Archive for the ‘Geekery’ Category

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Sliders

April 15, 2012

How do you know the weird low-budget sci-fi show you’re watching was made in Canada in the ’90s? Here, let an expert help you figure it out. And by expert, I mean me. You know it’s true.

  • 1. Everyone’s hair is strangely shaped and oddly sculpted, yet still looks a little wet, because the show was probably shot in Vancouver, where it rains 379 days a year, and there’s sleet on the other three.
  • 2. Everyone’s jeans are baggy and seem to be belted around their bellies, and they’re wearing several suspicious layers of flannel while not appearing to be actual lumberjacks.
  • 3. You recognize that actor from a commercial for coffee, or maybe margarine, or diapers.
  • 4. You recognize that actress from a late-night Call Me, I Want To Chat With You commercial.
  • 5. The special effects look like someone whipped them up on an Amiga in the back of a station wagon parked beside the set.
  • 6. You saw that same set on a totally different show last week, and come to think of it, isn’t that your cousin Kevin’s apartment building in the background on that strange alien parallel world? Kevin calls those late-night Call Me numbers, by the way.
  • 7. The “high-tech weapons” look like Motorola flip phones with calculators glued to them.
  • 8. The opening titles look suspiciously like the ones your local weatherman uses when he tells you it’s going to rain like crazy before the sleet. And then snow.
  • 9. Special Guest Star: Al Waxman.
  • 10. One of the actors is also listed in the credits as key grip and “wig assistant to Mr. Waxman.”

This all occurred to me during a recent sleepless night when I fired up Netflix on the Wii and found old episodes of Sliders, which I remembered as a cool show, and soon learned my memory isn’t as great as it thought I was.

And then I remembered all those sleepless ’90s nights, when the news would end, and Canadian TV would offer us great stuff like Earth:Final Conflict and that show with Hercules in a starship, all shot in Canada on the cheap, like X-Files, only with effects that make The Starlost look high-tech.

I watched every episodes of Earth: Final Conflict, and I still couldn’t tell you what the hell was going on.

But Sliders? Sure, it was cheesy-looking and cheap. But the conceit of it all — exploring alternate histories with a boy genius, a computer geek girl, a pompous professor and, for some reason, a faded Motown star — made it work for the first couple of years, before it remembered it was Canadian and suddenly got complicated and ridiculous.

I was going to watch the whole first season, but then I saw Earth 2 is also available, and since I saw only the pilot of that and nothing else, I want to see how it all ends.

UPDATE: These guys talk about the iffy 80s and nutty 90s every week on this new cool podcast I like.

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DC’s New 52 In Review

September 8, 2011

I’m reading comics again, because stupid DC Comics went and rebooted, with 52 new titles featuring hip young versions of their classic characters, many of them clearly modelled on their movie incarnations and stupid Smallville. Green Arrow needs a beard, people.

Here are some short thoughts on what I’ve read so far:

Action Comics #1: Finally, after 40 years of loving comics, I own Action Comics #1. Although it will be renumbered next year when DC undoes all this crap (under the Only Bucky Stays Dead Until He Is Alive And Then Dead Again rule), I can say I own Action Comics #1. That being said, this is the best of the bunch. Superman is reinvented here, or remembered, as a street-level ass-kicker with a bad temper who’s out to fight for the common man — much as he was in the original Action Comics #1. In jeans, work boots, a t-shirt and cape — strangely, the same thing I wore to my Grade 8 graduation — he’s a menace, a wanted man and the first superhero. As he should be.

Justice League #1: This is mostly the Batman-and-Green Lantern show, and kind of works, but is odd as the launch for a whole new line. It would have worked better to open big, then flash back. Enjoyable, but hard to tell that we’re dealing with new takes on the characters — because Batsy and Halsy are hardly altered.

Animal Man #1: I finally like Animal Man. This is a great little comic.

Hawk and Dove #1: Why do people keep asking Rob Liefeld to draw? Why? Why does Hawk have an extra bicep all of a sudden? What the fuck is this thing about? Lame characters + Bad art = “Why do you only have Hawk and Dove #1 and not the rest of the series?”

Batwing #1: Loved it. The new African Batman is a cop from the Congo, trained and equipped by Batman to fight a machete-slashing madman. Gorgeous art. Taut story. It’s about time comics mined the wealth of stories coming out of Africa.

Detective Comics #1: Pretty dull stuff, same old same old, until the last page, which will make you squirm and smile at the same time. Batman has undergone the least reinvention, but that’s okay — he was fine the way he was.

Justice League International #1: This is an attempt to recapture what Giffen and DeMatteis did so well 20 years ago. It doesn’t work.

Batgirl #1: Babs is back in the cape, and in a neat way. I see a lot of potential here, and the art is gorgeous. This isn’t an origin; this seems to be the old Barbara, from the old continuity, back in action. The only change is her father’s newly Gary Oldman-style brown hair and ‘stache.

Stormwatch #1: Terrible. There was an opportunity there to leave the WildStorm characters in their own continuity, but for some reason DC decided to tack them out of the bleed and into the main, so we have a new assoholic Apollo and lame characters who explain their powers as they use them, a Claremont holdover I’ve never liked. “Fine! I’ll use the alien power crystal embedded in my head to translate the linear matrix!” Or something. Once again, DC has proven it is impossible to write a good story with the Martian Manhunter in it without having him eat Oreos.

I didn’t read Men of War, with a new Sgt. Rock, or OMAC, because they looked terrible. And I dread the new Green Arrow, which is taken right from that TV series. Flash? I’ll get into Flash. Always have.

  • Lowlights: My biggest beef is that I can’t tell when these stories are occuring in relation to one another, something that was a problem after Crisis in the ’80s. But I’m not worried. I’ve weathered Crisis, Zero Hour, Hypertime, Infinite Crisis, Flashpoint, whatever. I’ll live.
  • Highlights: Apparently JSA is relaunching with an Earth-2 premise. Right on, kids. Adult Robin, Huntress as the daughter of Batman and Catwoman and some Sylvester Pemberton action … that, at least, makes me happy.

Note: In case you thought I was joking about the movie tie-in crap, look at this photo of Henry Cavill as Superman in the next film (cape added for effect; it appears it will be CGI for much of the movie):

“Did you remember to bring the package?
It had my little red shorts in it. In the package. “

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Ernie and Bert: Just Friends

August 12, 2011

Sesame Street officials have issued a statement confirming that longtime bickering couple Ernie and Bert are just friends — a statement made in response to recurring Internet-fuelled rumours that the roommates (for 42 years) are in fact a gay couple.

  • “Bert and Ernie are best friends,” said a Sesame Street boss-type person. “They were created to teach pre-schoolers that people can be friends with those who are very different from themselves.”

This is a clever way of saying that morons can pal around with assholes and even sleep in the same bed without being lovers, something I wish I had known in college.

Further confirmation that Ernie and Bert aren’t gay came from in-depth Weather Station research, which concluded that they’re puppets.

 

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Talk Nerdy To Me

June 4, 2011

After seeing this image on the Internet, I deployed my crack team of Weather Station field agents to track down this lovely lady. She turned out to be a student in Columbus, Ohio, named Jeannie. “Tell me,” I asked her during a Skype conversation, “What do people actually say to you when they see that T-shirt?” She later emailed me some samples she nicely typed up for me

  • “I like your Hogwarts.” (Tyler at KFC that night after the party at Becca and Stacie’s new apartment)
  • “I would like to share with you my theory about big bangs.” (Tyler at that Irish pub where they don’t check ID)
  • “Okay. I’m afraid of women, so I can’t talk to you, but later, I will tell my mom you’re my girlfriend.” (Rob in my trig class, who used to ignore me but now stares at me all the time with a little smile)
  • “Wow, Bristol Palin, your plastic surgery worked out great!” (Some old lady with a smoker’s cough at Wal-Mart)
  • “The reason a single-nacelled vessel is, in fact, impossible, is explained through a careful examination of Newtonian physics and Dr. Richard Dyson’s modelling of artificial wormhole creation in a void.” (Rick, the guy my dad knows in Florida)
  • “Sorry for puking on your favorite shirt.” (Tyler again)

UPDATE: Jeannie and Tyler are now dating; He was spotted at the KFC wearing her Green Lantern ring.

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Wonder Woman Photo Caption Contest

May 23, 2011

Okay, Weather Station readers: I encourage you to come up with a caption for this backstage photo from the aborted Wonder Woman TV series, which shows star Adrian Pawlentypapa in the “final” version of the uniform and a guy who might be one of the Romulan extras from 2009’s Star Trek movie. Enter your caption ideas in the comment box; I’ll pick a winner later. Prizes include a used Speedo (suitable for framing), coupons from Ricky’s Jerky Shack on Highway 144 and an autographed picture of me looking at a picture of Wonder Woman. Consolation prize is a date with an Elvis impersonator to be named later.

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No Wonder Woman For You

May 13, 2011

NBC has decided to say “fuck, no” to David E. Kelley’s new Wonder Woman series, a pilot version of which was recently screened for network officials right before they said “Maybe we could go with another Law & Order instead, like one in Utah, or Canada.”

Fan buzz was already pretty negative for this reworking of the classic superhero story, which seemed to blend elements of previous Kelley efforts like Ally McBeal and that other show that bit the pillow. I forget what it was called. Tonight, secret Weather Station investigative journalism has brought you the notes taken by a couple of studio executives during the first screening of the pilot; these offer insight into the decision to send WW packing.

“This girl looks like she’s about 16, and she’s supposed to be an immortal Amazon warrior goddess who also runs a fortune 500 company? That’s about as believable as William Shatner as a lawyer!”

  • “Well, it’s nice to see someone was able to recycle Olivia Newton John’s outfit from Grease. But when does she spin around? I like the spinny aroundy.”

“Can someone tell me why Cary Elwes still gets parts? Princess Bride was a long time ago.”

  • “How come we don’t get to see the invisible jet?”

“Did you really just ask that?

  • “Psssst … if we say ‘yes’ to this, the Wonder Woman movie project with Christina Hendricks might not happen.”

“Oh, I see they reworked the costume a bit … it’s a little better …”

  • “Didn’t you hear me? NO CHRISTINA HENDRICKS WONDER WOMAN!

“… Call Kelley, tell him thanks, but no thanks. Call him. Tell him NOW!”

Hey, did you ever see the original Wonder Woman pilot? Not the Linda Carter version. Not the Cathie Lee Crosby version, which I stayed up late to watch on TV because I wanted to experience extreme disappointment, but an original pilot from the ’60s. Check it out.

In related news, the TV series Smallville ended tonight, thank Rao. I have tried to watch it over the years, because you would think a TV series about young Superman would be my kind of show, but whenever I tuned in I ended up feeling stupider, which I can tell you is no small feat. But Smallville began its life as a series about young Bruce Wayne/Batman, until Warner suits thought it might affect their plans for the movie reboot that would become Batman Begins, so they said ‘throw some other loser in there,’ and we got Clark Kent. That’s what’s going on here, I hope. Still no word on that series about young Robin’s family, which had to call itself The Graysons because Dick was already taken.

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May The 4th Be With You

May 4, 2011

I think the title of this post is really, really clever and, of course, super-unique. I spent the whole day thinking it up.

Today, in honour of Star Wars Day, I am going to tell you a little-known story about one of those Star Wars outtakes you hear about, but never get to see, because George Lucas has the only copies, and they’re on a Sony Watchman he keeps on the back of the toilet in the bathroom off the master suite at Skywalker Ranch. I’ll have to ask the Admiral to have a peek the next time he’s there.

Anyway, as a professional science fiction talk-abouter (at the moment, I am preparing for tonight’s recording of a Star Wars episode of our podcast), I have been thinking a lot about Star Wars today, and I was reminded of this particular outtake. I’ve never seen it. But I’ve read the script, because my old boss’s neighbour’s ex-wife used to know this woman whose husband was a tour bus driver for Billy Idol.

I can recreate the script from memory:

  • SCENE: Death Star jail-type place. The door swooshes open. PRINCESS LEIA is reclining on the cot, running one hand up and down her leg.
  • LEIA: Aren’t you a little short for a stormtrooper?
  • LUKE: Aren’t you a little bit ungrateful? (Luke removes helmet) I’m Luke Skywalker. I’m here to rescue you. I’m here with Ben Kenobi!
  • LEIA: You look kind of like me only not as boyish.
  • LUKE: What’s with the hair? What’re those, handgrips?
  • HAN: Quit bickering, you two! We gotta get outta here!
  • LEIA: Just give me a minute to change. I think there’s a pair of shorts and a tank top in the cupboard.
  • LUKE: We don’t have time for this!
  • HAN: I think we should let her change.
  • LUKE: This is not the time for Little Han to be making decisions, and anyway, I saw her first!
  • HAN: He’s right. We gotta go, lady.
  • LEIA: Not before I change.
  • LUKE: Enough already!
  • CHEWBACCA: RRRAAARRRRRRRRR
  • LEIA: How can you seriously expect to rescue a damsel in this dress?

The final version was a lot shorter. Like Luke. Happy Star Wars Day, nerds.