Posts tagged Quantum Leap
[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.
I paid $120 at this year’s Dragon*Con to get my photo taken with the guys from Quantum Leap. Why did I spend that much? First, you should know that the photo package offered three things:
- An 8×10 photo to be picked up at the show.
- Another 8×10 photo to be picked up at the show.
- A digital copy so I can print other copies myself.
You see, I wanted the second copy because my mom is also a fan of Quantum Leap. I have really great childhood memories of watching the show with her and the excitement we shared during each episode. We had bona fide “family TV nights” in my home when I was growing up.
Thus, a photo of her “little boy” with Sam and Al would mean just as much to her as my meeting them in person would mean to me.
The money spent ($120) is to create a memory, albeit a short one, that is captured and remembered for a lifetime. You are paying for a private moment to enjoy being “a fan” of someone and/or something.
Some of us like being public with our enthusiasm… hence me posting the photo for all to see: http://www.tomcroom.com/?p=6779
Others, though, cherish the moments as something private. The choice, though, should be left to the consumer (fan) who paid the money.
Instead of emailing copies of the digital photo copies to the paying customers, it seems the folks at Froggy’s photos took the easy way out and just uploaded them onto a Flickr account. This was NOT disclosed before buying the photos, by the way.
(Note: as I typed this post, I went to the Flickr account and found that the photos are gone and the message “This member is no longer active on Flickr” appears instead.)
Well – the account is gone, but the damage is already done.
It seems that a number of comedy/news sites including Funny or Die, Jezebel, Buzzfeed, and dlisted have all taken select photos that Froggy’s photos took at Dragon*Con featuring Luke Perry… and reposted them with less than good intentions.
WHICH LEADS ME TO ASK THIS SIMPLE QUESTION: WHY HAS NO ONE ELSE STEPPED UP TO TAKE OVER DOING WHAT FROGGY DOES?
The reason I paid for the photo through Froggy’s is NOT because of Froggy’s reputation… it was because it was the ONLY choice for getting the photo. With all the horror stories and nightmares I hear with communication issues and other problems (like the one cited in this post) you have to wonder how he keeps returning to conventions.
In short: there’s an obvious business opportunity out there for a talented photographer with some organization skills. With today’s economy as tight as it is, someone should build the “better mousetrap” for convention photography.
I am a firm believer of making proper use of things I purchase and own. More specifically: books, Blu-rays, DVDs and video games.
If I own (or someone gives me a gift of) a movie or TV series to watch, then I insist of watching it as least one time before putting it on “the shelf.” The same applies to books… thus there are a couple of novels sitting on the end table next to my bed that are unfinished (with apologies to Jimmy Buffett and my friend Cynthia Gralla.)
Last weekend I did some housecleaning and got an inventory of the “to watch” stack of video discs sitting near the TV. Here’s the stack waiting to be watched:
- Braveheart (Blu-ray)
- Cowboy Bebop: Remix (The Complete Series)
- Darkwing Duck (Volume 1 )
- Darkwing Duck (Volume 2 )
- Gone with the Wind (Blu-ray)
- Gossip Girl (Season 1 ) *
- Gossip Girl (Season 2 ) *
- Knight Rider (Season 4 ) **
- Logan’s Run (Blu-ray)
- Magnum P.I. (Season 4… almost completed)
- Quantum Leap (Season 5 )
- Starship Troopers (Blu-ray)
- The Godfather (Blu-ray)
- The Godfather Part II (Blu-ray)
- The Godfather Part III (Blu-ray)
- The Powerpuff Girls (The Complete Series… currently on Season 4 )
- The Transformers (The Complete Series)
- The X-Files: I Want To Believe (Blu-ray)
- The X-Files (Season 6… almost completed)
- The X-Files (Season 7 )
- The X-Files (Season 8 )
- The X-Files (Season 9 )
* Someone bought the Gossip Girl DVDs for my wife. I wouldn’t count on me watching those… but she will.
** I do not own Knight Rider (Season 3) yet because I refuse to pay more that $20 for a classic TV box set, thus I am patiently waiting for it to go on sale.
Speaking of TV series box sets… I wonder if Joey Snackpants has picked up his copy of Battlestar Galactica yet.
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.