Saturday, April 07, 2012

MST3K: Season One, Episode One!

Mystery Science Theater 3000 is one of my favorite TV shows of all time – really, it is! If you've never watched it, I feel sorry for you, because it's one of the funniest things you could ever watch. What's the premise? Well, I'll let the lyrics to the theme song tell you:

In the not too distant future, next Sunday AD,
There lived a guy named Joel, not too different from you or me.
He worked at Gizmonic Institute, just another face in a red jump suit,
He did a good job cleaning up the place,
But his bosses didn't like him, so they shot him into space!

We'll send him cheesy movies, the worst we can find (la la la),
He'll have to sit and watch them all, and we'll monitor his mind (la la la).
Now, keep in mind Joel can't control where the movies begin or end (la la la),
Because he used those special parts to make his robot friends.

Robot roll call: Cambot, Gypsy, Tom Servo, Crooooooow!

You're wondering how he eats or breathes,
And other science facts. (la la la)
Just repeat to yourself, “It's just a show,
I should really just relax,
For Mystery Science Theater 3000.”

I swear, listening to that theme song gives me chills! Anyway, Joel Robinson was played by stand-up comedian Joel Hodgson, who was one of those stand-ups with a rather deadpan delivery, but I always found hilarious. The bosses were Dr. Clayton Forrester (named after the main character in War of the Worlds), played by Trace Beaulieu, and his sidekick Dr. Laurence Erhardt, played by Josh Weinstein. Erhardt was later replaced by “TV's Frank,” played by Frank Conniff. Aside from the opening credits, Cambot is never seen – because Cambot is, literally, the camera on the Satellite of Love (which is where Joel and the robots live). Tom Servo is the robot that resembles a gumball vending machine, and was originally voiced by Josh Weinstein, while Crow T. Robot (the gold one) was voiced first by Trace Baulieu. Gypsy (originally voiced by Weinstein) isn't often seen, and supposedly handles the “higher functions” of the Satellite of Love. Weinstein left after the KTMA season (see below – this is often referred to as “Season 0”), and Kevin Murphy took over voicing Tom, and Jim Mallon took over voicing Gypsy.

Episodes pretty much began with introducing Joel and the robots, who usually had something going on to keep themselves occupied, and then the Mad Scientists (collectively called “The Mads”) would contact Joel for the weekly invention exchange. After some bits there, “Movie Sign” flashes, and Joel and the 'bots enter the theater to watch the movie. They're seen at the bottom of the screen in silhouette, and make jokes throughout the entire movie. At breaks in the film, they come out of the theater to perform short skits based on what they've seen, and at the very end of the episode, they usually read fan mail.

The show's first season aired on station KTMA in the Twin Cities of Minnesota, comprising of 21 episodes. As its run there was ending, the creators of the show pitched it to Comedy Central, who picked it up, built new sets, and retooled the robots. In 1993, Joel left the show, being replaced by Mike Nelson (head writer of the show), who stuck with it for the final seasons.

The KTMA episodes are available out there on the internet to watch, but honestly, the video quality is terrible, and they're mostly interesting as curiosities. The comments made during the movies were actual ad-libs, and not scripted, so there's a few times when you're sitting and watching waiting for someone to make a joke, but there's nothing.

Anyway, the purpose of this new feature is for me to watch the shows again (and in some cases, for the first time), and kind of live blog about them as I watch them! So without further ado, here's Season 1, Episode 1, “The Crawling Eye”!

The episode begins in a cave, Deep 13, with Dr. Forrester already there, and Dr. Erhardt arriving, saying he may have been spotted despite his disguise. Since the Mads are doing this experiment to see what movie is awful enough to unleash upon the world population and take over the entire planet, it's understandable that security is important!

They call Joel for the invention exchange. Joel's invented an Electric Bagpipe by attaching a leaf blower to a bagpipe, which sounds as bad as you can imagine. Joe and the Bots perform “Whole Lotta Love” with the electric bagpipe. The Mads' invention is based on the idea that dogs don't sweat, so they've taken a pineal gland from a dog, extracted serum from it, and inject it into Dr. Erhardt to close up his pores. Dr. Erhardt starts panting like a dog as a result, so Dr. Forrester gives him the antidote.

The Bots make fun of the Mads' invention, but Joel is more complimentary. Dr. Forrester then sends the week's movie. On the Satellite of Love, Movie Sign flashes, and Joel and the Bots go crazy then head to the theater. We see the door sequence and are then in the theater!
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Since the first shot is of a mountain, one of the Bots says, “This must be a Paramount Picture!” There's a bunch of jokes based on the mountain climbers seen in the opening scene, and when a climber is killed and drops down in front of his fellow climbers, Joel says, “Going down!” Joel also interacts with the screen for the first time, trying to help them pull up a rope. A Mike Nesmith joke is made based on the wool stocking cap one of them is wearing! Then we cut to a train entering a tunnel before the opening credits. The gang make fun of the opening credits with lines and arrows pointing to each credit. Then the train comes out of the tunnel. That should give you an idea of how the gags fly!

As the film progresses, the robots and Joel start some running gags... the appearance of Forrest Tucker (the star of the movie) usually prompts an F-Troop comment; when two women (sisters) are introduced, Crow adds, “They'll drink anything!” based on an early scene where one of the sisters accepts a drink from Forrest Tucker's flask. Also, when German or Swedish is spoken, they usually provide an amusing translation. When a character is on the phone, they'll provide the voice on the other end of the line if it's not in the film. When two men wearing hats meet Tucker, the Bots refer to the men as “The Hat Brothers.” There's a mountain climber appearing in the movie who is, frankly, overweight, and every time he appears, one of the Bots makes a comment about him being too fat to climb a mountain.

Most of the jokes end up adding to the end of a sentence someone's said. For example, after one character says they've got a schedule to keep, one of the bots says, “And a death scene to have!” Amusingly, in the movie, there's a scientist who vaguely resembles Dr. Forrester, but nobody comments on this at all. However, since the scientist also resembles Groucho Marx (especially “You Bet Your Life” era Groucho), there are a number of Marx Brothers gags made. When the scientist tells Tucker about recent mountain climbing accidents, and that the search parties never find anything, and why is that, Tom Servo chimes in, “They're not very good search parties?”
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At the first break from the film, the gang talk about the movie so far. Crow complains he thought there'd be more music. The robots can't understand why people in the movie are concerned about their heads being removed, because of course robots are able to recover from that. There's a whole discussion about figures of speech involving heads. This then leads to gags about figures of speech, head cheese, and so forth before going to commercial.

The movie returns after the commercial, and Tom notices the third or fourth reappearance of a matte painting of a mountain (the same one seen when the “Paramount” gag was mentioned). Of course, the gang all notice when the movie purports to show some evidence of something weird happening, but nothing shows anything that seems to indicate a thing! Another F-Troop gag is made when a character turns on a television set.

Some of the more literate gags made in the episode include a “Rosebud” reference, as well as to the old Walter Winchell radio program. But as Joel had been known to say (the real Joel), they didn't worry about whether or not everyone gets every gag... the right people will get them! Another gag riffs off of the Wizard of Oz, although it also adds some gags based on famous people some of the actors resemble vaguely. A little less than halfway through the movie, Crow asks, “Are we ever going to see the monster, Joel?” because, naturally, we haven't seen the monster yet. There are a number of other jokes made about the lack of a monster on-screen as the show goes on.
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There's a nice run of gags based on the sisters with the psychic act, where one of the robots starts spouting off a series of famous prophecies that were supposedly made and turned out to be accurate. It's not much after this before the gang leaves the theater again for another skit! Tom and Crow hope that Joel won't notice that Gypsy has completely uncoiled (there's flexible pipe all over the stage). When Joel offers some RAM chips to snack on, Gypsy comes out of hiding. Apparently, she exists at the end of a very long flexible pipe, and she's been wandering around the Satellite of Love without paying attention to when she's crossed her own path. When they can't make any more jokes about this, a Fibber McGee gag leads them back to Movie Sign again!

A plane flying through a scene prompts a Fantasy Island gag – kind of surprising, because they waited through several other scenes with the plane first! A Señor Wences gag follows shortly afterwards! Other pop culture references include some lengthy Popeye gags, a Leave it to Beaver gag (when a cleaver is spotted), the standard The Shining gag (“Here's Johnny!”), and a Psycho reference... all within a few minutes.

crawlingeye_lc5The next break, the gang talk about the horrifying... Forrest Tucker! At least, the robots feel that Forrest Tucker is more horrifying than the film's monster. The monsters also point out some of the various ways that the Crawling Eye could be easily defeated (such as throwing salt or lemon juice on it).


Another running gag involves shots where a cable car appears – although all of the jokes based on cable TV (like saying, “Oh, look, they have cable!” “Oh, now they'll have to wait all day for the cable guy!”). Also, once the Crawling Eyes actually appear, there are a few jokes based on the word “eye” as well as homonyms (Joel sings “Ay, yi yi yi...” at one scene). In fact, at some point even Joel gets tired of the eye jokes and tells the robots to stop – but then he makes another joke himself! A break from the eye jokes comes with the appearance of a fighter jet, giving the opportunity for a joke based on “Top Gun” to be made.

One interesting aspect of this episode is that a clip of the Crawling Eye itself ended up being used for the opening credits for most, if not all, of the series.

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After the movie is over, Joel and the robots enjoy some RAM chips and dip. Each robot has to say a good thing and a bad thing about the movie (Crow says a good thing is it wasn't longer, the bad thing it was this long). The Mads are happy about this experiment and press the button to end the show quickly. No viewer mail this time around.

I almost have to feel sorry for the writers of the show, given how often they had to have watched the movie in order to script out all the gags for Joel and the Bots! But I suppose their sacrifice is our gain, eh? It really is an awful movie!

Comic Book Ads!

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This installment of Comic Book Ads begins with this "Super Saturday on ABC" ad that appeared in Mighty Samson #20, among other Gold Key titles, to promote the Fall 1969 Saturday Morning lineup! This first page features Casper the Friendly Ghost, The Smokey Bear Show, and the Cattanooga Cats. Now, I think I watched the Smokey show, but I definitely remember the Cattanooga Cats, the latest Hanna-Barbera rock group cartoon to hit the airwaves! The Smokey show was a Rankin-Bass production (they would achieve greater success in the 1970s with their Jackson Five and Osmonds cartoons). Oddly enough, that "New Adventures of Casper the Friendly Ghost" actually featured reruns from the 1963-1964 season as well as some of the original film shorts!

Friday, April 06, 2012

Kirby Kovers!

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It's time for some Kirby Kovers, and this time around, I'm beginning with The Invaders #4! I like to think that Jack enjoyed doing Invaders covers, because he seemed to really cut loose with them! I think this cover is beautifully composed, and it's full of action! Check it out, from left to right: Cap bashes a Nazi sailor so hard that the guy's upside down before he knows what happened! Then the Torch throws fireballs at a machine gun, causing it to melt and explode in the hands of its wielder! Then there's Namor, held in the giant hand of U-Man, the renegade Atlantean, and fighting him off! The only real complaint I have about this cover is it almost looks like someone re-drew Namor's face!

Cover Redux!

So, here's a new feature I've been wanting to get to for some time now! As some of you may know, when I go to comic book conventions, often I do most of my comics purchases out of the cheap boxes -- they used to be quarter boxes, nowadays it's at least 50 cent boxes. Often, I'll end up getting some Marvel reprint titles, like Marvel Triple Action, Marvel Tales, Marvel's Greatest Comics, etc. because, hey, it's still good comics, even if it's reprints! Well, at some point I realized that many of the reprint books had either modified the original cover art for the reprint, or in some cases, created all-new art! So, what I'll be doing each time this feature comes up is present four sets of covers -- original and reprint -- and comparing them and seeing what kind of changes were made, if any. In some cases, there's just going to be minor coloring variations, and I may not even mention those (it's different if the coloring completely changes the art, such as the original being colored for night, and the reprint is colored for day). And I'll even make this interactive -- if you spot differences I didn't, please mention them in the comments! I may even post one set of covers and challenge you to find any differences! So, click on the jump and let's begin!

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Monster Stuff!

OK, Monster Monday is done -- finished, kaput! No more weekly features here, nosiree! Of course, that just means I have to post Monster Stuff some other time... like how about now? I'm going to be doing some kind of overly complicated thing where I'm alternating this with some other features, so you'll never know for sure when this stuff will appear! Nyah-heh-heh-heh-heh!

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And this installment begins with some lobby cards, a poster, and four stills from "From Hell It Came"!

CBT: Dragon's Lair - Dirk the Daring Saves Princess Daphne!

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Wednesday, April 04, 2012

It Oughtta Be...

Yes, it's time to introduce another new recurring feature on Random Acts of Geekery! "It Oughtta Be..." will -- when it comes up -- offer up some kind of geek-related series (whatever the media it originated in) and suggest what other form of media it would work well in. For example, it could be a comic series that I think would make for a great TV series. I'll offer up my opinions on how it should work in the new format, and so forth!

For this first installment, I think that the Piers Anthony "Xanth" books should be adapted as movies. For those not in the know, this is a series of books (three dozen in total once the current book is released this year) that take place in the magical land of Xanth, where puns tend to occur often, every human being born has some kind of magical ability, and our world is referred to as "Mundania." In geography, Xanth vaguely resembles Florida, with major differences. The first book, "A Spell for Chameleon," introduces us to Bink, who appears to have no magic talent and is to be exiled to Mundania (because that's the law at the current time). He goes to the Good Magician Humfrey (a character who appears in just about every one of the books), who's known as the Magician of Information, to learn if he does have a talent at all, and what that could be, but Humfrey can't identify it.

The series has pretty much the full range of fantasy creatures, from centaurs to mermaids to ogres and more, including many creatures unimagined outside of the Xanth books. I've been a fan of the Xanth books for quite some time, but hadn't kept up on them since about 1991 or 1992, but I was reintroduced to them a few years back when I came upon the first dozen or so a a garage sale, so I snatched them up on the spot. Now, my wife and I have a ritual of sorts every evening, when we go to bed, in which I'll read to her before we fall asleep. In the past, we've read the Harry Potter series as well as the Ender books. Currently, we're reading Xanth (as I'm writing this, we're on book #18 in the series).

As I've been reading some of these books for the first time (and re-reading some for a multiple of times), it's occurred to me that this could be made into an entertaining movie series -- especially given that the Harry Potter series is long done, and hopefully there won't be any more Twilight movies soon -- and that maybe Hollywood could be looking at a new fantasy series that could last a while.

I see this movie series as best being accomplished in animated form, preferably CGI, using a style similar to "The Incredibles," perhaps. Why animated? Because each book tends to jump a number of years ahead of the previous one, so we see some characters introduced as infants who eventually grow up to adulthood. Plus, I think it's just more economical to go all CGI instead of some live-action and some CGI. Finding the right voices for characters could be a challenge, but thanks to the characters aging, if one voice doesn't really work out, they could be replaced.

There's really two main obstacles in bringing the Xanth books to the big screen... the first thing is the writing of the scripts. As I said, there's puns galore in Xanth, and some of the puns are kind of explained in the narrative instead of the dialogue, so that would need to be accommodated. In some cases, things may just need to be eliminated because it would take too much screen time to explain it.

The other aspect that would prove difficult is the somewhat casual nudity in the series. Centaurs in Xanth don't wear clothes at all -- not even the females. Now, there are two ways this could be dealt with: 1) All the female centaurs (as well as female mermaids and the like) have long enough hair that it just happens to cover up the nudity, or 2) Working within the series conceit of the Adult Conspiracy, you fuzz up the nudity as needed. One of the characters could comment on it ("Why is her chest all blurry?" "The Adult Conspiracy prevents children from seeing it clearly, and children are present," or some such thing). Some things would have to be dealt with by just having things referred to and not seen at all, being subtle in the approach.

But overall, I think it could be a very entertaining series, especially if they were able to release a new movie every year -- like I said, there will be by the end of this year 36 books in the series, so there's a considerable backlog to work with!

Dog of the Geek: Queequeg!

Queequeg_is_bathed_by_Dana_ScullyBreed: Pomeranian.

Original Appearances: The X-Files (first appeared in 1995)
Other Appearances: Unknown, possibly in an X-Files comic or novel.
Biography: Queequeg was originally owned by Mrs. Lowe, who lived in an apartment. When psychic Clyde Bruckman was collecting garbage from the apartment, he had a vision of the dog as eating bloodied human remains, so he shooed the dog away from the door. Bruckman was concerned about whether Mrs. Lowe had enough dogfood, but she took no notice. Later, after Bruckman helped FBI Agents Mulder and Scully on a murder case, the agents found Queequeg and a letter about the dog outside of Lowe's apartment, and it's discovered that Lowe ha died, and apparently Queequeg ate some of the remains. Scully takes Queequeg into her care, naming the dog after the character in Moby Dick (a Scully family tradition – it's unknown what the dog's name was before). Queequeg is never left in a kennel, but instead Scully prefers to leave him with her mother or a local dog-sitter. In one instance, when neither was available, the dog accompanied Scully and Mulder when they went to Heuvelmans Lake in Georgia. Mulder, for his part, did not seem to care for the dog at all, referring to him as “that thing.” During the course of this mission, Queequeg led Scully to a fake animal boot that helped in the investigation, however during the later investigation, Queequeg was apparently eaten alive by a creature called Big Blue, which turned out to be either an alligator (which the agents found) or a plesiosaur-like creature (unnoticed by the agents). Mulder was sorry about Queequeg's fate. Scully later had a conversation with Mulder when she recalled Queequeg, saying, “Poor Queequeg.” Later, when Scully was preparing to go on maternity leave in 2001, she cleared out Mulder's former desk at the X-Files office, taking several small personal effects that included Queequeg's old name tag (recovered at the scene where Queequeg was eaten), which had begun to rust.
Powers: None
Group Affiliation: None.
Miscellaneous: Queequeg only appeared in the episodes “Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose,” “War of the Coprophages,” and “Quagmire,” although he's mentioned in “Alone” and “Trust No 1.” The writer/producers of X-Files have joked that the dog was brought back just to kill him in grisly fashion.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Draw Something! Gallery!

So, I don't know if you've heard of it, but there's this smart phone app called "Draw Something," which is kind of like Pictionary, save that there's no time limit and you're not really competing with anyone.

I started playing this game a week or so ago, mostly on my iPad, and sometimes on my iPhone (definitely prefer playing on the iPad). Being the geek I am, sometimes I'll get a bit geeky with some of my drawings, and I figured I'd save the ones I was either particularly happy with or otherwise just wanted to share (plus, it gives me an excuse to save them... I did a great Secret Squirrel once that I didn't screen capture, and I'm annoyed at myself about it)! And if you happen to play the game, and want to recruit me for a match, my user name there is jon-knutson.

And now, the gallery:

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Clearly, I was going for a Mandrake/Zatara type here... ah, well!

10 of a Kind: Missing DC Characters in Mego's "World's Greatest Superheroes" Toys!

I'm sure I'm not the first, and I won't be the last... but here's my votes for the top 10 missing DC Characters from Mego's "World's Greatest Superheroes" Toys!

1. Lex Luthor
This one is kind of a no-brainer, really. Superman was, after all, one of the first wave of characters, and the only villain made for him in the 8" line was Mr. Mxyzptlk? Really? Fortunately, Mattel came through with their retro action figure line last year.

2. Green Lantern
Another no-brainer... why did they make Green Arrow, and not Green Lantern -- who at least had his own solo title for years and years, plus even had his cartoon segments on Aquaman?

3. The Flash
Yeah, Flash was definitely missing, wasn't he? By including him, there would've been only three of the 1970s JLAers missing from the line. Now, the Atom doesn't really work in the 8" line, but he could've been included with the Flash as some kind of small unjoined plastic figure (like a green army man), maybe designed so that he could sit on the Flash's shoulder.

4. Hawkman
Yes, I know, Hawkman would've been a pain for Mego to produce with those wings... unless they cheated and basically did a wing cape of some kind, which would've been awful. I'm not sure how they could've avoided plastic wings, unless they made cloth wings with wire in them for poseability's sake.

5. Black Canary
Black Canary is the last of the JLAers from the early 1970s that I felt was really missing. Heck, they could've used the Invisible Girl figure and just put different clothes on her!

6. Sinestro
Another hole that Mattel filled in -- because if we add GL to the line, we have to have a villain for him to fight, right?

7. Captain Cold
I could've gone with either Captain Cold or Captain Boomerang for the Flash villain, and I decided to go with Captain Cold, so sue me!

8. The Cheetah
Just because Wonder Woman needs someone to fight, right?

9. Despero
Because you need a powerful villain your assembled JLA could fight!

10. Black Manta
Thought I was going to forget we needed an Aquaman villain, didn't you?

Of course, if these had been part of the line, we would've needed to find other DC characters to gripe that were left out... like Gorilla Grodd, Captain Boomerang, Clayface, Two-Face, and so forth!

Cool Stuff Returns!

Yes, it's the return of Random Acts of Geekery's most popular feature, Cool Stuff! Cool Stuff is scheduled to run every five days, making it the feature running most often! When last we left off, we were in the midst of some Marvel stuff!
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And here's some vintage 1960s Captain America and Hulk pins!

Monday, April 02, 2012

Emerald City Comicon 2012 Wrap-Up!

So, another ECCC has come and gone, and even though I attended it on Saturday and Sunday, I feel as though I didn't get enough of it! I think next year, I'll have to do all three days, because I only went to one panel, and didn't see any of the media guests.

It was a good time, though, and I got lots of great deals. I mentioned the Diamond Select Frankenstein yesterday, which I thought was a deal at $15, but then on Sunday, I found a dealer who'd marked theirs down to $5! But it was okay, because they also had the Diamond Select Wolfman (which I hadn't seen before, and looked like Chaney) and Dracula (which didn't look like any particular Dracula, so I wasn't planning to get it, but...) for the same price, so I picked up both of them!

I also finally found someone with quarter comics, and I picked up $4 worth (at the five for a buck bulk rate), so I did get some actual floppies!

But the bulk -- and I do mean bulk -- of what I bought were trade paperbacks, all at 70% off cover price! Here's the list:

Essential Avengers 2
Essential Dr. Strange 2
Essential Spider-Woman 1
Essential Classic X-Men 2
Essential Avengers 5
Essential Fantastic Four 5
Essential Captain America 4
Showcase Presents Martian Manhunter 2
Showcase Presents Teen Titans 2
Showcase Presents Batman and the Outsiders 1
Showcase Presents Metal Men 1
Showcase Presents Superman Family 3
Showcase Presents Justice League of America 3
Showcase Presents Strange Adventures 1
Showcase Presents Hawkman 1
The Original Encyclopedia of Comic Book Heroes Vol. 1 (Batman)
The Original Encyclopedia of Comic Book Heroes Vol. 3 (Superman)

I could've bought more, but I wasn't sure which volumes I already had or didn't have of some... but that was a pretty good haul, especially for that price!

The one panel I attended was on the future of the Star Trek franchise, which was billed as being hosted by this one writer with a panel of experts, but there was no panel! Instead, the guy who did the panel (I can't find my program book now, or I'd provide his name) talked about what he thought the future of Trek should be in his opinion, and then there were comments, questions, and opinions from the audience.

Yes, I did have a few things to say, but I kept it brief. I agreed with the moderator that I preferred my Star Trek to be on television, rather than a series of movies -- also that I would be happy to see new Trek be in any era (there's a lot of time between Enterprise and the Original Series, for example... one could do an entire series on the Federation-Romulan War, I think; optionally, it could be set on a different starship at the time of the Original Series). I also mentioned that one of the things I didn't like about the new Trek movie was that it had to be some major origin with "look at all these cool ideas I had for how they got together" crap that just made me more annoyed than anything else. Seriously, they had Kirk join Starfleet after all the crew that ended up serving under him, and passing them all in rank? And Spock was that easy for Kirk to make upset? I would've been happier if the movie had opened with Kirk reporting onto the Enterprise as her new captain, and the crew wondering who this guy was, and how did he get to be a captain at that young an age -- and then we can see in his actions why he's the captain.

Anyway... I didn't do any video this time, and didn't get as many photos as I planned, but here's what I have:

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Desi in her Supergirl costume - you can see why everyone wanted their picture taken with her, right?

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Desi and Tristan in their costumes -- Tristan had a harder time remembering to keep his mask on than Tobey Maguire's Spider-Man! I think if he'd stayed masked, more people might've asked to take his photo.

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Some very cool geek-related Lego masterpieces!

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Professor Utonium from The Powerpuff Girls

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A blurry photo of myself and John Lustig, creator of "Last Kiss".

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Black Widow and Catwoman -- there were a lot of Black Widows and Catwomen around!

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Tristan and Desi with a distaff Cobra Commander. I actually had to point out some of the costumes to the kids or else they wouldn't have seen them!

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Sorry about how blurry these pictures are -- I'm not used to taking pictures with my iPhone on the go like this! Anyway, here's Arthur and the Tick!

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Brainiac 5! I also saw a Lightning Lad, but didn't get his picture taken.

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Very blurry Ambush Bug (sorry about that, it was a very good costume, too) and a mini-Cyclops!

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The kids with an old-school Cyclops and his Mini-Me! This Cyclops had to keep raising his visor when he walked around, because he couldn't see very well out of it! He should've had some red sunglasses to wear when he was visorless.

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Tristan with Phoenix!

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This trio of Poison Ivy, a female Robin, and Catwoman asked to have their photos taken with Desi! Speaking of the female Robin, one trend (kind of disturbing) at the convention was women dressed up as female versions of male characters -- and I'm not talking about She-Hulk, Spider-Woman (although there was at least one of them there), Supergirl (quite a few of those) and that sort of thing -- I'm talking female Captain Americas, female Mario and Luigis (two sets of them ran into each other in the lobby area), and so on!

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Desi with Colossus and (I'm guessing here) Kitty Pryde.

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Lone Riddler and Cub

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You might remember movie Tony Stark from last year's video -- he really upped the ante with his power gauntlet this year!

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Mandalorian warrior

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Storm

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Movie Batman continues to be popular, I don't remember seeing any comics Batmen outside of the little kids.

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Leela, a most excellent Bender, and Fry from Futurama, of course! I have to admit, I'm always disappointed when people in costume don't stay in character -- I mean, when people asked to take Bender's photo, he should've been telling them to bite his shiny metal ass, right?

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Crowd shot from Sunday morning, waiting to get in.

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Speedy, Starman, and Green Arrow

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Only one booth really had much for vintage toys, and this was one of their items I wish I could've afforded - a Micky Dolenz doll, but they wanted $65 for it! They also had this Monkees novel I wanted, as well as an old Batman coloring book (among other things), but I couldn't quite see paying the prices they were asking, fair as they were!

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Evil-Lyn and someone in red I don't recognize, probably from Masters of the Universe or She-Ra, Princes of Power.

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Probably the best Darth Vader costume I've ever seen, I wish I had a better photo!

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Old-school Cylon!

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Another blurry photo here, one of the two Power Girls I saw -- this was the only one with the figure for it, though -- and she definitely kept in character for photos!

So, let me say something else about being in costume at conventions... I think part of the fun of dressing up is to be in character as much as possible. Oh, I'm not saying that if you dress up as the Joker, you should try to kill everyone dressed up as Batman, that's not my point at all... But you should at least be prepared to say something like, "Why look, it's half of the Dynamic Dim-Wits! You can't do anything to stop me today, Caped Crumb-Bum!" Likewise, if you're dressed up as a Jedi Knight, and someone asks if they can take your photo, you should at least gesture and intone, "You have already taken my photo."

I think it's especially important to be in character for the kids attending, many of whom think these are the real deal (at least, until they see their fourth or fifth Spider-Man, anyway). And work on the voice, too! If I ever lose my extra weight again and get in better shape to the point where I get my Superman costume out of mothballs, you can be darn sure I'll be in character as much as possible -- and yes, that means if I see a good deal on something I want to by, I'll say, "Great Scott! That is an amazing price!"

It's amazing to me how, in ten short years, this convention has grown... it rivals some of the bigger conventions, and it's going to keep getting bigger. They had three floors of the convention center this time, and they definitely need more space. Having Artist's Alley, the exhibitors, and the dealers in the one room they're in now is not enough space for them, and I know they sell out of spaces fast. I can only hope they'll expand some more... and even start considering at least going all-day on Friday, and in the future, look at making it a four-day event!

Geek TV: Battlestar Galactica (New Series)

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Concept: A true rarity in television – a TV show that originally lasted a single season about a quarter-century earlier, revived with a new cast and new twists on the original concept, and even more successful than before! This second version of Galactica was grittier, with costuming resembling more standard clothing, and the sets having more of a modern-day military look, rather than the futuristic version of the original series. And rather than the “toaster” Cylons of the original series, in this series, the Cylons are nearly identical to humans, and some of them have already infiltrated!


NOTE: This entry features a LOT of spoilers, so if you've never watched this series before but plan to, you might want to skip this entry!

Total Episodes: Five-part miniseries plus 73 regular episodes

Original Air Dates: 2004-2009

Original Network: Scifi Channel

Geek Factor: 9

Characters:

battlestarb2Admiral William Adama (Edward James Olmos): Veteran of the First Cylon War, commanding officer of the battlestar Galactica. Father of Lee Adama and Zak Adama. Admiral Adama doesn't really believe in the religion of his people, and mistrusts politicians. Very loyal to those he considers friends.

President Laura Roslin (Mary McDonnell): After the Fall of the Twelve Colonies, Secretary of Education Laura Roslin is the most senior elected official left alive (43rd in succession). She assumes the Presidency, and shortly begins a friendly but adversarial (well, that's how I see it) relationship with Adm. Adama. She later loses the Presidency to Baltar.

Kara “Starbuck” Thrace (Katee Sackhoff): Gifted Viper pilot with an attitude. Oh, and of course this Starbuck is a female, as opposed to the original series' male Starbuck. She has a strong rapport with Adm. Adama, who seems to view her as the daughter he didn't have.

Leland “Apollo” Adama (Jamie Bamber): Son of Adm. Adama and CAG of Galactica. His relationship with his father has always been strained, moreso since the death of his brother Zak (Lee believes his father's responsible for Zak's death, when in reality, it's more Thrace's fault).

Doctor Gaius Baltar (James Callis): Brilliant scientist, but inadvertent traitor to the human race thanks to his relationship with the Cylon Number Six. After the Fall of the Twelve Colonies, he tries to make up for his actions by acting selflessly, as well as becoming President.

Number Six (Tricia Helfer): Beautiful blonde Cylon who is indistinguishable from a human. There are various Number Sixes out there, but one of them had a relationship with Baltar that put her into a position to weaken the defenses of the Twelve Colonies. Later, this same Number Six has a relationship with Col. Tigh!

Number Eight (Grace Park): Although her shipmates believe she's the human Sharon “Boomer” Valerii, she's actually a sleeper agent who believed herself to be human, hiding her real mission as a saboteur and assassin.

Saul Tigh (Michael Hogan): XO of the Galactica, Tigh appears to be a 71-year-old human, but is actually a 2,000+ year old Cylon! He had false memories implanted in himself that allowed him to believe he was really a human, although as the series progressed, he regained his lost Cylon memories.


Geek Guest-Stars:

Original Apollo Richard Hatch (who'd unsuccessfully tried to revive the original series prior to this) appeared in 22 episodes as Tom Zarek. Lucy Lawless, best known as the lead on Xena: Warrior Princess, appeared as D'Ana Biers in 16 episodes. Lawless also had a cameo in Spider-Man, and voiced Wonder Woman in Justice League: The New Frontier. Dean Stockwell, famous in geek circles for playing Al Calavicci on Quantum Leap, played John Cavil in 14 episodes. Stockwell had also had appearances on the original Twilight Zone, Mission: Impossible, Night Gallery, the 1989 version of Twilight Zone, Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, Star Trek: Enterprise, and Stargate SG-1. He provided the voice of Duke Nukem on Captain Planet and the Planeteers, and provided the voice for the adult Tim Drake in Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker.

Colin Lawence played Lt. Hamish “Skulls” McCall in 13 episodes, but prior to that he had been seen in a 1997 Outer Limits, two episodes of The X-Files, five episodes of Stargate SG-1 (most of those playing Major Warren... or Sgt. Warren, the IMDB has both ranks), a 2002 Twilight Zone, Andromeda, X2, Fantastic Four (2005), Blade: The Series, and Watchmen. Lara Gilchrist played Paulla Schaffer in 10 episodes, but prior to that she voiced the Invisible Woman on the 2006-2007 Fantastic Four, and played Carly on three episodes of the 2007 Bionic Woman. Sebastian Spence had a few minor genre roles before playing Lt. Noel Allison in nine episodes, but perhaps his most vital genre role was playing Ted Kord in a 2011 episodes of Smallville.

Don Thompson played Specialist 3rd Class Figurski in nine episodes, but before that he'd guested in two Stargate SG-1 episodes, played Uncle Pat McCallum on Blade: The Series, guested on two Smallville episodes, four X-Files, and a few other bit genre roles. After Galactica, he played Detective Gallagher on Watchmen. Lorena Gale did voices for some animated shows, guested on a number of genre programs, played Lynette on three episodes of M.A.N.T.I.S., guested in three X-Files, three episodes of Outer Limits (1997-1999), and played Dr. Claire Foster on Smallville for three episodes before playing Elosha in the miniseries as well as eight episodes of the regular series. She also had a brief role in the Fantastic Four movie.

Michelle Forbes played Admiral Helena Cain in three episodes, but she will probably be better remembered for playing Ensign Ro Laren on Star Trek: The Next Generation. More recently, she appeared in 15 episodes of True Blood.

battlestarb3Geek Pedigree:

Series star Edward James Olmos played Gaff in Blade Runner. Most recently, he played Mike Axford in The Green Hornet. Mary McDonnell had an earlier brush with genre politics when she played First Lady Marilyn Whitmore in Independence Day. James Callis played Aspyrtes in the 2000 version of Jason and the Argonauts, and was more recently seen in Eureka playing Dr. Trevor Grant.

While Tricia Helfer didn't really have any genre credits prior to Galactica, I'd be remiss by not mention ing her playing Carla in nine episodes of Burn Notice, a guest-appearance on Chuck, voicing Sif on an episode of The Super Hero Squad Show, and appearing in the 2010 pilot for The Human Target.


Prior to Galactica, Katee Sackhoff's only real genre role was playing Jen in Halloween: Resurrection, but she also appeared in most episodes of the revived Bionic Woman, did a voice in an episode each of Futurama and The Super Hero Squad Show (voicing She-Hulk), had a cameo appearance in an episode of The Big Bang Theory as herself (or rather, Howard's fantasy version of her), provided voices for a number of characters on Robot Chicken (including playing Thrace in a few episodes), and can be heard as Sarah Essen in Batman: Year One.

Way before Galactica, Michael Hogan guested in episodes of the 1988 Twilight Zone, the 1990 War of the Worlds, the 1997 Outer Limits, and an episode of Andromeda. Since Galactica, he portrayed Slade Wilson in two episodes of Smallville.

Alessandro Juliani did voices for Camp Candy and voiced Kid Icarus on Captain N: The Game Master, Nightscream on Beast Machines: Transformers, played Druid on Dark Angel, voiced Gambit on X-Men: Evolution and then played Lt. Felix Gaeta on Galactica. Most recently he played Dr. Emil Hamilton on the last two seasons of Smallville.

Rehka Sharma played Dr. Beverly Shankar on episodes of Dark Angel, as well as guest spots on The Lone Gunmen, The Outer Limits (2001), The Twilight Zone (2002), and also played Dr. Harden in seven episodes of Smallville prior to playing Tory Foster in 31 episodes of Galactica. Most recently she played Sarita Malik on V.

I already wrote about Glen Larson's other genre contributions when I posted about the first Galactica. Executive Producer Ronald D. Moore was a producer or co-producer on Star Trek: The Next Generation, co-executive producer on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager, was a consulting producer on Good Vs. Evil, and a co-executive producer on Roswell. He also wrote many episodes of those series, as well as episodes of Galactica.

DVD Release: Complete series DVDs.

Website: http://en.battlestarwiki.org/wiki/Portal:Battlestar_Galactica_(RDM) is an excellent fan site and database to the re-imagined series. SyFy's Galactica page is still up at http://www.syfy.com/battlestar/, which also includes a link to the Battlestar Galactica Online game, which you can reach at http://en.battlestar-galactica.bigpoint.com/big/06/?aid=331&aig=311&aip=bkw

Notes: I have to admit, when I first heard about this re-imagining, I feared the worst, especially when I saw just how different it was... and changing the gender of some of the characters didn't help! And there's also the characters that were entirely dropped... but once I really looked at it as sort of an “Earth-2” Galactica, I watched the miniseries and enjoyed it, although I never made the regular series a regular thing for me. I did catch up on a few seasons on DVD some years back, but have yet to see the entire series... and I'll probably need to just start from the beginning again so I won't be completely lost!