Archive for the ‘TV’ Category

Wonder Woman: The New Duds Revisited

April 1, 2011

EG: Alright, folks, it isn’t that often we revisit a topic, but that is EXACTLY what we are doing today. What earthshaking developments have taken place that drive us to do so?

Wonder Woman.

That’s right, folks. Our pleas, in part have been heard. In the most recent images released from the upcoming TV tragedy of epic proportions, Wonder Woman, the costume has been changed.

I’ll say it again, slowly: The. Costume. Has. Been. Changed.

Thanks to the very comments and concerns expressed right here on this blog, the Steve Austin Book Club has convinced the Dark Forces working on this series to (at least partially) fix the costume.

OG: Huzzah!!! Er, well, that is, Partial Huzzah!!!

EG: I’m sure that some of the other bloggers out there that made some comments had a slight impact on the decision as well, but I’m hereby claiming credit for this advancement in the voice of fandom for this blog. We, OG and EG got this done for you, our people.

You are welcome.

OG: Yes, that’s right! Big shot Hollywood muckety-muck David E. Kelly and those ninnies at NBC have buckled under the mounting pressure from our rarely updated and virtually unknown blog! OUR INFLUENCE CANNOT BE DENIED ANY LONGER!!!

EG: So, let’s take a look at the updated costume!

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EG: There she is, determinedly running! First off, let me say, I know it isn’t perfect. The top is still shiny. I still wish they’d gone with a more dull, leather-like top. But, look at the improvements – the pants are darker, and no longer made of vinyl. And the boots! We got the red boots! And not the hooker-heels that the blue boots were! That right there was such a vast improvement I can almost forgive the shortcomings.

OG: Indeed, on the whole, it is a significant improvement. The only reason I wish they had held their ground on the original costume is that we could have seen shots of her running awkwardly in vinyl pants and trying to jump up on cars in stilettos. Certainly the comedy of that would have been delightful!

EG: But, I did mention shortcomings. With the replacement of just the pants material/tone, the costume now seems a bit less cohesive. As much as I didn’t like the shiny elements of the original picture released, the costume had a flow to it. Yes, a cheap Halloween-esque plastic-y flow, but a flow nonetheless. That said, I still think this is better.

OG: ‘Tis a very good point EG. It does look very much disjointed. But, with such a short span of time between the initial release of the original costume image and these new images, I think the changes they made were the only ones they could do on the quick.

On a side-note, as much as I celebrate our victory in getting them to make changes, it is clear evidence that they don’t have a firm creative vision for this show nor the confidence to stick to their guns that such a vision would give them. And, with it being NBC, it feels like Heroes all over again – Changing and modifying their show based on the whims of fandom ultimately results in an even worse product. Does that make any sense?

EG: I get what you are saying, but I think you have to consider that this is *just* a costume modification, and not necessarily an indication of any lack of vision. Frankly, I’m more inclined to believe that they released the images just early enough so that they could make modifications based on fan reaction. If you think of that as an affirmative decision, it becomes less wishy-washy and more tactical.

And, if you are paranoid like me and follow that line of thinking to a darker conclusion, maybe those initial image drops were released *just* to get the fans to react in the way they did, that these changes were always going to come down the line, but now the studio can claim they actually listened to fans…

What? Too much?

OG: Anyway, putting that aside. What else?

EG: Nitpicking, I really do wish they’d gone with the silver on the boots instead of the gold. But, that is such a minor concern, it doesn’t even need to be mentioned. Along that same line, the stars on the pants would stand out more in silver as well.

OG: Hmm, I can see what you’re saying and certainly wouldn’t be opposed to that. But, the gold does fall in line with the iconography of the character, making a revised look to the character still fall within the bounds of what we expect from a Wonder Woman costume.

EG: But, let’s take note of the other aspect of this show we are seeing in these images – Wonder Woman is running. That implies that there is actually going to be action in the TV show! As an occasional viewer of Smallville, I’m used to a superhero show that barely has any action most of the time, and this show, we are already seeing action! I’ll admit, I feared, given David Kelly’s record of doing mostly courtroom dramas, that we’d never get around to any superheroic action scenes, so I’m suddenly filled with cautious optimism for this show.

OG: Well, we probably shouldn’t get ahead of ourselves just yet. This is the Pilot after all which is generally a more action-y affair in this type of show anyway. I don’t recall the Smallville Pilot (I believe the only episode I ever watched) but I gotta think that had some promising action in it as well. Also, running? Really? I mean, isn’t this situation tailor-made for Wonder Woman to show off her lasso skills? Ah, looks like I found another nit to pick. Please, carry on.

EG: Hey, how about a clip from the filming of the show?

OG: Let’s do it!

EG: Yowch! Busted knees are never fun!

OG: I have to say, she looks 1000 times less silly in action then I thought she would. Apparently, this ain’t just gonna be Ally McBeal with tights. That said, the shiny top does look significantly goofier in action than the pants. Despite that, it’s pretty encouraging overall.

EG: It does bolster my pie-eyed optimism. I know it isn’t much, but I did expected so little.

OG: Me too. But, I have to say, though we have no context for this clip, I do get worried in any superhero project where the hero/heroine is chasing some random thug. I like my superheroes to fight dudes that are equal to or even superior to them in ability. Of course, he mounted that last car with a lot more skill then she did (she looked pretty winded, right?), so I should probably reserve judgment there.

EG: Before we finish, let’s take a look at two more images. First, this:

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EG: Now, that’s not even right. I know that Adrianne Palicki is more attractive than this bizarre shot lets on. I’m just saying – not an attractive angle.

OG: I’m going to venture to say that Ms. Palicki has probably already lodged a complaint about this angle. Yikes.

EG: And, finally, this image:

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EG: I don’t know if this photo was darkened on purpose, or if it was just the particular lighting, but, wow, this image shows the potential for awesome this costume has. The colors in this one are dead on what they should be for the live action, the shine is more easily overlooked, and the flow of the costume is much better. If this is how the costume comes across on-screen, I’ll be thrilled!

OG: And, that’s not counting the wonders (I think this leaves me with 4 or 5 more crappy puns for the year based on the strict new crappy pun policy we put into effect recently) they can do to the color and look in post production enhancement work. So, I’m thinking this aspect of the show will be the least of our worries.

EG: I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but I’m starting to actually look forward to this series. I know the potential for it stinking is huge, but, seriously, the makers listened to geekdom about the costume. They WANT this show to be successful, they WANT to please the fans. How often does that happen, people? I mean, seriously? For that reason, I’m going to watch this show. That’s right – I’m declaring right now that I’m going to watch this show, good or bad!

OG: I’m with you. But, I must reiterate my concerns about how wishy-washy they’ve proved themselves to be already. But, you are right. A certain amount of respect for the fans opinions is healthy and can lead to a better show. No doubt. I just hope that outside of the costume they have a fresh and interesting take on the world of the character and give us something worth tuning into each week. So, I’m going to go ahead and join you in some good old-fashioned “cautious optimism.”

EG: For the changes to this costume, I’m driving my rating four and a half Running Steves. If the red bodice were changed to a duller leather look, I’d make it five in a heartbeat.

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OG: I’ll bump from 3 ½ to four. They can certainly still change the top after the pilot is done and I’ll gladly revise upwards should that happen.

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EG: Alright, Mr. Kelly and NBC… you’ve got us… can you hold on to us?

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Wonder Woman: The New Duds

March 20, 2011

EG: Welcome, all, to the All-New “We’re gonna reboot this blog again” Extravaganza here at the Steve Austin Book Club. No lousy excuses here – we (OG and EG, your unreliable hosts here at the SABC) are bad people.

Not serial killer bad or kick-your-puppy bad, but easily-distracted-from-this-blog-and-not-post-anything-new-for-more-than-a-full-calendar-year bad.

Doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, does it?

OG: I actually think our lack of posting is quite beautiful. Think about it – despite our numerous bionic upgrades, we are still deeply human. Just because our blogging abilities are cybernetically enhanced doesn’t mean that we aren’t also imbued with the inherent flaws of Original Sin. Also, we plainly suck.

EG: Anyway, what could POSSIBLY cause us to jump back into this? What event of geekdom would push us over the edge from our regular thoughts of “we really should bring the SABC back” to actually putting butts-to-chair and doing it?

This:

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EG: It’s… it’s so… shiny. Uh… yeah.

OG: When my browser first loaded the image I actually heard the squeaking of vinyl before I saw the costume.

EG: In case you didn’t know, David Kelly is making a new Wonder Woman TV show for NBC, and the info that has been leaked about the show, up to this point, has been… underwhelming.

OG: Yes, in defiance of everything that Marvel Studios is doing to create a seamless film universe populated by their great panoply of characters shown in contemporary and dynamic ways, Warner Brothers (not counting the Batman films) is doing it’s level best to meet the demands of the late 90’s with the filmed versions of the heroes of DC!

EG: Now we get this costume. Don’t get me wrong, as a red-blooded American male, there is an… appreciation for this costume, but…

OG: Yes, EG. The gal is truly fetching and she has “wonder”ful attributes that make her a real stand-out in the role! (I hate myself for typing that) And, to really make a statement of who this character is, I see that David E. Kelly made the effort to order a Wonder Woman costume from Target’s expansive collection.

EG: You know, it does look a lot like one of those “Deluxe Sexy Superhero Costumes” that come out for women to slut around in every Halloween.

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EG: The bad thing is… the one for Wonder Woman is actually less over-the-top than the new TV show costume.

OG: But, what they both have in common is their complete look of having been bought at a store. But, I’m being too negative here. I mean, I do want to say that I think there are things they’ve done right here. Kind of.

EG: I think I understand what is happening here. This entire thing is the nefarious plot of Jim Lee to get the public to accept, nay, CELEBRATE his redesign of the Wonder Woman costume.

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And, you know what, OG? It is working. I almost wish they had gone with this costume for this TV show.

OG: I agree completely. I actually liked his design of the character and feels like it is almost tailor made for live-action. And so, I do applaud the inclusion of some of the elements. From what I understand of the plot for the new series, it is going to be more of a street-level superhero story and to that end, they started in the right direction but apparently felt the need to split the difference by bringing in more of the shiny, dare I say cheesy parts of the iconography.

EG: OG, I know you don’t watch Smallville…
OG: It is one of the few things in life that give me true pride.
EG: …and, really, I only catch about two full episodes a season, but they actually put Lois Lane (Erica Durance) in a Wonder Woman-esque costume that I really liked:

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Now, I don’t mean to be snide (actually, yeah, I do), but when Smallville, the show that put Green Arrow in a hoodie –

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And Superman in black trench coat –

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Manages to come up with a better costume, you know you are in trouble.

OG: Not bad at all! I like the more leather look. Reminds me very much of what Marvel Studios is doing so amazingly right (at least from what I’ve seen) with the Captain America costume. I mean, in some ways Wonder Woman has a lot in common visually with Captain America. They have really in your face, bombastic, brightly colored, symbolically rich costumes that are hard to translate to film. Perhaps this is a good time for you to reach in to EG’s Treasure Trove of Superhero Costume Photo Reference and show us what Captain America looks like when done oh so very wrong…

EG: I only live to serve:
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EG: In an effort to be positive, though, let me say that the DESIGN of the costume is actually pretty good. I like that they went with pants… sorta… well, fully-covered legs, anyway. I like that they went with the recognizable and classic bustier. And, while I like the shade of red used in the costume, the blue could stand a little muting, perhaps some darkening… but it is hard to tell from the glare! I think, if they could have de-shine-ified them (yeah, I made that word up), I’d appreciate the entire costume a lot more. The costume really isn’t *that* horrible.

Except the boots. The blue boots do not work. Hey, OG, wanna see this costume become about 90% better?

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EG: There. How’s that?

OG: If you were to tie me up in your lasso of truth (please don’t) I would be forced to say that this is amazing! You almost completely fixed it. Mute the colors on the costume and then make it the more leather look we discussed earlier and you’ve got yourself a PERFECT Wonder Woman costume for the screen, which makes me a little hopeful. I mean, lit and photographed correctly, many of the more obnoxious aspects of the costume (brightness & shininess primarily) might be mitigated. Assuming they do that, the only other pitfall they’d need to avoid would be getting someone like the creator of Ally McBeal to run the show. Now that would be a travesty!

EG: Well, we can only hope! Actually… I have to admit, after looking at the costume for a while, and changing the boots, I could really see something like this working.   I’d really like the colors toned down to the tones in the Smallville version.  Let me take a try at that:

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I still hate the shiny, latex-look, but the whole thing is growing on me.

Or, maybe it is just the fact that I’ve been looking at the image of a beautiful woman dressed up in a shiny latex Wonder Woman costume long enough that I don’t really care anymore.

OG: Well, while my first reaction was 100% negative I have to say you’ve kind of won me over here. I’m not hating it. In fact, I’ll go ahead and give this costume 3 fully loaded Running Steve’s.

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And, just to go on the record, I’ll go ahead and give the show itself a presumptive ZERO Running Steves. Really predicting “Birds of Prey” levels of craptitude here man.

EG: I’ll second the three Running Steve’s, and I’m gonna say that people will be wishing Birds of Prey was still around to cleanse their palate from this doomed version of Wonder Woman.

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NBC, feel free to surprise us and produce an amazing show… but don’t expect us to be holding our breath.

DVD Review: Four Film Favorites: Draculas

October 30, 2009

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This is the actual Dracula… but it isn’t my Dracula:

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And this is not my Dracula:

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Not this one:

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Or this one:

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And I don’t really think this is anyone’s Dracula:

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When I apply the ownership of “my” to it, I’m talking about when you close your eyes and think “Dracula,” the image that pops into your head is “your” Dracula. For me, THIS is my Dracula:

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That, my friends, is Christopher Lee. (Pausing for the appropriate oohs and ahs.) Christopher Lee starred in seven of the nine films in the Dracula series from Hammer Films, from the late ’50’s to the early 70’s.

One of my greatest memories of childhood is my father and I, each Saturday afternoon, watching old horror films on The Channel 20 (WXON) Saturday Afternoon Thriller and Sir Graves Ghastly on channel 2 (WJBK). And, of those old films, my favorites were the Dracula movies.

And, among those Dracula movies, the Hammer films rose to the top. At the time, I probably wouldn’t have been able to talk about the production values, or the acting… I would have just said they were better. Despite my age, and my ability to analyze the films and explain what draws me to them, I find myself falling back into my childhood feelings about them – they are just better.

They weren’t slow and plodding, they didn’t look like they were filmed in someone’s basement with cardboard props, and Dracula was what he was supposed to be – a monster. Evil and nasty, and not terribly talkative.

(All due respect, and I say this as a fan of both Angel and Forever Knight, but I miss when vampires weren’t all sensitive and brooding.)

I really enjoyed these movies, but hadn’t seen them in years. Oh, there have been a few releases for home entertainment over the years, but nothing great or even complete (due to rights issues, I believe).

Then, a few weeks ago, I was told about a DVD set that was out from Warner Bros. called, “4 Film Favorites: Draculas.” This is a two disc set, containing four of the Christopher Lee/Hammer Films Dracula movies – Horror of Dracula, Dracula Has Risen from the Grave, Taste the Blood of Dracula, Dracula A.D. 1972. The price for this assembled bit of cinema greatness? Around ten bucks.

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I was immediately doubtful. First, I’m not a fan of double sided discs when it comes to movies. They seem really susceptible to scratching and damage. Second, squeezing four films onto two discs usually mean low quality. Third, what could I really expect for $10.00?

But, fan of the films that I am, I went ahead and bought the collection.

And I’m so glad I did.

What you get is a pretty straightforward, no frills kinda deal with these. You essentially get the movie and its trailer for each film. That about does it in the area of “extras” on these discs. What makes this set worth more than the cost though is the quality of the films themselves.

Remember how I mentioned there have been various releases of these films in the past? Generally, those releases were crummy, lifted from less than stellar prints of the originals. This set, though, is sharp and crisp, not plagued with saturation problems or muffled sound like previous releases. And, the original trailers? They are pretty cool.

I would love to have a complete set of the nine Hammer Films Dracula movies, but I’m happy that four of the best of these films are collected here. (Maybe someday, the rights issues will be cleaned up and we’ll see an entire set!)

(Just in case you were interested, that set would include: Horror of Dracula, The Brides of Dracula, Dracula: Prince of Darkness, Dracula Has Risen from the Grave, Taste the Blood of Dracula, Scars of Dracula, Dracula A.D. 1972, The Satanic Rites of Dracula, and The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires.)

I’m not going to go into each of the movies right now, for two reasons. One, tacking on four movie reviews to this is far more work than I want to do right now (yeah, I’m lazy, but I may review the movies separately at a later time), and, Two, it is four movies for ten bucks! Even if they were horrible, that’s only $2.50 a film. I’m sure you’ve spent more on a bad film sometime in the last decade!

But, these aren’t bad. They are pretty awesome. Admittedly, I’m biased, and I’m sure nostalgia is playing a big part, but even so, I would not hesitate recommending this set to someone that wants to see some really great Dracula movies.

And, with that, my good readers, Vampire Week here at The Steve Austin Book Club draws to a close.  Thanks for joining us, Happy Halloween, and we’ll see you next week!

Forever Knight

October 29, 2009

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As we continue our Vampire Week celebration here at The Steve Austin Book Club, today we are going to take a look at the rise and fall of a TV show that EG dearly loved – Forever Knight.

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He was brought across in 1228 – preyed on humans for their blood. Now, he wants to be mortal again … to repay society for his sins … To emerge from his world of darkness … from his endless Forever Knight.

Starting in 1992, each episode of Forever Knight opened with those words. A nice, succinct way to let folks know what the show was about. But, for the beginning of this show, we really need to look earlier… not 1228, but 1989.

From Jessie’s Girl to Coffin…

And, here is where I show my age. One Saturday night, as I was flipping through the channels, I came across a television movie on CBS. It was a vampire movie (which hooked me) called Nick Knight. In this movie, Rick Springfield (attempting to escape soap operas) played Nick Knight, L.A. cop and vampire.

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After centuries of giving into his vampire ways, Nick was trying to cure himself. Helping in this effort was Dr. Jack Brittington (Robert Harper), forensic pathologist and the only one who knew what Nick truly was.

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He was advising Nick to live as a human in order to become human – eating real food, no longer drinking blood, and exposing himself UV light via tanning beds. Nick was also seeking out some magical goblets that could cure him.

When some homeless are found drained of blood, Nick is partnered with Detective Don Schanke (John Kapelos) to investigate.  (Note to readers:  That character’s last name is pronounced “Skanky.”  I know, right?  Awesome.)

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Through the investigation, Nick comes to believe that Lacroix (Michael Nader), the vampire that sired him, is responsible.

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I won’t spoil the movie any further. Overall, I enjoyed the movie, but it wasn’t anything spectacular. And, though it was supposed to launch a TV series, that never happened.

Well, not quite never…

The Schanke Years

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In 1992, CBS was desperate for some sort of late night programming to go against the Tonight Show and Nightline. After going through a bunch of hosted, Tonight Show-esque programs (one of which starred Wheel of Fortune’s Pat Sajak), CBS decided to switch gears. The result? Crimetime After Primetime.

Crimetime After Primetime was a schedule of different hour long crime shows that aired, each airing once a week. The only one worth mentioning (at least, in my opinion) was Forever Knight.

Forever Knight was Nick Knight revamped (totally didn’t realize the pun, but I’m leaving it, so there!). Of all of the cast, the only actor to return from the original pilot movie was John Kapelos as Detective Don Schanke.

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Nick Knight, now played by Geraint Wyn Davies, was now a Toronto cop and vampire. The basic idea of him seeking a cure and redemption continued in this series.

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Dr. Jack Brittington became Dr. Natalie Lambert (Catherine Disher).

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The role of Lecroix was taken over by Nigel Bennett.

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And, the role of Janette (another vampire that appeared in the first pilot that I didn’t mention) changed from Cec Verrell…

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…to Deborah Duchene.

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Though production values were lower on the series than for the original pilot, across the board, I thought the level of acting went up.

Almost immediately, the show garnered a devoted fan base. Unfortunately, CBS was soon to drop the entire Crimetime After Primetime format, after securing David Letterman for their late night programming.

The voice of the fans was heard, though, and Forever Knight was continued in syndication.

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The show’s popularity continued to grow in syndication through the end of the second season.

And, then, the writer’s saw Interview with the Vampire.

The Sun Rises (and we all know what happens to vampires when that happens)

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With the third season, major changes came. It was announced that John Kapelos would not be returning to the series (no more Schanke… *sigh*).

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It was also announced that Deborah Duchene’s role of Janette, vampire confidant of Nick, was also being eliminated.

Lisa Ryder, as Detective Tracey Vetter, came in as Nick’s partner.

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Along with her, came a new, Lestat/Louis-esque vampire named Vachon (Ben Bass).

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More and more, the focus of the show shifted toward the new characters, and the storylines seemed to be drawing from the same well as the well-known Anne Rice Vampire novels.

And, perhaps for the best, after three seasons and a radical change in the direction of the show, Forever Knight ended.

I do miss the show, but not what it was becoming. If the show had maintained the quality level that it had in the first two seasons, I would miss it more, but I’m pretty sure if it had continued the way it was headed, I would’ve dropped it.

Still, it is a good idea, and maybe, given the prevalence of vampires in primetime and movie theaters, we’ll see the concept revived yet again.

I miss Schanke.

Well, they got my eight bucks now…

June 2, 2008

I had pretty much resigned myself to just saving the upcoming “Incredible Hulk” film on my Netflix queue for its eventual DVD release months from now.  But, then I pushed play on the latest trailer (apparently shot from the inside of someone’s trenchcoat at a trade show or something) and I am trying to figure out how to get a sitter so I can see this thing in the theater.

For anyone who remembers the opening of the original TV show, this trailer is the perfect shot of nostalgia and an excellent tonic for anyone wanting to wash away the taste of the previous version by (you wouldn’t like me when I’m) Ang Lee. 

Take a look…

What’s funny is that this trailer has been cut together from most of the footage I’ve already seen in previous trailers that left me underwhelmed.  But, somehow, the addition of the music and the attempt to connect this flm more directly to the TV show has won me over in a big way.   

This blog won’t be the last thing to fail you in life…

March 3, 2008

 

So, you might have noticed I’ve not blogged in a few days and that I also missed my Friday “Post-Id Notes” commitment.  Due to this, you are probably inclined to call me a failure.  

Well, that’s fine.  But, guess what, if you want to call me a failure you’re gonna have to get in a very long line behind most of my family members, friends, the faculty at Carson-Newman College, and the teller at my bank to do so. 

Anyway, I don’t have any long-form reviews or essays today.  Instead, I’ll just throw out a handful of things that are percolating at the top of my brain can… 

TERMINATOR:  THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES: 

I haven’t had a chance to mention this, but I was actually surprised to find that I like this show quite a bit.  I think the lead chick (Lena Headey) is quite compelling and Summer Glau as the female Terminator is playing one of the great odd-ball characters of recent sci-fi.  And, though I’m not the biggest fan of emo John Connor, I like how they’ve found a great story to tell that fills in the gaps between the film series. 

That said, I have yet to watch a single episode all the way through in one sitting.  It’s like something in the Fox transmission signal triggers this narcoleptic condition I never knew I had.   

It’s weird.  It’s not a boring show.  It’s got a good lot of action that isn’t completely mindless, interesting characters, and an automatic “IN” with me on concept alone.   

But still, tonight is the season (possibly series) finale and I’m still 3 episodes behind on my Tivo.  I can’t figure it out.  I keep trying to watch it and keep falling asleep. 

Now, to top it all off, the episode I’m stalled out on currently is the introduction of Brian Austin Green into the series.  Yeah, I’m doomed.  All they need now is for Ian Ziering to appear as a Terminator and I’m all done. 

“Even we are concerned with how boring we are.”  

YOU TUBULAR: 

I saw this clip today at Gawker.com which linked it from kottke.org which got it from You Tube.  But, I couldn’t help myself.  This was too cool and I’d hate for anyone to miss it. 

We comic fans love a good “What if?” and this is a great one.  What if Saul Bass designed the opening credits for the original Star Wars film…  Brilliant! 

THE CONSTANT: 

Last Thursday’s episode of Lost, “The Constant,” is exactly the one I would point to as exhibit A for someone who doesn’t understand my fascination with/adoration for this show. 

In said episode, one of the island-dwellers, Desmond Hume, travels back and forth in time from the present (2004 on the show) and the year 1996.  But, this time-travel isn’t done in a Delorean, a phone booth, or any physical means whatsoever.  It’s actually his consciousness that is travelling back and forth between his current and past self due to heavy exposure to a powerful electromagnetic force. 

This is a heady sci-fi concept and they don’t skirt around the science of it or the inherent paradoxes that time travel stories are typically rife with at all. 

Now, before you tune out, that stuff, while catnip for your hardcore Phillip K. Dick fan, is all very much beside the point.  If it was just about the mode of the time travel and the puzzle that the audience has to piece together to understand it then it would be alienating to most and I wouldn’t win over a single convert. 

But, in this episode, the writers have used the concept for all its metaphorical weight in order to tell a very compelling, heart-breaking love story that culminates with a simple, lump in the throat, phone conversation between two separated lovers struggling to get back to each other’s arms. 

Lost, for all its mysteries, literary references, creepy smoke monsters, and pseudo-scientific minutia is about the characters first and foremost.  It is populated with a cast of broken people who are trying to escape who they are and somehow overcome great obstacles to become who they are supposed to be. 

The greatest mystery being explored on the show is that of the human heart and how you heal it. 

Even the creators of the show have lost track of that from time to time, putting the mythology first.  But, as the strange Ms. Hawkings says in Desmond’s last time-spanning episode in season 3, the universe has a way of course-correcting. 

So too does this show and I think this episode in specific and this season in general have done just that.  It’s once again about being lost and hopefully being found. 

WHAT IN THE FREAK IS FREAK?: 

So, one of the reasons I’ve been not feverishly writing this blog is that I’ve been feverishly writing something else.  This something else is turning out to be all-encompassing to me and I’m completely obsessed with working on it lately. 

It’s a screenplay that takes place in the year 1985.  As happens with my writing, I often have a song playing in the back of my head when I’m working.  These songs usually become themes or evoke a mood for me that I’m trying to get across in the story.   

The song lately on this particular script has been Whodini’s 1984 rap classic, “Freaks Come Out At Night.”  It was mainly the chorus that was thumping in my head but due to the glories and conveniences of iTunes, I grabbed up the song for 99 cents and have been listening to it.

I shouldn’t say “listening to it.”  I should say “living in it.”  What happens is that sometimes I’ll play a song in the car when I’m with my son and if he likes it (“Someone Keeps Moving My Chair,” by They Might Be Giants was the last one) he asks me to play it over and over again until I want to throw myself out of the car window. 

As a result, I’ll venture a guess that over the course of the past weekend I listened to this song more times than it may have ever actually aired on the radio.   

I’m not out of love with it yet.  But, prolonged exposure to it has made me realize that I have no idea who the “Freaks” in this song are supposed to be.  I guess when I first heard it in the 80’s it was fresh off of the still brilliant “Thriller” video and my own Fangoria-obsessed childhood and so I naturally thought the freaks were some sort of ominous, shuffling contingent of the undead prowling the nighttime streets in search of brains.   

But, read a snippet of the lyrics and you tell me who the freaks are supposed to be because I have no idea… 

Now the party’s jumpin’, the place is packed
And when the crowd’s like this, I’m ready to rap
But before I could bust a rhyme on the mic
Freaks are all over me like white on rice
Freaks come in all shapes, sizes and colors
But what I like about ’em most is that they’re real good lovers
They do it in the park, they do it in the dark
But most freaks are known for breakin’ hearts
You could never tell what a freak was thinkin’ of
And you may never catch a freak without at least one glove
And they don’t walk, when they step, they strut
And nine times out of ten they drive you nuts
But take my advice, you don’t stand a chance
Freaks are so bad they got their own dance
So if you wanna live a nice quiet life
Do yourself a favor, don’t come out at night, ’cause
 

Now, let’s pull out a few attributes of the freaks from this.  They’re good lovers, they engage in lewd exhibitionist behavior, they break hearts, they generally wear at least one glove, they strut, they drive you nuts, they’re bad, they have their own dance, and most importantly, they come out at night. I may have been on to something with the “Thriller” connection.  But, it’s not the undead we’re talking about here.  It’s Michael Jackson, right?  I guess the big giveaway is the one glove thing.   

That being said, the song is “Freaks” plural.  Which, as terrifying as it is, means there are more than one of him, right? 

Yikes.  I guess I’m staying in at night. 

Okay, that’ll have to do it for now.  I’ll try to show up again tomorrow. 

But, if I don’t, please know that I love you and I miss you like the deserts miss the rains.

Did this really exist?

February 14, 2008

I’ve gone eighteen years without knowing that this happened…

Frankly, stumbling onto this little sixty second A-bomb of cinematic genius has shaken me to my core.  We can’t know how the smallest things will change our lives; the chance encounters, the random occurrences, the missed opportunities. 

What would have happened had I seen this cartoon when it originally debuted?   Is there an alternate universe where a 14-year-old version of me watched all five of the episodes that aired of this cartoon, had his mind so thoroughly and irreparably blown, and then decided to leave behind the world of technology to become a militant vegan environmentalist or, dare I say it, a Troggs groupie?    

We can never know. 

What if the book depository had been shut down for fumigation that cold November day back in ’63?  What if the recipe for New Coke was made with 95% fructose in its corn syrup instead of 90?  What if DJ Jazzy Jeff had been cast in “Independence Day” instead? 

These are all impossible questions to answer but ones that keep philosophers and J. Michael Straczynksi in business and send me into long, dark nights of soul-searching on You Tube.  

I don’t know what would have happened then.  I can only tell you what has happened now that I’ve seen this today at nearly 32 years of age with a family, a mortgage and a stalled career… 

I’m going to try to get more fiber in my diet.

I just crapped my pants and then my crap crapped its own pants too!

February 7, 2008

First of all, I’m not the world’s best blogger…yet. 

The Steve Austin Book Club was intended for daily updates; a meager aim that has apparently been out of my feeble grasp as of late.  Well folks, I’m going to correct that and I’m going to do it right now!   

And, not just for me and my pitiable need to be heard.  And, not just for Earth G Billy and the covenant I made with him when he joined this effort here. (By the way, Earth G is kickin’ it daily without even breaking a sweat over here:  www.earthgbilly.wordpress.com  

No, most of all, I’m doing it for you – all 3 of our readers!  So hang tight, keep me honest, and look forward to a daily dose of dorkiness from here on out! 

Now, with that pathetic, protracted, prevaricating preamble out of the way, let’s make with the goods and what prompted the bold if scatological subject heading above… 

I just watched a trailer at one of my new favorite places on the intertube,  www.io9.com, and it has shredded my brain-case into a million shards of boney shrapnel.   

Here is all you need to know: 

Joel Hodgson of MST3K fame is making fun of movies again in silhouette with all his old buddies.  No, there aren’t any robots this time.  But to the pure of heart, does that really matter?   

This is happening.  It is real.  Don’t believe me? 

Look at this great big gob of genius right here…

Well,  I don’t know about you folks, but my kids are gonna be eating a couple less meals this week as I dig out the requisite funds to buy this thing on DVD right now. 

And Earth GB, when you get out here for ComiCon this summer you better believe we’re gonna burn deep new grooves in this disc with the amount of playtime it’s gonna get! 

Yee haw! 

This must be what all those Maude fans felt like when they first saw the ads for “Golden Girls” during those summer re-runs of “Murder She Wrote” back in ’85.   

Thank you for being a friend, indeed!! 

Alright truth-seekers – ‘til tomorrow then!

 And coming really soon:  Reviews of “The Wire (seasons 1&2),” “Essex County Vol. 1,” “King of Kong,” that new Terminator TV show, and, of all things, a webcomic!  I’ll also be introducing a couple of new regular columns and writing a lament for the late, great Boblo Island. 

Ex Files

January 23, 2008

Remember the “X-Files?”   

Boy, that show was really, really cool until it really, really sucked.  A great few years of classic sci-fi anthology storytelling marinated in a rich, well-crafted mythology that built up conspiracies within conspiracies only to squander it with two (arguably three) final seasons and one passable film that did nothing to pay off the years of speculation and mystery that had been created.  And, for our endless patience and faithfulness as an audience, they gifted us with a bored, half-awake David Duchovny (who only bothered to enunciate his lines or “act” when they gave him the occasional vanity episode to write/direct), a floundering Scully with pregnancy/cancer melodramas to muddle through, and two replacement leads in Robert Patrick and Annabeth Gish as Agents Grumbly Pants and Vacant Stare respectively.  

Oh, and then there was the “Lone Gunman” spin-off.  The “Joanie Loves Chaci” of sci-fi entertainment.  (Yeah, I watched it.  And, yeah, I hate myself a little bit for that.) 

Ya know, you hurt me “X-Files.”  You took me in, held me tight, and made me feel alright about being home on a Friday night.  You gave me a place when no other show would have me; when all the cool kids were hanging out on “Melrose Place” making fun of my knock-off Bugle Boy jeans.  But, not you “X-Files.”  You were there for me.   And then…you hurt me.  You hurt me real bad.  In fact, if I’m being completely honest, it still burns a little when I pee. 

But, that’s okay.  I’ve gotten over it all.  I’ve moved on.  It’s been six years.  I’ve been seeing other shows and they’ve been treating me a heckuva lot better than you ever did; treating me with more respect.  “Lost,” to name one, has given me mysteries too; perhaps even similar to the ones you gave me.  But, they’ve also given me an end game and the promise that they saw what you did to me and aren’t going to leave me hanging the same way. 

Oh, there are others I could name.  But, I’m not trying to make you jealous “X-Files.”  If you are then that baggage is all yours.  I’m free now.  And I’m beautiful.  You won’t ever make me feel ugly or stupid again! 

I hope. 

So, I see you’re coming around again with a new “movie.”  I guess I’m supposed to get all excited just at the mention of your name.  Perhaps you expect me to get myself all dolled up again, put on my best dress, and wait outside for your car to come around the corner all shiny and new and stop at my door.  Well, not anymore mister!  I respect myself too much to do that again!   

(A long pause as I look into the dark recesses of my weary, pathetic geek soul.  The very same soul that actually got excited about “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer” even after watching the first film resurrect Jack Kirby only to visit Biblical levels of punishment upon his writhing, moaning zombie corpse.) 

Oh, who am I kidding?  I love you “X-Files.”  I always have and I always will.  I know you’ll try harder this time.  I know you’ve learned from your mistakes and that you’re ready to put the full 110% into this relationship again.  I know you’ve got it in you to be good again.  To be good to me!   

I’m waiting for you “X-Files!”  Opening weekend baby!  You, me and a big bag of popcorn.  This time we’re going to do it right.  This time it’s gonna last forever!   

What’s this?  A new promotional picture.  Ooh.  Well, I must confess I’m dying to see what you’ve done with yourself all these years….

Zzzzzzzzzzz…..huh?  What’s that?  Oh, goodness me.  I fell asleep just pasting that image there. 

You haven’t changed a bit, have you?  I should’ve known.  You’ll never change!  You disgust me!  I don’t ever want to see you again!!!!!

 So, um, er…. I’ll see you opening weekend, then?…Great, great…What’s that?…Don’t wait up? … You’ll call me when you’re ready? 

Oh, okay.  That’s cool.  Well, talk to you soon.  I love you. 

Hello?  X-Files?  Aren’t you going to say you love me too? Are you there?

Hmm.  Must have lost the connection.  I’m sure he’ll call back.