Posts tagged Battlestar Galactica
[SPOILER ALERT!] If you haven’t watched the five part Transformers: Prime story “Darkness Rising” and you happen to be into the whole robots in disguise thing, well, you may not want to read this yet. Plot points will be discussed that can be considered all spoilery and stuff. Consider yourself warned.
Here we go.
According to Google Analytics, my blog attracts a decent amount of traffic from people who read my posts about conventions, food, travelling and other nick nacks of personal knowledge. The one topic that seems to work as a lightning rod to attract a pretty hefty number of clicks, though, is the fictional(?) war between the heroic Autobots and the evil Decepticons.
That’s right: I’m a Transformers geek.
My friend Joey Snackpants (and occasional guest host Tentacle Chris) and I present the (in)famous event “DARE! The Transformers Panel Ultimate” at a number of popular fan conventions. Thus, I try to stay up to date on the new shows that get churned out every couple of years.
This time around, Hasbro hooked up with The Discovery Channel to create a new cable station called “The Hub“. In a move reminiscent of the UPN/Star Trek: Voyager days – Hasbro took their flagship property and created an exclusive new show for their new television station:
Here, in no particular order, are the elements I took note of while watching the show. In true Interwebz fashion, I’ve labelled each with a “WIN,” “FAIL,” or “HUH?”. (The last one being not a good or bad observation; just an observation of interest.)
[WIN] THE WRITING
In the “DARE!” panel, we often remind some of the more ravenous fanboys that they remember their beloved childhood cartoons through rose colored glasses. The Autobots were the good guys; the Decepticons were the bad guys; and much of the story was guilty pleasure flavored cheese. There’s nothing wrong with that. Good cheesy writing is still good writing – just don’t look too deep for any substance beyond what’s there. Regardless of what a bunch of thirty-something year olds would have you believe, Transformers is a designed to be a kid’s cartoon.
That’s okay, though, because I love watching it with my “kid glasses” on.
In the original series, Spike and his dad were befriended by Optimus and the Autobots during a Decepticon attack in the ocean where they swam to safety. That’s right: Optimus Prime could swim. And surf.
But I digress… In Transformers: Prime, the writers did a great job of justifying story elements instead of just making them happen. How do the Autobots get saddled with three kids? The Decepticon drones see anyone allied with the ‘Bots as a potential threat who must be exterminated; they’re not in the business of trying to distinguish between robot and human for the sake of saving the human race. They’re the bad guys. (Duh!) Thus Arcee, Bulkhead and Bumblebee are assigned to protect the children who are now in harm’s way BECAUSE of the Autobots.
Kudos to the writing team.
[WIN] THE DIALOG
The best writing for children’s entertainment effectively balances storytelling that also caters to adults who are watching along. Just ask Pixar.
The dialog in the show is clever in two fronts. FIRST: There are lines that refer to adult topics and pop culture elements that kids might miss.
The first rule about robot fight club is that you don’t talk about robot fight club -Jack Darby
The series is peppered with a number of little nuggets thrown in there from time to time. Ten year olds aren’t going to necessarily giggle at the quote’s reference to a violent film about multiple personalities and soap – but parents and thirty-something year old fanboys will.
Writing bonus points go out, too, for the chuckle-worthy use of “scrap” as a Transformers swear word.
SECOND: There is a lot of fanboy placation going on in the show. Transformers Animated did this, too, but Transformers: Prime gets to do it with heavier guns in the form of the voice actors.
One shall stand. One shall fall. -Optimus Prime
Nope, I’m note quoting the awesometastic eighties cartoon movie; nor and I referencing Bayformers. That’s a quote from the fifth episode of Transformers: Prime.
[WIN, WIN and (did I mention?) WIN] THE VOICES
Peter Cullen is Optimus Prime.
Frank Welker is Megatron.
AND THEY BOTH SOUND AMAZING. Mr. Cullen could read a phone book with that intimidating bass in his voice and I am pretty sure he would keep a packed room captivated.
The other performances are all solid, too. Special kudos should go out to Steve Blum for creating an effective combination in the whiny/devious tone of Starscream’s performance.
Which leads me to:
Cliffjumper was only in the first couple of episodes, but he SOUNDED familiar. By the end of the five part mini-series though, I was still on a Cullen/Welker high so I never noticed who did the voice acting.
Once I looked it up, it all made sense: the grabbing of the horns comments; the bravado of a man ready for a fight; the sheer personality just oozing out of the larger than life attitude.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was the voice of Cliffjumper. Old school wrestling fans who watch the episodes should enjoy remembering The Rock’s logo and the connection to the character. Check out the tattoo on his arm:
When did Bumblebee become the astromech droid of the Transformers universe? I’m not to sure how I feel about the beeping voice thingy they are doing with him.
[FAIL... MOSTLY] ANIMATION
In a sure sign that age is catching up with me, I really miss old fashion animation. Transformers: Prime would have, in my opinion, been better if it were a cartoon. Instead, the powers that be opted to go with computer animation.
The problem with computer animation in today’s age is that George Lucas put his McMillions of dollars into making Star Wars: The Clones Wars on Cartoon Network. That series is REALLY REALLY PRETTY and, as a result, any CGI television show is immediately going to be compared to it.
The animation in Transformers: Prime really bothered me for the first two episodes. By the third, though, I no longer noticed it. I became used to it.
Being used to something and liking something, though, are two different things. To the show’s credit the animation is watchable and has some great looking moments (usually NOT involving the human characters) Also, it’s nowhere near the level of headache inducing visuals that Beast Wars was.
Beast Wars sucks -Tom Croom
Just a reminder.
With that all said, I understand why it’s computer animated. It makes the robots looks cool; kids today, they love the computer animated stuff; and it links the series closer to the look of the Bayformers movie. There’s some solid work in the character design. This old man just misses his childhood cartoons that were “cartoons”.
[HUH?] THE AUTOBOT BASE
I like the moving of the Autobots away from Detroit (one of less than stellar decisions in Transformers: Animated) and into Arizona. That said, how the hell did they score Airwolf‘s old hiding spot?
I’ll be watching for a heavily armed black helicopter to appear in future episodes. Cool points shall be earned by the production staff if the damn thing turns into a robot.
[WIN] NO ORIGIN STORY
If you’ve ever talked to my pal Joey Snackpants about the LONG list of things that annoy him in storytelling then you know that one of the main elements of his frustration is the constant need for writers to feel like they are required to feed an audience an origin story. How many different ways do you need hear about how Batman became Batman? With comics, cartoons and movies the tale has been told a dozen times.
If you don’t it know by now, reference one of the numerous previous works to learn the story.
Transformers: Prime immediately passes go and collects the $200. How did the Autobots get stuck on Earth in Transformers: Prime? WHO CARES? We’re never told. We don’t need to know. We’re told only what is required to move the story forward:
-There are only a few Autobots on Earth.
-The Decepticons have been off the radar for a few years.
-The government knows about the Transformers.
No long, drawn out episodes retelling the story; just smart dialog and scenes to move the narrative along while educating the viewer about the mythology. Great move.
[WIN] MEGATRON’S GUN
For those of you that have been to a “DARE!” panel you know that my number one complaint that could have EASILY been fixed in the Michael Bay versions of Transformers was the lack of a B.F.G. on Megatron’s arm.
How hard would it have been to just slap a giant gun on top of Megatron’s space jet mode? I, mean, it’s an alien vehicle so it could look like anything -me bitching during DARE! The Transformers Panel Ultimate
I think someone from the Transformers: Prime production team must have sat in one of the panels.
MEGATRON HAS A BIG F***ING GUN ON THE TOP OF HIS JET MODE THAT RESTS ON HIS ARM IN ROBOT MODE IN TRANSFORMERS: PRIME.
Pay attention, Mr. Bay. You could learn from this show.
[HUH?] BATTLESTAR DECEPTICONS
So, if the Decepticon drones are Cylons – does this mean we get a hot blonde character and Al from Quantum Leap in later episodes?
In case you missed it, look at the the Decepticon drone’s faces and look at the modern Battlestar Galactica series. This is either a clever nod to a fellow science fiction franchise or just the lazy borrowing of another show’s character design. I’d prefer to think it’s the first one.
[HUH?] EVA UNIT 01
Since we’re on the topic of character design – is it me, or does Soundwave look like a mech from Neon Genesis Evangelion?
[HUH?] DECEPTICON ZOMBIES
“The Simpsons Already Did It.”
Okay – not the Simpsons, but the Decepticons have created a zombie army before. In Transformers: Masterforce (never aired in America) the ‘Cons reanimated a bunch of human corpses as a makeshift army in their unending need to wreak havoc on Earth. The zombies all wore Decepticon logo t-shirts. I’ve joked for YEARS about doing an obscure costume of this at a convention. My friend Lyn beat me to it and recently wore the shirt for our “DARE!” panel at Anime Weekend Atlanta 2010.
So it seems that the Transformers are jumping on the zombie bandwagon, too. I’ll keep an eye out for the episode titled “The Walking Robotic Dead” to air on AMC.
This could very well be the best Transformers series to get churned out of the Hasbo universe since G1. It’s following all the elements of the formula that worked in the eighties:
-The Autobots are the good guys.
-The Decepticons are the bad guys.
-Optimus Prime is the leader (and not working on some scavenger ship or something.)
-Peter Cullen and Frank Welker are the voices.
-The robots turn into cars and planes and stuff and they’re IN DISGUISE.
I’ll be tuning back in to The Hub in February. Let’s hope the series stays as good as these first five episodes.
Believe it or not, I normally don’t plan to go to Dragon*Con each year. When I do go, I’m usually only there for a day or two at the most. This year, though, I did the “full” Dragon*Con weekend experience by showing up on on the first day of the event and leaving on the last.
IMPORTANT NOTE FOR ANY LURKING BOT-TARDS: A few years back, Wasabi Anime talked to Dragon*Con about having DARE! The Transformers Panel Ultimate make an appearance and we were turned down. Strangely enough, I still think Dragon*Con is a great convention… which must mean only one thing: That’s right, BotCon was a weak convention on it’s own.
Moving on… I’ve broken my Dragon*Con report into three parts: the good, the bad and the ugly. Here’s a breakdown of the good stuff that happened last weekend.
- While in Atlanta, Georgia I took the time to eat at Gladys and Ron’s Chicken & Waffles. (Post regarding this coming next week.)
- I ran into LeVar Burton in the elevator our first night at the Hilton and we talked Twitter while a somewhat intoxicated Joey Snackpants proclaimed in a less than subtle fashion “OH MY GOD IT’S LEVAR BURTON!”
- That same night, I bought Edward James Olmos dinner at Trader Vic’s and Mr. Olmos then convinced Joey Snackpants to watch the new Battlestar Galactica. Read that story here.
- My Favorite DC Tweet: @TomCroom thinks nothing says #fail more than a Power Girl cosplay with less than a B cup. #DragonCon
- We went to a great Stargate panel… and (it seemed) that I pissed of John de Lancie with my question. Read this and then watch this. That aside, Christopher Judge is a RIOT and needs his own panel next year.
- I spent an evening walking around with a bunch of Stargate cosplayers (including Shannon, Katie McAwesome and Joey Snackpants) and wound up at the Stargate Charity Party. While going from hotel to hotel that night, I had someone recognize me from events I host at Florida SuperCon.
- We ate chicken nachos not once, but TWICE! at the Metro Café Diner.
- I had my photo taken with Scott Bakula and Dean Stockwell. QUANTUM LEAP AWESOMENESS.
- I tracked down Paul Dini via his Twitter posts so Shannon could have him sign her Harley Quinn books. Social Networking WIN.
- We went to a second Stargate panel. Going to more than one panel at Dragon*Con is extremely rare with my group… crazy!
- I met Drew Curtis from FARK. I bought a book from him, he signed it, and we made fun of Florida together. Good times.
- I got to see a couple of friends around the convention including “Uncle” George Lowe and Erin Gray… both great people.
- After being friends with my wife and a number of the Wasabi Anime staff AND being on my Facebook, I met Brian from Making Mischief for the first time (in person) in five years.
- After about two years of talking online, I met Kelly from Convention Fans in person for the first time.
- I also met fellow Twitter users @SarahNFisk and @EricaDodd at the convention in person. It’s fun using the Interwebz to meet get to know new people. Even more interesting: Sarah had a a friend she was meeting in one of the hotels that night… and her friend’s roommates in the hotel were my friends Angie and Tentacle Chris. (insert It’s a Small World theme here.)
- My other favorite Dragon*Con tweet: @thatDJSpider: ‘steampunk: when goths discovered brown’ #dragoncon
- A record THREE panels! We went to the Battlestar Galactica one, too.
- We went to the Stargate Charity Auction and Joey Snackpants scored an actual prop from Stargate SG-1.
- I met and got autographs from Michael Shanks and Ben Browder. Michael and I discussed our successful marriages while Ben and I discussed the fact that John de Lancie is a “serious” man who doesn’t answer questions about fast food restaurants.
- Before leaving town… we had dinner at a Zaxby’s. (I love that place.)
As you can see, it was a busy weekend at Dragon*Con 2010. Tomorrow’s post… The Masquerade.
“I’m going to be the first one to say it really clearly, ‘Please tell your readers, do not watch this program.’ … If you are a real, real staunch ‘Battlestar Galactica’ person, please don’t watch it.” - Edward James Olmos, who plays Commander Adama in “Battlestar Galactica,” to the Television Critics Association in July 2003
That statement made for a way for my pal Joey Snackpants to avoid watching the new series when it aired. He LOVES old school classic science fiction and the original BSG ranks up there with some the greatest fun filled TV of the late seventies and early eighties. When the new series was wrapping up a couple of years ago and its popularity was at a peak, Joey enjoyed jumping into BSG conversations at conventions and pointing out that the ONLY reason he never watched the show was because Edward James Olmos told him not to.
Now, I watched the show at the urging of Jason Dorough and LOVED IT. As a fan, I have regularly encouraged Mr. Snackpants to dedicate some time to give it a chance. His response was the same canned answer about the Edward James Olmos quote… but it eventually became “I’ll only watch it if Edward James Olmos tells me to!”
Flash forward to last night. Each year at Dragon*Con there is a tradition of getting dinner and drinks at Trader Vic’s in the Hilton with my friends. This year, when we were seated, I noticed someone sitting at the table near us:
Yup. That’s Mr. Olmos and Julie Caitlin Brown at the table behind us.
Seeing an opportunity to force Joey to spend about $150 against his will, I began plotting a way to make a moment happen. A few Mai Tais later, I flagged down their server and paid their bill. (It wasn’t until later that we discovered that the server didn’t know who either person at the table was… until we mentioned Selena.)
Showing true class, Mr. Olmos and Ms. Brown came to table and shook hands and thanked everyone at our table. I explained to Edward that I was a fan of his work and appreciated him coming over. I then told him the story of Joey’s refusal to watch the show (thus putting Joey, sitting to my right, completely on the spot.)
Edward James Olmos spent about ten minutes pitching Joey Snackpants to watch the new Battlestar Galactica.
Thus, per his own request, Edward James Olmos has now personally TOLD Joey Snackpants to WATCH the new Battlestar Galactica. He has committed to do so.
Yup, It’s Dragon*Con people.
I’m taking a trip to Cancun this week – so my blogging will be (and already is becoming) a little spotty. Here’s a quick entry, though, regarding all the geek goodness that has been going on.
- Florida Supercon is less than three weeks away. It’s is absolutely astounding to see how quickly this show has grown to the size it is in just a few short years. Just look at the guest list: http://www.supercon.tv/news/284-new-guest-additions-a-full-guest-list
- Botcon is the weekend after that (23 days away.) They still don’t have any of their events listed.
- Ancient City Con is just a couple of weeks after that in July. The team from ACC will also be coming down to South Florida to host gaming events at Florida Supercon. Very cool. Also, Rekha Sharma from Battlestar Galactica is a guest at Ancient City Con this year. Very, very cool.
- Gen Con is up after that – the first weekend in August. This will be my first time setting foot in Indianapolis, Indiana – and my first time at such a gamer-centric event. Luckily, I have Joey Snackpants as a tour guide.
- Star Wars Celebration is the weekend after that. Fun fact: I’ve already met George Lucas in person – so I’m on the fence as to whether or not to attend this event.
- Dragon*Con brings us to September… and we got our reservations for this a while ago. Zaniness (typically) ensues.
- Anime Weekend Atlanta is right after Dragon*Con, so things will be busy that month. Not sure what we’re doing for that yet – but odds are it’ll be interesting.
As for the rest of 2010… nothing in stone (yet.) There are rumors of something horror related in October. Stay tuned.
After that – InvaderCON is going full steam. I’ve been amazed at the response for this “little show that could.” This will post on the official site later this week, but we’ve already sold tickets for InvaderCON 2011 in the following locations:
- New York
- Nova Scotia (Canada!)
- Washington, DC
The best part? We haven’t even started any heavy advertising… yet. Thus the power of the Interwebz.
There’s a question I would think about from time to time for the past twenty years (right about the time I started going to fan conventions): How does someone start watching Doctor Who?
You see, I have always been of the mentality that if I am going to watch a television series that I should “start at the beginning” and go forward. I did this when I met my wife and she thought I should watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I invested in each box set and we watched the series from beginning to end. I’ve learned that watching a show this way makes it more enjoyable for me because 1.) I can watch the evolution of the characters as the story progresses in order and 2.) it makes it easier to deal with cliffhangers… except for season finales which, if I don’t have the next season box set on hand, can cause a (gasp!) twenty four hour delay before watching it since I have to run out to the store. The Buffy box sets have been well worth the money spent since they have now been passed from friend to friend who are all doing the same thing we did. We’ve watch the complete series (in order) of Angel, Arrested Development, Battlestar Galactica (new), Gilmore Girls, Stargate, Stargate: Atlantis, The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr., and Veronica Mars on DVD.
We are currently watching but have not completed our box set collections of: 30 Rock (still on the air), Bones (still on the air), Knight Rider, Mad Men (still on the air), Magnum P.I., Quantum Leap, Star Trek (the original series, on blu-ray), The Muppet Show and The X-Files.
The problem with Doctor Who, though, is that there is no beginning. Or, least, it doesn’t exist anymore. From Wikipedia:
Between about 1964 and 1973, large amounts of older material stored in the BBC’s various video tape and film libraries were either destroyed, wiped or suffered from poor storage which led to severe deterioration from broadcast quality. This included many old episodes of Doctor Who, mostly stories featuring the first three Doctors—William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton, and Jon Pertwee. Following consolidations and recoveries the archives are complete from the programme’s move to colour television (starting from Jon Pertwee’s time as the Doctor), although a few Pertwee episodes have required substantial restoration; a handful have been recovered only as black and white films, and several survive in colour only as NTSC copies recovered from North America (a few of which are domestic, off-air Betamax tape recordings, not transmission quality). In all, 108 of 253 episodes produced during the first six years (most notably series 3, 4, & 5, from which 90 episodes are missing) of the programme are not held in the BBC’s archives. It has been reported that in 1972 almost all episodes then made were known to exist at the BBC, whilst by 1978 the practice of wiping tapes and destroying ‘spare’ film copies had ended.
So you see, for someone like me who enjoys a good “complete” series, Doctor Who poses something of a problem.
Recently, though, I found a workable answer in the oddest of places: my local gym. I’ve been on a bit of a health kick lately with an impending trip to Cancun on the horizon, so I’ve spent at least six days a week going to my local gym and putting in my time to drop some unneeded weight. I discovered, one day, that the exercise bikes at my gym are built so that you can plug an iPod into it and watch video while biking. Go Steve Jobs!
With the pieces in place (and a $25 iTunes gift card in hand) I decided to finally dedicate some time, and sweat, to the good Doctor.
The oldest episodes iTunes had to offer were from May of 1963 and feature The 1st Doctor: William Hartnell.
Doctor Who: The Aztecs (from iTunes): The Tardis takes the Doctor and his companions back in time to fifteenth century Mexico where Barbara is swiftly made a High Priestess. But for the others life isn’t so good. And as human sacrifices become the need of the day, have the travellers finally meddled once too often?
First off, I had heard that the Doctor always has a companion – but three of them? Also, from what I can gather, two of them are school teachers and one of them (Susan) is his granddaughter. It’s all a bit confusing compared to the hubbub I read on the web about the Doctor’s companions. Thankfully, Wikipedia comes through again explaining that the show was originally designed to be infotainment for the children of England. The Doctor never left Earth in the beginning and the show was similar to the concept of the eighties time travel series Voyagers… showing historical moments for entertainment and education. Instead of the Omni (a handheld device in Voyagers) the Doctor uses a TARDIS. Instead of an orphan boy (Voyagers) the Doctor is galavanting around with his school age granddaughter. And so on.
Since this is the only 1st Doctor serials available, I can only guess the others are similar. There is a charm in watching shows from the golden age of television – even more so with science fiction. There is no CGI, and the props are made based on assumptions of what technology will look like. Also, since the series was on such a limited budget, the show is forced to use film takes “as is” including the occasional mistake. There are some great memorable moments when OBVIOUS line mistakes occur and the actors just go with it.
As simple and as dated as The Aztecs is, you can already see the charm of Doctor Who’s sly cunning of character and (sometimes) clever English dialog.
Next up: The 2nd Doctor: Patrick Toughton in The Krotons.
So I decided (at the last minute) to surprise Shannon and the Green Mustard crew by dropping into DragonCon on Sunday. My friend Eric and I drove up Saturday at midnight, arrived Sunday at 8:00 AM, spent 17 hours walking around the event, left at 1:00 AM Sunday night and got back to South Florida at 9:00 AM Labor Day. Here’s what transpired in that short time.
- Ran into Javier in an elevator.
- Bumped into Michael Stackpole in the halls and we took the time to talk and catch up. Mike is easily one of my favorite convention personalities and it is always a pleasure seeing him.
- Waved at Gary from a distance and told him I wasn’t at DragonCon… then avoided photos as proof.
- Shared an elevator with Cristine Rose (aka “Angela Petrelli” from Heroes.)
- Shared another elevator with Alessandro Juliani (aka “Lt. Felix Gaeta” from Battlestar Galactica.)
- Had that Petey guy cut me off on an escalator. That blog is right… he is an asshole! (J/K)
- Bumped into George Lowe and talked about a mutual friend spending a lot of money on photos and autographs.
- Yes… we were talking about Joey Snackpants having moments of geigh with Shatner. I spent time with Mr. Snackpants at the con, but not TOO much it seems. He has “con flu” and I (to date) and still healthy.
- Saw Emily long enough to talk shop about a potential voice actor that NEEDS to be at SuperCon.
- Got Patrick Stewart‘s autograph… AWESOME.
- Ran into Allen C., Kimberly B., Troy D. and a few others who all saw me incognito to which I replied in true Clerks form: “I’m not even supposed to be here!”
- Paul Vincenti won an award for his amazing artwork at this year’s DragonCon – and I bumped into him to convey congratulations.
- I saw a contest and re-affirmed my belief that a certain someone is, in fact, a douche.
- I watched another amazing performance from the girls from Wasabi Anime at this year’s Masquerade. You should watch, too:
I can’t quite put my finger on it… DragonCon still seemed like a great time, but it wasn’t (as a whole event) as “spectacular” as the past couple of years.
At least I learned early that it is easier and quicker to buy a ticket at the door than it has ever been to buy in advance. Hopefully next year will get more bugs worked out.
Aaron just ran into my wife at DragonCon and was pleasant enough to sign her “Last Supper” BSG pic for her. She said he was very polite about being approached and was very cool about fans approaching him. MANY “CONVENTION CELEBRITIES” should take note from this… because he just made a fan for life. Good form!