Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Luke learns a valuable lesson

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

And Now a Message from My Sponsor

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Gargoyles: The Next Generation

During the mid-Nineties, Disney ruled the afternoon airwaves. Between Ducktales, Tailspin, and Darkwing Duck, they had a little flavor and lot of brand recognition for everyone. In 1994, however, Disney really grew some balls and premiered Gargoyles, a dark and complex series unlike anything they had done on television before.

Oddly enough, Star Trek: The Next Generation wrapped up that same year. All these suddenly out-of-work but tightly-knit actors needed a new place to call home. Where did they end up?

If I have to tell you, you're in the wrong place...

Although the main cast were relative unknowns, the two main villains of the series sported some familiar voices. First up was David Xanatos, voiced by Jonathan Frakes who was better known as Commander William Riker on Next Generation. Xanatos was not unlike Riker; charming, suave, carefree... only this time he embodied pure corporate evil.

Xanatos often teamed up with a gargoyle named Demona who Marina "Counselor Deanna Troi" Sirtis played. Sirtis really shone in the series as Demona neither looked like her nor acted like her soft-spoken Star Trek alter ego. Demona was vicious, vengeful, and had easily the juiciest storyline.

Riker and Troi weren't alone, however. Michael Dorn (Lt. Worf), played recurring reluctant villain/sometimes ally of the gargoyles, Coldstone.

Coldstone was the composite of three different gargoyles and rebuilt with Demona's magic and Xanatos' technology, making him the Frankenstein cyborg gargoyle with a split personality. And laser cannons in his forearms.

Bad ass.

But wait, kids, there's more! Joining his fellow bridge officers, Lt. Data's Brent Spiner hopped on board Gargoyles as well. Gargoyles married many different lores and none more prominent than the characters from Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. Spiner often guest starred as Puck, the mischievous and shape shifting faerie.

But where would Puck be without his queen?

Star Trek: Voyager
's Captain Kathryn Janeway joined the family as Titania, queen of the faerie folk.

Kate Mulgrew's voice may have sounded like cat nails down a chalkboard that was later turned into an accordion, but for once she oozed sex. Which, y'know, is totally appropriate for a kid's show.

The trend of other Star Trek stars joining the fun didn't stop there. Nichelle Nichols, better known as Uhura from the original series, played Elisa Maza's mother Diane who had a recurring role.

If you listen carefully in the first season, she also plays several other nameless background characters. But you can't mistake her husky "Hailing frequencies are open, Captain" voice.

The Next Generation cast members still flocked to the show as guest stars. LeVar Burton retired from Star Trek and Reading Rainbow but he did voice a wicked huge spider named Anansi in two episodes. A far cry from blind engineer Geordi LaForge.

Colm Meany (Chief Miles O'Brien from both Next Generation and Deep Space Nine voiced Rory Dugan in the episode "The Hound of Ulster."

Last up, Avery "Captain Benjamin Sisko" Brooks joined Kate Mulgrew to fill out the captains when he briefly left Deep Space Nine to voice the alien Nokkar.

This doesn't even count the numerous guest stars who were on both Star Trek and Gargoyles but I don't feel like listing them here. Look them up yourself ya lazy arse.

In any case, this cat's back to watching Gargoyles on DVD and play Name-that-Trek-Alumni!

Friday, 10 June 2011

Balls Drunk She-Ra

"I am Adora. He-Man's twin sister... and one hot fucking mess."

"You like to party, big boy...?"

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Star Trek Leading Ladies: The Other Red Shirt

Although the original Star Trek series made the Red Shirt infamous for being killed off in each episode, the spin-offs had their own sacrificial lambs. Only this time, they weren't a rotating cast of nameless extras, they were part of the main cast. And women to boot.

Denise Crosby played Lt. Tasha Yar in the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Her character, the Chief of Security, proved very popular amongst the fans but Crosby herself wasn't a fan of becoming essentially a background character and chose to leave the show.

Her character was unceremoniously killed by an alien named Armus in the episode Skin of Evil, only 22 episodes into the series. Crosby would return sporadically throughout the series, playing Tasha Yar in alternate realities and even her own half-Romulan daughter, Sela.

If anything, it raised the stakes since major characters could indeed be killed off and made the third season cliffhanger Best of Both Worlds more suspenseful as Captain Picard was abducted by the Borg and his future career in the series was questionable at the time given his age and the perceived focus on Commander Riker who could replace him as the show's lead. This also put more pressure on the writers to give their remaining ladies, Counselor Troi and Doctor Crusher, more teeth since they were in stereotypical feminine roles.

An interesting side note is that Denise Crosby was originally cast to play Troi, while Marina Sirtis was set to play Lt. Yar. Before production began, they swapped roles but it makes one wonder how the series would have shaped up had they not been recast and it was Troi who died and Yar continued on.

In any case, this behind-the-scenes treatment of women was just the beginning of this tradition.

Spinning out of The Next Generation came Deep Space Nine. The show's producers, not wanting to fall into the same trap of featuring women as healthcare professionals, created the ball-busting Kira Nerys as the First Officer and Jadzia Dax as the Science Officer.

Played aptly by Terry Farrell, Dax was a strange duck. Jadzia was the young woman who had a centuries-old slug named Dax living in her abdomen. Together, they lived in symbiosis and shared experiences, giving Dax the body of a super model but the wisdom of an old mage. Her character was easily one of the most interesting amongst a great cast but she was not meant to last.

In the sixth season Farrell was offered a role on the Ted Danson sitcom Becker. She accepted so her character was murdered by the series' antagonist Gul Dukat. She died with her husband Worf by her side but the symbiont slug survived and was transferred to a new host body by the name of Ezri. Counselor Ezri Dax carried on the name in the seventh and final season of Deep Space Nine, starting a whole new tradition.... death and replacement!

Not long after The Next Generation wrapped up, Star Trek: Voyager premiered. This time, women were quite literally in the driving seat as the space cowgirl Captain Kathryn Janeway was joined by half-Klingon Chief Engineer B'Elanna Torres. This allowed for more wiggle room with less agro chicks.

Jennifer Lien's character Kes was from a species that only lived about nine years. When she was rescued by her boyfriend Neelix and the crew of Voyager, she was only a few years old... but had the body of a 21-year-old. And a terrible wig.

Like the legacy of Troi and Crusher before her, Kes eventually became the ship's nurse but despite given latent telekinetic and telepathic powers as well as letting her natural hair show, her character had grown stale over the course of the series' first three seasons.

The show's producers, fearing lackluster ratings, decided to literally sex up the show with the casting of the big-boobed Jeri Ryan as the spandex-loving Borg Seven of Nine in the fourth season. While most previous series' were a sausage fest, Voyager suddenly turned into a clam bake. Someone had to go...

Like Terry Farrell, Jennifer Lien was outright replaced. Luckily for Kes, she wasn't casually killed off. In the episode The Gift her mental powers evolved to god-like proportions and she simply vanished into the ether, only to be seen once again in the series.

Despite being a franchise that is celebrated for his diversity, it's pretty misogynist at the same time. The one saving grace is that this trend didn't continue in the final spin-off, Enterprise.

But no one watched that mess so who cares?

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

DC is About to Go #1 Again

DC Comics is currently in the midst of its alternate reality summer event, Flashpoint. Like most alternate reality storylines, readers had assumed that once it wraps up, the status quo will return to normal.

The strange thing, however, was that while all the comic book houses release their solicits several months in advance, the only comic book DC was releasing on August 31st was the final issue of Flashpoint. Not only that, there were no solicits after that date. None. At all. As if they just closed shop. They weren't even being coy about it, there was just no information.

Media outlets and fans alike theorized and speculated on what DC's big announcement would entail and yesterday they finally played some of their cards.

Alongside Flashpoint #5, Justice League #1 would also be released that same day, elevating it once again the flagship book of the DC Universe. Not only that, but all of the books in DC's stable would be cancelled and 52 new books sporting fancy #1s would follow suit.

Why 52? More on that later.

Fans were treated to the first teaser image of Justice League, featuring the heavy-hitters once again in the steering wheel. Oh, and Cyborg. They also showcased new costumes and a more youthful look. DC announced that they wanted a reset button, allowing for a more character-driven, realistic, and relevant universe to play in; one that new readers could jump into without being bogged down with 76 years worth of history.

As further proof of their long-term plan, each comic book will be available in stores and digitally on the same day, allowing tablet users to download their favorite titles on the day of release for the first time.

This news, coupled with my fear of change, should see me taking to the streets, screaming the sky is falling (no, for really, I take this shit to heart) but I'm surprisingly excited for this. Many, many other fanboys are not,however, and have taken to the interwebs to express their rage. This fanboy is taking to his own site to offer the more optimistic side of the story.

Many fans cried foul, claiming that this is a cheap tactic to lure in new readers while screwing long-term die-hards. They clearly forget DC's rich and very messy history. This is not the first reset DC has undergone. The first (and most infamous) was 1985's Crisis on Infinite Earths which was the publisher's attempt to streamline all the different versions of characters into one friendly package.

The repercussions had a ripple effect to the editors and characters alike so other Crises like Zero Hour, Infinite Crisis , and Final Crisis followed years later in an attempt to fix past mistakes. This new post-Flashpoint stepping stone is just another in a legacy of epic stories.

Another huge gripe among fans are the new costumes. Really? Really?

Recognize these clowns? No, they weren't drawn by my eight-year-old nephew, they're the first incarnations of Wonder Woman, Superman, and Batman. Although Batman and Wonder Woman's costumes change subtly (sometimes even drastically) every few years, Superman's remained largely static for a long ass time.

Their new costumes (as well as the looks for scores of other characters) were redesigned by comic book superstar Jim Lee who infamously created Wondie's full-pants new look almost a year ago to patriotic outcry. At least her new digs are still similar, as is Aquaman's. Green Lantern and Flash are only tweaked, Batman's back to a classic look. And that leaves Big Boy Blue. Superman finally ditches the red undies in favor of a sleek blue suit. Finally he isn't a relic but looks like he belongs amongst all the other kiddies he himself spawned.

The point is that costumes change to fit the audience, from bulky suits to steamlined spandex to more utilitarian in recent years. The audience themselves changed from kids to teenagers to young adults expecting more realism and relevance out of super-powered crime fighters. Yup.

Oh, and my nod at 52 comics coming out? 52 is a very important number to DC Comics the past few years. After Infinite Crisis, all the titles that came out the following month were labelled "One Year Later." At the same time, another weekly series called 52 came out, filling in the blanks of that lost year. At the end of that series, 52 alternate universes were born.

What happens to these 52 worlds (and plenty of other burning questions) are up in the air but this is one cat who can't wait for the ride!

My wallet, however, won't know what hit it...