Doctor Who – The Good, The Bad and The Timey-Wimey

I first got into Doctor Who in 2006-07 when BBC Entertainment brought to the eyes of the budding viewers in India a strange leather clad adventurer with a blue box. Almost immediately I was captured by Christopher Eccleston’s portrayal of what would become one of my most beloved characters of all time (pun intended!) – a manic and excitable genius, who seemed to also be hiding a darker side. While I had to bid goodbye to my first Doctor all too soon, with Eccleston only getting the one season (the second shortest reign of any Doctor), I shall never forget what he awakened in me – a great love for all things Who and a slight man-crush on his successor David Tennant.

Let me stop myself there. I seem to have started on a line of thought that could go on forever (or at least roughly 1304 years, if you get my drift.) Let’s get to what we’re here to talk about – the 50th Anniversary. But before you read on, let me warn you… Spoilers sweety! (I really hope you read that to yourself in the voice of River Song, otherwise it was just creepy!)

** For the rest of this article make your way to the full version on the Comic Addicts website run by my fellow geek, author and imagineer Akshay Dhar **

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Six Seasons and A Movie – Community Gets Renewed

I am truly torn about the news that one of my favorite show in many years will be back for a 5th season. The recent season finale pulled in massive numbers and despite the feeling amongst many fans that the show jumped the shark once Dan Harmon was let go, it still has a lot of support and love. The truth is, I can’t blame people for still wanting to watch it, even though it isn’t the show it used to be.

From the very beginning Season 4 had a dark shadow overhead. Harmon, the original creator and visionary, was no longer in charge, and fans feared what this meant for their beloved Greendale Human Beings. As it turned out, it meant sub-par episodes and a comedy legend calling it quits after a long spiral of negativity towards the show and its creator. But despite the general aura that the show was beginning to flat-line, I still had hope.

Truth be told, there were moments – fleeting ones – but moments nonetheless, where I saw the brilliance this show used to possess bleed through the blah it has become. Episodes like the “Advanced Documentary Filmmaking” and “Basic Human Anatomy” had solid build-up and spiked my interest, but sadly they lacked the follow-through of the old seasons. “Heroic Origins” was a particularly capturing episode, right up to its end, which just fell flat, even though the episode started at such a high point that I actually swore to my friend, who decided that Community ended at Season 3, that there was life in this old dog yet!

But nothing is as definitive of the show’s flat-lining as the Season Finale – “Advanced Introduction to Finality”. I have to admit, that while watching I was unaware it was the final episode, which did alter my reception of it, but that’s beside the point. At first i thought a revival of The Darkest Timeline was brilliant! The show looked like it was kicking it into high gear – in the words of Abed “They found a way to make paintball cool again” – a solid nod to some of the best episodes of the old seasons. But then it went and became “blah” by just explaining it away as a dream sequence. And Chevy’s little storm-in right off at the end – how dreadfully matter-of-fact!

So it is that I find myself not knowing how to feel about the news that the Study Group will be back for another season (minus Chevy). I still remember how great this how used to be, and frequently re-watch old episodes – you can’t help but form a slight emotional investment in such brilliantly sculpted characters – so it’s really hard to watch them disappoint you – but you still want to watch.

Maybe there is a miracle around the corner. Maybe some time away will make people realize this show needs to go back to its roots. If they really want to do this one more time, they better make it count. I refuse to watch this show slowly fizz out like Heroes – If they’re going down, I want them to go out guns blazing.

I’m also unsure how to feel about the departure of Chevy Chase. I mean this man is a comedy legend – his many years of starting SNL with this iconic fall, his MANY movies – Fletch, Caddyshack, the Vacation series – I absolutely love this guy! Too bad he is a complete prick! His antics and resistance was a major contributing factor in Harmon’s departure – like his character, he was just becoming harder and harder to deal with. I tried my best to separate the man from his work, but I fear I have lost repeat for both. On the bright side though, maybe his departure will open up a possibility of the creator’s return?

Help us Dan Harmon. You’re our only hope.

Easter Egg Hunt

As exciting as it is to find chocolate covered in glitter and paint in the middle of a patch of grass, those aren’t the easter eggs I’m talking about. I’m talking about the virtual kind. A lot of you might be familiar with these, even if you don’t know it. A virtual easter egg is basically a hidden message or image tucked away in a movie, TV show, computer program, video game, crossword, heck anything really. They’re usually left behind by the author as a little joke or just a nod to rivals or deserved predecessors. The term was apparently coined by Atari – legends in the arcade game industry (who sadly filed for bankruptcy earlier this year).

For fans they are a lot of fun indeed. In fact for those of us who just don’t seem to get ever get tired of watching great movies – like the Avengers, Indiana Jones, Kill Bill, Star Wars (the original trilogy), Die Hard, Back to the Future – and a million others, it’s a real kick to catch these little hidden images or references. It’s like an extra dollop of hot chocolate on your sunday or (if you are so inclined) sprinkles on top of your scoop. It’s also fun to see that the creators themselves have a sense of humor. Sure this is phenomenon more common to more light-hearted genres, but easter eggs are abound in movies you wouldn’t have even thought of. I can just imagine a software designer or director chuckling to himself as he throws in a joke most people would not even notice – only the worthy (and the unbelievably obsessed).

Some quick examples of my favorite easter eggs before parting:

  • Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom – In the beginning of the movie we see our hero visiting a night club called “Club Obi Wan”! Classic example of George Lucas having some fun with some cross-franchise homage.
  • Pixar with its constant references to its other movies – The little girl from Monsters Inc. with her Nemo doll and the Pizza delivery car from Toy Story which was in almost every other Pixar flic!
  • Thor – Ok this one is pretty subtle. In the movie Portman gives Thor her ex boyfriend’s clothes – his name being Donald Blake. Those more familiar with the Thor comics will realize that this is actually Thor’s alter ego, his human identity.
  • Stan Lee – Ok this man is a legend! And if you pay close attention, you’ll realize he’s in like every Marvel movie. He’s the man reading the paper who almost gets run over in Daredevil, he’s one of the security guards leaving the facility in the beginning of the movie in Hulk (along with the original big man himself, Lou Ferigno), he’s in the crowd as the balcony collapses in Spiderman, a mail man in Fantastic Four – ok you get the idea!
  • The episode of HIMYM where Marshall’s dad dies – It was somewhere around No. 42 I think that my friend and I realized their was a countdown, prompting us to go back to the beginning and yell out loud every time we found the next number. Great easter egging, though around No. 3 I remember thinking, oh no, oh crap, something bad is gonna happen…

Right so maybe I’ve helped open your eyes to a whole new world! Or maybe I’ve just given you a few funny examples. Or maybe I’ve contributed absolutely nothing to your life whatsoever. Well it can’t all be sunshine and rainbows can it sonny?

Then again, maybe you got more than you know. Close followers of my blog might realize that there may just be a few hidden eggs here and there, if you’re really looking ; )

8 Shows That Ended Too Soon

Isn’t it just the most frustrating thing in the world to watch a TV show, follow it, become invested in the storyline, start to like/identify with the characters, only to have it cancelled before it can play out its time and leave you with some feeling of closure?! Time and again I have had my heart-broken to find out that a show that I totally got hooked on just wasn’t going to get another season. And I know studios have their reasons – low ratings, strong competition, budgets – blah! blah! blah! Sometimes I wish I was Peter from the episode of Family Guy where he steals like a 100 “Neilson boxes” so he can influence the ratings and get whatever he wants on the air!

Here’s my list of shows that I wish the studios had a little more faith in or where the creators had fought just a little bit harder to keep in on the air or where airheads who get shows like “The Jersey Shore” to go on for 6 seasons  (Yeah 6! How is that possible!!!) would have watched something with a plot instead of sitting on the couch literally getter dumber:

  1. Firefly: On the top of my, and I am sure thousands of others’, list of shows that needed to go on is the Futuristic Western Firefly. This show had an amazing cast, was immensely imaginative and to this day, despite only airing 14 episodes has a huge following that has made the thing of geek legend. Studios even attempted to give fans closure by making a movie – “Serenity” – which was pretty good, but had nothing on the show! Side Note: I watched the movie years before I knew about the TV show – have to thank my good friend Akshay for getting me onto it.
  2. Flame of Recca: Psychic weapons, Ninjas and Fire Dragons – what’s not to like! Though not strictly cancelled, the Flame of Recca definitely ended too soon. There were dozens of holes in the story that needed to be plugged and the show could have easily pulled off another season! Side Note – Also has a great opening theme (don’t understand a single word of it though). Plus, hands down my favorite Anime of all time.
  3. The Adventures of Brisco County Jr: Okay if I tried to describe the plot of this show to you, you’d probably say “Of course it got cancelled”. But despite how silly the overall storyline sort of was, the show itself was awesome! Set back in the ol’ west but with constant references to contemporary culture and jokes that sort of take the piss of themselves. And of course the brilliant Bruce Campbell as the star. Side Note: How many of you realized that the king of B-Horror Movies was also the hilarious Autolycus from Xena: Warrior Princess?
  4. My Name is Earl: I loved this show! It was awesome. So many funny stars and interesting characters. How could they cancel it?! Side Note: Practically everyone form the show is on the new hit Raising Hope – and they make quite a few allusions to My Name is Earl
  5. John Doe: An interesting show about a man who knows everything, except who he is and where he comes from. I really liked the lead actor, Dominic Purcell, and was so super disappointed  when the show didn’t get picked up for another season, especially after the first one ended on such an unbelievably shocking moment of betrayal! Side Note: Episode 14 was one of the rare instances in my adult life where a TV show has actually made me well up.
  6. Now and Again: A fat John Goodman, down on his luck dies in a tragic accident and has his brain transplanted into a genetically enhanced super-human. Sounds ridiculous I know but the show was awesome and Dennis Haysbert, famous for playing the Black President on 24, was pretty good on the show. Side Note – Really catchy opening theme.
  7. Arrested Development: Hands down one of the funniest shows in recent history – great writing, brilliant cast – so why did it only run for 3 seasons! I mean come on, Family Guy is now on Season 11 and that’s only ONE of Seth McFarlane’s shows. Rumours have been around for the last two years that there will be a movie – though I haven’t heard of any recent developments. Side Note: Jason Bateman is simply superb at his uncomfortable cynical form of humor, but in my opinion he’s so much better on TV than on the big screen.

And the last one… No. 8 – Community – Yes, I know the new season just started, but it really feels like its going to be the last one. Lets face it, without Dan Harmon will this show really be able to live up to the reputation that they’ve built for themselves? There were rumors that Chevy Chase was off the show, but it seems he’s staying on, for this latest season at least – What is up with his character though? Last season he became like a less funny, more sad, really old version of Charlie Sheen. Sigh. I used to love this guy – from Update to Fletch. What happened to you Chevy?