to be a part of it, reacts badly. Static then has to clean up another disaster involving a Bang Baby who looks like the Infragable Krunk (stop laughing), who is trashing a local fancy restaurant. The more he throws at the big fellow the angrier and stronger he gets, and Static is forced to retreat. I realized right away who the monster was--a geeky kid whose father has driven him to stringent perfectionism and success at any cost (the same condition that Terminal suffered on Batman Beyond)...I mean how many people in a city could wear the same lame-donkey haircut? Tommy gets upset over a point under a perfect score on an exam. The monster shows up again at school a short time after, attacking the teacher who graded the paper. Again, Static can't defeat the adolescent Hulk. While Virgil struggles with his grief and screams at Sharon for suggesting he give his mom's eulogy, we see Tommy go Bruce Banner after a harsh study session with his old man. It seems he has no memory, though, of his morphs, even though the beast targets whoever Tommy is angry at...and, in this case, it's Virgil and Richie, who pay him a visit and heap more stress on him on top of what his dad's done. Virgil is inspired by the old Hawkins home movies, where he sees himself as a baby pitch a hissy and his mother's nonviolent way of handling it. He both figures out how to handle Tantrum--just get him alone and let his fit play out--and feels psychologically well enough to speak at his mother's service. Tommy gets psychiatric help for his problems, and Virgil can finally bury his own inner demons. I have to say this: Mrs. Hawkins was a beautiful woman...inside and out. DYN Richie's father at the service? It seems he's gotten a handle on his own problems with bigotry. Unfortuantely the pathos of "Tantrum" was marred by the insipid "Static Shaq" bumpers. Is Shaq desperate for money or something? I don't know how much a basketball player takes home once you deduct taxes, social security, legal fees, and paternity suits ( ), but someone has to be really hard up to be willing to lend his name to this chozzerai. I know nada about basketball and I'm sure O'Neill is a fine athelete...but the man is very wooden as an actor. I've baked meatloaves that were more versatile. MIB: "The Bad Boys, Bad Boys Syndrome" It seems Agent X has sold the rights to film the MIB at work to a TV crew from his homeworld in the Geedang galaxy, and, surprisingly, though the guy's has overstepped the line seriously, Zed says OK. He might be responding to pressure from the Alien Rights Commission on that; he's had enough headaches with those extraterrestrial shysters. X boasts he's a celebrity back home...but the focus suddenly switches to K when they realize he's got the latest case. Seems ol' K is big where the Geedangians live. I don't know what's worse, X's attempting to regain his stolen thunder or J's showboating for the camera. Drekk is back in town, and K and J have to keep tabs on his two likeliest targets--Jeebs and Frank. Drekk attempts a full frontal attack by melting the pavement under the LTD and putting them in the path of a subway train, but the agents and the cameramen just barely escape intact. X attempts to capture Drekk, but the alien hothead turns the tables. It looks like Drekk incinerated X ("The eyes...they seem t' follow ya!" Frank mutters as he looks at X's empty mask), but it turns out Drekk's plan was to ransom X for K atop the World Trade center. J's antics nearly ruin everything when he first climbs up to the top of the wrong tower, nearly flattens himself scaling the gap and crashing into the side of the other, and knocks both X and Drekk off the roof with a fire hose. Oddly, it's X's biggest adversary, L, who saves him--ripping his trousers off in the process. Drekk plummets into a fountain, which seems to cool off his hot little head. I'm surprised it wasn't Frank Drekk asked for. Though maybe since the Christmas ep, he's forgotten the pug and focused all his hatred on K. He didn't think to ask for a shot at both? Sort of kill two alien birds with one extraterrestrial stone? Fav bit: The Twins are interviewed--"How long have you known Agent K?" They're going to need subtitles. Have the worms been watching a lot of ER, by any chance? This is one of the few eps that Jeebs doesn't get his head blown to goo.