Louisiana Comic Con 2017!

A Long Time Ago….

Almost exactly one year ago to be exact, I attended Louisiana Comic Con 2016.  Due to real life, surprises, scheduled events, and all out chaos, the very same convention became my first within a year’s time.  Now, I didn’t forget that I attended Calcasieu Serial Fest just a few weeks ago, but I don’t consider that particular event a convention.  It’s a festival, a celebration of all things cliffhanger (and I highly recommend you attend next year).  Louisiana Comic Con, on the other hand, isn’t as niche-focused.  Nope, it’s a celebration of all things geek, and the 2017 edition was just as fun as last year’s event.

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Last year’s event featured the Library Bards, and I managed to get a peck on the helmet from Bonnie Gordon (pictured above)!  That alone made 2016 a pretty special event, so 2017 had to blow the roof off of the Cajundome!  In all fairness, though, a kiss from Bonnie is pretty tough to beat, so I went into this year’s event with the hope that I’d at least have a lot of fun.  I did.

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A few months ago, it was announced that Shannon Purser (poor Barb from Stranger Things) would be attending the convention.  Since I’m a pretty big fan of that show, and really loved Barb, I was excited to attend the event.  Unfortunately she had to cancel because of some awards show (The Emmy Awards or something **sarcasm activate!**) and couldn’t make it.  While it broke my heart that my favorite best friend in all of TV history wasn’t going to be able to be at the event, I totally understood why she would be absent.

Just a few days after her cancellation, though, Louisiana Comic Con upped the ante and announced Sean Astin as her replacement.  I basically grew up watching this guy grow up on the big screen, so I was excited to see that he was added to the show.  Along with him were a number of other screen and voice actors including Barry Bostwick, Jason David Frank, Michael Biehn, Cherami Leigh, and Tiffany Vollmer.  Also in attendance were pro wrestler Jake “The Snake” Roberts, legendary screenwriter John Russo, multiple cosplayers, and comic artists such as Rob Guillory and Greg Burnham.  There were many more guests in attendance as well.

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I arrived at the event around 9:30 on Saturday morning.  There were two lines.  One was for those that had prepaid and already had their tickets and the other was for those of us who had to purchase tickets on site.  Despite being rather long, the line for “day of” purchasers moved quickly (as it did last year).  Once I got inside the venue, it was reasonably crowded, but with plenty of elbow room to go mobile when needed.  The Spidey Team, Krewe du Moon (a Sailor Moon fan/cosplay group), the 501st (Star Wars fan group), and other fan groups lined the hallway.  Corporate sponsors like 106.3 Radio Lafayette were also on hand.

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My friends from Orion’s Envy were also at the event and I finally got to check in with them for the first time in a year.  It was good to see them in full force once again!  There were also a number of excellent costumes on display at the event.  Everybody from Deadpool to Eric Cartman was represented to varying skill levels.  Some of my favorites included Aquaman, Harley Quinn, and the soon-to-be-legendary Batfam (in my featured photo).  It also looked as if the vendors were doing nicely on the main floor as well.  Toys and t-shirts were prevalent, but there were also plenty of comics vendors, custom item vendors, and Man Made Soap on hand with plenty of wares to purchase.

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There were also some excellent panels at the convention.  I attended a few of them and one of my favorites was “Basics of Modding A Nerf Gun For Steampunk with Cajun Moon Creations.”  Miss OoLaLa, Brigette Rose, was there for the assist.

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I was unable to attend the After Party on Saturday evening, and life called me back for Sunday, so I was only able to attend one day of Louisiana Comic Con.  With that said, though, I’ll definitely be back next year!  Be sure to click on the links to read about last year’s event and to show a little support to the Louisiana-based artists and cosplayers I mentioned in the post.  Also, feel free to share this post with anybody that I might have talked about here.  I’d love for them to know that this little nobody showed them some love.

As always, thanks for reading.  I don’t want to commit myself to any upcoming conventions at the moment, but I REALLY want to make it to at least two events that are coming up next year.  Those events are CyPhaCon and Southern Geek Fest.  As we get closer to those events, I’ll definitely post about them.  Until next time, stay hungry my friends!

 

 

 

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“We Need No Longer Fear The Banana”

Space….The Not So Serious Frontier

I’ve never really been a fan of the work of Seth MacFarlane.  Outside of Cosmos:  A Spacetime Odyssey, there hasn’t been much that he’s cranked out over the years that I’ve truly come to love.  Yes, I’ve seen a few episodes of Family Guy, American Dad, and The Cleveland Show, and I’m aware of his work as a producer, writer, singer, and cartoonist, but his style of humor just doesn’t sit well with me.

With that being said, I was pretty excited whenever I saw the first teaser trailer for The Orville.  It looked like it might be a tongue-in-cheek nod to classic Star Trek and perhaps even Galaxy Quest.  With Star Trek:  Discovery not really impressing me with its first looks, I hoped that The Orville would fill the ever growing void in my life for decent science fiction that wasn’t all doom and gloom all of the time.

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While I’ve only seen the first episode, “Old Wounds,” I’ve already been pleased with what I’ve witnessed.  The brightly colored sets, diverse characters, humor, and cast inject some much needed happiness in a genre that seems to only get bleaker with each year. One of my biggest gripes with modern science fiction is that too much of it focuses on the negatives in society and makes those negatives even more despicable.

The Orville still seems to be willing to deal with current issues, but on a much lighter plane of existence.  The original Star Trek series gave us hope for a brighter future.  Most science fiction that has followed that series (including some episodes of the many Star Trek shows and films that followed) shattered that hope.  The first episode of The Orville tackles failed relationships, and does so with laughs and understanding.

The episode deals with Captain Ed Mercer (MacFarlane) being cautiously given command of the Orville despite having a terrible year.  At one time considered a top notch prospect for command, Mercer’s inability to come to terms with his broken marriage completely derails all of his prior successes.  Once in command, he soon learns that his first officer is none other than his ex-wife, Kelly Grayson (Adrienne Palicki).  This leads to immediate tension between the duo.  There’s so much tension that it boils over into their regular work days aboard the ship.  It even spills over into their first confrontation with a villain, the Krill race, whose looks remind me a lot of the primary villain, Krall, from Star Trek Beyond.  Whether the Krill and Krall are intentionally similar, I do not know.

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This is Krall from Star Trek Beyond.  Just wait until you see the Krill in The Orville!

As the episode played out, I saw plenty of nods to the original Star Trek series and TNG as well.  A research facility that is actually researching things for the betterment of all people, crew members that reminded me of characters such as Data, Worf, Bones, and even ol’ Tom Paris, and that light humor that seemed to bleed through every episode of the original series without getting in the way of whatever moral Gene and company was trying to get across each week.

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THE ORVILLE: L-R: Seth MacFarlane, Penny Johnson Jerald, Adrianne Palicki, Halston Sage and guest star Brian George in THE ORVILLE premiering this fall on FOX. ©2017 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: F

I’ve already grown attached to some of the characters despite only getting to know them in less than an hour.  Scott Grimes (my childhood hero from Critters) portrays Gordon Malloy, a hot shot pilot that ends up ruining his own bright career (sorta like Paris, right?) but gets a second chance on the Orville. I really enjoyed his character.  He’s the likeable jerk that I’m sure will turn into a hero sooner or later.  Then there’s Halston Sage as Alara Kitan, a member of the Xelayan race, who is extremely young (Chekov?  Maybe Wesley Crusher?) and inexperienced, but manages to save the day a couple of times.  She also has a whole Superman thing going with her strength and leaping abilities.  Then there’s Isaac (Mark Jackson), an AI that sounds an awful lot like Data.  Instead of wanting to become more human, though, he seems to be content with thinking himself better than the others.

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Yeah, THAT Scott Grimes from Critters (pictured here with the lovely Dee Wallace Stone) portrays Malloy.

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Don’t underestimate Alara.

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Isaac’s voice reminds me of Data…..a lot.

Other cast members include Penny Johnson Jerald as Dr. Finn, who has a bit of an attitude with the captain that hints at Dr. McCoy from ST: TOS, Peter Macon as the no nonsense Lt. Commander Bortus (who looks sort of like a Klingon but with the mentality of a Vulcan), J. Lee as John LaMarr, the ship’s navigator, and Victor Garber as Admiral Halsey, the man who gives Mercer a second chance after being convinced by another character in the series.

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The Orville Ship.

I also want to add how impressed I am by the production of this show.  The special effects are top notch and the music is wonderful.  It is apparent that time and care was taken with the production of the show.  That shows me that MacFarlane put everything into this show.

Will the series succeed?  In all honesty I cannot say because I’ve only watched one episode.  What I saw showed a lot of promise, but it’s going to take a few more episodes for the show to really find its groove in my opinion.  The audience should be interesting considering the fact that MacFarlane attracts fans of sophomoric shows like Family Guy and his more grounded and intelligent work on Cosmos.  I can’t wait to see the next episode and I hope that this show flourishes.

Thanks for reading my post.  If you saw The Orville and want to chime in, hit the comments section.  I’m headed to Louisiana Comic Con this weekend in Lafayette, so say hello to me if you see me at the event!  I plan on writing another post this week with more info on this event!

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Laughing With A British Accent

A Dynamic Go-Getter, A Genius, And A Man From Ireland

In my forty plus years on this planet, I’ve grown very fond of a number of British sitcoms and science fiction shows.  This is probably due to the fact that I grew up in rural Louisiana and had only four or five (if the weather was right) channels to choose from on my television set.  Shows like Mr. Bean, Are You Being Served?, Red Dwarf, Blake’s 7, Doctor Who, and Fawlty Towers became favorites of mine.  They still are to this day.

These days I have BBC America and streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime.  I have access now to more British programming than I’ve ever had before and I’ve grown to love shows like Primeval, Poldark, and a recently discovered gem called The IT Crowd.

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Yes, I’m well aware that this show premiered in 2006, but I’ve only been streaming shows on Netflix since earlier this year.  I’ve seen Moss (Richard Ayoade) plastered on plenty of items at conventions but never really sought out the show.  I haven’t even met anyone that has mentioned the program, so I just assumed that its audience was small and cultish and thus the only reason that Moss’ face even made it on a t-shirt at a convention.

Well, if the show is cultish, I’m in a cult.  I laughed until I cried on multiple occasions while watching this show.  Jen (Katherine Parkinson), Roy (Chris O’Dowd) and Moss are a perfect comedic trio.  Jen is the most sane character in the lot, but she lies to get her position as the head of IT and suffers at the hands of Roy and Moss as a result.  Her lack of actual computer skills is exposed on numerous occasions (my favorite being when she is given the “internet” to show off as part of a company presentation).  Moss is the brilliant but socially awkward everynerd.  He doesn’t fit in very well but doesn’t seem to mind that fact.  Roy is a slacker and underachiever who always seems to find himself in bizarre situations like being trapped under the desk of two female workers, accidentally calling for help in the handicapped toilet (and subsequently pretending to be disabled in order to stay out of trouble), and getting kissed on the bottom by a masseur.

This core trio moves the show along, but three other characters inject their own strange humor into the series.  Denholm Reynholm (Christopher Morris) is the founder and CEO of Reynholm Industries, the company where Moss, Jen, and Roy are employed.  He’s over-the-top and makes swift and drastic decisions like firing entire floors for not being team players.  He exits the series in its second season, but in a fashion that is perfectly fitting for his character.

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After Denholm’s exit, his son, Douglas (Matt Berry), takes over the company.  While his father was rather eccentric, he seemed to have at least a slight clue as to what was going on in his company.  Douglas, on the other hand, is a womanizer, hard partying, and a general goofball.  His libido guides his every decision and he spends much of the series chasing women, including Jen.  He has absolutely no clue as to what he is doing in the company and is oblivious to that fact.  He’s also oblivious to just about everything else as he pursues feminists, loudly proclaims that he’s on a “secret boss” show, and generally wants to do nothing more than have fun.

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Perhaps the most bizarre (and also one of the funniest characters) in the entire series is Richmond Avenal (Noel Fielding).  He’s the resident goth that apparently works in IT but, much like Jen, doesn’t really know anything about computers.  He started out as an executive who was on the fast track to success until the band Cradle of Filth changed his life with their music.  He went full goth and was thus relegated to the basement where even his fellow social outcasts, Roy and Moss, don’t like to be around him.  The character only appears in a few episodes, but these small doses make him even funnier.

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I’ve fallen completely in love with this show.  It was only produced for four seasons (series) and a fifth series special, limiting it to only twenty five total episodes, but somehow that limited amount is perfect, as a show as goofy and left-of-center as The IT Crowd could easily slip into a silly loop of unfunny shows.

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My favorite episodes include:

Series 1:

The Red Door:  This episode introduces us to Richmond Avenal.  It also features Roy getting trapped under a desk.

The Haunting of Bill Crouse:  Quite possibly my favorite show of the entire series.  In this episode, Jen has a terrible date with Bill Crouse, a fellow Reynholm employee.  Desperate to avoid Bill, Jen asks Moss to “tell him I’m busy” but whenever Bill questions Moss about what Jen is actually doing, Moss lies and tells Bill that Jen has passed away.  Bill then goes about telling everyone that he was the last man to sleep with Jen, but she keeps popping up in strange ways that convince Bill that she’s haunting him.

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Series 2:

The Work Outing:  This one is tied with The Haunting of Bill Crouse as one of my favorites.  Roy and Moss tag along with Jen and a new suitor, Phillip, to a musical.  Roy and Moss assume that Phillip is gay and provide Jen with multiple reasons as to why they’ve come to this conclusion.  Jen sets out to prove them wrong.  While at the play (which I won’t reveal the name of because I don’t want to spoil anything), Roy and Moss end up using the handicapped toilet and employee toilet respectively.  They both end up in crazy situations, particularly Roy.  Of note in this episode is that Richard Ayoade’s wife in real life, the lovely Lydia Fox, portrays one of the actors in the musical.

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Series 3:

The Speech:  Jen wins “Employee of the Month” in this episode and asks Roy and Moss to help her write her acceptance speech.  They decide to make fun of her and entrust her with the “internet,” a black box with a light on it.  They sit in on the speech to see her embarrass herself but instead find out that the rest of the company is just as clueless about the web as she is.  Meanwhile Douglas has fallen in love with a woman that used to be a man.  Misunderstanding her at first, he falls madly in love with her.  The duo go about doing things together and having an epic time.  When Douglas realizes the truth, however, the pair break into a huge (and humorous) fight that ends up with them crashing into Jen’s speech and knocking over the “internet” when they make their entrance.  Chaos ensues.

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Series 4:

Italian For Beginners:  Jen attempts to impress Douglas by claiming that she can understand and speak Italian.  She can’t, so Moss comes up with a translation program that she uses on her laptop during meetings.  When it comes time to translate an Italian businessman in the same room, however, Douglas prohibits the use of the laptop in case it’s “connected to the internet” where someone can listen in and steal their business plans.  She mumbles jibberish until the Italian becomes enraged and storms out of the office.  Moss attempts to get an iPhone after he drops his old phone in the toilet and gets stuck in a crane machine.  Roy drives himself nuts attempting to figure out how his girlfriend’s parents died in a terrible fire….at a Sea Parks (“Ya know, like Sea World”).

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In all honesty I could list pretty much every episode from the series.  It’s that funny.  There was an American and German attempt at recreating the show for those respective countries, but both failed miserably.  I’ve seen Chris O’Dowd in other work, but I haven’t seen the rest of this stellar cast in anything.  I’ve got to track down more of their work!

If you’ve ever watched The IT Crowd, let me know what you think about it.  Do you have a favorite episode?  What else have you seen the cast perform in?  Let me know in the comments!

As always, thanks for reading.  I plan on posting about the upcoming Louisiana Comic Con in Lafayette next month!  Keep an eye out for it!

 

 

Ahhhhhh!!! After Ten Thousand Years….

Okay, Maybe Not Ten Thousand Years

But you’ve got to admit that it seems like a rebooted or reimagined Power Rangers film has taken its sweet time to get to the big screen.  I was a junior in high school when the first Power Rangers series hit televisions in the United States.  Although I was on the older end of the spectrum, I was (and still am) a pretty big fan of those original mighty morphin’ teenagers with attitude.  My favorite ranger was the Blue Ranger, Billy Cranston (David Yost).  He was intelligent, nerdy, and while not the best fighter, still better than those Putties.  I also had a major crush on the Pink Ranger, Kimberly Hart (Amy Jo Johnson).  Heck, I still have a crush on Amy Jo Johnson!  Who doesn’t?

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Over the years I’ve managed to watch at least a few episodes of every incarnation of the Rangers.  Once I had children of my own, I really started to watch the show again.  My daughter became a fan during the Power Rangers S.P.D. years and my son was first introduced to them through Power Rangers Samurai.  Both of them have watched the original series and my son continues to religiously watch the Rangers in their current Ninja Steel incarnation.

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When the feature film was first announced, both of my kids showed interest in seeing it in theaters.  I planned to see it as well.  As luck would have it, though, my weekends were booked solid.  I did manage to find one open Sunday afternoon and I asked both of my kids if they wanted to see the movie.  By then, however, their interest in the film had seemingly waned.  I was also slowly losing interest in the film, mainly because the more I saw of it promoted in the media, the weaker my faith grew.  It just didn’t look that appealing to me.

A few months go by and the film is released on Blu-Ray.  Weeks before its release, my son started to remind me that the film would soon be available to own.  His birthday was also coming up, which might have been why he was consistently reminding me of the release date.  Eventually I bought the film and sat down with the kids to watch it.  I was prepared to be disappointed by the film.  Boy, was I wrong!

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!!Mild Spoilers Ahead!!

I really liked the movie.  Sure, they changed a few things here and there and it definitely wasn’t perfect, but it was a very enjoyable film.  Briefly, the plot centers on the origin of the Rangers in the film, starting with how Rita was defeated by Zordon’s Rangers (there’s a bigger story here, but I won’t go into it), and how the current Rangers come to be just in time to face off with a freshly revived Rita Repulsa.  Rita is gathering up gold in order to raise her faithful sidekick (and my favorite as well), Goldar.  As Rita prepares to conquer the planet, the Rangers train to become powerful warriors ready to take her on.

The cast was solid.  Dacre Montgomery (Red Ranger), Naomi Scott (Pink Ranger), and Ludi Lin (Black Ranger) all gave exceptional performances.  All three of these characters developed in a believable fashion as the film moved along.  R.J. Cyler’s portrayal of the Blue Ranger was perhaps the best in the film.  Billy Cranston was portrayed as an intelligent and gentle teen who desperately wanted to belong to any group.  He was also autistic.  I had quite a few emotional moments watching Cyler on the screen.  Bryan Cranston as Zordon was sufficient.  Elizabeth Banks was gleefully over the top as Rita Repulsa and she was also the biggest surprise in the film.  I was sure that she would fall flat as the legendary villain, but she did an excellent job.

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There was really only one weak link in the cast, and that was Becky G as the Yellow Ranger.  She didn’t gel that well with the rest of the cast in my opinion.  Yes, her character was built up as the outsider, but even the most unlikable outsider will usually grow on the audience by the end of the film.  Becky G’s Trini was just flat.  I know that a lot of people made a big deal about the character’s sexual orientation, but even that doesn’t add or take away from how dull the character is in the film.  Here’s hoping that if a sequel is made, Becky’s performance will be better, or the character will be fleshed out enough so that we get to know more about her.

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Alpha 5 was somewhat annoying as well, but he was annoying in the original series, so I guess that I really can’t gripe about that!  Many people also seemed to be put off by the design of both the Megazord and Goldar in the film.  I actually liked the Megazord design.  Goldar wasn’t that terrible to look at, but I would have preferred to have that cute and fluffy face of his from the old TV show!

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Ultimately the film was pretty good.  Could it have been better?  Absolutely, but even with its imperfections it still managed to hold my attention and the attention of my children.  I’ve watched it multiple times already and am hoping that a sequel will eventually be made.  As of this writing, Lionsgate is still determining on whether or not to move forward with a sequel.  Solid home video and tie-in merchandise sales have been solid, though, and hopefully that will be enough to make a sequel a reality.

Oh, be sure to keep an eye out for a couple of really cool cameos during the climax of the film.  You won’t be disappointed!  Stick around during the credits for a mid-credit tease of who might be showing up in the sequel if it happens also!

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As always, thanks for reading.  Did the film do your favorite classic Ranger justice?  Feel free to drop me a comment about this film or about this post.  Let me know if you enjoyed the movie as much as I did.

If you happen to know Amy Jo Johnson, tell her that I’m no longer available.  Once she dries her tears, though, tell her that I’d love to get an autographed photo from her or even a phone call!!!  Here’s a photo of me with the original Green Ranger, Jason David Frank.  I’d love to add Amy Jo to my collection.

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Calcasieu Serial Fest: Chapter Four!

The 1940’s

I’ve been a fan of classic serials for pretty much my entire life.  I remember watching classic movies from the 1930’s, 1940’s, and 1950’s on Sunday afternoons after going to the Calcasieu River with my family.  We would get home in time to watch a series on our local PBS affiliate.  I believe that it was called The Afternoon Matinee or Sunday Matinee, but I am not sure.  All that I truly do remember is watching the adventures of characters like Tarzan and the Lone Ranger.  I was captivated by these classic black and white films.

Part of the program also included classic cartoons, news reels, and a few chapters from serials.  These serials featured superheroes, cowboys, and gangsters.  There was always a cliffhanger ending to each chapter in the serials to hook viewers into returning the next week to the local theater to find out what happens next.  The quality of the stories and the acting varied, and many of the episodes had deteriorated so badly that some of the chapters couldn’t be fully restored.  Still, I tuned in religiously to see these heroes in action.

On Saturday, July 22, Calcasieu Serial Fest: Chapter Four took place at the Brimstone Museum in Sulphur, LA.  Last year the festival celebrated the work of Buster Crabbe, best known as Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers, and Tarzan.  This year the festival’s focus was on the career of Tom Tyler, who was the first person to portray a comic book hero, Captain Marvel, on the big screen.

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While Tyler is best known for his role as Captain Marvel, he portrayed numerous other heroes (both real and imagined) over his career.  One of my favorite characters was portrayed by him, The Phantom, as was Buffalo Bill Cody, Bob Raymond of The Phantom of the Air, Frank James in I Shot Jesse James, and numerous other lead and supporting roles.

The festival primarily focused on Tyler’s work, but also featured Superman cartoons from Max Fleischer, Gordon Jones as The Green Hornet, John Carroll in Zorro Rides Again, other classic serials, and two modern takes on the old cliffhanger style in Thirty Second Doom and festival coordinator Patrick Shawn Bennett’s own The Adventures of Gorilla Bob.

Cosplayer and serial lover Bill Necessary was also on hand for the event.  He introduced many of the serials and went in depth on the actors, the production, and some of the characters that inspired these classic works.

Admission to the event was free, as was popcorn to snack on while watching the serials.  Lunch was also provided free of charge!  Freebies were given to all in attendance.  These included an exclusive print of The Phantom for the event (artist unknown), a lanyard featuring Tyler as Captain Marvel, a magnet of Tyler as The Phantom, and a button of Tyler as well.  Reproductions of classic film stills and a Flash Gordon paper model kit were also given to all in attendance.  A few lucky folks (myself included) went home with door prizes!  I won DVDs of Tyler as Captain Marvel and The Phantom.

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Calcasieu Serial Fest is an extremely unique and extremely fun event.  It’s family friendly, free to attend, and the festival crew works extra hard to make the event a wonderful thing.  Hopefully word will spread about this event and it will continue to grow.

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Next year’s event will focus on the career of Kirk Alyn, the first man to portray the Big Blue Boy Scout, Superman, on the big screen.  If you find yourself in southwest Louisiana during the summer, be on the lookout for classic heroes, classic serials, and classic fun at the Calcasieu Serial Fest!  I can promise you that I’ll be there, and I hope to see many of you there as well.

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As always, thanks for reading.  See you all again real soon!

 

A New Who???

In The TARDIS

!!!SPOILER ALERT!!!  There was an extremely huge announcement the other day about the newest incarnation of the Doctor from Doctor Who.  Stop now if you haven’t heard/don’t want to hear about who the next Doctor will be!!!

Unless you’re the type of Doctor Who fan that avoids the series like the plague, you probably heard a major announcement on July 15, 2017.

Full disclosure:  I personally haven’t watched the last two series of Capaldi’s run as the Doctor.  The stories have been terrible in my opinion and I just lost interest.  With that being said, even I know that a new Doctor has arrived.  There has been a lot of speculation as to who would become the newest face of everybody’s favorite Time Lord.  Numerous actors and actresses were rumored to be taking over the role.  Tilda Swinton and Kris Marshall were two names that popped up more often than others.  Neither one of them was chosen, though, and fans learned on Sunday that the new Doctor would be:

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Jodie Whittaker

Now, I must admit that I am not familiar with Whittaker’s work in other programs.  Her most prominent work appears to have been on Broadchurch along with another former Doctor, David Tennant.  I never watched that show, so I can’t gauge how she’ll do in her new role.

What I can say is that as is typical with every single Doctor that has ever been announced (even before the age of the internet), there is a lot of controversy surrounding the newest actor in the role.  Of course, the internet makes reactions to the announcement immediate, and in many cases, extremely nasty.  I remember quite well how people ranted that Matt Smith was too young for the role and that Peter Capaldi was too old.  The same holds true with Whittaker, but not because she’s too old or too young or too attractive or too unattractive.

It’s because she’s a woman.

In all honesty, I’m neither here nor there about the announcement. I hope that Whittaker does a good job. More importantly, I hope that the writing improves. Matt Smith was saddled down with some terrible stories near the end of his run, but I enjoyed him in the role enough to stick with the show through the bad times. Capaldi never captured me and his stories were atrocious. I quickly lost interest in the show during his first series and have only sporadically watched it since that time.

With that being said, the thing that bothers me most about the announcement of Whittaker isn’t that a woman has taken over the role, it’s that so many people lash out against those who are negative about the change.

Some of the complaints come from men.  Some of them come from women.  Many men who complain that the Doctor shouldn’t be a woman are often on the receiving end of nasty comments that call them misogynists, bigots, “broflakes,” and male chauvinists.  The reaction to women with negative opinions of the casting weren’t as harsh, but still pretty nasty.

There’s also a lot of positive reaction to the announcement.  Many men and women are happy to see a woman in the role of the Doctor.  People are saying that a gender change in the character has long been overdue.  Others say that it’s about time that a female was placed into the lead role of a science fiction franchise.  Star Trek: Voyager fans have been very vocal about the fact that their franchise had a female lead first with Kate Mulgrew’s portrayal of Captain Janeway.

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Outside of the series revival, I am not aware of any precedent set about the character changing gender.  It has only recently been mentioned with characters such as the Corsair and with Missy, who was once the male Time Lord known as the Master.  The General also regenerated into a female form.  There’s also mention of the Doctor being able to change gender in the Paul McGann short, The Night Of The Doctor, in which the eighth Doctor is told by the Sisterhood of Planet Karn that the regenerative powers of the Time Lords is enhanced on their planet, allowing one to choose what they regenerate into, including man or woman.

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In the classic series, females from Gallifrey were referred to as Time Ladies.  Romana was prominently featured in the show and was portrayed by Lala Ward and Mary Tamm.  Another Time Lady, the sinister (but oh, so wonderful) Rani, portrayed by Kate O’Mara, never regenerated on the show, but showed no inkling of becoming a male that I’m aware of.  There were a few other Time Ladies that popped up in episodes as well, but no hints were made about their gender in past regenerations.

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Here lies the problem.

While many people have no issues with Whittaker taking over the role of the Doctor (including myself), especially since the revival of the series has made the gender changing regeneration canon, I do see the point that many people, men and women, are making about why the Doctor should remain male. Yes, I’m pretty sure that there are a bunch of broflakes out there who simply can’t stand seeing a woman in the role, but I also believe that many men and women are standing behind the basis of Time Lords and Time Ladies that was established during the classic series.

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It seems that many people are too caught up in the man versus woman scenario and do not want to listen to legitimate reasons from some fans for keeping the Doctor male.  I would really love to see these people take a step back and simply listen to the reasons that some are against the gender change.  I hated John Simm as the Master, but I got over it.  I hated Michelle Gomez in the role as well (what little I saw of her).  He was too hyper and psychotic.  She was annoying.   Does that make me a misogynist?  No, it just means that I didn’t like either actor in the role and/or the way the character was written.

It’s true that we haven’t seen Whittaker in action in the role yet, and after an episode or two, many opinions will change.  Some men might like her more than they did when she was announced.  Some women who loved the announcement will be screaming for a change.  Basically what I am saying is that it’s okay to love the new Doctor and it’s okay to dislike the new Doctor.  If you dislike the change because you can’t stand a woman in a prominent role then I really can’t defend you.  However, if you dislike the change due to the precedent established in the classic series, I fully support your opinion.

Don’t let people push you around.  If they bring up other gender swaps in characters, remind them that the character of the Doctor hasn’t been rewritten.  The character has regenerated.  One popular argument is that of Starbuck from Battlestar Galactica.  While the character was male (portrayed by Dirk Benedict) in the original series, the reimagined series made the character female (portrayed by Katee Sackhoff).  The problem with this argument is that the new series didn’t pick up where the original left off.  It was basically a reboot of the old series with different actors in the classic roles.  Yes, the gender changed (as it did for other characters in the show), but Benedict’s character didn’t morph into Sackhoff’s character.  They are essentially two different characters in different timelines.  Fans of the classic BSG might not have liked the gender change, but they had the option to look at the new Starbuck as a different character engaging in different stories.  Fans of the new version of the character could simply ignore the classic series.

With the Doctor, however, the character regenerates into a wholly new being that carries with it the baggage of its past lives.  Each time the character regenerates, the dynamic changes but the history is still there.  Add to that the fact that the first two showrunners for the revived Doctor Who, Russell T. Davies and Steven Moffat, added a little romance and/or flirtation between the Doctor and some of his companions, and you really have a changed dynamic.  Will the new Doctor fall for male companions?  Female companions?  Alien companions?  Will the new Doctor be stand offish with new companions?  “Who” knows?!?!?

Oh, and that whole argument where Tom Baker made a joke about wishing his successor in the role good luck no matter who he or she is doesn’t fly because it’s his opinion, and not canon.  As much as I enjoyed Tom Baker in the role, he definitely cannot change canon at will.

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Imagine Whittaker’s Doctor interacting with Tegan and Turlough.   Would Tegan be as snappy with a female Doctor as she was with Peter Davison’s Doctor?  Would Turlough decide not to kill the Doctor because he grows to admire her as a protector of the innocent as he did with No. 5 or does he decide not to kill her because he is attracted to her or possibly believes that she doesn’t deserve to be the leader of their traveling party because she’s a woman (I can totally see Turlough being threatened by the fact that a woman is in charge)?  The dynamics can and probably will get crazy, and I have to admit that I’m pretty excited to see what direction this new regeneration will take the character and the series as a whole.

In conclusion, I welcome Jodie Whittaker as the new Doctor.  I can’t wait to see where the show goes from this point.  New showrunner Chris Chibnall definitely has a mess to clean up with Moffat’s work in my opinion.

Here’s to better stories and a good run as the Doctor for Whittaker.  Let’s play nice, folks, and hear out all opinions before we judge people for disliking a change.  Remember that change is always difficult, and we need to be understanding with each other.

As always, thanks for reading.  Let me know what you think about the new Doctor in the comments section.

 

 

 

Swinging Into The MCU

Spinning A Web

When it was first announced that Sony and Marvel had come to an agreement to bring Spider-Man into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, geeks like myself rejoiced.  I personally enjoyed both Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield as everyone’s favorite wall crawler, but Sony flubbed Maguire’s run with a terrible third film (ya know, the one with Eric Foreman as Venom) and couldn’t piece together a story interesting enough to win over audiences for Garfield (despite Spidey’s awesome Rogues Gallery).

If anybody could right the radioactive arachnid ship, it had to be Marvel, right???

Yes and no.

Before anybody goes into fits, understand that I really did enjoy Spider-Man:  Homecoming, but something was missing and I just can’t put my finger on it.  Let’s look at what I liked about the film first and then try to pick apart the more problematic areas.

Just FYI, there be spoilers ahead!!!!!  Stop reading NOW if you haven’t seen the film!

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The Cast

Casting directors are three for three when it comes to putting a new face into the Web-slinger’s suit.  When I first heard that Tobey Maguire was going to be Spider-Man, I shuddered.  He wasn’t very impressive in anything else that I saw him in, but I was wrong about him as Spider-Man.  Maguire did a great job.  Garfield impressed me even more, adding a little more attitude to his version of Peter Parker.

Tom Holland was brilliant.  He portrayed Spidey as a hero desperate to fit in with the big league talent like Iron Man and Captain America.  His awkward and humorous attempts at heroism early in the film won me over.  His constant harassment of Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) in order to get called up by Iron Man was believable and funny.  I really enjoyed his attempt at using his suit’s “interrogation mode” to shake down Aaron Davis (Donald Glover).

On the flip side, Holland portrayed Peter Parker to perfection.  Peter was your typical nerdy kid in love with the popular, older senior.  His awkward attempts at fitting in with her and her friends and the way that he looked at her for just a little too long brought back plenty of terrible memories for myself and plenty of other audiences members, I’m sure.

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Jacob Batalon was hilarious as Ned, Peter’s sidekick and Spidey’s eventual “man in the chair.”  His reaction to finding out that Peter was Spider-man was great.  Had I been put in the same situation, I’m sure I would have been just as excited and eager to help as Ned was in the film.

Robert Downey, Jr. basically walked through his now well-worn Iron Man shoes in this film.  Thankfully he didn’t overshadow Holland or any of the rest of the cast.  He was mainly there as a mentor.  I hope Marvel keeps it that way.  Chris Evans had a couple of cameos as Cap.  They were some of my favorite parts of the film.

Marisa Tomei (hot Aunt May), Laura Harrier (Liz, Pete’s crush), the aforementioned Donald Glover, Bokeem Woodbine (Herman Schultz, Shocker), and most of the rest of the cast were excellent, but there were a couple of misfires that I’ll get to later.  Oh, and how can I forget to mention the hilarious Martin Starr, who portrayed Mr. Harrington, Peter’s Decathlon coach.  You might remember him from Freaks and Geeks.

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The real stand out in this film, at least in my opinion, is Michael Keaton as Adrian Toomes/Vulture.  Keaton is no stranger to comic book films (Batman, anyone?), but his portrayal of the Vulture was one of the best I’ve seen as a Marvel Cinematic Universe villain.  I actually felt a little sorry for the guy.  I totally saw where he was coming from in the film and as a father myself, completely understand why he kept a piece of the Chitauri pie for himself.  He was protecting and providing for his family.  He was using criminal methods to do so, but I honestly believe that his heart was in the right place.

Keaton’s “dad talk” scene with Holland was my favorite part of the film.  It took the “meeting the dad for the first time” moment and made it even more uncomfortable and lethal.

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Michael Keaton stars in Columbia Pictures’ SPIDER-MAN™: HOMECOMING.

The Plot

Fitting in is something that we all go through at some point in our lives.  It’s an extremely basic thing but we can all connect with it on some level.  Peter sees taking down the Vulture as his ticket to an all expenses paid trip to the Avengers squad.  He also sees being a part of the decathlon team as way of fitting in at school at getting to be around his crush.  He makes poor choices with both and suffers the consequences, but manages to come out ahead in the end.  Peter learned that being the popular kid like Thor or Hulk isn’t necessarily the best thing in the world.  He also learned that getting a date with the girl he really likes can be just as much of a daunting task as taking down a super villain.

The Action

There was plenty of action in Spider-Man:  Homecoming.  Peter faces off against two versions of Shocker at different times in the film (and to different degrees of success).  He also has an epic action sequence that takes place at the Washington Monument.  His first encounter with Vulture takes place on the Staten Island Ferry in a sequence that mimics a similar encounter from Spider-Man 2 where Maguire’s Spidey faces off against Doctor Octopus (the brilliant Alfred Molina) on a train.  The big battle between Spidey and Vulture takes place above New York City and is quite the spectacle.

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The Humor

Spider-Man:  Homecoming is funny.  It’s really funny.  There’s more humor packed into its run time than both Guardians of the Galaxy films combined.  The laughs don’t become tiring or cheap as they did in the second GOTG, either.  They are consistent, believable, and memorable.  They rely on Peter/Spidey’s awkwardness and need to belong to deliver, and they work almost perfectly every time.

And Now For The Complaints

I’m sure that many of my complaints will be seen as petty, but they bothered me nonetheless.  Here goes.

The Cast

Flash Thompson, where art thou?  Flash Thompson is Peter’s big bad in high school.  He’s one of the best bullies to ever grace the printed page and received two fine portrayals on the big screen via Joe Manganiello (the Maguire films) and Chris Zylka (the Garfield flicks).  In this go round, Flash is portrayed as a snarky rich kid who can’t get over the fact that people like Peter more than him (at least on the decathlon team).  He’s smarter than old school Flash (he’s on the DECATHLON team, not the FOOTBALL team).  He verbally abuses Peter more than anything and loves to flaunt his wealth.  The character is portrayed by Tony Revolori in Homecoming, and his verbal abuse and more intelligent ways are supposedly based on the more modern style of bullying that kids go through today.  Really?  I have a teenager and last time I checked, kids are still getting beat up at school.  This straying from type for the character bothered me.  I would have much preferred that Flash stay more like the traditional Flash.  His style of bullying is timeless, like it or not.

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Also, I have absolutely zero problems with Zendaya.  In fact, I think she’s a pretty cool actress/singer.  I enjoyed her on Shake It Up and have listened to her music with my daughter.  Heck, I once stood in a line full of ten to twelve year old girls to get her autograph for my daughter (who wasn’t with me at the time).  Here’s the proof:

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However, she was entirely miscast in this film.  Her character, Michelle Jones, who we later learn goes by MJ (sheesh), would throw a rod into the spokes of the film almost every time that she popped up on the screen.  The character was completely unnecessary.

The Action

Yes, I mentioned the action as a pro earlier, but it was definitely a con as well.  As wonderful as the climactic battle over the skies of the city could have been between Spidey and Vulture, it just fell flat in my opinion.  Why?  Because you couldn’t see what the heck was going on.  The scenes were shot at close range, blurry, and went by faster than you can say, “Can the real Flash Thompson please stand up?”

The best action sequence in my opinion was the Washington Monument elevator rescue.  You could see what was happening, humor was injected into the scene, and feelings of peril manifested easily.

Plus, Spidey bulging out his muscles in an attempt to hold the Staten Island Ferry together looked eerily similar to this:

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See what I mean?

The Music (Or Lack Thereof)

Michael Giacchino helmed the score of Spider-Man:  Homecoming.  He also scored the J.J. Abrams Star Trek films, Jurassic WorldThe IncrediblesRogue One: A Star Wars Story, and Doctor Strange as well as many more successful films.  He does a very good job of blending themes from previous composers into his own work.  He did it with the Star Trek theme from the original series and from the first films/The Next Generation and the work of John Williams from both Star Wars and Jurassic Park.  He included the old Spider-Man theme in Homecoming, but after the initial introduction of that theme, the music takes a backseat to the rest of the film.

On films that Giacchino doesn’t have an existing theme to base his score on, he falls back on the same rhythms, beats, and tones.  I’m no musician, but I can recognize repetitive sequences in music.  Just listen to the soundtracks for Abrams’ Star Trek films and the Doctor Strange film.  You’ll hear many of the same sequences in both.

Plus, Giacchino also sucks the emotion out of great themes.  The music was severely lacking in both Jurassic World and Rogue One.

Music helps build characters, emotion, and tension.  It is a character in its own right in films in my opinion.  The music doesn’t do that in Homecoming.  It’s just sort of there.  The biggest pop received from me was at the end of the film whenever The Ramones’ Blitzkrieg Bop was played.

In Summary

So, despite some of the casting choices, action sequences, and the music, Spider-Man Homecoming is a pretty cool film.  It’s funny, catches the vibe of Peter Parker/Spider-Man, and hinted at a few other baddies including the Tinkerer, Prowler, and Shocker (who I hope gets more screen time in another film).  It had one of the best villains since Loki, and managed to take place inside of the Avengers timeline without necessarily being a part of it.

Oh, and I loved this costume:

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So I do recommend that you check out Spider-Man:  Homecoming, but don’t get too caught up in the hype surrounding the film and Marvel’s involvement.  There are better Marvel films out there.  Heck, there are even better Sony films out there (Spider-Man 2).  HC is fun and you won’t regret watching it in the theater.

As always, thanks for reading.  See ya next time!