Posts tagged #tv

Nic's ID Journal - #1 - Nov 7, 2013 - TV shows

Here it is, the first installment in my Inner Dorkdom journal. Prepare to be amazed. Or marginally distracted from boredom.

Much like with Josh, my aim here is simply to share with the four of you the things I'm currently enjoying from the world of dorkiness. These days, with a wonderful wife, inquisitive energetic two-and-a-half-year old, and a full-time job, free time is harder to come by than it used to be. But even so, I've managed to squeeze some dorkiness into my days.

Today's journal is going to, just because it happens to, focus mainly on TV shows that I've been enjoying. Some newer, some older.

The Neighbors: This is a sci-fi comedy on ABC, currently in its second season. Perhaps you've heard of it. Probably you haven't. And that's a shame. The premise is that a group of aliens from the planet Zabvron have been on Earth for 10 years, living in a gated community in New Jersey. In fact, until last year, the entire community consisted of nothing but Zabvronians. That is, until the Weavers (husband, wife, and three children) moved in. Next door to the community's leader, Larry Bird (all Zabvronians have taken the names of famous athletes), and his family, no less. The Weaver children learn their neighbors' secret in the pilot, and the parents follow suit shortly thereafter. The show often, but not always, explores the Zabvronians learning Earth ways from the Weavers who, for the most part, have become good friends.

I remember seeing commercials for the show before it premiered and thinking it was something I should check out. But life got in the way and almost the entire first season went by without be ever seeing anything more than a snippet of an episode. I do remember hearing that the show was awful. And then, a month or so later, hearing that it was getting better. ABC even highlighted this in their marketing campaign for the show.

Fast forward to sometime this summer, when I caught the replay of the season finale. I was somewhat lost on the subtleties of who the charters were, what their dynamic was, etc. But it still hooked me. The writing was clever, with some self-referential and even leaning on the fourth wall humor (the episode involved Larry's father coming to take the Zabvronians home, only to have Larry refuse to go, saying he's learned so much from the Weavers that "I feel like I just need another six, or maybe seven seasons – I mean, years – to figure it all out"). The acting was entertaining (especially Larry Bird, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, and Dick Butkis). And it guest starred George Takei (who did in fact get to say, "Oh my") and Mark Hamill.

When the second season premiered I made sure to DVR it. The premier proved that the first season finale hadn't been a fluke. I made sure to save the episode and told Liz she needed to watch it. A few days later we were talking to someone about shows we watch. In the list she mentioned The Neighbors. I asked her if she'd watched the episode. She had, and really enjoyed it. So now we have two Friday night ABC shows we enjoy together (the other being Tim Allen's Last Man Standing).

Castle: This muder-mystery dramedy is in its fifth season, and, although boasting some genre vets on its staff (i.e., Ron Moore, occasional director Jonathan Frakes, recurring actress Penny Johnson "Cassidy Yates" Jerald, with guest actors like Robert "The Doctor" Picardo, Tim "Tuvok" Russ, and Michael Dorn--you know who he is), isn't really a genre show.

Or is it?

Potential Spoilers

The premise of Castle is that novelist Richard Castle, played wonderfully by Nathan Fillion (hey, he counts as a genre vet, too, huh), works with a team of NYPD homicide detectives in order to do research and get inspiration for his crime novels. Over the years, the show has had our band of heroes face murder mysteries involving zombies, ghosts, etc. At least, at first glance. However, much like in Scooby-Doo, it always turns out the paranormal/supernatural/sci-fi element isn't what it first seems to be. This is always disappointing to Castle, who, unlike lead detective Kate Beckett, wants to believe in the unbelievable.

So whenever a genre-themed mystery comes up, it always goes the same. Castle loves the case, and spends most of the episode trying to convince the others that the supernatural explanation is the correct one, while Beckett is the champion of reason and mundane explanations. Not that I'm complaining by saying it always goes the same. Truth is, in a series where I've literally enjoyed every episode, these are always among my favorites.

Well, recently there was an episode where a woman was killed, and a man who at first seemed to be the killer is apprehended when he, like a moron, returns to the scene of the crime. During his interrogation by the police he claims innocence (they all do). He says that he was trying to protect her, because, wait for it, he's from the future. Castle declares this is his new favorite case ever. The suspect gives a brief summary of future history, which Castle eats up, and then explains that because this woman has been killed it has set up a chain of events that apparently will result in the deaths of billions. The killer must be found.

I won't go into details. But suffice it to say, although the episode more-or-less follows the standard trajectory for these stories, a careful viewer notices some deviations. Usually Castle's paranormal theories have some convoluted twists and jumps in logic (aside from the obvious "the paranormal is real" bit), whereas Beckett's are always more plausible and adhere better to the facts. But not this time. Though both plausible sounding, this time the facts better seem to fit the paranormal explanation. It's nothing overwhelming. And, indeed, when it seems like the scales tip in Castle's favor, something else happens to move them back the other direction.

But then there's the last scene in the station with Beckett. Again, I don't want to spoil anything. Watch the episode yourself. As for me, I don't know. I just don't see how that can be explained away as coincidental.

But then, that suggests that in the world of Castle time-travel might be real. Which would make Castle a genre show. I'm not exactly sure how I feel about that, even though I love genre shows, and part of me thinks this development is pretty stinking cool.

Anyway, if you're not watching Castle, you should be.

Star Trek Voyager: The other day I was looking up something on YouTube. Off to the side in the suggestion column were some Star Trek videos. Usual stuff: compilations of Data being awesome, montages of Worf's suggestions being shot down by everyone on the bridge, that sort of thing. But there was also one from Voyager: "Janeway emotional at first contact with Starfleet Command." I watched it. Turns out it was from one of the episodes with Barclay in it. And it was a good clip. If only I could watch the whole episode, it might be fun, I thought. Wait, I have Netflix. So I pulled up Netflix and watched that episode, which also had Deanna Troi in it. And then I watched the other Voyager episodes with Barclay (except the series finale). I enjoyed those too.

So, I decided to start watching Voyager from the beginning. I've only gotten through the premier and second episode so far. Both of those I was already familiar with, since I watched Voyager regularly when it first came on.

We'll see how it goes.

Oh, and speaking of Voyager, here's a fun game to play. Look up the main characters from the show on either Wikipedia or Memory Alpha (the largest Trek wiki), and then look up how those actors look now. I'm not trying to be mean-spirited to anyone. That having been said, some of them are jaw-dropping surprising.


Recently I watched an episode of the Monsters vs. Aliens TV series on Nickelodeon. I've never seen the film, and have only seen one episode. But the one I saw was good.

Same goes for Rabbids Invasion, although there's no film it's based on, just video games, and I've played a few of those (including the quite enjoyable Rabbids Go Home on Wii).

Star Trek Online is gearing up for its 8th "season" which will involve activities within a Dyson Sphere (that's not the ball on the Dyson vacuum). That in and of itself is pretty cool. But here's the really fun part. The introductory episode includes an appearance from Ambassador Worf, sporting both the likeness and voice of Michael Dorn himself.

I posted this on our Facebook page. But I though I'd link it here, too. This is a video I stumbled upon, wherein someone has taken "An Ideal of Hope," the trailer music from Man of Steel, and subtly mixed in some of John Williams' classic Superman themes. The sound quality could be better (I think the mixer was working from just the trailer's audio track with the dialogue filtered out), but man, it's a great glimpse at what might have been.

And, in light of it, it makes me want to reiterate what I've said before. Much of the music that exists in Man of Steel isn't total garbage, even if stylistically it isn't my favorite type of sound (I'm more of an orchestral guy myself). It's just, for my tastes, not distinctive enough. It works on a basic emotional level. But not on a more complex thematic level.

In other words, Mr. Zimmer was off to a decent start. He had the accompaniment. He just forgot to write the melodies. As commenter MisterJJMoreno said, "even just the slightest hint of the grandeur that is John Williams score would have given the movie that extra push that it needed to really connect with audiences. this is very well done, hopefully the next movie will set the tone right, musically speaking of course." I couldn't agree more.

In fact, it's inspired me to try and recreate the remix at a higher quality, while also throwing in a couple of remixing ideas of my own. I'll keep you posted.

Alright, I think that's all I have for now. Time to go play some LEGO Marvel Superheroes on the Wii U.

I remain,

 - Nic

Posted on November 7, 2013 .

Josh's Thoughts on Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

A few weeks ago, ABC debuted the new Avengers spin-off TV show, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. which focuses on a new set of characters, minus agent Phil Coulson, and takes place in the Marvel cinematic universe. The show has been hyped up for a couple years now, but does it live up to the hype?

The Look…
Before the show premiered, I thought about what the show would look like. I mean, we all knew it was going to be about a bunch of guys and gals running around in suits and skin-tight leather, but would it offer the same cinematic quality? Based solely on the premiere, I would say, no. The look of that first show kind of took me out of it with how “TV-like” it looked. One shouldn’t expect Avengers-quality lighting and direction, but the pilot looked like an under-budget, Syfy, made-for-TV movie to me. It all struck me as odd, since the guy who wrote and directed The Avengers wrote and directed S.H.I.E.L.D. Maybe that’s why I enjoyed last week’s episode (the second episode) more. The look was the same, but the direction was much better in my opinion.

The Avengers?
When asked about the idea of having main actors from the movie franchise appearing on the show, creator and director, Joss Whedon, said that he wanted the show to stand on its own, and be judged by the quality of its characters - not because everybody, and I’m paraphrasing here, “wanted to see Iron Man this week.” I can understand that. And I’ll admit that I like the characters in S.H.I.E.L.D. (even though they follow the typical Joss Whedon characterizations which have followed him around his entire career and through every show he creates), but the lack of at least one Avengers actor in the pilot kind of brought it down a notch for me. I don’t think that’s because of the new cast being uninteresting or unable to stand on their own; it’s because I found it hard to connect the dots between the pilot and the movies. It just didn’t “feel” the same. Having one of the Avengers introduce me to these new folks would have made the transition a bit easier and seamless for me.

“But the Avengers have a presence in the show, idiot! They talk about them all the time!”
Sure, there are tee-tiny clips of the Avengers in the opening of the episode, but none of them are featured. And it seems that the show, even in its second episode, knows that it’s hard to connect the two worlds by the way it constantly beats references to them over your head all the time. (“See how I just talked about Thor’s hammer? Yeah, this is an Avengers show! You like how I briefly mentioned Black Widow? See? Avengers show!”) The way that we are constantly reminded by the characters that the show is related to the events post-Avengers seems really forced, when all we would really need is for Cap to show up and say, “Hey, ‘err body!” I understand this is easier said than done, given the schedules of those actors and the money it would take to get them there, but a visual connection is always more powerful than an auditory one.

“What about Coulson then, you moron?!”
Coulson is a beloved character in the film franchise, there’s no doubt about that. I like Coulson, but in all honesty, he’s just a stereotypical “FBI-type” in a suit who supposedly died in The Avengers. For most people, THE guys in THE suits would probably make for a more lasting impression. Let’s not forget about that, by the way. Personally, I find the plot point of the mystery behind his return interesting - I just wonder if it confuses people. Maybe not, but whenever he showed up in the pilot, I just remember thinking, “Are people going to get this?” The way they hint at it on the show is kind of cryptic, so I was worried it might be confusing for some.

Nick Fury!
My concerns with the above mentioned aspect of the show was partly alleviated when, at the very tail end of the second episode, **SPOILERS** Nick Fury shows up. I still would have preferred it to be one of the Avengers themselves, but Nick Fury will do for now – though I wish he had been in the first episode to help people who have the same concerns and are a lot less patient.

And THAT’S my main concern with the show. Right now, I’m enjoying it. I’ll probably enjoy it for however long it runs, but what about other people? I don’t want it to get cancelled, but if I’m having these concerns, a dedicated fan of the Marvel cinematic universe, I can only imagine what all the other less-patient people are saying about it. If these concerns grow, viewers will be lost, the ratings will go down and S.H.I.E.L.D will soon get canned. My advice to anyone who’s having the same issues about the series and is considering giving up on it: Give it some time. We’re only two episodes in at this point (3, in a few days) and hopefully these concerns will fade soon.


Josh's Inner Dorkdom Journal - Episode 7

Haven’t done one of these in a while! So to take a little break from the recent Star Trek related articles, I figured I’d once again share some of the things I’ve been digging on lately.

1. Arrow
Have you guys seen this show?! I’ve recently had a strong re-interest in the DC Universe due to the release of Injustice: Gods Among Us. I can honestly say that this is one of the best (if not the best) superhero shows I’ve ever seen. I’ve always liked Green Arrow (I love archer characters and folks in hoods), but this show offers a much more realistic take on the character, much like the Nolan Batman films. It’s tonally based on Mike Grell’s run on the Green Arrow comic starting with, The Long Bow Hunters, with elements of the Green Arrow: Year One arc thrown in for good measure. Wednesday night was the season finale of the CW network show, and man was it awesome! I highly recommend checking this out at some point. The series starts a little slow, but by around the third episode, it really starts gaining momentum. You can either wait for the DVD/Blu-Ray release, or do yourself a favor and watch them now on Amazon Instant Video for $1.99 per episode. It’s worth it! Arrow normally airs on The CW Wednesday nights at 7pm (Central) and will start its second season this fall.

2. The New 52
Speaking of the DC Universe… I’ve started reading a lot of the DC reboot comics under the “New 52” banner. I started with Flashpoint, then moved on to the trade version of The Justice League (both volumes), Justice League Dark (One of the most awesome comics I’ve ever read, in my opinion), and then to Green Arrow. Other than the second volume of Green Arrow which was extremely weak, these comics have been nothing but pure awesome! Oddly enough since I’m a huge Batman fan, I haven’t read any of the New 52 stuff involving Batman characters (other than JL). I plan to rather soon, though. If you have a KindeFire, or any other tablet (heck, a smartphone will do) and don’t care about collecting actual paper (the digital versions are a little cheaper, too), pick ‘em up and have yourself a read of these “funny books.”

3. Defiance
The Sci-Fi Channel (ugh… ok… ‘Syfy’) has never been the greatest place to go when it comes to original programming. Most of the shows and movies are extremely low budget and don’t offer much in the way of good content. Defiance, however, is a welcome exception to the rule. The videogame crossover/concurrently-running show actually has some potential. Reminds me a bit of Firefly in some ways and mixed with a little Eureka (another decent Syfy show). It’s only in its first few episodes, but so far so good. Defiance airs Monday nights on Syfy.

4. Game of Thrones
Man, I wish I had HBO! When I went to the Mortal Kombat tournament in Atlanta, GA last year, I saw an episode of this show in the hotel room… I had no idea what was going on (it was in the middle of the season), but I thought it was great! I’ve always been a fan of medieval fantasy stuff, so Game of Thrones was right up my alley. Once the Blu-Ray of the first season was released, I had to get it. Blown away. I really like compelling television and GOT has it in spades. Political intrigue, sword fighting, brutality, awesome characters and a pretty high budget for TV… It’s all there. In a way, it’s kind of like a live-action version of Skyrim or Dark Souls. It’s hardcore, medieval fantasy. A few months ago, I bought the second season and it continued to impress. The third season is about to wrap up on HBO, but the home video release won’t happen till around September or October. I believe it airs on Sunday nights on, you guessed it… HBO - A channel I do not have, nor will I pay for because of only two shows (True Blood is awesome, too). Keep in mind, though: This show is only for mature audiences. Viewer discretion is highly advised. It’s definitely not for the kiddies.

5. The Office
I have a bad habit of getting into TV shows waaaaaaay too late. Most of the time, the show has already been off the air a couple of years before I actually get around to it (i.e. Jericho, Buffy, Angel, Quantum Leap, Firefly, etc.). Unfortunately, by the time I got into The Office, the ninth and final season was just about to start up. Thank goodness for Hulu. Turns out they have the entire ninth season available and Netflix has seasons 1-8. The show is one that you definitely have to watch from the beginning. I remember seeing sporadic episodes here and there and thinking, “Man, this is dumb.” Started from the beginning, however, you get to know those characters and feel for them pretty early on. That’s what I really like about the show: As hilarious as it is, it really has a lot of heart. The series finale airs tonight on NBC.

6. How I Met Your Mother
Another show with a bit of a twist on the normal sitcom formula. This one has a long running continuity and mythology based around Ted’s (the main character) story of how he met his children’s mother. I got into this one around the sixth season, so not extremely late. The eighth season finale aired Monday night and after eight years, fans finally got to see “the mother.” This was a humongous reveal that will have a pretty big impact on the series as it moves into its ninth and final season. There have been some comments from the show’s producers that the entire next season will take place over the course of Barney and Robin’s wedding and that all of the main characters will meet “the mother” before Ted. In a way, that sounds really cool, but on the other hand, if this is the final season, I would really like to actually see Ted’s relationship with his future wife and how that leads him to marriage. I really hope the series doesn’t end with the two of them saying hello to each other and that’s it. How I Met Your Mother airs Monday nights on CBS and will begin its (likely) final season this fall.
That wraps up another episode. Hopefully, with classes over for the semester and a summer of freedom (except for work), I’ll be able to post more episodes.


Nic's New Roundup - March 1

March 2013 has arrived. Here are some new stories from the world of dorkiness over the past few days that I've found particularly interesting.

1. Tim Curry is the new Palpatine - Folks who keep up with the world of Star Wars: The Clone Wars know that the voice actor who first played Palpatine on the show, Ian Abercrombie, passed away last January. After lamenting his death, fans started wondering who Filoni, et. al. would choose to replace him as the voice of the most sinister politician and Sith Lord that galaxy far, far away ever knew. But episodes of The Clone Wars take a long time to produce. Tellingly so, the last episode Mr. Abercrombie worked on just aired a few weeks ago (having some great moments for the character). So now here we are, the last episode of season 5 is about to air--an episode that features an appearance by Palpatine. Via the Huffington Post Lucasfilm has revealed that the future Emperor will henceforth be voice by none other than Tim Curry. I won't try to summarize his career here, as that would take quite a while. Suffice it to say, the man has experience playing villains. Here's a preview clip of tomorrow's episode, which, incidentally, looks to be a great conclusion to what has been a great multi-part season finale.

There's no doubt, at least to my ears, that Mr. Abercrombie was a better voice double for Mr. MicDiarmid (the OG Palpatine) than Mr. Curry. The tonality is much closer. But, that having been said, I love his delivery in this scene. It's just a few quick lines, and Palpatine is the supposedly kind-hearted Supreme Chancellor Palpatine in this scene. But nonetheless, it makes me look forward to future episodes, episodes where Dath Sidious is able to be himself. I have a feeling that Tim Curry will knock it out of the park.

2. Transformers Prime coming to an end - IGN reports that, according to The HUB, the upcoming season 3 of Transformers Prime will be the last - I only recently finished watching season 1 of The HUB's flagship animated program. Prime, for those who don't know, is set in its own continuity, though it is clearly influenced by both the live action film series and the previous Transformers TV show, Transformers: Animated (which Josh and I really liked). I personally enjoy the show. It does lack the fun found in some (if not most) previous incarnations of Transformers, but it does have Peter Cullen and Frank Welker. In fact, here's a great Optimus Prime moment from the end of the premiere 5-parter.

I got chills just now watching it.

So, a three season run. That seems short, but for Transformers it's actually pretty good. The original show ran for three seasons. The "Unicron Trilogy" consisted technically of three separate shows, but they were all set in the same continuity, so it's reasonable to think of them as one show (one unenjoyable show from what I saw, which is all the more disappointing since apparently Takara's original idea for the show would have been a continuation of the G1 continuity, but it was the Americans at Hasbro who thought that a reboot to garbage was a better idea....ok, calling it garbage was a bit much...I apologize). And Animated ran for three seasons, although they weren't all full-length.

So I guess the big question is: what will the next series be?

3. Turtles on the march - IGN also reports that Nickelodeon has renewed Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for a third season -- and it's currently only in its first! While that might ultimately be a premature decision, at this point I say, "right on." I'm really enjoying the new incarnation of TMNT. It brings in some of the design sensibilities of the most recent Turtles film (the excellent animated one), the sense of fun from the original show, the original show's theme song, and it's own original charm. Booya-kashaa!!

I may post a few more later today. We'll see.

 - Nic

Posted on March 1, 2013 .

So, If There Is Ever a TNG Reboot Or Something...

So my wife and I were watching Good Luck Charlie last night. One episode (we have several on the DVR) featured a relatively new recurring character: Victor. Victor is president of the A.V. club, a master at Mock U.N., and in general a likeable nerd/dork.

He's played by an actor named Kevin Covais. Some people remember him as a finalist on the fifth season of American Idol. I am not one of those people. I had no idea he was on American Idol until I looked at his Wikipedia article about 5 minutes ago. As far as I can recall, him showing up on Good Luck Charlie was the first time I saw him. But now I know. In addition to being on the Fox juggernaut, he's also had a few acting roles outside of GLC.

Ok, so here's a picture of him:

And here's a video clip of him:

Alright, folks. Tell me if you think I'm crazy. But if in 5-10 years the powers that be at Paramount and CBS decide to revisit Star Trek: The Next Generation with a reboot, or maybe let them make an appearance in the Abrams-timeline, I think we've found who should play Data.

I mean:

What do you say?

 - Nic

p.s. - While getting out my Wacom to do the rush photoshop job there, I thought to myself, "Yeah, I guess I need the Wacom for this. I mean, not that it really matters that I do a flawless job with it. But, then again, how impossible and yet cool would it be if this image caught on, and eventually it got the attention of Paramount and CBS, and the image and the fan enthusiasm got the momentum going, and eventually a return to TNG did happen? And it all got started here, with me going through this box, getting my Wacom, and photshopping a picture. And then The Inner Dorkdom would come to be known as the site that gets stuff done." And then that last sentence amused me, so I thought I'd share it with you.

Posted on January 21, 2013 .

Nic's News for Today

The sinus bug has attacked again, so I'm not feeling great. But nonetheless, here goes.

1. On Scribblenauts Unlimited for the Wii U, I was able, through the power of the object creator, to bring together my dream team of fictional heroes: Obi-wan, Captain America, Optimus Prime, Voltron, Indiana Jones, K.I.T.T., Mario, and Link (plus a flying DeLorean for Maxwell). I still need to add a few more. But it got me thinking, who would be in your dream team?

2. The new Die Hard movie is rated R. This is as many people think it should be.

3. IGN has a great article up on upcoming 3DS games. If you have the system, or are thinking of getting it, check it out.

4. It looks like Ted is going to meet his future wife this year. But we shall see.

5. Apparently MySpace is back with an all of new iteration. Who knew?

6. TRON: Uprising needs more viewers. If you have Disney XD, watch it. From the few episodes I've seen (on their website or the plain old Disney Channel), it's worth your time.

That's all for me for the evening. Until next time, sniffling, I am,

- Nic


Posted on January 15, 2013 .

Nic's News

Today I bring you this:

Disney's ABC Considering SW Live-Action Series - Oh yeah!

 - Nic

Posted on January 10, 2013 .

Josh's Inner Dorkdom Journal - Episode 5

This past week, I was still digging on the Assassin's Creed. Thanks to Todd, I got a look at the AC Encyclopedia 2.0 before mine arrives later this week. Man, that thing’s awesome! Just the fact that Ubisoft cares enough about the AC franchise to release an in-depth book on its mythology is great.

Also, I began reading Assassin's Creed: Forsaken, a pseudo-novelization of AC III from the perspective of Haytham Kenway. Quite an interesting book. I would suggest it to any fan of the series in order to get the backstory on an already great character. Speaking of books…

Thinking about buying a Kindle Fire HD. Was going to buy one last night, but some stuff is messed up with my Amazon account and my current Kindle. Gonna have to do some calling tonight in order to get it straightened out.

Over the weekend, I started watching Freaks & Geeks on Netflix for the first time. I can definitely see why it developed a cult following so quickly, and why people were outraged when it was cancelled. In a way, it’s kind of a more modernized (even though it takes place in the early 80s) version of The Wonder Years. Gotta say, I’m loving it so far.

One last thing: I’m glad to see Nic moving over into PC gaming, or at least moving into “core” gaming in general. There are a lot of franchises that I think (and he would agree) he’s missed out on over the years. I say that as an introduction to my article for tomorrow: What IS “Core” Gaming?
Posted on January 7, 2013 .

The Clone Wars Turns 100

Tomorrow's new episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars is the 100th episode of the show. So I thought I'd jot down a few words about it.

Around the time Episode III came out it was announced that the 2D Clone Wars micro-series was going to be modified and return to television as an ongoing show. I for one was excited.

First, it would be more Star Wars. This itself was good for at least two reasons. One, since back in 2005 we were all under the impression that there would be no more theatrical Star Wars ever, a new show meant Star Wars would be able to continue (yes, yes, I know there were still the books and videogames....don't get me started). And two, it would be Star Wars on, presumably, a weekly basis. Holy lightsabers Obi-Wan, new Star Wars every week!! Josh and I quickly did the math, and realized that in just one season, assuming it would be a half-hour, we'd get almost as much Star Wars content as the entire film saga had given us. So in just one season there'd be a doubling of Star Wars. And if the show went on longer, wow.

Second, I really enjoyed the Tartakovski micro-series. It felt Star Wars-ian to me. You might think, well, duh, it's Star Wars. But just because you slap the Star Wars name on something doesn't make it feel like George Lucas' galaxy far far away. I've found that many of the EU novels, while fine books in and of themselves, don't quite nail that Star Wars feeling. But even with minimal dialogue (especially in the first batch), this little show with a funky art style and anime influences felt right. So a continuation of that in particular was exciting.

As I recall, shortly after the announcement news about the show completely dried up. There was nothing said about it. I had confidence that the show was being worked on. But still, not hearing jack diddly about it was a bummer. But eventually the news started to flow again. The show was going to be CGI (that may have been announced originally, I'm not sure), each episode was going to be a half-hour, and they weren't sure what network would carry it. Rumors included everything from Cartoon Network (since they had broadcast the micro-series, and they're called Cartoon Network, it was certainly reasonable to include them in the list) to HBO (what would a Star Wars cartoon on HBO look like, we all wondered).

As time went on, news picked up and the hype train pulled out of the station. And then, one fateful day, an announcement was made. The series premier would not be shown on television, but in the movie theater. I got misty-eyes, I must admit. I was going to get to go to a movie theater again and say, "I'd like two tickets to Star Wars, please." I'd thought my days of doing that were over (little did I know, eh). Soon preview clips of the film and show found their way onto the Internet. I remember watching them, listening intensely in order to try and figure out whether the live-action actors were reprising their roles or not. At the time I was hoping for the original actors, although now it's quite obvious that, by in large, they (although great talents) weren't essential. Indeed, it's hard for me to imagine the Clone Wars show, and the fandom surrounding it, without folks like Matt Lanter and James Arnold Taylor. Their talent and their genuine enjoyment of their place in Star Wars has been an irreplacable aspect of it all, one that I just don't think would have been there without them (I guess that's what irreplacable means, huh). In any event, it is a testament to the talents of James and Matt that in listening to those preview clips I just couldn't quite tell whether I was hearing Ewan and Hayden or voice actors. I knew that Lucasfilm had a voice actor who did a phenomenal Obi-Wan, since he'd played the part in the micro-series. Kenobi was, and is, my favorite character, but James Arnold Taylor's Obi-Wan was so good that I wasn't really concerned that he might get the role and not Ewan McGreggor.

It turns out none of the original cast was returning, save Anthony Daniel, and, for the film, Christopher Lee and Samuel L. Jackson (who, incidentally, is the one film actor who I still wish was reprising his role on the show). But that didn't deter me, Josh, and my wife Liz from being in the theater opening day. (In fact, we observed that once the show got into its second season, all these new actors will have played these parts for more screen-time than their live action counterparts. James Arnold Taylor would have been Obi-Wan Kenobi longer than Sir Alec Guiness and Ewan McGreggor combined.) Reviews were already out, and, shocker, a lot of them were negative. This also didn't deter me, as reviews of the prequels had been less than stellar but I thoroughly enjoyed all three films. The lights darkened, the 20th Century Fox fanfare did not play, the Clone Wars version of the main theme hit, and we were on our way.

About 10-15 minutes in, the battle of Cristophsis was still going on, the projector in the theater locked up. While on the one hand a bummer, it did give the three of us the chance to share initial impressions. Liz isn't a huge Star Wars fan, but she was liking it well enough. As for Josh and I, we really liked what we'd seen so far. Soon the projector was fixed and the movie resumed. Our final feelings were the same as those initial ones. We just didn't see what all the hate was about. It felt exactly like Star Wars, just CGI instead of live action/CGI. Sure the animation had room for improvement. But it was by no means bad. The art style was very appealing, and the music, though definitely taking Star Wars music into more experimental territory...for Star Wars music, and though definitely not John Williams, was still very good, and fit perfectly with the film. The actors all nailed their parts, the story had that Star Wars version of swashbuckling fun, the new padawan seemed like she had potential to become an interesting character, and Obi-Wan was dry and snarky, yet warm-hearted, just as he should be. (I still consider the film to be one of the best 'episodes' of the show. The premier of the show, now confirmed to be on Cartoon Network, couldn't come soon enough.

And eventually it arrived. Ah, season one. Although I don't consider it to be my favorite season (that would be two), there's a certain magic associated with that season in my mind. It was Star Wars on TV. And it was airing in the Fall (my favorite time of the year). I have very fond memories of season 1. And there were some standout episodes in that first season: The Malevolence Trilogy, Ambush, Jedi Crash and the subsequent episode (which incidentally gave us our first Star Wars / Star Trek casting crossover, at least of a major character), Blue Shadow Virus and Mystery of a Thousand Moons. Reviews started off pretty harshly. It was apparently the cool thing to do to hate on the show. But slowly, people started to come around. Star Wars fandom started to embrace the show on a larger scale.

And here we are, years later, in the middle of season 5. (A show which covers three years of in-universe time is in its fifth season. Don't do the math.) I must admit, over the last season and a half my excitement for the show has waned just a bit. There are a few reasons I can identify, but I won't go into that here. (But if you're curious, check out the latest episode of our Clone Wars podcast, The Clone Cast.) Nevertheless, I'm glad the show is still on, as it gives me a chance to explore that galaxy far, far, away, and to see the exploits of what may be my favorite fictional character of all-time (yup, Obi-Wan Kenobi).

I don't think the show needs to run for another 100 episodes. But when it does end, I hope it is succeeded by another Star Wars animated show of some sort. We're getting more Star Wars films in the coming years (!), but that doesn't mean we don't need we don't also need Star Wars on TV. May they both continue for a long time. And years from now, I believe folks will look back to The Clone Wars and see that it set a firm foundation for the post-original saga era of Star Wars.

Still anti-clankers, I am,

- Nic


Posted on January 4, 2013 .

Nic's Reflections on the 20th Anniversary of the Premier of Deep Space Nine

Twenty years ago tonight Deep Space Nine premiered, and I was there in my parents' living room watching, and recording on VHS, the whole thing. It's hard to believe that that was twenty years ago, since, being the first 'spin-off' of TNG, I somehow have this perpetual feeling of it being a recent show.

I don't recall when I first heard about this new Star Trek show, set concurrently with The Next Generation, but set on a space station. But I know that I was looking forward to it. TNG was easily my favorite show on TV at the time (Quantum Leap was a close second), and the prospect of two Star Trek shows per week (airing every Saturday at 5 and 6) was very exciting. And yet, it was also an unknown. A show set on a station? Even at 15 years of age I knew that DS9 would have to approach things a bit differently than TNG. The stories would have to come to the crew, rather than the crew going to the stories. And while we're talking about the station, I don't recall whether or not I knew before the premier that the station was built by the Cardassians, but I did know it wasn't built by Starfleet. That meant the station would show a different design sensibility from what was established in TNG (and even the, at the time, recent Original Series movies). What that really meant for me was that the station's computers wouldn't be running LCARS. Don't judge. I loved (still do) the look of LCARS (kudos to Mike Okuda). Plus I've always been fascinated with computers, whether fictional or real. Their appearance and actions could be a strong selling point for me. And, with LCARS in particular, it just felt like Trek. So having this new show set on a station that didn't look like Trek, with computers that didn't feel like Trek, was a bit of a bummer. But concerns about fictional operating systems weren't enough to keep me away.

And so it began, with some opening text explaining the significance of the Battle of Wolf 359. Ah, hearkening back to Best of Both Worlds 1 and 2. Given that those episodes marked one of TNG's undisputed high points, incorporating them was seldom a bad idea. Soon we were introduced to the new show's Captain, who wasn't a Captain at all. In the Wolf 359 opening Benjamin Sisko is the first officer of the Saratoga, which is in a desperate battle along with dozens of other Starfleet ships against the Borg invasion, itself led by Jean Luc Picard. Or was it Locutus of Borg? That's a question Sisko would have to wrestle with in a very personal way, since in the opening few minutes we see Sisko's wife Jennifer killed in the attack. Ben is heartbroken, shook up (other officers have to remove him from their quarters and get him to an escape pod), and, judging by his blank expression in said escape pod as he holds his young son Jake and witnesses the destruction of the Saratoga, broken.

We fast forward three years, to find Jake fishing by a lake. Ben comes up and speaks with him, and we soon learn that Ben is to be the new Commander of Deep Space Nine, a station in orbit of the planet Bajor.

I won't bother recapping the entire premier. Memory Alpha does a fine job of that. Suffice it to say, the pilot does all the things a pilot should do, and does them well.

First, we're introduced to the setting: Deep Space Nine. Originally it was known as Terak Nor, a mining station employing Bajoran slaves. But now that the Cardassians are moving out (thanks to the Bajoran resistance), the Bajorans have invited the Federation in to help manage the station. And so, unlike TNG, the main location of this show will not be populated exclusively by Starfleet personnel and their families. Starfleet and Bajoran officers will be working together, which won't always be easy. This was a departure for Trek. Although members the Enterprise crews sometimes disagreed with each other on the best course of action in a dangerous situation, on the whole they tended to get along like peas and carrots. All very kumbaya, part of Roddenberry's vision of the future of humanity. But now, if the pilot is any indication, DS9 will chuck that out the airlock, at least to some extent.

As for the station itself, yup, it doesn't look nearly as cool to 15 year-old Nic as the Enterprise-D does. Cardassian architectural and computer design just isn't as cool. Oval screens, oval and round doors, lots of brown, red and green computer displays that look unintelligible. But, at least they have some Federation runabouts, and those look all Starfleet-y.

The pilot also introduces us to the main characters:

Ben Sisko - The new commander of DS9. He started out well enough in my eyes. I felt bad for him with his losing Jennifer and becoming a single father. His conversations with Jake showed he was a loving dad. He was initially unimpressed with the station itself, and so was I. But then he had a meeting with Captain Picard, and acted like a jerk. My jaw dropped. Picard is a good man, and Wolf 359 was not his fault. You don't need to despise him, and you certainly don't need to talk to him like that. Not good Sisko, not good. Copping an attitude with Jean Luc is a bad move. After that drama, he goes back to being likable. He shows he can be a bit more laid back that Picard, that he is willing to think outside the box to make a difficult situation better (like encouraging Quark to stay), and that he's the Emissary of the Prophets.

Kira Nerys - A Bajoran, former member of the resistance, now second in command of DS9. She's none too happy with the Federation being there, thinking them just another occupying force no better than the Cardassians. Consequently she has an attitude with the Starfleet personnel, but even by the end of the first episode she begins to soften a little. Going through their first ordeal together might help explain that. Except for that attitude towards the Starfleet folks, I liked her pretty well.

Miles O'Brien - Now that's what I'm talking about. Here's a great way to build continuity between this new show and TNG, take a well liked side-character from the latter (O'Brien had been around since the very first episode of TNG, and was indeed well liked) and make him a regular. He brought a sense of familiarity with him. But it was more than that. I had no doubt that O'Brien could work as a main character. What I didn't know was 1) how every year the writers would make something absolutely horrible happen to him, 2) that he eventually wouldn't be the only crew member of the Enterprise to wind up serving on DS9, and 3) just how much his eventual friendship with Julian Bashir would impact me.

Julian Bashir - The station's chief medical officer. He was an interesting combination. On the one hand he was pretty self-confident in his abilities, and came across as a bit condescending (he was excited to come out and practice frontier medicine). On the other, his condescension seemed completely unintentional, the result of over-enthusiasm and maybe even a touch of naivety. I'm not a big fan of hospitals and other things medical in the real world, so I don't naturally gravitate towards doctor characters. But he seemed like he'd be alright. Little did I know what secrets would be revealed through him and about him over the course of the show.

Odo - The Spock or Data of the new show. That is, the character who differs the most from the others, and is thus in some sense an outsider. Spock was the logical Vulcan. Data was the emotionless and yet somehow tender-hearted android. And Odo, Odo was a changeling, a shapeshifter. I had a hobby back in the day. I enjoyed watching special effect shots in slow motion (oh the wonders of VHS). I distinctly remember watching in slo-mo Odo's transformations in the pilot many times over. But my interest in Odo wasn't just for technical reasons. Those outsider characters tend to be my favorite, or one of my favorites, of their respective shows (years later The Doctor would be my favorite character on Voyager for the same reason). Odo would prove to not buck the trend. Some things I didn't know about him at the time: that he'd soon develop unrequited feelings for Kira, the full nature of his origins, and that I'd pick up and incorporate into my mannerisms the quick little bow he gives to Sisko after stopping Morn and Nog and still be using it twenty years later.

Jadzia Dax - Trill chief science officer. She was a man, baby. Now she's a woman. I'm typically drawn to the science officers. And yet although I had no problems with her or anything, she didn't immediately jump out at me. To this day I'm not sure why. As the show went on, it continued. I liked her well enough, but even when she m[spoiler]ies W[spoiler]f, it didn't change. You want to hear something many might consider heresy? I actually like Ezri Dax better. There, I said it.

Quark - I'd like to apologize to Quark for mentioning him last. As I watched the pilot, he was not at all the sort of character I expected to ever like. He was morally questionable, jerkish, and greedy. What I didn't know was that as the first season went along, the writers would continue trying to decide on exactly who Quark was, and between flashes of responsibility and teamwork, and a relationship with Odo that ceased being purely adversarial and started to include a strange sort of begrudging friendship, the course would be set for making Quark a very different and far more likable character than he was in the pilot.

So as to make Quark not the last one, I'll give an honorable, or dishonorable mention to Gul Dukat. He's the former prefect of Bajor, and the pilot's token Cardassian baddie. Little did I know that he would be a recurring character (one of many, a great strength of DS9), a very well fleshed out one at that, and that his questionable moral status (good guy or bad guy) would be a major source of interest for me.

And last, the pilot set-up an overarching question, really at least three questions, which the series would be concerned with:

Would the Bajorans and the Federation types get along? This was a question that would play out both on the individual level (Kira and Sisko, for example) and the planetary level (would the Bajorans view the Federation as allies).

What would be the result of having a stable wormhole to the Gamma Quandrant? The existence of the wormhole is the major discovery of the pilot. And it drastically changes the importance of DS9. Instead of being a little known station in an unimportant part of the galaxy, it would be a hub of scientific, economic, and as we later find out, military activity. It also looks really cool, and there are aliens in it.

What will become of this whole Sisko as the emissary of the prophets thing? Clearly at first he's skeptical and uncomfortable with the whole deal. But there was no denying the existence of the Prophets (or "wormhole aliens"), and with them being non-linear and all, when it comes to the future it was clear that they may know what they're talking about. Oh, and I'd like to take this opportunity to say the following: "Baseball!"

And so, when the two hours were over, and the credits rolled accompanied by the DS9 theme (which I wasn't ecstatic over at first, but really grew on me), a new chapter in Star Trek had been introduced. I knew that it had potential, but at the time I knew there was no way it would ever be as enjoyable for me as TNG. Now looking back, TNG will always hold a special place for me. And it will always be my favorite, because it's TNG. But DS9...might actually be the superior show in my eyes (if for no other reason that its first and second seasons weren't littered with...struggling...yes, I'll use that word...struggling episodes like those of TNG were).

Until next time, don't drink the water from the Denorios Belt. And I remain,

 - Nic

p.s. - Sisko was much nicer to Picard during their second meeting.

Posted on January 3, 2013 .

Josh's Inner Dorkdom Journal: Episode 1

With this article/journal, I’ll be giving my opinions on current things that I’m digging on or excited about, as opposed to doing full-blown reviews (probably save those for later). I don’t know how often this thing will get updated, but I hope that a new episode will be available every Monday. Think of these as sort of “Facebook-style status updates about dorky stuff.”

1. Mass Effect 2 Over the Thanksgiving holiday, I purchased a crapload of games on Steam for PC because of their “flash sales.” These sales would pop up every day for 4 days, usually only lasting for about 5 hours. Over that weekend, I downloaded approx. 8 games for less than the price of a full retail title. Among the games I bought were: Portal 1&2, Doom 3: BFG Edition, Trine 1&2 and Mass Effect 2. Without a doubt, Portal 2 was one of the best gaming experiences I’ve had in a long time, but as of right now, I’m REALLY digging on ME2. Every single mission in that game is like playing a fully fleshed out episode of Star Trek!

2. The Walking Dead Who’s NOT digging on The Walking Dead? Mid-season finale was Sunday… very sad to have to wait 2 months to see the rest.

3. Mortal Kombat I know I said in my Tekken Tag 2 vs. DOA5 opinion piece that I was going to Tekken, but I realized shortly after that article that I will never be on the level I want. People have been playing Tekken for over 10 years and the games have used pretty much the same systems for all games, so I decided to stick with Kombat. I’m already pretty decent at the game, so why not just put my efforts into new characters and learn more of the cast? My mains in the game have been Kitana and Sub-Zero for quite some time, but I decided to put some time into playing Kabal, Sonya, Cyrax, Raiden and Smoke. Thinking about going to Final Round in Atlanta again this year, but probably won’t unless my training partners can attend as well. Watched the NEC13 MK9 tournament this past weekend. Congrats to Obs/EMP REO for winning in not only MK9, but MK2 and UMK3 as well. My favorite MK player and fellow Sub-Zero main, Tom Brady, also made an extraordinary showing.

4. The Amazing Spider-Man and The Expendables 2 Watched these on Blu-Ray this weekend, Spider-Man for the 2 nd time. Man, Spider-Man was excellent – made me tear up quite a bit due to its awesomeness. That’s right, folks. Spider-Man made me cry like a woman. Shut up. The Expendables 2 was… ok. In my opinion, it’s not as good as the first film from a plot standpoint, but it was more humorous. It had some super corny dialogue. Stallone’s speech’s about not getting close to people made me kinda cringe at the awfulness. Ah-nold and Chuck Norris’ cameos were awesome! I was really surprised that Van-Damme played a villain, though.

5. The Wii-U This here is a console that I still don’t know what to think about. I’ll probably get one this summer so I can play Nintendo franchises in glorious HD quality, but what the system will mean to me beyond that remains to be seen. As it stands now, there’s no reason for me to rush out and buy the system. There are no launch games that interest me aside from New Super Mario Bros. and there have been no announcements for future titles that make me feel like I have to rush right out and buy it. We’ll see.

All for now.
Posted on December 4, 2012 .

Clone Wars Interviews

News-A-Rama has three short video interviews with the three Jedi leads on The Clone Wars. Though there's nothing really revelatory here, it's good to see the three of them showing their enthusiasm for the about-to-start-its-fifth-season animated show.

Matt Lanter Interview

James Arnold Taylor Interview

Ashley Eckstein Interview

Less than three days to the premiere!

 - Nic
Posted on September 26, 2012 .

And So We Begin Again

Ok folks, it’s here! TV show premiere week. Although there have been a few already, and a few stragglers will be coming in the next few weeks, this is the week that majority of new shows are premiering, and existing shows are returning with new episodes. Given that we are only three guys, and we don’t have the time or inclination to watch some of those shows (I’m looking at you, The Mob Doctor), we won’t be reviewing every episode of every show. However, the shows that we watch regularly, we will hopefully review regularly.

My hope is that beginning today we can turn over a new leaf here at The Inner Dorkdom. We know, because we’re nerds and users of the Internet ourselves, that what folks want is regular content. And that’s something we clearly haven’t been providing.

Here’s my pledge: This far, no further! The line must be drawn here!

Some of the shows I personally intend to cover: Castle, The Big Bang Theory, The Clone Wars, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Voltron Force (when it returns), TRON Uprising (when I get caught up on what I’ve missed), and Transformers Prime (when I get caught up on what I’ve missed). Hopefully there will be more.

So, until tomorrow at the latest, I remain…

 - Nic

Posted on September 24, 2012 .

Quick Hits from Nic

Greetings from sunny Florida. We're on vacation celebrating my wife's 25th birthday. But I wanted to pop in with some quick news bits:

1. She and I saw Tyler Perry's Madea's Witness Protection the other day. Funny movie, that as with all Tyler Perry films (the ones I've seen anyway) has a good message (without being preachy). This is the most overt comedy film of his that I've seen, with he and Eugene Levy both bringing the funny.

2. While we're talking Tyler Perry, did you all know he's going to be the new Alex Cross, taking over for the iconic Morgan Freeman, in the 'reboot' being helmed by Rob Cohen (who directed some favorites of mine, such as DragonHeart and the third Mummy film...and is also known for films like Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story, and The Fast amd the Furious)? Check out the trailer on Youtube. Liz and I are excited about it.

3. While we're talking Rob Cohen, I just learned he was a producer on the this-is-in-no-way-connected-to-the-plot-of-the-franchise-and-even-conceptually-it's-only-barely-connected-but-let's-give-it-the-franchise-name-anyway TV movie Knight Rider 2010 (which aired in 1996).

4. Voltron Force season 1 is now on Netflix. Despite the word of the haters, I found it to be a great continuation (yes, continuation) of the original show. All the original lion pilots are back, along with some new cadets. Gone is the robeast-of-the-week format of the original (although robeasts do show up often), and in it's place is a show that nicely balances on-going story with weekly stand-alone adventuring. Oh, and it's got the original theme song. (The original American theme that is, not the oh-so-catchy Japanese theme.) I recommend it.

5. Transformers Animated, which Josh and I believe to be the best Transformers show ever made, at least at the time it was produced (since then we've been given Transformers Prime which is quite good, but only time will tell how good), is now showing on The Hub. This is a big deal since the show inexplicably is not completely available on DVD. The first two seasons were released (although now they're out of print and hard to find), but the third and final season wasn't. This way one can see the whole thing (including the Die Hard episode...yes...that's what I said).

6. On the official Star Trek website, Hasbro has shown a teaser of their KRE-O (similar to LEGO) Star Trek line. Not suprisingly it focuses on the new JJ Abrams timeline. Very few details have been given, but they have released an image of the KRE-O Enterprise. I shall preface my opinion with the following: I didn't think the Abrams redesign of the original Constitution-class Enterprise was horrible (I'm talking exteriors only...the interiors are another story entirely, what with all the Apple Store and beer factory everywhere). It's not my favorite design, but it still feels like something Federation ship designers would cook up. Ok, preface over. This KRE-O version is...ok. It's not horrible, but it's not mindblowingly child-Nic's-dream-fulfilling awesome either. Quite frankly, I'm suprised how boxy it is. That might sound weird, given we're talking about building blocks. But take a look at some LEGO Star Wars ship sets and compare that with KRE-O Enterprise and I think you'll see what I mean. ... But I'm still going to want to get it when it comes out.

7. I watched the extended Clone Wars season 5 trailer. They go to Alderaan, and I saw what appeared to me to be some Falleen criminals...perhaps Black Sun?

8. TRON Uprising has premiered on Disney XD. I've seen the first three episodes (the second two on the Disney XD website). If you like TRON and/or TRON Legacy, I highly recommend it. The art style is quite striking, the story has great potential, there are references to both films (including...well...I don't know if I should spoil it...yes?, the music is similar to that in Legacy, and Bruce Boxleitner himself does a voice on the show (I'll give you a hint as to what program he plays: his name rhymes with Ron).

And that's all I've got to say about that.

 - Nic

Posted on July 8, 2012 .

What's goin' on here??

So last night Liz was watching Dawson's Creek on Netflix. (Watching "Apartment 23" with James William Van Der Beek, Jr. made her want to go back and rewatch the entire show. Coincidentally, Josh has also been watching Dawson's Creek. But fear not, Todd and I are still men. Anyway...)

One episode centered around a concert by the pop/rock group "No Doubt." Dawson and his actress girlfriend (!!) were trying to get backstage, as were Joey and the current-guy-she-might-be-dating, Eddie. Now, while it was on I was working on the computer, but I did glance up every now and then (don't judge). So one time I glance up, and I notice something. Something odd. I'm not going to say what it is yet. I'm just going to show you four screen-grabs.

Are you seeing what I'm seeing? Surely you are.
Ok, if not, go do a Google image search for "Marty McFly" and then come back.
I know, right! What's that all about? Upon noticing this last night I immediately did a search on Google to get more info. I couldn't find where anyone had even noticed this, let alone explained it.

So I guess you heard it here first! The Inner Dorkdom: bringing you trivia about a 10-year-old episode of a nighttime soap opera!

Dork thinks he's gonna drown.

 - Nic

Posted on June 20, 2012 .