Election Day 2020

Make your choice!

Today is Election Day in the United States of America. While there are a number of things that voters will be deciding today at the local, state, and federal level, the focus will obviously be on the presidential election. Please know that I will never try to sway anybody that visits this blog to vote one way or the other. Voting is a personal matter and it is each individual’s duty to seek out information on all of the candidates running for a specific office.

With that being said, I hope that everyone takes this election and any other election seriously. Don’t simply waltz into the voting booth and check off the candidates that have the same letter after their name that you have after your name. Study each candidate. If you have the chance, visit a rally even if it’s for a candidate that you don’t support. Cherish your right to vote.

I plan on voting later this afternoon whenever I get off of work. I’ve never been a fan of early voting because candidates will often change their tune just a few days prior to election day. I’ve seen it a million times over and I’m sure that it will continue long after I am gone.

I have friends that span the entire voting spectrum. We don’t always agree on politics, but we remain friends. No matter who wins the election today, I hope that most Americans will remain friendly with one another. Let’s all agree to disagree and get on with our lives.

If you do live in the United States of America, I hope that you exercise your right to vote. Again, I’m not going to sway you one way or the other, but I do hope that you get out and make your voice heard!

Thanks for reading my post. There will be more nerdy goodness coming soon!

Rising From The Murky Depths

A life in the Black Lagoon

The following is my review of The Lady From The Black Lagoon: Hollywood Monsters and the Lost Legacy of Milicent Patrick, originally posted on Amazon. I’ve added a few photos to this post that are not a part of the original review as well as a brief side note at the end of the review.

I’ve been a fan of Universal’s classic monsters for a few decades. I started watching them as a child on Saturday afternoons and as I grew older I began to collect the films. The Creature From The Black Lagoon and its sequels were some of the last films of that era that I got to watch. I was mesmerized by the Creature, especially by the way his gills would expand while he was out of the water. It was an amazing thing to see, especially considering the fact that it was 1954. I knew nothing of the Creature’s designer other than the fact that Bud Westmore was given credit for it.

Milicent Patrick working on Creech. Photo taken from an NPR article.

It was only a few months ago that I learned of Milicent Patrick through a meme that one of my fellow monster friends posted. It credited her with being the designer of Creech. This caught my attention and I sought out more information on her. That’s when I stumbled upon Mallory O’Meara’s wonderful book, The Lady From The Black Lagoon: Hollywood Monsters and the Lost Legacy of Milicent Patrick.

O’Meara’s book is actually three stories at once. The primary story is of Patrick’s life and career. The two secondary stories are of O’Meara’s trials and tribulations while researching Mil and of the struggle of women in the male-dominated arena of film and television.

Julia Adams being terrorized by the Creature! Photo taken from ocweekly.com

All three stories are quite amazing. O’Meara brings Milicent Patrick to life on the page. We learn about her upbringing that was both amazing and heartbreaking at times thanks primarily to her father, Camille Rossi, as he pursued a career in architecture. We also learn that Milicent became one of (if not the first) woman hired by Walt Disney to work at his studios in the Ink and Paint Department. Reading this particular part of the book was fun for me, as I’ve read a few biographies about Walt Disney that mention his all-female Ink and Paint Department. None of them, however, named Mil specifically as being part of that department.

O’Meara then takes us along for the ride as we explore Patrick’s time as an actress and artist. We learn about some of her strongest friends, greatest enemy, and the many loves won and lost over her life. O’Meara does an excellent job of presenting Mil’s life to the reader, all of the glamorous and not so wonderful parts of it.

Obviously a lot of attention is given to Patrick’s design work on The Creature From The Black Lagoon and how she received zero credit for all of her work thanks to Bud Westmore and the lack of action from others. You’ll have to read the book to find out how that particular tale goes down.

O’Meara also gives us an in depth look at how difficult it was to find information on Patrick. Just the fact that Mil went by quite a few names over her lifetime made it hard to track her moves through Hollywood. O’Meara also turned me on to a few other books and people that she utilized to piece together Mil’s life and career. I’m particularly interested in the work of the Mormon Church. Again, you’ll need to read the book to see what that is all about.

Finally, the battle for equality that has been a part of film and television since its inception is addressed. As more and more information is brought to light, men are becoming more aware of just how oppressed women are in the film industry. O’Meara handles this topic with fire. She handles it well. In all honesty I would like to see O’Meara write a book specifically about this subject. I’m sure that it would be a great read.

Author Mallory O’Meara. Photo taken by Allan Amato.

All three stories in this book appear to be written with love, anger, humor, and intelligence by O’Meara. Her footnotes offer solid information and a few laughs. She gives a solid example of Milicent Patrick’s world, the good and the bad of it, while keeping the story engaging.

Milicent Patrick’s work and contributions to cinema are slowly rising from the murky depths. I see even more women being brought to the top of the lagoon in the future and I believe that O’Meara’s book will be heralded as the beginning of a new age for women in Hollywood.

Highly recommended.

Additional side note: One of the things that makes The Creature From The Black Lagoon so wonderful is that up until February of this year, both Julia Adams (Kay Lawrence) and Ricou Browning (the Creature in underwater scenes) were still alive. It’s one of those rare occasions where people that were a part of a classic film are still alive. Sadly, Julia Adams passed away in February of this year. As far as I know I was one of the last people to get an autographed photo from her, as she passed away just days after I sent in a request for a photo. Ricou Browning is still alive as of this writing. I still need to acquire his autograph.

As always, thanks for reading.

Throwback Thursday: Degrassi High

Toronto, Ontario, 1980 Something

Growing up in rural Louisiana in the 80’s/90’s meant that cable television was a wild dream and the local ABC, CBS, NBC, and PBS affiliates were my primary viewing options.  As a teenager, most of the characters that I was given to identify with came packaged in comedies like Saved By The Bell and California Dreams or soap operas such as Beverly Hills, 90210.  These shows, while entertaining to a degree, didn’t present teens with a realistic view of life.

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Thankfully our friends to the north, specifically Kit Hood, Yan Moore, and Linda Schuyler, saw a need for a realistic program that tackled tough issues that tweens and teens faced on a daily basis.  After Schuyler’s series The Kids Of Degrassi Street came to an end in 1986, Degrassi Junior High began airing in 1987.  The series carried over a number of the actors from Kids and placed them in new roles.  The series continued until 1989 when most of the kids moved on to high school.  This gave life to Degrassi High.

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Both series tackled many heavy issues that weren’t found on any other teen based series at the time.  Degrassi Junior High took on teen pregnancy when one of the core characters, Spike (Amanda Stepto), became pregnant.  She went through with the pregnancy and gave birth to a daughter, Emma, who would eventually be the character to bridge the series into 2001’s Degrassi: The Next Generation.  The series also placed characters in situations involving child abuse, bullying, epilepsy, alcohol and drug abuse, and young romance, among other things.

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Degrassi High dealt with many of the same issues as Degrassi Junior High, but on a much larger scale.  Students dealt with racism, divorced parents, cancer, mixed race relationships, and abortion.  Suicide was featured from the point of view of both the individual that committed the act and those left behind after the deed was done.  As in real life, some of the teens made good decisions, but many of them made the wrong choice as well.  They handled the consequences of their actions to varying degrees.

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Of course, the series wasn’t entirely focused on turmoil.  There were plenty of fun moments littered throughout the series as well.  Many of these moments played out through the actions of Joey Jeremiah (Pat Mastroianni), Archibald “Snake” Simpson (Stefan Brogren), and Derek “Wheels” Wheeler (Neil Hope).  The trio formed a band known as The Zit Remedy and had one hit (at least on Degrassi Street).  They often found themselves in awkward or silly situations that provided a much needed injection of humor in an otherwise very dramatic show.  Another strong comedic source was the relationship between Alexa Poppadopolos (Irene Courakos) and Simon Dexter (Michael Carry).  Simon did pretty much any and everything that Alexa told him to do.  The pair would eventually marry on the show.

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The series was responsible for a number of my earliest crushes including Spike, Caitlin Ryan (Stacie Mistysyn), Stephanie Kaye (Nicole Stoffman), Heather and Erica Farrell (Maureen and Angela Deiseach), and Michelle Accette (Maureen McKay).  I also idolized a lot of the teen guys on the show, hoping to be as cool as they were in my opinion.  I really identified with Snake’s awkwardness and the somewhat nerdy Yick Yu (Siluck Saysanasy) and Arthur Kobalewscy (Duncan Waugh).

Despite its sometimes controversial content (at least in the eyes of adults in the late 80’s), the series was wildly popular in Canada and became very successful in the United States thanks to PBS.  When the series was given new life in 2001, fans of the classic series tuned in with just as much or more enthusiasm as did the younger demographic that the series was aimed at on television.  Fans wanted to catch up with Joey, Snake, Wheels, Lucy, Spike, and Caitlin.  Through Emma (played by Miriam McDonald in the new series), classic characters were tied to the new series and it went on to have a fourteen season run before spawning yet another series called Degrassi: Next Class.

Most of the cast members from Degrassi Junior High and Degrassi High faded out of the spotlight once the series ended.  Dayo Ade, who portrayed BLT in the series, has gone on to have a solid acting career with roles in everything from Lost to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.  Anais Granofsky, who played Lucy Fernandez, has had multiple supporting roles and works behind the camera as well.  Stefan Brogren, Pat Mastroianni, Stacie Mistysyn, and Amanda Stepto all returned to the series with Degrassi: The Next Generation.  Both Brogren and Stepto were regular cast members for most of the seasons, with Mastroianni and Mistysyn having recurring roles.  Sadly, Neil Hope passed away in 2007.  Estranged from almost all of his family and friends, his death wasn’t learned about by them until 2012.

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Few shows had an impact on me as did Degrassi.  I lived for the day to day lives of these teenagers, many who looked, acted, reacted, or dealt with issues just like I did at the time.  The series was a trailblazer then and its impact can still be felt today.  In all of television history, few shows were willing to take on the issues that this series tackled.

Thanks for reading.  I hope you enjoyed this trip down memory lane.  I’ll have a few reviews in the near future and hopefully another Focus On feature.  Did you watch Degrassi back in the day?  If you did, let me know how you felt about the show and if it had an impact on your life in the comments section.

 

Rise Of The TMNT Reveal!

Somewhere In The Sewers

Just a few minutes ago, the official Facebook page for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles had a live event where they officially revealed the new look of the Turtles, April O’Neil, and Master Splinter from the upcoming Nickelodeon series, Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  Myself and a ton of other fans tuned in to see what our favorite heroes on the half shell would look like and here are my thoughts along with photos of the characters and the cast that will play them.

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Raphael is up first.  In this incarnation of the group, Raph will be the leader.  According to a panel at the live event that featured Ant Ward (co-executive producer), Andy Suriano (co-executive producer), and Rob Paulsen (voice of Raph in the 80’s, Donnie in the 2012 series, and voice director on the new series), Raphael will be a reactionary, think first leader.  Based on the photo, you can see that he’s ditched the sai for tonfas.  Not much else was revealed about him except that he’s voiced by Omar Miller.

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The tech-savvy Donatello is next, with a streamlined look and a ton of gadgets.  He’ll be voiced by Josh Brener.  He’s still a nerd, but according to the panel he will be more confident than other incarnations.  Donnie will still use his trusty bo staff but, as in recent years, it’s loaded with gadgets.

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Here’s the new look for Leonardo.  Much like Donatello, Leo features a slimmer look.  He won’t be the leader (at least for now, hopefully that changes), but seems to have been placed into a fast-talking, fun-loving, turtle with attitude role.  Leo’s Katana blades are gone, replaced by a single Odachi sword.  The way it was explained by the panel made it seem like he’s basically a sharper version of Michelangelo.  He’s voiced by Ben Schwartz.

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The last turtle is Michelangelo.  He’s an artist and according to Paulsen, the one turtle that most closely fits the legacy of TMNT.  Voiced by Brandon Mychal Smith, Michelangelo will lose the nunchucks and use a Kusari-fundo instead.  Oh, and don’t worry, he still loves pizza according to the panel.

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April O’Neil and Splinter finish up the new looks.  April was the first character revealed at the event and she’s definitely different from the classic April O’Neil and even the newer, teenaged version thanks to a glowing green bat.  Many fans have mentioned their dislike for her race change.  That personally doesn’t bother me, but when asked about her new look (and not specifically her race), Ant War and Andy Suriano mentioned that they wanted to reflect the “diversity of the world around us” and “wanted to portray a contemporary teenager.”  It sounded like a roundabout attempt to address the race change without directly addressing it.  I did see negative comments posted during the feed but, c’mon, people, this is just a character.  Get over it.  O’Neil will be voiced by Kat Graham.

Splinter looks very different from his former incarnations as well.  He reminds me of Master Shifu from Kung Fu Panda.  He’ll be voiced by Eric Bauza.  Not much was said about his character, but it seems like he’ll have a tad more attitude in this incarnation than in the past.

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L to R:  Kat Graham, Josh Brener, Omar Miller, Brandon Mychal Smith, and Ben Schwartz.

 

According to the panel, the turtles were designed around their personalities and attitudes. Based on what I’ve read (and with a small bit of input from the panel), Raph will be a snapping turtle, which fits his angry attitude.  Donatello will be a softshelled turtle but more confident than previous incarnations.  Leonardo will be a red-eared slider who is very sure of himself and Michelangelo will be a box turtle who likes to “tag his shell” with stickers and paint.

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The overall look doesn’t impress me very much.  I’m completely willing to give the show a chance, as I believe that if the stories are strong enough, the animation won’t matter as much.  Folks who know me know that I love Donatello, but this version of him is the least visually impressive one I’ve seen so far.  I don’t care much for how lean both he and Leonardo look.  Michelangelo looks better, but he has an extremely amphibian vibe going much like the other turtles.  Raphael looks the best in my opinion.  Of course, he also looks more like a reptile than his brothers in this version of the characters.  I’m not too fond of April’s design and I can’t stand Splinter’s design at all.

Again, I’ll hold off judgment until I watch the actual series, but the overall look and feel of these characters is not very impressive.

Thanks for reading my post.  Let me know what your impressions are of the characters.  Do you like the look?  Does the race change of April bother you?  All opinions are welcomed and encouraged.

“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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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.

 

 

 

Our Princess

A Long Time Ago In A Galaxy Far, Far Away….

On December 27th of last year, Carrie Fisher, perhaps best known as Princess Leia from the Star Wars franchise, left this mortal world.  She appeared in nearly fifty feature films, and had almost fifty starring and guest roles on television.  She also authored multiple fiction and non-fiction books including Postcards From The Edge and The Princess Diarist.  She was a playwright, screenplay writer, and script doctor.  Fisher was also very vocal about her struggles with drug abuse and bipolar disorder.

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Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher

She also came from a famous family.  Her father, Eddie Fisher, was an extremely popular singer who charted multiple hits in the 1950’s.  Her mother, Debbie Reynolds, was an actor, singer, film historian and preservationist, and a businesswoman.  Reynolds’ acting career spanned almost seventy years.  She tragically died the day after Carrie on December 28th.

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Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher

As stated before, Fisher had roles in nearly one hundred films and television programs, but it was her role as Princess Leia (later to be known as General Leia) that put her into the hearts of nerds and geeks the world over.

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With the announcement of her death, fan and professional tributes took over social media, television, and radio.  The bulk of these tributes focused on her role as Leia and her outspokenness on the topics of mental disorders and drug addiction.  Some of them focused on her many relationships over the years.  A few even went so far as to say that we needed to forget the princess version of her and focus on the hardened general that she portrayed in Star Wars:  The Force Awakens.  Obviously those people knew her as a princess in title only, as Princess Leia was definitely one of the toughest, bravest characters in all of Star Wars canon and in the expanded universe as well.

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Sure, General Leia was a strong character, but Princess Leia, OUR Princess Leia, was the character that stood up to Darth Vader, called the mighty Chewbacca a “walking carpet” with absolutely zero fear, and took control of her own rescue as well.  Princess Leia stole the heart of a “scruffy-looking nerf herder” named Han Solo, and led the Rebellion and the Resistance in their darkest hours.  Without our Princess Leia, General Leia would have never been created.

Please, never, ever forget the princess version of Leia.  The character shows young girls and young boys that just because you might be a pretty little princess in name, you can be a fearless warrior in action.

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Carrie Fisher was a lovely woman both inside and out.  She was raw, honest, and exceptionally humorous as well.  Fisher’s death brought a tear to my eye.  Not because the world lost an actress that portrayed a beloved character, but like Leonard Nimoy, she was a  beloved human being, warts and all.

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Carrie Fisher will be sorely missed.  Few actors and actresses live lives that are bolder than those of the characters that they portray.  For a woman that portrayed the daughter of one of the most feared Sith Lords of all time and the brother of the Jedi that brought balance back to the Force, Fisher was truly a bold person in reality.

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May the Force be with you Carrie Fisher.  Rest in peace.

Star Trek’s 50th Anniversary

Space, The Final Frontier….

It has been fifty years since Gene Roddenberry first showed the world his idea of a bright and wonderful future.  While I wasn’t around for those early voyages, I was able to join up with the crew of the Enterprise when I went to the movies with my cousins to see Star Trek II:  The Wrath of Khan.  After that, I watched Star Trek:  The Next Generation off and on (when weather would permit), but my primary connection to Trek was through the films.

Within the last decade or so, I’ve really sunk my teeth into the adventures of not only the Enterprise, but of Voyager, Deep Space Nine, and Enterprise.  Voyager has become my second favorite Trek series (behind TOS), and Janeway is my favorite Captain.

I’ve written an extensive look into my relationship with Star Trek a good bit back, and you’re free to check it out.  For now, I just want to acknowledge the fact that Star Trek has had a huge impact on the world and share a few photos of my favorite characters.  Also included in this collage is a photo of the crew from the excellent fan production Star Trek Continues.  They are the only fan production that I’ve ever donated to, and I’ll support and promote them until the day I die!

I hope you enjoyed these photos and, as always, thanks for reading.  I’ve neglected my blog in recent weeks due to work, but I promise to write more in the next few weeks.  In fact, there’s a convention coming up in less than a month in Lafayette, LA, and I plan to be there.  I hope to see a few of you there!

Ten Burning Questions!

On Fire!

Yesterday’s Ten Burning Questions went so well that I decided to post a second round this evening!  Tonight our brave question answerer is Mel Rivera of Fur De Lis!  Read on to find out a little bit about her and her wonderful organization, as well as a few other juicy bits of info!

1. What is your earliest nerdy or geeky memory?  I would have to say my first nerdy or geeky memory would have to be when my uncle took me to see Superman on the big screen. I was hooked.  From there I started finding as much out about superheroes as possible. While Superman will always be my favorite I appreciate others as well.

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2. What’s Fur De Lis all about?  Fur De Lis is a furry group for people who are furries to just be themselves. We are like a big family and support and help each other in any way possible. We run an anti bully campaign and travel from con to con in the MS and LA areas paneling about furries and helping victims of bullying overcome their problems in a healthy way.

3. How many conventions do you attend each year?  Hmm, that’s a hard one but on an average I would say between 8-10.

4. What is your favorite film, book, anime, or all three? Why?  Fave book is actually the Harry Potter series as I not only taught my son how to read with them, I enjoyed every single page myself. Film, geez that’s hard too, but I’m a sucker for musicals turned movie from Grease to Rent to Mama Mia and so on. Anime is easy. There’s two that I love dearly Ouran High Host Club and Soul Eater. I could watch both over and over.

5. Do you collect anything?  I collect Coke memorabilia and wall scrolls.

6. Tony Stark or Bruce Wayne?  Tony Stark all the way! His one liners and sarcasm are the best ever!

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7. Which conventions are on your bucket list?  San Francisco Comic Con, E3, Pax East because of Septiceye, and New York Comic Con.

8. On average, how long does it take you to construct a fur suit?  Well that depends on if you want partial, 2-3 weeks, full suit, plantigrade 4-6 weeks, and full suit, digigrade suit 6-8 weeks.

9. What unique skill do you have in your repertoire?  I am a seamstress as well and make the majority of our cosplays and outfits for our fursonas, OCS, and characters.

10. Ice cream or frozen yogurt?  I prefer gelato myself, tbh.

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Super Mega Bonus Question 11. Do you have a website or social media page/group that you’d like to share? If so, give us any info so the masses can find you!  We do have Fur de Lis anti bully campaign page on Facebook as well as the group for it Fandoms Against Bullying, and our group page Fur De Lis.

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Well, there you have it.  Be sure to check out the Fur De Lis group and Fandoms Against Bullying.  Just click on the highlighted links above to check them out.  Special thanks goes out to Mel for sharing her organization with us and having a little fun as well.

As always, thanks for reading.  Bayoucon is coming up this weekend and I plan on attending and blogging about my experience.  See you again soon with more Ten Burning Questions!

 

Revisiting Voyager

The Delta Quadrant

I’ve been watching a lot, and I mean a lot, of Star Trek:  Voyager in the last couple of months and I have to say that I’ve become extremely fond of the series.  My first exposure to the show was in syndication a few years ago, but I never was able to watch it consistently.  Now, with the beloved streaming service that is Amazon Prime, I’ve been able to catch up with numerous television shows and films that I missed on the first go round or never had the opportunity to see on a regular basis.

While catching up, I came across the brilliant episode entitled Tuvix.  I immediately fell in love with the episode due to the moral and ethical challenges it presented to the crew of Voyager.  In my opinion, Star Trek has always been at its best whenever it challenged the viewer to think.  Two previous episodes of Trek that came to mind while watching Tuvix were The Devil In The Dark and Outcast.  From the Original Series, Devil dealt with the Horta, a creature that is believed to be attacking miners on Janus VI, but turns out to be a misunderstood alien that is merely protecting its young.  The challenge comes whenever Spock decides that the creature might be the last of its kind and shouldn’t be killed but Kirk believes that the lives of the miners are more important and that eliminating the Horta was the right thing to do.  Kirk is eventually convinced that the Horta just wants to be left alone and allowed to raise its children.  Together with Spock and Bones, Kirk convinces the miners to leave the Horta alone and, in return, the Horta would help the miners find valuable minerals on the planet.

The Next Generation episode entitled Outcast sees Riker befriend a J’naii scientist named Soren while the two work together to find a missing J’naii shuttle.  The two eventually become romantic (surprise, surprise, Number One!), but their love is forbidden due to the fact that the J’naii are an androgynous race that see identifying as a male or female within their species as a perversion.  When their romance is witnessed by another J’naii, Soren is placed on trial and sentenced to treatment in order to remove any perverse thoughts of sexual identity despite attempts by Riker and Picard to stop the process.  Unfortunately Soren is “treated” and returns to an androgynous state.

Both of these episodes challenge the viewer.  They make the viewer look at all sides of the story.  Is the Horta worth protecting?  Should Soren be allowed to follow her desires?  Are the J’naii wrong for wanting to “treat” Soren?  Are the miners justified in their intentions to kill the Horta?  At first the answers seem clear, but looking deeper into both situations, one learns that the decision is extremely difficult depending on how you look at it.

Tuvix poses a similar question.  In the episode, Tuvok and Neelix are fused together while beaming back aboard Voyager.  This results in the creation of a new life form that takes on characteristics of both men.  Tom Wright potrayed Tuvix in the episode and did a brilliant job of combining the Vulcan leanings of Tim Russ’ Tuvok and the humorous aspects of Ethan Phillips’ Neelix.

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The holographic Doctor is unable to separate the two men into their respective beings, but vows to find a way to bring them back.  In the meantime, Tuvix begins to adjust to his new life.  He struggles with the memories, feelings (or lack thereof in the case of Tuvok), and relationships of both men.  The crew attempts to adjust to their newest member as well, with Kes having a particular amount of trouble with Tuvix.  While she showed him no ill will, she remained uncomfortable around him for a long time since she was romantically involved with Neelix and looked up to Tuvok as a mentor and good friend.

As Tuvix and the crew adjust to life with each other, he proves to be an integral part of the crew.  He also develops a sense of self.  He is literally a new man, and as the Doctor’s research begins to show some signs of successfully being able to separate Tuvix into the two persons that he once was, talk surfaces of actually attempting to bring Tuvok and Neelix back.

It is at this point where the crew, particularly Captain Janeway, faces a moral dilemma.  On one hand, restoring Tuvok and Neelix to their distinct selves seems to be the right course of action.  On the other, Tuvix has fully integrated himself into the daily activities of Voyager, bonded to varying degrees with members of the crew, and has become a unique individual.

Would bringing back Tuvok and Neelix essentially kill an individual?  Despite being two men bonded into one, Tuvix is his own person.

By allowing Tuvix to remain as he is, does that mean that Tuvok and Neelix no longer exist or no longer have the right to live?

It’s a brilliantly difficult moral and ethical dilemma, one that truly has no right answer.  One could argue that Tuvok and Neelix deserve to live, but Tuvix deserves to live just as much.  Tuvix is adamant that he be allowed to live, essentially denying the right to life for both Neelix and Tuvok.

Even the viewers are forced to struggle with whether or not Tuvix should live.  In the brief time that we get to know him, he is presented as likeable, humorous, intelligent, and a well-adjusted being.  Viewers like Tuvix as much as the crew of the ship likes him.  The viewers have also developed a relationship with Tuvok and Neelix over the first and second season at this point.  Much like Janeway, Chakotay, Kes, and the rest of the Voyager crew, we are asked to make a decision on who is allowed to exist and who must be sacrificed.

Ultimately there is no correct answer.  No matter who Janeway or the viewer decides to live, someone else has to suffer for it.  That is what makes the episode so brilliant.  After the credits roll, the crew of Voyager AND the viewer is left with no real resolution to the events that unfold.  Unlike Devil and Outcast, where the viewer can turn off the episode knowing in their mind that they are correct about their decision on what should have happened, Tuvix leaves the viewer internally struggling with what happened, why it happened, and if it should have even happened.  It’s wonderful, and has quickly made this episode one of my top ten episodes in all of Trekdom.

I highly recommend watching Tuvix if you haven’t done so.  It will leave you thinking, conflicted, and longing for more episodes that are just as excellent.

Tuvix is Trek done right.  Few episodes are as wonderful as this one.

As always, thanks for reading.  As I watch more Trek, I’ll be sure to blog about the episodes that really stick out to me.  Sooner or later I’ll address The Devil In The Dark and Outcast in their own posts.  I really enjoyed writing this post, and I believe that I might focus more on content like this.  Let me know in the comments if you would like for me to post more things like this.

Live long and prosper.