Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Super Friends

This webvid from actor Tim Daly and his son Sam may just be one of the greatest things I've seen all week.

By way of set-up, Tim was the voice of Superman in the '90s animated series as well as several movies, and Nathan Fillion (Firefly, Castle) has been the voice for the animated Green Lantern (with both actors reprising their roles in the just-released Justice League: Doom). That's all you need to know in order to enjoy it. Now watch:

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Dumb & Dumber

Between Rick Santorum's loopy proclamations that separation of church & state make him want "to throw up" and wanting kids to go to college equates with snobbery, and Mitt Romney's painful inability to engage with voters in a human, non-focus grouped way, the Republican presidential primary isn't really shaping up as referendum on the party's best and brightest. Jon Stewart surveys the damage:

Monday, February 27, 2012

Get Carter

There's been a real dogpile going on in the industry press for the past few weeks vis-a-vis Disney's upcoming John Carter, a big budget epic starring Friday Night Lights' Taylor Kitsch as the legendary space hero created by Tarzan's Edgar Rice Burroughs. And indeed, if the budget projections are true, then there's an ungodly amount of money on the line for a property very few people have heard of, starring an actor even fewer people know. But while this may well shape up to be a bit of a boondoggle for the Mouse House, that doesn't make me any less excited for the pic (which opens a week from Friday).

Unfortunately, the job of promoting the movie -- directed by Andrew Stanton, who helmed the superlative Pixar film Wall-E -- hasn't been helped much by the trailers, which do a nice job showcasing the project's scope, but do nothing to appeal to those not already versed in the intricacies of Burroughs, and the non-descriptive title, which removed "...of Mars" from after the character's name when focus grouping deemed it a tough sell. Needless to say, this one has its work cut out for it, but as this fan-made trailer put together by The John Carter Files shows, there's a compelling story in here that has real potential.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Nostalgia Theater:
Night Man -- Marvel's Short-Lived Media Star

In this age of Marvel Studios starting up new film franchises the way Starbucks used to open java houses, it seems hard to believe -- and almost comical -- that there was a time when the comic company was a total joke when it came to transferring its properties to any medium other than print. By the mid-'90s, while DC had enjoyed quite a bit of success with its Superman and Batman movie series, all Marvel had to show was the triple threat of terribleness that was Howard the Duck, 1989's The Punisher, and 1990's Captain America.

A long-planned, long-promised Spider-Man movie headed up by James Cameron was languishing in legal limbo, with no end in sight, while an X-Men movie was also no closer to reality. And things weren't much rosier for Marvel on the television front, with no small screen successes to speak of other than the '77-'82 Incredible Hulk series -- which was itself almost twenty years old. It all turned around for Marvel in fall of '97, though, thanks to the emergence of a property that became, ever so briefly, Marvel's biggest media star. That's right, I'm talking about Night Man.

Uhh....who?

Friday, February 24, 2012

Clip-clip-cloppidy-cloo!

I'm staring down the barrel of a rapidly approaching Dreaded Deadline Doom on not one, but two different writing assignments, so while I'll still try to get it posted today, Nostalgia Theater may end up having to wait until tomorrow (it's the same DDD, by the way, that caused me to miss out on Ghost Rider last weekend despite my promise to the contrary -- but then, it looks like the rest of America found something better to do as well). In the meantime, here's a clip from Wednesday's Conan that's had a certain tune stuck in my head for two days now:

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Still Divorced

Five years ago, on the occasion of Fox's The Simpsons hitting its landmark 400th episode, I posted this treatise from my friend and fellow disgruntled Simpsons fans Brian Hall, wherein he likened his frustration with the state of Springfield to a spouse finally walking away from a longterm relationship. Here's a piece of what he said back then:
I can’t believe I have stuck around for 400 episodes but I think it was necessary for me to see that it is time for us to part ways. I can never discredit you for all the good you’ve done for me and will always visit reruns to remember the good times. Scratch that, the great times. 
 I will miss you and truly do wish you the best of luck.
Unlike Brian, I've kept the series a part of my DVR rotation even though it's been mediocre-to-bad for even longer than it was good. But with The Simpsons' 500th ep airing this past Sunday, I reached out to Brian once more to see if his thoughts about his ex have changed or softened in the interim. Here's what he had to say:

Monday, February 20, 2012

Watch Out

I've mentioned on this site a few times how much I appreciate Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons' Watchmen graphic novel from DC Comics, falling in with the plurality of those who consider it one of the finest works of comic art ever produced. Thus, when word broke a few weeks ago about DC Comics' attempt to squeeze some more blood from the Watchmen IP rights by producing a series of prequels under the umbrella title "Before Watchmen," it was natural that several folks reached out to me to offer up some kind of a reaction. After all, in comic book circles, this is sort of the equivalent of when they first announced the Star Wars prequels.

But like with that much-derided trilogy (though there it was only in hindsight), this too seems like a perfunctory addition to a story that was already complete in and of itself. It really didn't need any appendages tacked on to make it more effective -- something I'd be saying even if the original creative team was involved (something that is most assuredly not the case for Moore). And while I'd been planning to type something up about this new Watchmen venture for awhile now, I kept going back to comments I made in this post about my mixed feelings on Terminator Salvation in '09, which I think are equally applicable in this instance:

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Rick Santorum's God Games

Even two months ago, the notion that Rick Santorum could pose a serious challenge to the financial preeminence of Mitt Romney in the race for the Republican nomination (much less actually leading Romney in many polls) would have been dismissed as fanciful hugger-mugger. And yet here we are and, well, here we are. It's yet another worrying sign of where what passes for today's Republican orthodoxy has taken the party of the once-Big Tent. More than that (assuming Santorum actually snakes the nomination), it also portents just how nasty the election fight is liable to get when it comes to the igniting of religious brush fires in the electorate.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Nostalgia Theater:
America's Brief, Torrid Love Affair With ALF

A conversation with your friend and mine, Brian Hall, regarding last week's Dinosaurs post got me reminiscing about another puppet-based show that enjoyed a short surge of pop culture saturation a few years prior. I speak, of course, of ALF, a sitcom about the wacky hijinks that ensue when a suburban family has a space alien crash in their garage and move in with them (ALF as in Alien Life-Form -- get it?).

When looked at in hindsight, ALF is a textbook example of what I like to call "hangover" TV (not to be confused with The Hangover: The Series, which I'm sure some genius development exec is pitching even as I type this...). It initially shot up like a rocket (no pun intended), taking viewers on a dizzying bender that was over just as quickly as it began, leaving the audience feeling tired, confused, and ever-so-slightly guilty. "Oh man, did I watch that?"

Yep, that you did, America:

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Squared Cage

Despite the fact that it's not being screened for critics -- never a good sign -- I'm still planning on checking out the second Ghost Rider flick sometime this weekend so I can post a review (I swear, the things I do for you guys...). In the meantime though, check out this very funny appearance by star Nicolas Cage from last weekend's Saturday Night Live as he exchanged words with...Nicolas Cage.

Monday, February 13, 2012

From The Onion...

Another brilliant one from The Onion, which has really been on a roll lately...
New Breeding Program Aimed At Keeping Moderate Republicans From Going Extinct
A snippet:
According to members of the Initiative to Protect the Political Middle (IPPM), centrist Republicans, who once freely roamed the nation calling for both economic deregulation and a return to Reagan-era tax rates on the wealthy, are in dire need of protection, having lost large portions of their natural terrain to the highly territorial Evangelical and Tea Party breeds. 
"Our new program is designed to isolate the few remaining specimens of moderate Republicans, mate them in captivity, and then safely release these rare and precious creatures back into the electorate," said IPPM’s Cynthia Rollins, who traces the decline of the species to changes in the political climate and rampant, predatory fanaticism. "Within our safe, enclosed habitats, these middle-of-the-road Republican Party members can freely support increased funding for public education and even gay rights without being threatened by the far-right subgenus." 
Working within a narrow three-election-cycle window to reverse the decline before extinction becomes imminent, political conservationists told reporters they have already begun the arduous process of tracking down members of the elusive breed of sensible, non-reactionary public officeholders, which a generation ago was one of the most plentiful GOP species in existence.
Much more here.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Nostalgia Theater: ABC's Dinosaurs

Back in the late '80s and early '90s, after The Simpsons' early runaway success helped put the Fox network on the map, we saw a brief rush of attempts by the other nets to capture some of that "animated sitcom" mojo for themselves, resulting in a flood of blink-and-gone primetime 'toons like Capital Critters, Fish Police, Family Dog, etc. One of the few tries that actually made it for a little while was Dinosaurs, a puppet-animatronic sitcom initially developed by Muppets creator Jim Henson in the late '80s, but brought to fruition just under a year after his death by son Brian, Disney and ABC TV.


Wednesday, February 08, 2012

From The Onion...

Oh, man. Talk about a page right out of my life...
Study Reveals Majority Of Suicides Occur While Trying To Put Fitted Sheet On Bed 
BALTIMORE—According to a study published Monday in Psychological Bulletin, more than 83 percent of suicides take place when an individual is faced with the task of putting a fitted sheet onto a mattress. "In the majority of these cases, people end their lives after trying in vain to get the short side of the sheet onto the long side of the bed, and at least one-third kill themselves after struggling with the final corner only to realize it is their own body weight preventing the sheet from stretching far enough," said Johns Hopkins University psychologist Dr. Khalil Mazarhi, adding that suicide victims are usually discovered in close proximity to fitted sheets that are either partially covering a mattress or balled up in a corner of the room. "The tragic irony of this phenomenon is that a significant number of people will actually use the sheet to hang themselves." The study concludes with a recommendation that, for personal safety, fitted sheets only be handled when a second person is present.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Recommended Reading

Interesting piece by Patricia Murphy for The Daily Beast on how the Tea Party, largely credited with winning the House for the Republicans in the last election cycle, may well have been rendered toothless thanks to the mechanics and maneuverings in the Republican primary that seem to have preordained Mitt Romney as the nominee. From the article:
“The Tea Party movement is dead. It’s gone,” says Chris Littleton, the cofounder of the Ohio Liberty Council, a statewide coalition of Tea Party groups in Ohio. “I think largely the Tea Party is irrelevant in the primaries. They aren’t passionate about any of the candidates, and if they are passionate, they’re for Ron Paul.”

Littleton is one of the many who have endorsed the Texas congressman; he blames the other GOP candidates for the lackluster energy they have generated in the grassroots that hosted a revolution two years ago.
Check out the rest here.

"One Guy in a Unitard"

With the big ol' batch of Super Bowl movie spots that hit the web over the weekend, one absence I found especially notable was the lack of any promo for The Amazing Spider-Man, which, lest we forget, is also due this summer. In fact, other than the teaser trailer from last July, it's been pretty much radio silence on Sony's risky attempt to reboot the hugely-successful Spider-franchise (the record-breaking 2002 first entry of which was instrumental in bringing about the Age of Movie Heroes we now find ourselves ensconced in -- and of which The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises are arguably the culmination).

While there's been a lot of skepticism surrounding this entry in many web circles, including from me initially, I've been consistently impressed with director Marc Webb's comments on his approach, and I've especially been impressed with star Andrew Garfield's take on, and passion for, the lead role. All of this has led me to think (hope?) that this film may well do for the Marvel Comics webspinner what Batman Begins did for the Caped Crusader in '05 -- create a more realistic, more relatable take on one of the most iconic of superheroes, and which pays audience dividends down the line. Thanks to the new full trailer that Sony put out last night at midnight, my initial optimism appears to be well founded, and I have a feeling a lot of naysayers will be quieted once they see this:

Monday, February 06, 2012

The Avengers Hit the Super Bowl

As we've come to expect with the big game ever year, yesterday's Super Bowl offered up fresh looks at some of the anticipated heavyhitters populating movie screens in the next few months. In addition to the G.I. Joe spot we already talked about last week, there was also a new teaser for The Avengers, which Marvel helpfully released online with thirty seconds added on. There's some stuff in there we've already seen, but plenty we haven't, including our first clear look at Mark Ruffalo's take on the Hulk (above). Also, the bit at the end with the titular team gathered back-to-back (to-back-to-back) does a whole lot of the heavy lifting. Just a great, iconic shot.


After the jump, check out the extended spot for Disney's upcoming John Carter, a long-in-coming screen adaptation of the literary sci-fi hero created by Tarzan's Edgar Rice Burroughs. I was on the fence about this when I saw the first trailer last fall, feeling that it looked like what you'd end up with if you stuck Prince of Persia and Tron Legacy in a blender and hit purée, but the more I've seen, the more I've been coming around, and I'm actually look forward to checking it out when it opens in a few weeks.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Nostalgia Theater: The G.I. Joe Comic Commercials

Apologies again for not getting this posted yesterday. Assuming life and technology cooperate, Nostalgia Theater will be back to its regular Friday slot next week. For this week's installment, we close out an unplanned trilogy of posts on the various animated escapades of G.I. Joe by circling all the way back to the beginnings of the brand's "Real American Hero" iteration -- appropriate, considering that this year marks an amazing thirty years since the line was inaugurated.

It seems difficult to imagine now, but when Hasbro first brought Joe back from obsolescence, it was no surefire hit. On the contrary, in fact. Until then, the popular conception of G.I. Joe was a 12-inch action figure with rooted hair, a kung fu grip, and various military-themed accessories and outfits to make him the man of action for any occasion -- Barbie for boys, if you will. This version of Joe debuted in 1960 and ran until 1976 (morphing from a generic "army man" into a broader "adventure hero" in the process), but while changing tastes eventually put Joe into cold storage, a complete paradigm shift for boys' toys the following year would end up opening the door for his return.

The cause of this paradigm shift? Believe it or not: George Lucas.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Poor Little Rich Boy

In politics, it's usually the unforced errors that prove the most instructive.

For Mitt Romney, yesterday provided just such a moment, when the Republican frontrunner offhandedly mentioned his focus on the middle class and thus his lack of concern for the "very rich" or the "very poor." Taken out of context, statements like "I'm not concerned about the very poor," tend not to play so well politically, and not only did this offer up yet another instance (like Romney's "I like being able to fire people" gaffe from last month -- again, removed from context, not so good) to bolster the narrative of Romney as "out-of-touch rich guy," but it also demonstrated precisely how out-of-touch he is.

Romney's contention, so confidently asserted, implies that there's somehow parity between the nation's extremely rich, who I'm fairly certain can count on their wealth to help them "get by," and the extremely poor, whose definition of "getting by" differs greatly, and most of whom are just barely holding it together even with the assistance of the crumbling social safety need (crumbling, mind you, because of a sustained Republican assault for decades now). This is a belief so ludicrous and ill-informed that it's laughable on its face. As one would expect, this was a situation Jon Stewart plied to full advantage on last night's Daily Show:

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Indecision 2012 - Mitt Romney on the Poor
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Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Super Joe

Here's the Super Bowl trailer for this summer's upcoming sequel G.I. Joe: Retaliation. I was feeling pretty good about this one after seeing the teaser trailer in December, and the good vibes continue with this assemblage. And considering how underwhelmed I was by the Super Bowl spot for the first Joe in '09, I consider that a very good sign: