The Story So Far.

 

Most episodic television programs begin with a “previously on…” montage of scenes that lead right up into that evening’s episode.  Tigh and Starbuck have an argument, Baltar has a conversation with Six, and so on. Maybe it’s Rick and Daryl running through the woods, Carl doing something stupid, and then a closeup of Maggie screaming “RUN!” Whatever. Sons of Anarchy, Burn Notice, The Blacklist. Lots of programs use that storytelling technique.

Wanna hit Starbucks?  Nah, she's out playing pyramid. ZING!!

Wanna hit Starbucks?
Nah, she’s out playing pyramid.
ZING!!

 

Other shows just go right into the latest episode, basically telling the viewer “If you don’t know what’s up, we’re not going to slow down and fill you in. Keep up, already.” Breaking Bad was great at that. Before the titles, you’d see Walt up to some sort of nonsense in the desert, or Mike doing something shady, or some seemingly unrelated shot: a pink stuffed toy, charred and water-logged, floating in a swimming pool. The writers and directors on those sort of programs usually do a masterful job of weaving it all together by the end of the episode. (Or by the end of the season, at least.)

Does this look a little pink, man? ZING!!

Does this look a little pink, man?
ZING!!

 

The point is, I’m not sure what sort of show this is. (I know it’s not a show. It’s a blog. I get it.   I’m not stupid. WHY YOU ALWAYS GOTTA CALL ME STUPID?!) But I do feel like filling you in before I begin the next episode. Because the next episode is a must-see, can’t-miss rollercoaster ride of thrills and excitement! The San Francisco Chronicle raves “Totally engrossing form start to finish” and the Indianapolis Star writes “It’ll have you guessing right up until the very end!” My mom adds “IT’S A BLOG!! SHUT UP AND GET ON WITH IT, ALREADY!”

 

Okay.

 

 


We OPEN on a dusty western street at dusk. Smoke or some other haze almost totally obscures the sinking, orange blob of sun, distorted and watery through the ripples of heat from the desert below.

 

IN THE DISTANCE, a vehicle approaches towards us down a twisting dirt track (editor’s note: in the first draft, this was a DURST track, and Limp Bizkit played underneath for the whole scene. You can see it in the DVD bonus features, although you won’t really want to.)

 

A MAN (We’ll come to know him as TURNER) stands in the street, facing the approaching vehicle. TURNER wears Wayfarer sunglasses and holds a smoldering, half-smoked MARLBORO CIGARETTE with about an inch of ash on the end.

TURNER doesn’t seem to notice, his vision fixed on the approaching car…or beyond it. It’s hard to tell, because, you know…sunglasses.

 

TURNER takes a drag of cigarette, and exhales slowly.

 

TURNER: Mo-teeeeeee-ya…

 

He tosses the butt to the ground.

CLOSE on the heel of his cowboy boot as he grinds the cigarette into the dusty street.

 

In the BG we see the car more clearly: it is a tan-and-cream colored late-model sedan, like a Lincoln Mark V. The hood ornament is a mounted longhorn steer’s horns.  (editor’s note: in the original shot, the car actually seems to hover about a foot off the ground, while the theme from Twin Peaks plays underneath the scene.  Also, for some reason, the bull’s horns are replaced with twirling chains of chocolate-covered cream-filled long johns, but since no one could remember why it was written that way, this portion of the script was written off as simply “drugs” and forgotten.)

 

CLOSE on TURNER as he smiles.

 

We PAN DOWN the length of his torso, coming to HOLD on the ridiculously large, chrome revolver on his hip as he UNCLASPS the leather strap holding it in place. (editor’s note:  originally, producers wanted the revolver to be two silver-dollar pancakes stapled together.  No one knows why.  Everyone involved in the creation of this episode was terribly hungry.  And tripping balls.)

 

TO BE CONTINUED!


 

 

Well, no. Not really. But damn it, now I have to wrap it up. Guess I’ll have to fill you in next time. It’s a really good story. No, it is!

 

See you next time on “TURNERWATSON.COM!!”

 

(That doesn’t make any goddam sense.)

 

 

Listen, Watch, Read.

Listen.

I wanted to wait until we had the kinks worked out before I told you about my new podcast.  Since that will likely never come to pass, I figure what the hell.  Besides, it’s all in the reflexes.  Long story short, my buddy Joe Schultz has been hankering to do a podcast for a while now.  So he went and bought a bunch of podcasting stuff.  I mean, who knew there were such things?  Not I.  He asked if I’d help.  I agreed.  Now we have one.  It’s called “The Velociraptor Incident” which is an inside joke of sorts related to my termination from my previous radio job.  Don’t worry about it.  Just listen.

Here’s the page link: http://directory.libsyn.com/shows/view/id/thevelociraptorincident wherein you can check out all the episodes.  (And by “all” I mean “both.”  Work in progress, people.)

Or just click on this direct link to the latest episode: http://directory.libsyn.com/episode/index/id/3065768

But wait!  There’s more!  Say you’re a fancy-schmancy iTunes person.  We’ve got you covered, as the podcast is available for free on iTunes here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-velociraptor-incident/id918855698?mt=2

 

So there you go.  I’ll warn you, the language (especially in our rambling, juvenile, self-indulgent first episode) is NSFW at times.  Again, work in progress.  But give ’em a listen when you get a chance.  Thanks.

 

Watch.

I’m always behind on things.  Like, I never watch television when it’s on.  I rarely watch “live” shows.  I always catch them on Hulu or Netflix or, in the past, on DVR.  I have two rambunctious boys who demand a lot of time, there are always sports and school things to take care of, and of course, getting down with the old lady and drinking too much.  It all takes up so much of my precious time.  Plus, I don’t have cable.  So there’s that.

Anyway, the wife and I have been binge watching and catching up on some shows.  We started “Orange is the New Black” and found it to be really good.  Sure, it’s a chick show, but I dig it.  Well done, all around.  If you haven’t seen it, I would describe it as “Private Benjamin Goes to OZ.”  (That’s the Oswald Correctional Facility, not the place with the yellow brick road.)  And of course, we follow The Blacklist on Hulu the night after it airs on NBC.  Basically, it’s like watching DVR’d shows, and that’s nice.

But in the spaces between, we’ve been catching up on shows we missed the first time around. Shows like Fringe.  Yes, everyone tells me that the seasons go downhill sharply after the first couple, much like Dexter, but so far we’re still in honeymoon mode well into season two.  Still freaks me out to see Charlie Conway in X-Files mode instead of triple-deking, but he’s good.  Plus, the J.J. Abrams/Roberto Orci chemistry is strong.  Good stuff.  Speaking of sci-fi geekdom, I also finally started (and have since become obsessed with) Battlestar Galactica.  Holy shit, why didn’t I listen to everyone when this show was first on Sci-Fi?!  And an even better question:  why the hell did Sci-Fi (now SyFy) stop making quality programs and instead opt to shovel shit like Sharknado out of the ol’ television poop-chute?  I’m not even halfway through BSG, yet I have laughed and almost wept so many times…it’s like I don’t want it to end.  I know it will, but I want it to keep going.  I want it to be one of those series that wraps up after eleven years on the air when people are saying “yeah, they ran out of story after season eight.”  Then again, kudos for teling the story and getting out.  I like that, too.  Better than that Hobbit movie bullshit, dragging it out, adding fluff, and basically ruining one of my favorite stories, but hey.  That’s another conversation.  Maybe we’ll cover that on the podcast.

 

Read.

Speaking of The Hobbit, here’s my final observation/recommendation.  You must read the First Law trilogy by Joe Abercrombie.  My gods, but this is another time when I was late to the party, but now that I’m here I don’t want to leave.  In a nutshell, I’ll say this:  if you enjoy the writing style of George R. R. Martin, you’ll dig Abercrombie.  He uses profanity, in a realistic way.  There are skulls split open and some sickening, bone-crunching moments of gore.  However, in many ways, Abercrombie is a better storyteller than Martin.  The world he creates is less treacherous and back-stabbing than that of Westeros, but the danger and scope are still there.  Like Song of Ice and Fire (or simply Game of Thrones, if you just watch the wonderful HBO series) there’s magic here, and wizardry…but like Westeros, it’s a faded, dull sort of thing.  It’s a sun-bleached poster, or thin, lukewarm coffee.   As one character puts it, magic has “leaked out of the world.”  The rest is swords, spears, armor, and brutality.  The author is obviously part of the new style championed by GRRM, less poetry than Tolkien or Salvatore, but beautiful nonetheless.  (Think “Deadwood” if it were set in the middle ages.)  Abercrombie’s characters use profanity, in a very realistic and often amusing  “shit, shit, SHIT!” sort of way. ” But what really sets this fast-paced, taut little trilogy head and shoulders above the rest are the wonderfully developed characters.  They are so very real, and so very flawed.  And often hilarious.  I literally laughed out loud many times, especially at the dry wit of Sand dan Glokta and the Mal Reynold-ian take on things delivered by Logen Ninefingers.  It’s so wonderful to see these characters grow and change and become something larger, stronger, better.  Most all of them are trying to improve themselves, trying to overcome their mistakes and weaknesses.  Most of them don’t even realize they’re doing so, consciously.  That makes the change even more wonderful.  Several of these living, breathing people think themselves condemned, victims of their own mistakes or selfishness…and some of them are.  But they all keep trying anyway.  That’s heroism.  There are many tragic moments when you say “oh, no…no, please, don’t do it…” as you realize someone is about to backslide. But you read on, hoping they make it.  You keep reading because Joe Abercrombie makes you give a shit about these people and what happens to them in the next paragraph. Chapter.  The next book.  And then it’s all over and you sit back and applaud and wish there were more.  If you love great fantasy/adventure stories, this one is a must-read.

 

The Blog of Castamere

Hooooooo-boy!  You like that Game of Thrones, huh?  HAHAHAHAA!!!

I think this would be a good, responsible time to warn you:  this blog will contain MAJOR spoilers and MAJOR amounts of profanity, especially in the embedded media.  I’ll try and keep any spoilers out of here that haven’t already aired on the HBO series, but…you’ve been told.  If you’re DVR-ing this series or waiting for the DVDs, well…maybe you’d better read one of my other numerous (and totally incredible) blog entries.  Last chance.  Stop reading now, unless you know what’s up or just don’t care.

Okay, okay.  Full disclosure time (I tend to disclose a lot on this blog, don’t I?  Huh.  The secret to a clean conscience, I suppose.)  I don’t have HBO.  In fact, I don’t even have cable anymore.  But I have read all of the existing volumes in George R. R. Martin’s masterpiece, A Song of Ice and Fire.  Why HBO decided to use the title of the first book, A Game of Thrones, as the title of the series is a bit of a mystery.  I figure they weren’t sure there would be a second season, so they figured GoT was a little less unwieldy than ASoIaF.  Good call, now that I think about it.

Luckily, I did get to borrow the first season DVD set from my friend and former morning show co-host, Barry Thickk (spoiler:  that’s not how he spells his last name in real life, but hey, rock radio!!) That gave me a nice perspective, and I like how HBO found a look and tone all their own.  And that musical score?  Brilliant.  Perfect.  In fact, let’s hear one of my favorite interpretations thereof:

Now, the thing is, those of us that have read all the books? Yeah, we’re pretty much a bunch of dirty hipsters.  No, we are.  We were saying “hodor!” before it was cool.  We know what’s going to happen next.  We do.  And we love, LOVE, LOVE LOVE gloating about it.  How many times have you had a friend say (in either real life or in a blog or Facebook comment) “Oh, you like [GENERIC CHARACTER]?  Just wait until next season!” Or even more smarmily “Yeah, that story line doesn’t play out like you’d expect.”  Oh, we love it so.  Being “in the know” is so wonderfully powerful.  That’s why when Ned Stark lost his head towards the end of Season One, I laughed and laughed at videos like this now-famous offering…

When I first read A Game of Thrones, the Ned Stark scene gutted me.  Absolutely destroyed me.  My lovely wife, Heidi, watched me slowly lower the book and stare at nothing, jaw agape.

“Holy fucking shit…” I muttered.

“What?  What’s wrong?” she asked, genuinely concerned.

“They just…this guy, the main…holy shit!  They fucking killed the main guy!”

For readers and viewers alike, that should’ve been all we needed to know.  GRRM had stolen our childhood innocence.  He’d given us the much-needed slap in the face, reminding us that this world wasn’t Middle Earth or Narnia.  This world was infinitely more real, and so very dangerous.  It was a book about war, and in war, well…good people die.  It reminded me of the scene in The Princess Bride where the grandpa tells Fred Savage the bad news: the Prince lives.  Wesley dies.  The kid’s reaction, “Jesus, Grandpa!  What did you read me this thing for?!” is the same question we asked ourselves.  But, like that bedridden child, we knew we had to go on.  For good or ill, we had to know what happened next.  The difference is that Martin’s book series isn’t a fairy tale, and “true love” doesn’t make a goddam bit of difference.

Still, we hoped.  We had the faintest dream that somehow it would all work out.  That evil would be punished.  That the good guys would win.

We should’ve fucking known better.

Just like a child that must be conditioned to think or act a certain way, another hard lesson was required.

The Red Wedding.

Jesus H. Tapdancing Christ.  I’ll tell you this, people who have only watched the series and not read the books:  the book was much, much worse.

“Wait a second,” you bellow.  “You admitted that you haven’t watched all the latest episodes?  How can you make that kind of call?”

In response, I’ll offer that I’ve seen footage and scanned enough websites to get a feel for the televised version, and yes, it does seem well-shot and gut-wrenchingly performed.  But there are limitations to a teleplay, time (or lack thereof) being the most critical of those factors. In the novel, the buildup to the Red Wedding is a slowly building feeling of dread, of impending horror.  Most of it is told through Cat’s point of view, and the moment she knows what’s up, the instant she perceives what’s happening…you’re broken.  Everything after that is just devastating icing on the horror-cake.  (Actually, Horror-Cake is the name of my new black metal band.)  But you can’t look away, can’t stop reading.  Just as viewers cowered behind sheets, blankets, and couch cushions whilst watching HBO, only to peek out again and again, out of curiosity or just to assure themselves that the horror was over.  Luckily, someone put together a six-minute compilation of reactions…

And boy, the aftermath.  The sheer, internet-crippling frustration, sorrow, and hate.  Some of the best are being cataloged by Red Wedding Tears on Twitter…check ’em out and feel better about your plight:

https://twitter.com/RedWeddingTears

Here’s a wee sample:

red wedding tweets

So.  George R. R. Martin is kind of an asshole, huh?  He’s just NOT FAIR!!  Yeah.  Tough titty, kid.

But now you’re seriously wondering why you should continue watching or reading this painful series.  Let me give you something akin to hope.  I told you, no spoilers…but I can tell you this:  GRRM does have a sense of justice (COUGH! Theon Greyjoy COUGH! Jaime Lannister COUGH!) and that sense certainly manifests itself in shocking and, yes, satisfactory ways in the books and television episodes to come.  No, I will not give you specifics on certain characters.  Just know that there is a great deal of comeuppance headed your way.

But it won’t be without further cost.  Yes, there will be more heartache.  But there will also be triumph, and that is always so much sweeter after you’ve been stabbed, kicked, and thrown into the mud to die. After all, in the game of thrones, you either win…

Or you die.

Clutter.

Many years ago, my brother and I used to “jam” in my mom’s basement.  I’d riff some Barre chord punk riffs on my reverse-headstock Aria Pro II, my brother would pluck away on his Fender bass.  We weren’t any good, of course, but that didn’t matter.  It was therapeutic.  Now and then, our buddy Danny would join us. Danny lived up the street and was essentially another brother.  One day we discussed getting an actual punk band together, and what we should call it.  The winning entry, in my opinion, was Danny’s suggestion of “Clutter.”  He said it represented the disorder of our music and the varying styles we would surely incorporate into our live shows and albums.  I thought it was wonderful.  But, as you can’t download our music on iTunes and I’m writing a blog in my spare time instead of banging groupies and dodging rehab, “Clutter” the band never took off.    But that name is still a good one, so I’m using it for this catch-as-catch-can blog entry.  Thanks, Danny!

First up: This…

D'awww!  Some Indonesian kid made his own Mushroomhead band member!

D’awww! Some Indonesian kid made his own Mushroomhead band member!

That right there is a little voodoo keychain guy that my Sweet Baby got me on one of her travels because she knows I miss surfing.  She’s a good ol’ gal, that wife of mine.  Anyway, the other day I noticed something horrifying.  Apparently, my little surf guy was a proud member of Hitler’s Waffen SS.  Take a look at the board…

Gott in himmel!

Gott in himmel!

Sure, it’s probably supposed to be a lightning bolt, like the legendary Lightning Bolt surfboards surfed by the likes of Gerry Lopez at places like Pipe.  Probably.  Or maybe this is supposed to be a promotional piece for “Surf Nazis Must Die.”  Either way, I’ll betcha green money that some little Indonesian kid fucked this shit all up.

Speaking of things I didn’t notice at first…the other night was a windy, blustery, snowy one in Ft. Wayne, Indiana.  I sat alone in my loft and fired up the ol’ Netflix, choosing (for the 346th time, I believe) John Carpenter’s amazing, classic, incredible 1982 sci-fi thriller “The Thing.”  (Trust me, there really is no better dead-of-winter movie.  None.)  Anyhow, my friend and fellow blogger Blake (The Beard Gospel, Poptopia Madness, reviewer for Nerdspan, etc.) pointed this particular Easter egg out to me, so I waited eagerly for the last few moments of this film to see it for myself, and…I’ll be goddammed.  I’ve been watching this movie for over thirty years now and never caught it.  Peep this…

“Okay,” you say. “What’s the big deal?”  Here’s the big deal: SPOILER ALERT!!  SCROLL TO THE NEXT BIT IF YOU DON”T WANT TO HAVE A THIRTY-YEAR-OLD MOVIE THAT YOU SHOULD’VE ALREADY SEEN RUINED FOR YOU!!

The big deal is that Childs is The Thing, although technically he could be one of several “Things.”  Did they all get blown up?  Maybe.  MacReady was able to escape, so what if that final creature-combo that looked like a Super Mario Dragon Plant mixed with the worst sort of Greyhound rescue ever at Red Lobster didn’t include Blair?  Or Garry? Nauls?

Back to the point. How do I know that Childs is the creature?  We can’t see his breath.  MacReady’s is steaming and swirling with every word, encircling his head with clouds of cheap scotch-scented respiration.  Childs is in within three feet of MacReady, and yet…nothing.  Nary a wisp. He’s not a real human. He’s waiting to either freeze again so that when the rescue crew comes to the research station, they cart his remains back to the mainland where he will thaw and get into an amazing street fight with Rowdy Roddy Piper over whether or not to put on glasses that let him see (ironically) the alien invaders as they really are…or he straight up kills MacReady and assumes his identity.  (Although my money is on Mac.)

kurt

Remember, when you mess with Mac, you also mess with Snake and Jack. Just fair warning, pard…

Next subject:  Burn Notice.  Yeah, I know. I’m late to the party.  The wife and I basically started watching it this last fall because Netflix.  Boy, is it good.  I don’t know what I expected.  Maybe I figured it’d be a revamped Silk Stalkings or that stupid syndicated show wherein Hulk Hogan drove a powerboat around the Florida panhandle or whatever.
"Terry?"  Really?  Also: there are three discs in this box.  Three.  how...how did this come to pass?!

Terry? Terry?!? Okay. What if all this time, the Hulkster was really just Terry Bradshaw with a paste-on Fu-Manchu?!? It would make so much sense…

Anyway, it struck me the other day why I enjoyed it so much (Burn Notice, not that “Terry” Hogan crap.)  The writing is decent, the locale is spectacular (seriously, as long as there is a Miami, there will be crime dramas and such) but it’s really the cast.  Man, what a cast.  It reminds me of Firefly, in that it’s the grand total of all the pieces…that’s what makes this thing shine.  Change one character…say, the mom from Everybody Loves Raymond instead of Sharon Gless…or Tom Selleck as Sam…and the whole thing falls apart.  Sure, characters come and go, and it took about a season before everything gelled so perfectly, but imagine Bruce Boxleitner playing Jayne Cobb.  “Did that almost happen?!?” you shocked fanboys scream, to which I simply whisper back “No.”
Ladies and gentlemen, the Hero of Canton!

Ladies and gentlemen, the Hero of Canton!

But here’s my semi-legitimate fear:  I really hope this show doesn’t end up being like LOST or something.  Seriously, consider this theory that I just came up with:  what if Michael didn’t actually get burned in the pilot episode.  What if he got SHOT?  What if the whole show is either in his mind or in actual purgatory?  That would explain why he has trouble leaving, why he’s surrounded with the only people he’s ever really cared about, and why he’s compelled to help others.  He’s trying to earn his way NOT back into the service of the CIA, but into heaven.  It’s very possible that in the final episode of the series, Michael sacrifices himself for someone else and the show ends with him standing in a bright, white light as the voice of Morgan Freeman welcomes him home.  Or even better, Sam Axe is actually wither God or THE DEVIL!!! Does that make a lick of sense?  No. But tell me it wouldn’t fuck with some heads.
Thanks for reading, all.

Upon Further Review: Big Bang Theory One Year Later

The week of September 23rd-29th marks the one-year anniversary of this blog post of mine.  People have viewed this particular entry almost 8,000 times over the past year.  By the end of this anniversary week it will exceed the 8,000 mark and by the end of the year have over 10,000 visits by curious fans and detractors of the popular show.  Yay, good for me, right?

Pictured: My biggest fan.

So, the wife and I were sat on our couch watching the Primetime Emmys this past Sunday.  TBBT was nominated for several Emmys, including “Outstanding Comedy Series.”  It did not win any Emmys this year.  (The series has won a couple of trophies over the years, both of which went to Jim Parsons for his portrayal of Dr. Sheldon Cooper.)  I decided to go back and revisit my original anti-Big Bang Theory rant and discovered that while I stick by my original assessments and conclusions, I was sort of dickish about it. No, really. Also, while I realize that I have very far to go before I could ever consider doing this as a full-time job, it seems that my writing has gradually increased in quality over the past year.  Good for me. Also, good for anyone who reads this stuff. (Thank you, by the way.)

I tend to be a positive person, so just blasting a show and the parties involved with the production of said show is not only shitty, but counter-productive. See, I really WANT to like this show.  There are so very few good geek-related television programs on prime-time and most of those are on cable.  I therefore  decided to dig in and see if this whole mess can be fixed.  I think it can.  I really do. Here are some suggestions for improvement, in no particular order:

Fixed! Now, on to the economy…

Turn the Whole Thing Over to Joss Whedon

I know it’s a stretch, esp. with a new SHIELD series in development and Avengers 2 and so on, but Mr. Whedon has such a great knack for managing and balancing an ensemble cast that I think this would be a perfect marriage.  Plus, considering how much of the interaction of the BBT characters, esp. Sheldon, revolves around sci-fi and fantasy, um…that’s all Whedon friggin DOES, people!  Sure he’s capable of more, but this is his strong suit. The banter would be intense, smart, and hilarious.  Of course, the current dialogue would be helped tremendously if they’d do this one simple thing…

ZOMG!!! Joss’s Shadow!! That means he’s totally putting THE VISION IN AVENGERS 2!!!

Lose the Goddam LAUGH TRACK

“But you’re WRONG!” the fanboys scream. “There IS NO LAUGH TRACK!! It’s a live studio audience!”  Okay, I’ll give you the “studio audience” and raise you “Sweetening.”  This is the process of adding canned laughter on top of a studio audience, especially when the jokes are falling flat.  See, they go through the trouble of setting, lighting, and performing the episode.  Everything goes smoothly, all the marks are hit, there are no line flubs…perfect execution. Except on any particular night the audience just isn’t feeling it.  Rather than scrap the whole thing, they just throw in some pre-recorded laffs and bingo!  Or should I say “BAZINGA!!”  This has been going on since the dawn of television (and, honestly, radio), when shows weren’t recorded in front of a live audience to be aired at a later date; rather, they did that shit LIVE without a net.  If Perry Como or Sid Caesar had a listless audience, they’d “sweeten” things with pre-recorded sound effects.  The home viewing audience was none the wiser. Read more about it here.  And I understand the need for this bit of subterfuge, except when I don’t.  Scooby Doo added a laugh track.  Because reasons.  The Big Bang Theory does it, too, and most of the time it’s WAAAAAYYYYYY too much.  Check out the following clip.  It’s a scene from the show with the laugh track removed.  Because of this, it’s also faster-paced.  Watch it, and I’ll tell you what it reminds me of after.  Okay, GO!!

Okay, you know what?  That scene isn’t terrible.  And you know what else it reminds me of?  Kevin Fucking Smith.  Seriously, that could easily be an outtake from Mallrats or Chasing Amy.  Perfect? No.  Far from it. But so much better. Which brings up another suggestion…

Back when Stan the Man made cameos in non-Marvel projects.

Turn the Whole Thing Over to Kevin Smith

Hey, if Joss isn’t available, let Kevin try his hand at a mainstream network comedy.  Sure, he’s kind of hit-or-miss…but his knowledge (and experience) with the world of comics and sci-fi is pretty damn good.  And his dialogue concerning such subjects is rapid-fire brilliant at the best of times and smarmy other times.  In other words, a perfect fit.

Pictured: NOT a perfect fit.

Add a Full-time Female Foil

Penny is on the show as the everyman analog. She’s the majority of the viewers: a basic grasp of science and nerdity, but not immersed in it. She also fills the position that Spock and Data filled on Star Trek.  She’s an outsider, commenting on the human condition.  Okay, maybe that’s a stretch.  But the sexual tension-eye candy aspect of her character is wearing a bit thin.  How about you cast Felicia Day as a new neighbor?  Maybe she’s a librarian or something, adding some more literature-based nerdity to the show?  Felicia would have another purpose:  a tongue-in-cheek nod to all the REAL geeks out there.  Or how about Adrianne Curry as a professional cosplay girl?  One that dresses up as video game and comic book characters without a full-on grasp of the source material?  Whatever.  The point is, make Penny WORK to be the object of affection.  Maybe she’d realize how much she really does have in common with the guys?  It couldn’t hurt to add a new character or two.

Back when Stan the Man was…he, uh…what were we talking about?

Now, all these are long-term fixes, but I had a few one-off suggestions…

The Mirror Universe

Star Trek has done this several times, never better than the episode Mirror, Mirror form the original series.  In that episode, Kirk, Scotty, McCoy, and Uhura travel to a dimension exactly like ours, only in THAT universe the Federation has been replaced by the warlike Terran Federation and everyone is cruel and mean.  Spock even has a goatee, so you just KNOW he’s a badass.  Why not have some fun and have the Big Bang fellas find their way to Bizzaro World or somesuch.  Sheldon could be the captain of the lacrosse team at the local Community College.  Penny could be the lesbian astrophysicist astronaut and so on.  It would also open the door for full-on sexual relations and stuff.  Despite my disdain for the show itself, I have always thought very highly of the cast, and would love to see them really chew the scenery in some new situations that wouldn’t otherwise work.

See? The fanboys are already on this shit!

Time Travel

Another tried-and-true science fiction gimmick that would make sense due to the quantum-physics nature of the discussions and jokes on the show.  (Same would hold true for the Mirror Universe storyline.)  The fellows either go forward to see how their lives turn out or backwards to see themselves in the 80’s.   Again, you could explore the characters themselves and even add some humanity!  Romance!  Action!  Quantum entanglement and string theory!  WIN!

Or you could do it THIS way, I suppose…

Guest Directors/Writers

I mentioned turning the whole thing over to Joss Whedon and/or Kevin Smith earlier.  But realistically, this ain’t gonna happen.  But what if guys like that did guest spots?  What if J.J. Abrams wrote and directed an episode?  Quentin Tarantino directed an episode of E.R. once and it was awesome.  Why not?  There are guest stars on television programs all the time.  Throw in some writing and directing superstars and pump some life into this baby.

Sometimes the interwebs align themselves perfectly for the purposes of this blog.

So there you go, Hollywood.  Make some of this happen, or even just make a concerted effort to drag what could be a great show up out of the easy-joke, laugh-tracked abyss, and I’ll give it another chance.  I’m counting on you. You’re our only hope for this sitcom to live long and prosper. (See what I did there?)

That One Guy…

So, I’m watching the Walking Dead the other day, and it hit me.  It hit me like a bolt from the blue.  It had been bothering me that I couldn’t place where I knew Norman Reedus, AKA the show’s best character, Daryl, from.  It was right there in front of me but I couldn’t connect the dots.  Then, BAM!  Epiphany! He’s none other than Murphy McManus, one of the vigilante brothers from “Boondock Saints.”  I’ve always thought that the film was over-rated, so maybe that’s why I didn’t get it at first.  If you spaced on the connection like I did, here’s your photographic memory-jogger…

One's a white-trash badass, and the other, is, uh...

So then I got to thinking about other actors who fall into the “Holy crap!  That’s the guy from _________!!” category.  For example, the bad guy from Avatar?  He’s also the dude from “Terra Nova” which should be cancelled any minute now.  “Okay,” you say, crossing you arms. “That was EASY.” Oh, yeah?  Did you know that the actor, Stephen Lang, was also none other than Ike Clanton in the amazing “Tombstone?”  Yep.  Take a gander…

Technically, they're both saying "Get off mah land!"

Now you’re impressed, aren’t you?  How ’bout a couple of tri-fectas?  True fanboys already know, but here are some heavyweight character actors.  Jonathan Rhys-Davies, for example. If you’re my age (um, older than forty.  Gulp.) then you probably first ran across this likeable Brit in “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and “Last Crusade” in which he played Indy’s sidekick Sallah. If you’re not yet qualified for AARP, however, you probably know him from his roles in the “Lord of the Rings” franchise.  Yes, I said “roles” because not only did he portray Gimli the dwarf (i.e., comic relief) he also voiced Treebeard the Ent (i.e., environmental message.)  Oh, and he’s also the voice of Spongebob villain Man Ray.  True story.

Not pictured: Man Ray's beard.

“Wait!” You object. “Cartoon characters? That’s not fair.”  I respect your opinion.  Also?  You’ll hate this next one: more Spongebob.  The voice of one of my personal heroes, Eugene H. Krabs, is none other than the rich, deep baritone of Mr. Clancy Brown.  That’s the same Clancy Brown that gave life to The Kurgan from “Highlander” and Sgt. Zim in “Starship Troopers.”  Clancy is awesome, and die-hards will also remember him from one of my all-time favorites, “The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai.”  The problem with an actor like Clancy Brown is that I quickly run out of space for pictures of his various roles.  That’s a good thing.

In some ways, Mr. Krabs is the most intimidating dude in this picture.

Another fantastic actor who disappears into his roles is Ron Perlman.  Nowadays, everyone gets to see his face on shows like “Sons of Anarchy.”  But his claim to fame has been being able to act and emote through layers and layers of prosthetic makeup.  Yes, this is the man behind Vincent, the lead…uh…well, beast on the television show “Beauty and the Beast.”  You may not remember that program, youngsters, as it began its run in nineteen-freaking-eighty-seven, but your moms probably rubbed one out while watching it.  Hell, you may have been conceived after dad came home and found mom rubbing one out to a cat-man who quoted Shakespeare and lived in the sewers.  (Trust me, chicks went CaTCUB for that stuff.)  In-between “Beast” and “SoA” he found time to provide the voice for about a million video game characters (War.  War never changes…) and, oh yeah…he put on a shitload of makeup to create the title character in the “Hellboy” movies.  Prolific? Fuck and yes.

"Say, you have a powerful jawline. We'd like to make you look like a kitty-cat. Cool?"

Finally, here’s an M. Night Shyamalan-style twist for you.  I had to scan the credits for this one, because at first I didn’t believe it.  Remember that “Firefly” episode that started with a flashback to Simon and River as kids?  Sure you do.  Anyway, the kid that played “Young Simon?”  Zac Motherfuckin’ Efron.

The same number of people that saw this episode of Firefly saw "New Year's Eve" on opening weekend.

I know that I left out some heavyweights.  Gary Oldman and Edward Norton.  Ewan McGregor.  Etc.  You can IMDB that shit yourself, suckas.  I got me movies to watch. Peace.

Geek Rant: Big Bang Theory Isn’t Funny.

Okay, goddammit…I can’t take it anymore.   It’s come to this.  Listen to me carefully, people.  Listen with your ears, and hear me with your soul.  The television show “Big Bang Theory” is bad.  Really bad.  Like, terrible.  And every time I bring that up to someone, they look as if I’ve sodomized their grandma’s cat whilst wearing my Obama t-shirt.  I hear responses like “Un-fucking-MURICAN! Fuckin’-A, IT’S FUGGIN HILARIOUS!!  EAT SHIT AND DIE, FAG!” And so on.

A little back story.  If you’re not familiar with this particular network television offering, the premise of Big Bang Theory centers around a bunch of physicists and their crew of stereotypically smart-yet-socially-awkward genius friends and the hot whore that lives across the hall.  Imagine “Seinfeld” if Jerry happened to work at the JPL and Kramer was a hot blonde actress.  Oh, and in order for this comparison to work you’d have to lose all of the funny stuff that made “Seinfeld” watchable and add a big, stupid, obvious LAUGH TRACK OVER EVERY GODDAM JOKE, ASIDE, LEER, SIGH, OR AWKWARD PAUSE.  But I digress.

MAKE HIM STOP! I'M PEEING MY PANTS! AGAIN!!

It’s funny to me that most of the people who find it odd that I don’t DVR every episode of “Theory” are not what I’d call “geeks.”  In fact, most of them are softball-playing frat boys or golf-addicted pseudo-jocks.  It’s like they know I’m a geek and expect me to love this piece of network crap simply because “well…them guys are all nerds like you!”  Brilliant. And therein lies the problem.  See, this show was created by Chuck Lorre.  Remember that guy?  He’s the creator of a show you may have heard of called “Two And A Half Men.”  Yes, the show with John Cryer and, oh…what was his name…the other guy? Gosh, can’t seem to remember.  He kind of disappeared after gracefully exiting the show.  Huh.  Anyway, “Men” is a huge success, and is based on the same formula that’s been used for television comedies for, well… EVER.  The Odd Couple, Three’s Company, Gilligan’s Island, House…the list goes on and on.  When it works, it’s comedy gold.  When it doesn’t…it’s “Big Bang Theory.”  God, even the name of the show pisses me off.  See. it’s a physics-related phrase that also has the word “BANG” in it, like “boy, we half-dicked science nerds sure would like to BANG a real female vagina…wait!  There’s a hot chick across the hall that would never even look our direction in real life, but now she’s woven into our lives to create sexual tension and give everyone something to masturbate to!”  BAZINGA!!

Bazinga.  Don’t even…no.  Not going there.

Yes. We know.

Comedy.  That’s what this show needs.  You know what this show has instead?  “Jokes” like these.  Seriously, here are some honest-to-god quotes from the show.  Try not to bust a gut…

“Scissors cuts paper, paper covers rock, rock crushes lizard, lizard poisons Spock, Spock smashes scissors, scissors decapitates lizard, lizard eats paper, paper disproves Spock, Spock vaporizes rock, and as it always has, rock crushes scissors.”  BWAAAAAHAHAHAHAHA!!! GET IT?  STAR TREK!!

 “A fear of heights is illogical. A fear of falling, on the other hand, is prudent and evolutionary.” WOOOO-HOOOO!  HE SAID “EVILOUSHUN!”  GEEKS ARE SOOOO FUNNY!!

“I don’t know how, but she is cheating! Nobody can be that attractive and this skilled at a video game.” I KNOW, RITE?  CHICKS CAN’T PWN NEWBS ON “NUKETOWN!”

“A neutron walks into a bar and asks how much for a drink. The bartender replies, ‘For you, no charge.’” Okay, so that one’s actually pretty funny.  Damn it.

The point is, these jokes are written, I’m guessing, by non-geeks who lurk on Reddit or have friends who’ve bought t-shirts from J!NX, and then try and write to an audience they don’t really “get.”  It’s like Michael Richards writing to the Spike Lee crowd, only with much less hatred.  But now the show has become wildly popular with the non-geek crowd, in part, I think, as a response to the fact that geeks are taking over the world.  Zuckerberg, Jobs, Gates, the Google guys…they are our new overlords.  The Large Hadron Collider makes CNN now and then when the CERN guys make a breakthrough.  Movie stars are seen wearing “Portal” shirts.  For a non-geek, the paradigm has shifted and maybe they’re just trying to catch up.  In which case, maybe I’m over-reacting.  Maybe I should welcome the frat boys who have traded in their Hollister shirts for a “Halo” or “Gears of War” t-shirt.  It’s a start.  (When I see them sporting “Team Fortress 2” or “Deus Ex” shirts, I’ll be impressed.)

SOME of you have got to get this...

In the meantime, me and the rest of the nerd, dorks, geeks, and wonks will be watching OUR shows.  Galactica, Dr. Who, Firefly, Mythbusters, and Arrested Development.  Some of those shows are obviously no longer on the air.  Maybe when the “Affliction” crowd catches up, those shows will be given another chance.

With a laugh track, of course.