Thursday, June 30, 2016

Buy-In Characters

There is something to be said for having a "buy-in character" for various groups in works of entertainment. Those characters that an audience member can see a little bit of themselves in. One type of these characters that I never really liked was the kind that was only there for kids. More often than not, these characters were either useless or annoying. Sometimes both at once.

Some examples I can think of would be Wendy, Marvin, & Wonder Dog on the original Super Friends. These "Junior Super Friends" were there simply to give kids a reason to watch the show.

I'll let that sink in for a moment.

Yes, Hanna-Barbera Productions thought that a cartoon about Superman, Batman & Robin, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman wouldn't have kids watching it. Ugh.

Another type of character was the "Hey kids! Watch this! We've got a kid on here who's super smart!" character. I'm talking about the Wesley Crusher/Lucas Wolenczak character. You know, the kid who's smarter than the adults. The one who can figure out the solution to the problem quicker and better than the highly trained officers. Yeah, that's something I have no time for.

Don't get me wrong, Wil Wheaton & Jonathan Brandis did a great job with what they were given, I just don't think those are the right kinds of characters to have on shows. I would much rather have watched Star Trek or SeaQuest without those characters on them, or have them there but just as regular kids their age. The Super Genius (TM Wild E. Coyote) bit is what made me not like them, and their over use as the Deus Ex Machina made me dread episodes that featured those characters.

Personally, I would much rather all characters be there for a story purpose, and not to attract a certain type of viewer. Series like Firefly had a great range of characters and not a kid among them. Not to mention the original Star Trek, where kids were guest stars but not regulars. I'm pretty sure the show was fine in the under 18 demographic, even with that "lack" of someone the kids could identify with.

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Thursday, June 23, 2016

Superman on Supergirl

As I'm sure you're all aware, they are going to put Superman on screen in the new season of Supergirl, and not back-lit or blurry, either. As a Superman Fan, I can tell you that I'm thrilled about this. I do have a few things to say, though.

First, I'm happy to see a new actor take on the role. Of those that have played the Man of Steel, and are still with us, we have Brandon Routh & Henry Cavill, both of whom already have roles in DC properties, so they were out already. That leaves Tom Welling, the man from the Smallville TV series. Since he spent 10 years of his life as Clark Kent already, I don't think he would have come back anyway.

However, they have cast Tyler Hoechlin in the role, who is 28 as of this writing. That's a bit of a problem for me. You see, Superman was already around, and trusted, when Kara first arrived on Earth. That means he had to be around 22 years old, at the youngest. Now it's 12 or so years later, which means that he'd be in his mid-30's, at least. We also have James Olsen. Actor Mehcad Brooks is 35 at the time of this writing, which means that we have a Jimmy Olsen who is older than Clark Kent!

Last, and certainly not least, I want the writers to remember that the show's name is "Supergirl" and not have Superman around to save the day all the time. I liked how they handled it in the first season, making it all about Kara with Clark in the background, if he was there at all. That should continue, but I'd love to see some Kryptonian family bonding going on at the Fortress.

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Thursday, June 16, 2016

What If ... The Empire Strikes Back

On my most recent podcast episode, Scott Ryfun and I talked about The Skywalker Family. During the discussion, I came up with the theory that Yoda was wrong and that Luke had to leave Dagobah to preserve what his friends fought for. I recently rewatched The Empire Strikes Back in order to see just what would have been effected if Luke had stayed instead. Here are all the events, in reverse chronological order.

First we have Artoo fixing the hyperdrive on the Falcon just as the Executor is going to snare them in a tractor beam. If Luke had stayed with his training, Artoo wouldn't be there.

Speaking of Artoo, he's the one that opens the door to the Falcon's landing pad. Lando couldn't do it since the security code had been changed. Maybe the group would have made it to another ship, but since the Stormtroopers were right on their heels, I doubt it.

Han would still have been used as a test subject for the carbon freeze, but this time Leia, Lando, Chewie & Threepio wouldn't have escaped, so there would be no one to tell Luke what happened.

So what does all this mean? Well, as I said in the episode, without Threepio (who would have either been scraped or mind-wiped) the Rebels wouldn't have been able to get the Ewoks on their side. Remember, the Emperor knew that the fleet was coming and had set a trap on the moon. No mater what you think of the Ewoks, they were responsible for the shield being knocked out. No Threepio, no Ewoks, the shield is still up.

So, the Rebel Fleet is wiped out. Even if Luke did the exact same thing, the Emperor & Vader would be dead, but the 2nd Death Star would still be around & the Rebellion would be over. The Empire still wins. Oh, there'd be some unrest as a new ruler came to power, but unless it was Luke himself, it's all over.

So, Yoda was wrong. Luke leaving didn't "... destroy all for which they have fought and suffered." In fact, he ensured the success of their side by leaving when he did.

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Thursday, June 9, 2016

Do Superheroes Need Secret Identities?

One of the choices that you had in the Marvel Superheroes Role-Playing Game was whether or not to make your hero's identity Public or Private. Because we all read comics growing up, we pretty much always chose Private. Yeah, you got a bit of a penalty (nothing like if you were a mutant) but all superheroes need a secret identity, right?

Turns out, not so much. Oh, there's no way that Superman, Batman, or Spider-Man could operate without Clark Kent, Bruce Wayne, or Peter Parker, but there are some heroes where it's just not necessary. Heck, some of the most boring Captain America stories were the ones where Steve Rogers was trying to make a living as an artist. It's great that he's got a hobby, but why does Captain America, a man from another time, need to try and pretend to be someone else?

Adam Worth and I have been complaining over on The Quantum Cast that Quasar's Wendell Vaughn identity is only adding stress to his life (since he's gone for months with getting A SINGLE CLIENT for his security firm) while trying to be the Protector of the Universe. In fact, it would probably be better all around, since he spent several years off planet anyway, to just drop the pretense and live at Avengers Mansion.

This isn't to say that the hero in question should pull a TV Flash, unmasking & introducing himself to every Tom, Dick, & Harry, but just don't worry about setting up a false life. Heck, with the state of the paparazzi today, it would certainly be easier to not have to worry about who was taking of picture of you and when.

What this all boils down to is that it's really a case by case thing. There was a time when you HAD to have a secret identity to be a superhero, but that gave us Don Blake, so it's obviously a flawed premise.

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Thursday, June 2, 2016

Tora Tora Tora

This past Monday was Memorial Day here in the US, where we honor those who have fallen in battle. As part of our family observation, we watched the movie "Tora!Tora! Tora!", which is a joint US/Japan production. To my knowledge, this is the only movie of this type, and it presents the events leading up to the attack on Pearl Harbor from both sides.

One of the things that show just how good this movie is, is the even knowing what the final outcome really is, I found myself routing for a peaceful solution throughout the movie. The entire cast is great and they really make you appreciate what everyone went through. This is especially true of Admiral Yamamoto, played by Sô Yamamura, who knew that war with the US was the last thing that Japan needed. It was Yamamoto who said the now famous quote, "I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve."

What I really like about this movie, though, is that they didn't feel the need to add extraneous plots. Oh, there are scenes of people in their private lives, but that's all in service to the story of the events leading up to, and during, the attack itself. There wasn't any tacked on love story, for example, just a balanced look at the historical events.

If anyone reading this hasn't seen the film, I would highly recommend that you watch it. It's availible for free streaming to Amazon Prime members.

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