10 More Favorite Episodes of Supernatural (Seasons 8-12)

When I wrote my first 10 favorite episodes of Supernatural list, the show was in its 7th season. A lot more has happened since then, and I felt it only fair to make another list. While there’s a lot of great stuff I had to leave off that list, I’m limiting this to the last 5 seasons.

Oh, and I’m still kind of mad at the show after what they pulled in the latest episode. Much love to Misha Collins, Mark Sheppard, Ruth Connell, Mark Pellegrino, Samantha Smith, and Courtney Ford.

10. Book of the Damned (10×18)

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This one is a little subtler than the others on my list. I realize that the episodes that make up my favorites are, for the most part, the episodes that keep a lot of viewers from being bigger fans of the show and pay fan service to the superfans. But I think this episode slips past a lot of people’s radar. It’s not particularly funny or quirky, it’s just really solid. Oh, and MASSIVE POINTS for FINALLY putting a song by the Who in the show (“Behind Blue Eyes”).

Charlie makes her second to last appearance (no, her last episode which leaves her, a gay girl, literally dead in a bathtub, does NOT feature on this list). This is also the only episode in which she interacts with Castiel, and it’s quite possibly the most charming scene ever on the show.

This episode is enjoyable just by being stuffed with magical items and mildly creepy characters, like Styne (Or as I call him, Styne of the Invisible Eyebrows) who was still being introduced. We also get Rowena, who I needed to mention, because she’s so awesome. She doesn’t feature much in this episode, but she was a beacon of light throughout the last couple seasons and fucking delightful.

As is often the case, Sam and Dean have a lot of emotional conflict bubbling beneath the surface, but it’s especially poignant here and given time to  air out. They get upset with each other, but that’s not the main thing. For each of them, the brother comes first.

The B-story is a kind of fun, set up like a follow-the-clues game with Cas(s) and Metatron, who are trying to find Castiel’s grace. In the end they do, and after weeks of waiting, his power is restored with a crazy light show and the shadow of his damaged, but intimidating wings.

9. LARP and the Real Girl (8×11)

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Yeah, Charlie’s gonna show up a few times on here.

One of the reasons this episode is important is, as much as I love the show, it’s screwed up a few times in relation to how to portrays “nerds,” “fangirls,” and “geek culture.” In the last few seasons they’ve done some serious damage control for some of the broader moments, which sometimes come off as mean-spirited. We, the geeks, have noticed your efforts. And we appreciate it.

The boys are still dragged into the culture while being a little snide, as are the police force, but they get worn down by the good-natured LARPers. Especially when they find out that their queen is Charlie. By the end, they’ve donned full costumes, weaponry, and face paint as they go charging into battle. I’m saying we’ve come a long way since Becky.

This is after Sam and Dean attempt their usual FBI aliases, only to be called out by the LARPers (who think they’re attempting to do a genre mash-up) for not having real badges, and either being banished to the tent set aside for people who need to use the internet or sent to dress the part. And Sam and Dean are willing to follow the guidelines.

I’m not personally much of a LARPer, but this large universe they’ve created with its own politics and rules makes it seem like a lot of fun. And for the most part they’re all in character all the time, which make the little moments when they have to pause, because fake teeth have fallen out or a stray Frisbee comes their way, all the better.

We get a, rare for the show, gay onscreen kiss between Charlie and the damsel-in-distress fairy, who’s forced to kill people while being controlled by the baddie, the deaths are properly gory, and while we don’t get to see the villain’s comeuppance, we can imagine that it was very fitting.

8. Hibbing 911 (10×08)

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Why don’t Jody and Donna have a freaking spin-off yet?! We call it Wayward Daughters Academy and they take care of orphans and/or runaways and teach them how to be hunters. This needs to happen. Like, yesterday. In the meantime, they both need to be on Supernatural all the time.

Donna is still fairly new to the SPN universe, appearing in 3 episodes during seasons 9, 10, and 11 (we did not get her last season, and I categorize that as a sin). Meanwhile, Jody has actually appeared in 11 episodes (that’s more than Ellen, Jo, Gabriel, or Death), first popping up back in season 5. The one where her zombie son eats her husband. Her first episode isn’t great, and while she’s a cool character, not especially memorable. Luckily, they decided to bring her character back and evolve her into someone really cool (and kickass), who I’ve grown insanely attached to. And I shipped her and Bobby, so it was extra lame when he died, AND THERE WILL BE RIOTING IN THE STREETS IF THEY HURT MY JODY.

Jody and Donna have little in common, aside from the fact that they’re both sheriffs. So the only natural thing to do was put the two characters in an episode together, and let them play Odd Couple.

Sam and Dean, while fairly featured, take a bit of a backseat. “Hibbing 911” is clearly a showcase for the women. I’m kind of “meh” about the monsters. They aren’t that new or noteworthy, but the way they’re dealt with and how the sheriffs work together is new and noteworthy. And they’re onscreen friendship is made even better by Kim Rhodes and Briana Buckmaster’s off-screen friendship.

7. Slumber Party (9×04)

Dorothy. Despite all my lady parts, I managed to capture the wicked witch.

I get it if you don’t like this episode. To be honest, I’m on the fence as to whether or not I’m totally cool with them taking this whole story line as far as they did, diving into a totally unrelated fandom (aside from a briefly featured witch). But if it all comes down to being entertained and enjoying the episode, this episode belongs here. It originaly aired on October 29th and felt very much like a Halloween treat.

So, yeah. Charlie shows up again. And so does Dorothy. Like, the one from Oz. Though she’s not what you’re expecting. No Judy Garland here. We find out that the Men of Letters bunker, where the Winchesters have been staying, is actually a portal to the fantastical world, and a bunch of L. Frank Baum’s stuff is lying around, and the Winchesters get taken over by the Wicked Witch of the West, and Dorothy and Charlie have to fight them. Does that not sound fun? It does sound fun. And it IS fun. It’s just a very different flavor of fun than the show usually is.

And if the show is usually testosterone fueled, this episode is estrogen fueled. It’s wonderful to see Charlie have a strong woman comrade simply as a friend, and one of the biggest bummers about Charlie’s death is that it probably sealed the possibility of seeing Dorothy in the future (but you could twist my arm into finding a reason to pull Dorothy out of Oz). In the end, I think the writers may have also feared that too much Oz would derail the show.

Ah, well. We’ll always have this episode. And what better way to blend the worlds than for Charlie and Dorothy to step onto the Yellow Brick Road while AC/DC’s “For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)” blaring.

“Ding dong, bitches.”

6. Hunteri Heroici (8×08)

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Again, I get it if this one goes too far for people. Personally, I LOVE it.

The world goes Loony Tunes with real world affects. Throughout the episode we get hearts beating out of chests, walking on thin air before falling, talking cats, exploding candles, falling anvils, portable holes, and more. They really pulled out all the stops.

Castiel is at his most precious in this episode, wanting to hunt with the boys, but not being very good at it. Some of the more memorable points were him sniffing the corpse, his line “I’ll interrogate the cat,” and his exchange with Dean after frightening a victim’s wife (“I was being bad cop.” “You were being bad everything”).

The scene in which Cas(s) is introduced to cartoons is cute, and the scene where he comes clean to Dean is heartbreaking.

There were some really fun effects at the end when we see inside the head of the man creating the madness. First, the world he’s created in his mind is all a cartoon, then it turns to static, then to the colored bars indicating no signal.

I have to retract points for all the stupid flashback to Amelia scenes that went on all season long. They weren’t done particularly well, slowed the action and did nothing to make us care about this character that Sam ditched his brother for. In this episode, we’re also introduced to her awful father, doing no one any favors.

Still, all in all, it’s one of the more entertaining episodes of the last several seasons. It’s funny, clever, and sticks to its guns. They could have done it halfway, and the episode would have fallen apart, but they committed to the concept, and it paid off.

5. Do You Believe in Miracles? (9×23)

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I made myself choose between this episode and the finale to season 11, so as not to clutter this up with finales. In some ways I enjoy “Alpha and Omega” more, but this one eventually won out for having the far superior ending.

There’s a lot of really great stuff in this episode. The pacing is excellent, it covers a lot of ground and doesn’t lag. Dean telling Sam “I’m proud of us” as he dies, Crowley’s “let’s go howl at that moon” monologue, and one of my favorite lines from Castiel, given the context, “Wookiee.” Gadreel’s reaction mimics Castiel’s own past confusion. It’s a fun in-joke for fans, but enjoyable for more casual viewers too.

But, man, if you thought you hated Metatron before, this episode resulted in a fury fest. He starts off by masquerading as some hero around the humans, kills Dean (he dies all the time, but this was still a jarring moment), and is about to do the same to Cas(s). Luckily, he gets carted off to heaven, by the angels who arrest him. I loved hating him, but was ready for them to get rid of him after he took things as far as he did in this episode.

On the other hand, Gadreel and Hannah have joined the good guys at this point. Angels trying to subtlety live among humans is always endearing on the show. They aren’t much better than Cas(s).

Of course, none of those bits are what this episode is most remembered for. It’s the ending, the final moment of the season finale, when the dead Dean opens his eyes. And they’ve turned black. He’s not dead anymore. He’s alive, and he’s become a demon. That’s how you tease an upcoming season.

And if you were lucky enough to watch this episode with a group of friends when it first aired…oh my God…so much screaming.

4. Stuck in the Middle (With You) (12×12)

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Some people are going. Why? What’s so special about this episode? Those people do not watch Quentin Tarantino movies. This entire episode is riddled with references to Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, and Kill Bill.

Expertly directed by Richard Speight Jr., this episode featured coffee shop conversations, slow-mo walks through parking lots, menacing whistling from a villain, a time-hopping narrative, cue cards, and I was in heaven. Even the title calls to mind the notorious Reservoir Dogs scene in which a man gets his ear cut off. Just about every scene in this episode made me squeal and point at my screen, despite the fact that I was watching it alone.

Cas(s) is very much in the Mr. Orange role for much of the episode, slowly bleeding out and unable to provide much help, while his sympathetic friends do a lot of fighting around him. Meanwhile, Mary is scheming and secret keeping, which is frustrating. Aren’t you one of the good guys?! I’m not so sure the writers always think so.

We’re introduced to likeable side-character, Wally, who doesn’t, unfortunately,survive the episode, but I guess someone had to die.

The Colt finally reappears here. I don’t know why, but that always felt like a Tarantino style weapon. Maybe because it’s Western -y? We also saw some long absent yellow-eyed demons, but there wasn’t much follow through on that front. I wouldn’t be surprised if they made a return.

It also ends on a great cliffhanger, revealing that Pellegrino-Lucifer is back.

3. Just My Imagination (11×08)

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I miss you, Jenny Kline! She’s gonna go work on Jessica Jones, so it’s all good, but she was great on this show.

There aren’t many specific Supernatural episodes that you can say are actually award nominees, but this is an exception. And with good reason.

The premise is simple enough: kids imaginary friends are actually real. And they’re getting killed off. But the execution, if you’ll pardon the expression, is brilliant. And I’m including the execution of the writing as well as the production.

Supernatural has never done imaginary friends before. Which, in retrospect, seems like an obvious thing to cover. But the flavor is very similar to “Plucky Pennywhistle’s Magical Menagerie.” And I think I made it pretty clear how obsessed I am with that episode in my last SPN list. I love it a lot.

In “Just My Imagination” we meet Sam’s imaginary friend (of course it was Sam. How wouldn’t it be Sam?), Sully. Sam thinks he’s an intruder before being convinced by Sully revealing information no one else could know. Sully explains that imaginary friends are creatures called Zanna, and they protect kids. Always. Which is really a lovely thought. You just can’t see them unless they let you.

Of course, it all goes south and in an incredibly morbid and hysterically funny scene. Sully takes Sam and Dean to the scene of the first Zanna murder, where a mother is unaware of the paranormal crime scene in her daughter’s room. She inadvertently gets glittery blood all over her face (remember, she can’t see the dead Zanna, but Sam and Dean can), and the reactions by Sam, Dean, and Sully are priceless.

Throughout the episode they meet many Zanna, and they walk a tricky line of making them over-the-top and ridiculous looking, while still keeping them sympathetic. They could have easily become obnoxious, but they never do.

And there’s a flashback with Kid Sam and Kid Dean and we’re, thankfully, still under the reign of Best Kid Dean.

And Richard Speight Jr. directed this episode as well!

2. Don’t Call Me Shurley (11×20)

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This episode is essentially an hour of exposition in one setting, and it’s still considered one of the best episodes of the show. The last line, “we should probably talk,” was clearly an echo of the writer’s thoughts when writing this episode.

While Sam and Dean appear in the episode, I found myself, in a rare turn, wanting to cut back to the bar every time, even amidst the rather horrific events and multitude of deaths Sam and Dean were encountering.

Fan favorite Chuck, who many suspected to be God, was MIA since the end of season 5. The amulet storyline was dropped, Metatron was powerless, Cas(s) was possessed by Lucifer, and Amara was about ready to tear the whole world down. And in the 4th to last episode of the season, Supernatural did a record scratch and tossed Chuck back into the mix. And it was revealed that he was, in fact, God. This was a moment fans had been wanting for a long time. And starting to assume they’d never get.

He’s joined by Metatron, who while I spent a good deal of time hating him over the course of the series, I have to admit, was the perfect character to play opposite Chuck in the episode. And Chuck proceeds to answer several long held fan questions, through the guise of Metatron’s questions.  Chuck fills in plot holes, confirms theories, and generally explains what’s been going on. What the whole episode builds up to is an argument between Chuck and Metatron. Metatron admits to his mistakes, but also accuses Chuck of cowardly turning away when he was needed. Chuck’s angry with Metatron, but Metatron also gets through to him. The episode ends with the town being revived, courtesy of Chuck and him finding Sam and Dean to help them take on Amara. It’s a brilliant set-up for what was a great season finale, which almost got a spot on the list itself.

As the fandom knows, the actor who plays Chuck, Rob Benedict, is the real life frontman for the band Louden Swain. So the whole episode is tied up with Chuck playing and singing a really gorgeous cover of “Dink’s Song.”

1. Baby (11×04)

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I don’t really have much to say about this one. It’s better just to watch it really, and I don’t want to analyze it to death anyway. The Impala has always been the soul of the show, and whatever monster they’re facing, whatever motel they have to stay in, and wherever they have to travel to, Baby means they’re home. Even when they have the bunker to stay in.

Nearly the entire episode takes place from the interior of the car and feels very much like a thank you to the fans. I have nothing against the 200th episode. I liked it, but this felt more in the spirit of the show and packed a proper emotional punch. It’s beautiful and poignant, and for fear of gushing, I’ll leave it at that.

I don’t know how much longer the show’s gonna run for. I’ve been hearing talk of them wrapping up with the 300th episode. Which if my calculations are correct would still give us a full 23 episode season and a short 13 episode season. That’s a lot of episodes. But it’s still sad to think of it ending. That being said, there’s a lot of really good stuff to rewatch in this batch.

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10 Times Twin Peaks Made You Laugh

Twin Peaks is an odd show. I get that saying that is an understatement. But I’m not just talking about BOB possessing people or supernatural owls or even clairvoyant logs. That’s all just on the surface. Twin Peaks deals with some really dark subjects on a regular basis, and each episode ends with a twisted cliffhanger to pull you into the next episode.

No one would call Twin Peaks a comedy or even dramedy. And it’s not slice of life. Not on any plane of existence I’ve ever encountered. But what is it? Drama? Thriller? Mystery? It doesn’t seem to fit into any of those categories. And there some seriously disturbing material coming out of that show. Is it okay to laugh when that many people are encountering that much pain?

Yes.

Twin Peaks works as a parody of soap operas and likes to point at itself with big neon signs that flash “ISN’T THIS RIDICULOUS?” Those are the moments when all the intensity pops its top, and we, as the audience, get to have a good laugh. Here are some times it happened to me. And likely happened to you too:

*NOTE: At the point I’m writing this, there are only 4 episodes of the new series available to watch, so most of this list (but not quite all of it) is from the original series.

10. Every Note to Diane

 twin peaks dale cooper harry s. truman GIFI almost just said Agent Cooper’s introduction, but that’s just the first Diane tape. They’re all gold. Cooper rambles on about important and not so important things, until he’s gotten so far off topic that neither the audience, nor seemingly Cooper can remember what the note was originally supposed to be about.

I can’t imagine having to wade through that many hours of basically just Cooper’s inner monologue. Okay, maybe I can. That actually sounds kind of fun.

They’re often used to punctuate an already funny moment, or used to let the audience know it’s okay to make light of an otherwise serious situation. The Diane tapes mean humor.

Diane has yet to physically appear in the series, and for that reason is one of the most theorized about characters in the series. One of the more exciting theories that she’s gonna show up one of these weeks in the form of Laura Dern. Someone’s been peaking at my Christmas list.

9. Nadine Tries Out for the Wrestling Team

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After Nadine wakes up from a coma, she’s lost all recent memory, but gained super strength. She often doesn’t realize her strength and seems confused as to why she keeps ripping doors of their hinges. Thinking she’s still a high school student, she gets a crush on one of the high school jocks, Mike.

After doing a little too well at the cheerleading trials, Nadine visits the gym, where Mike is working out. There she impresses the wrestling coach with her strength, and he urges her to join the team, where she shows up Mike. Actually, it’s more like she flings him around like a rag doll. The coach is thrilled, and Nadine is pretty pleased with herself, but it takes Mike awhile to warm up to her (though he comes around in the end).

Seeing someone so much smaller do so much damage so effortlessly with such joy is awesome to watch.

8. Leo’s Homecoming Party

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After being shot, Leo is left in a vegetative state. His wife, Shelly, who he abused, and her new boyfriend, Bobby, bring him home from the hospital.

Leo, who seems only vaguely aware of his surroundings, sits perfectly still while Shelly and Bobby throw a celebration around him, claiming it’s in his honor.

They cover him in streamers, affix a party hat to his head, and place a kazoo in his mouth, which makes a noise every time he breathes out. Bobby and Shelly play their kazoos along, anticipating when the next sound will come. They even get a little amorous in front of him.

Twisted? Totally. Funny? Absolutely.

The wife beater deserves it.

7. Ben Horne’s Civil War Reenactments

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I have conflicting feelings about Ben Horne. Like, he’s basically a terrible slimy scumbag pretty much of the time. But it seemed near the end, he honestly felt bad about not being a better father to Audrey, and in his own awful way was trying to make up for some of the horrible things he did. And Audrey’s my favorite. Don’t mess with her.

Regardless, he has some outrageous and hilarious scenes throughout the series that, at the very least, make him interesting and, at the most, make him super fun to watch.

At one point, Ben goes…er…slightly mad, believing himself to be Robert E. Lee during the Civil War. While his family and friends are worried for him, they eventually give in, and the reenactments go from playing with toy soldiers to their dressing in period costumes and bringing in full on sets and props. Leave it to the Horne’s to embrace the crazy.

6. Gordon Meets Shelly

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/0d/d1/0c/0dd10caa616bbead041bfd0071659461.jpgOh, Gordon.

One of the most notable things about his character is that he’s played by the series co-creator, David Lynch. That’s not to suggest that the character isn’t wonderful in his own right. He’s delightful.

He wears a hearing aid and speaks no softer than VERY LOUD at any point during the series. And that’s how everyone who speaks to him has to respond. Save this one exception.

As Cooper’s superior, Gordon drops into Twin Peaks every so often to check up and help out. At one point, he meets with Cooper at the Double R Diner, where he firsts sees Shelly, at her waitressing job, and immediately falls for her.

He approaches her and asks for coffee and pie and is shocked to discover that when she speaks, in her normal quiet register, he can hear her. This only makes him become further enamored with her, and Shelly comes to find him as delightful as we do.

They have several hilarious and endearing interactions together. Ultimately, it goes no further than a kiss (though that serves to make Bobby plenty jealous), but the relationship is exactly as it should be.

5. “Don’t drink that coffee!”

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To really drive home the fact that Twin Peaks is a small town, there are several scenes around Agent Cooper’s arrival that are a little odd. Things that he clearly isn’t expecting. Of course, Agent Cooper being Agent Cooper, this only serves to make him love the town even more.

While he’s clearly in his own fish out of water story, in this moment there’s another fish that stands between him and his beloved coffee.

When he’s visiting the home of Pete Martell, Pete gets him and Harry a cup of coffee and leaves the room. He comes running in a moment later, yelling, “Fellas, don’t drink that coffee!” just as they both take a big mouthful. By way of explanation, Pete continues, “You’d never guess. There was a fish…in the percolator! Sorry…”

4. Room Service Brings Agent Cooper a Glass of Milk

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Agent Cooper gets shot in his hotel room, leaving us with one hell of a cliffhanger, but luckily the next episode brings us room service! An elderly man, who works at the hotel, arrives with the glass of warm milk that Agent Cooper requested.

He walks in, sees a bleeding Cooper lying on the floor, and…does nothing to help.

He seems concerned, but doesn’t really know what to do once he’s brought in the milk. And Cooper doesn’t ask him to do anything, so they just peer at each other, Cooper alarmed at having been shot, and the employee alarmed that a man is bleeding to death on the floor of his hotel room. Finally, he leans over Cooper. So Cooper can sign for the milk.

The scene is agonizingly long and slow, but that’s what makes it funny. The longer it goes, the more you think “surely, at some point, one of them will say something about the elephant in the room,” and neither ever does.

3. The Llama Moment

An unscripted bit of interaction between Agent Cooper and a Llama.

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While investigating a case, Cooper and Harry pay a visit to a vet’s office.

The two are talking in the lobby when a woman passes between them. She’s holding the lead of a llama. Cooper and Harry are standing fairly close together, which seems to cause the llama to pause. It looks straight at Cooper, who returns the stare, and the llama walks on past. And the conversation continues as though nothing happened.

But it’s so unexpected and odd looking that it always gets a chuckle. And it’s Cooper and a llama. I don’t need more of a reason.

2. Save the Pine Weasel

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This whole charity event is bizarre. We knew it would be when it started with a fashion show featuring both Lucy and Andy.

But it reaches peak wtf when the Pine Weasel handler comes out on stage with said animal and is talking to Dick, who’s being his usual obnoxious self.

Apparently, the Pine Weasel thinks so too, because it goes from being very mild-mannered and agreeable to attacking Dick viciously. Dick screams in pain thrashing around with it clamped to his nose (it’s made even better by the fact that the real animal has been switched out, and he’s obviously tussling with a stuffed animal). He manages to pry it off his face and flings it into the crowd, who all fly into a panic, creating utter pandemonium.

Audrey, who was onstage falls into the arms of the John Justice Wheeler, who was luckily standing near by, and they kiss for the first time as the charity goers scream all around them.

1. Wally Brando

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There are two kinds of people in this world: those who love this scene and those who are wrong.

The cast list for the third season of Twin Peaks is extensive. In addition to much of the main cast making a return, there were quite a few new celebrities on the list, including Michael Cera. Whether or not this role is a cameo, we can’t tell for sure. In the mind of David Lynch, it may have felt vitally important for this character to make an appearance (he is Lucy and Andy’s son after all) and then completely disappear.

And that would be okay. This scene is completely joyous. Cera’s Marlon Brando impression is just good enough without being what you’d call a good impression. I don’t mean that as a sleight. It’s the reason this scene is the gold that it is. On top of that, all the actors look like they’re about to fall apart laughing at any second. The dialogue is ludicrous, while also dripping with Brando references, and the proud parents, just complete the insane picture.

But there are many more moments that made me laugh in both the old and the new series, and I’m so glad I get to pay another visit to Twin Peaks.

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10 Times Michael Bluth Was the Funniest Person on Arrested Development

I was already in the middle of an Arrested Development rewatch when the news came that a fifth season was happening. I’m choosing to believe I’m responsible. Let me know your revival requests, I’ll see if I can manifest them.

Anyway, one thing that frustrates me about the culture surrounding the show is that everyone likes the crazy family, while fans tend to look down on the actual protagonist. Like, I was once on a site that had a “who’s your favorite character?” thread. The length of the thread was pretty extensive. And every character got a mention multiple times. Except Michael. He didn’t get a single mention on the whole thread.

This bothers me, because he’s my favorite. And he’s what’s keeping everything together. Ron Howard tells us so at the beginning of every episode. Without Michael, Arrested Development simply doesn’t work. Also, he’s not a humorless and boring straight man every time he’s onscreen. He’s just surrounded by over-the-top lunatics. Michael’s subtler, and I for one appreciate that more than any of the surrounding madness. So, in honor of the return of the Bluths, here are 10 times Michael was the one who made us laugh.

10. The Cornballer

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Throughout the episode, there are references to characters accidentally touching the cornballer and getting horribly burned.

But we see it happen to Michael himself multiple times. And he goes from being his calm reasonable self, trying to have a serious talk with his family, to screaming a litany of bleeped out swear words.

This was called back in the 4th season, when he tries to open a car door after first arriving in Phoenix, Arizona.

9. Burning down the banana stand

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This is an ongoing one. First, Michael finds out his son wants to burn down the Bluth’s Original Frozen Banana Stand, then decides, what the hell, let’s just start over, and helps him. “Taking Care of Business” starts playing, and Michael’s brother, GOB joins them, at which point it’s revealed that GOB didn’t mail an important check, and Michael gives chase, while GOB tries to make a getaway on his Segway. Actually anytime Michael chases GOB and subsequently gets in a physical fight with him, belongs on here (“Beef Consommé”).

Cut to the next day at the prison, where Michael takes great satisfaction eating an ice cream sandwich, his prisoner father’s favorite snack, in front of him, while telling him that the banana stand is gone, before his father, George, reveals that the stand was lined with cash, which is now all gone in the fire. George screams “how much clearer can I make it? There’s always money in the banana stand!” Michael’s reaction is one of “I’ve made a huge mistake” as George begins to throttle him.

8. Michael vs. the tumbleweed

 

Season 4 showed Michael falling into a deep pit of misery from a combination of bad luck and bad choices. After finishing building Sudden Valley, the housing market takes a nosedive, and there’s no one living in the town other than Michael.

The perfect visual representation of this is when Michael opens the front door and a tumbleweed comes bouncing in the house. After several jump cuts of him trying to kick it out, it moves further into the house, and Michael continues trying to kick it away in vain.

7. This exchange:

 

 

 

Michael:

 

 

 

Tobias (to Lindsay):

 

 

 

 

Michael:

 

 

 

And this one:

GOB: You know, I sort of thought my contribution could be a magic show.
Michael: Oh, that’s perfect, Gob.
Gob: Thank you.
Michael: Or, wait a minute. I just remembered something – Dad’s retiring, not turning six.

Michael never quite losses his sense of humor. Even when it seems like he’s reached his breaking point.

6. Afternoon Delight

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Michael decides that since he’s no longer the president of the Bluth company, he’s going to be “fun.” It starts out okay. At the office Christmas party, Michael and his niece, Maeby, keep licking candy and sticking it to the back of GOB’s suits (tired of him bragging about how expensive they are), and Michael seems to be having a pretty good time.

Then he tells Maeby, to fire up the karaoke machine, and they’ll do a duet of the first song that comes on. Maeby does, and they get about halfway through “Afternoon Delight” before Michael realizes just how inappropriate a song it is to be singing with his 15 year old niece.

Later in the episode Lindsay and George Michael make the same mistake.

5. “A building full of whistle blowers”

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In an attempt to get the attention of the Bluth company employees, Michael gets plastic whistles made up for them and scatters them across the table during a business meeting, telling them that if they see anything going on in the company that seems shady, they should blow the whistle.

This backfires spectacularly as the employees all blow the whistles constantly, until Michael has to collect them all back, like a teacher punishing an unruly class.

4. Michael gets a hug

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Michael doesn’t have a good relationship with his mother. And none of the relationships in the show are what you’d call “healthy.” But every once in a while, Michael just has to tell someone about all the crap he’s dealing with.

On one such occasion, Lucille scoops him into a hug, which she had only ever done once before. Confused, Michael asks why she’s squeezing him, and she explains it’s a hug.

He asks why and she replies, “because you need a mother right now.” His response: “But I don’t get along with my… Sorry, that was – that was a knee jerk.”

3. Peter Pan

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One of my favorite running gags is the Peter Pan play Michael starred in as a child. We get a glimpse of it, and the execution of bad choreography and kids just trying so darn hard to do their parts rights, while the hook prop falls off the captain and a plinky piano plays accompaniment never fails to make me giggle.

When Michael first meets Maggie Lizer, he’s encouraged to pretend he’s a lawyer, believing he played a very convincing one in the school play. Playing off the Captain Hook song he sang, he says he’s a maritime lawyer.

Seasons later he again takes the role of a lawyer in a mock trial for the same reason. And in season 4 it gets brought up again when the family needs an actual maritime lawyer.

2. Stealing office supplies

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After successfully bringing home a nice office chair by tying it to his bike (as a reward to himself for not stealing GOB’s girlfriend), Michael attempts to do the same with a TV balanced precariously on a skateboard. It doesn’t go as well.

1. “I don’t know what I expected.”

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For sheer simplicity, I think my all-time favorite moment in the show was in the second episode when he finds a brown bag in the fridge with the note: DEAD DOVE. DO NOT EAT. And then looks inside the bag. The look of disgust on his face is both from seeing a dead bird and his own stupidity.

To me, it’s the ultimate example of the understated quipping he steadily doles out, while a world of madness is falling down around his ears.

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Oh My American Gawds!

I don’t even know where to start.

I apologize if the following seems a little scatter-brained. I’ve had a hard time rounding up all my thoughts on this one, and this is coming from all angles. But what else is new?

There’s never been anything like this on television before. Visually, nothing compares to this, thematically, this is exceedingly timely, about the journey of immigrants, and emotionally, this is a shining light to make it through the next several weeks alive.

https://www.flickeringmyth.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/American-Gods-character-posters-1-600x900.jpgI’m a huge Neil Gaiman fan. And American Gods is an intense novel. As much as I wish everyone would get a move on with Good Omens and Anansi Boys (and both are happening), this is the TV show we should have now at this exact moment. And Gaiman’s been involved with the show every step of the way, updating and adding things that will make the world of the show seem more real, more complete, and much larger than it did in the novel. Not that I didn’t totally believe the world in the novel. This is just some whipped cream and cherries for the viewers. And the fact that we sit by week after week as it unfolds, rather than getting it all at once in a binge, like you can with a Netflix show, is probably a good thing. You could easily OD on something as rich as American Gods.

It’s also an exercise in patience. I realized pretty quickly that, because the show was taking the time needed to tell the story right, it would take a little while to get to many characters and aspects that I was most looking forward to. Like Mr. Nancy. He’s my favorite. He wasn’t in the first episode and depending on the order they choose to roll out the characters and the story, I could see them really waiting to reveal him, building him up.

Watching this show is like witnessing a moving painting and bloodshed has never been so stylish. That’s one thing about American Gods. In order to really do it right, you need the space to do things that most TV shows just won’t let you do. The fact that Starz was the station to pick the show up was either really lucky or really well thought out or a combination of both. And they let them really go there with the gore, but the colors are so rich and deep that even a wave of blood is mesmerizing and oddly beautiful. The opening credits alone are a visual feast. And the accompanying music is perfect.

https://i2.wp.com/cdn1-www.comingsoon.net/assets/uploads/gallery/american-gods/sub-buzz-9029-1490571043-4.jpgAnd we have to talk about THAT scene. There are a handful of books that have a scene you can simply refer to as just “THAT scene.” American Gods is certainly one of them. I knew it was going to be in the show, but I didn’t know how well it would work. They handled it SO well. One of the tricky things about American Gods in general is it’s terribly twisted and it’s got some truly unsettling moments. And it’s all spun together in such a way that it’s kind of funny too. What’s that? It makes you uncomfortable? That’s the whole point!

But if you don’t think that scene can be funny go on YouTube and look up the performance Neil Gaiman did of the scene starring Patton Oswalt as the businessman and Zelda Williams as Bilquis.

You see a lot of Bilquis in the first episode of the Starz series. Physically. As a woman, I’ve often watched scenes with female nudity and felt, what has become, a familiar squeamishness, where a woman’s body is meant to be a  spectacle of sorts. I fucking hate that.

This scene doesn’t feel like that. For one thing, Bilquis is in no way exploited, manipulated, minimized, or belittled. She’s empowered. It’s extra fun to think about any male viewers not knowing what was coming, thinking they were getting a skin show, and then watching THAT scene. And the creators described the scene as quickly veering off into a horror movie for middle-aged white men, which I also find funny. So if you want to talk best and most memorable character introductions? That might just top your list. No one’s forgetting about Bilquis any time soon.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/C78k4GBUwAQ2oli.jpg:largeOh, and the scene in the bar. It covers a lot of exposition and does so in a totally entertaining way. It seals Shadow’s role as Mr. Wednesday’s bodyguard, and it’s the introduction of Mad Sweeney, who was a lot of fun. He’s the world’s tallest leprechaun and his coin tricks are better than even the impressive Shadow. Because magic. And just the look of the bar! Where is that? I want to go there! Is it real? Basically, the entire bar area looks like it’s inside a crocodile’s mouth. With matching bar stools. And a cool old jukebox.

Part of the importance of this scene is that Shadow gets in a punch up with Mad Sweeney, and Mr. Wednesday can’t even be bothered to hide his glee. It says a lot about his character, and it’s just fun to watch him bask in mayhem.

The other scene I wanted to be sure to give a mention to was the one in the cemetery after Laura, Shadow’s wife’s, funeral. Shadow has an exchange with Audrey, whose husband died in the same car accident that killed Laura. Shadow and Audrey also discovered that their deceased spouses had been having an affair.

The emotion packed into the scene is amazing: the pain, the anger, the sadness, the frustration of both the death and the betrayal. And it all played out perfectly, partially due to Gaiman nixing a blowjob that occurred in the original draft of the script. Didn’t need it. We understood what they were feeling just by watching the scene play out. Audrey is frightening in her unpredictability in this scene, torn between so many emotions.

https://i2.wp.com/cdn3-www.comingsoon.net/assets/uploads/gallery/american-gods/sub-buzz-7492-1490571294-2.jpgAnd there are a million things I just want to bring up:

I’d be remiss not to mention Technical Boy who needed an update since the novel was published and was perfect. I can’t wait to see where else they go with him.

The hanging tree/buffalo/bone orchard madness positively made my hair stand on end. Well done there. BELIEVE MOTHERF***ERS!

The conversation on the plane between Shadow and Mr. Wednesday was great. Especially the latter’s little speech about what was actually keeping the plane flying (try not to think of that next time you’re on a plane).

I slightly wonder if many people who are new to the American Gods universe aren’t left in a daze of confusion. If you haven’t read the book and don’t know the story, there’s a lot coming at you. Way more than you would expect from the average  TV show (gee, I wonder why The Walking Dead popped into my head). But at its heart, this is meant to be a bit of a mystery and a bunch of a journey. AND OH MY GOD! I CAN’T WAIT FOR THE NEXT EPISODE! BRING ME MR. NANCY!

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What Does Klaatu Barada Nikto Actually Mean?

In case it wasn’t immensely clear from my blog banner, I really really really love 1951’s The Day the Earth Stood Still. Like, really a lot. It’s quintessential classic science fiction, what with its aliens and laser-eyed robots. Meanwhile, the plot, dealing with the Cold War and nuclear weapons, falls squarely into a bit of history that tends to repeat (see: current day).

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Of course I’m human. Look, I have a briefcase. Like the humans do. Cause I totally am one of those.

And, very briefly, I feel I should at least address that, yes, there’s a remake. I don’t hate the remake, and it definitely wasn’t as bad as I was expecting (shame on me), but it didn’t stick with me like the original version did. Often times I forget the remake exists altogether. It’s just sort of there, and that’s fine.

https://i1.wp.com/cimg.tvgcdn.net/i/2015/10/23/a83e2ea2-e8df-41a2-bc38-78d1ab4e78e4/tumblrml4tklvlux1qgime3o1250.gifI’d also like to make it very clear that the phrase “Klaatu barada nikto” did, in fact, originate from 1951’s The Day the Earth Stood Still and NOT 1992’s Army of Darkness. That’s just a fact. And for this post, I will be looking at the original context. No offense to Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell, or any of their fans. It was an homage when it was used in Army of Darkness. That’s the whole point. It did make me like Army of Darkness more, but please remember your good friend Klaatu when you next hear the phrase. Moving on!

The phrase turns out to be a set of instructions. For most of the movie, Klaatu inexplicably speaks perfect English. This is never really explained, but I also don’t really spend a lot of time wondering about it (until now. Dammit!), but he is from a different planet, which presumably has its own language. Gort, the giant robot, does not speak English. He doesn’t speak at all, actually, but he doesn’t seem to understand English. The only way anyone can communicate with him is in this alien language (and maybe some wavy hand gestures and flashlight speak on Klaatu’s part).

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Jazz hands!

The problem with bringing Gort along to Earth is he’s very shoot-y and very protective of Klaatu, and if he sees anything that seems to pose a threat, like, say, an army’s worth of tanks pointed at him 10 seconds after landing on a foreign landscape, he will laser-kill you. Klaatu was clearly not expecting humans to act the way humans act and flip out and assume that alien presence = alien threat. I wonder if Klaatu would still have brought Gort if he knew. Probably.

For most of the film, Klaatu, who looks human, walks around the city, meets people, and decides for the most part they’re pretty okay. He definitely doesn’t want to blow Earth up, but he’s super confused about this whole war thing and why humans bother about it.

To be clear, he walks around the city after being treated/captured by an army hospital that he was taken to because he got shot after being on Earth for, I think, less than 60 seconds. Like, he’s barely out of his ship. And then he has to escape from the hospital, because they want to do a bunch of weird tests on him. But he does have some human allies. There’s a little boy, Bobby, who sort of becomes Klaatu’s tour guide and then takes him home like a little lost puppy, and the boy’s mother, Helen, who helps Klaatu when it gets more dangerous and there are shoot-y people around. And there’s a scientist dude, but he doesn’t really have anything to do with this particular post.

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Goddamn Earthlings…

Anyway, Helen is trying to get Klaatu back to the ship, shoot-y people in pursuit, and Klaatu says something like, “well, this looks super bad, and I’m probably not gonna make it back to the ship, so I need to to do me a solid. Find Gort, and tell him ‘Klaatu barada nikto’, mmkay?” And sure enough (and spoilers, but the movie is over 60 years old), Klaatu gets shot. And dies. So Helen has to go find Gort and deliver the message.

Now the full line she says is “Gort, Klaatu barada nikto.” And I think that “Gort” bit is actually significant. No one talks to Gort other than Klaatu for the whole movie. Until this moment, when a human speaks to him. But she addresses him, uses his name. It suggests that she knows him and understands something about him. And it manages to stop him from laser-killing her, which he very nearly does when he first sees her.

So what does the rest of the phrase mean? Oh, boy. here’s the thing. It’s communicating a LOT of information for just three words. And the first word is just a name. Klaatu means Klaatu. The character. The words “barada nikto” indicate all of the following:

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/ac/71/2d/ac712d42c55d6282dee41992be6292df.jpgKlaatu is dead. DO NOT SHOOT THINGS, especially the woman talking to you. As a matter of fact, go ahead take her into the ship (Side note: Klaatu’s ship is hella rad. And also appears to be bigger on the inside. Hmmm). She’ll be safe there. If she resists or doesn’t understand why you’re staggering towards her in a totally menacing way, go ahead and just pick her up and carry her inside. Next, go get Klaatu. Here’s the address (we don’t know where exactly Klaatu’s body was being kept (looks like some sort of prison cell), but Gort seems to know exactly where he’s going. Bring Klaatu back to the ship. Raise him from the dead. Then go into sleep mode. Zombie-Klaatu will take it from there.

My first thought is that we really need to streamline the English language. Or is it like text talk? Or maybe in Klaatu’s language every letter represents an entire idea. It may be like in Arrival where we can’t even comprehend the language, because it operates on a level of understanding that’s just beyond us. Or maybe the letters in the words “Klaatu barada nikto” are all pictorial symbols. Or maybe the writer needed to make up some compelling fake words in a fake language and thought “these’ll do.”

We’ll never know for sure. And that’s probably for the best. The words will live on. As words are wont to do. Cause it’s a nifty little sci-fi phrase to keep in your pocket. And as much as I hope the Force will be with you and that you live long and prosper, the last thing I’d like to tell you before I open the pod bay doors (Hal) and say so long and thanks for all the fish is Klaatu barada nikto.

KLAATU BARADA NIKTO.

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Generations of Regenerations

Before series 10 of Doctor Who could even begin, we got the news. It will be Peter Capaldi’s last. Say your good-bye’s and prepare for a new Doctor. I, for one, was sad. Am sad. I like Peter Capaldi, I like his take on the Doctor, I wanted to see what he’d be like under Chris Chibnall’s direction.

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My rant a few months ago aside (the one about how the casting department should really shake up its lead character), I always like the Doctors. Maybe not at first, and maybe I miss the hell of certain ones in certain moments after they’ve gone, and maybe I like some portrayals more than others, but the Doctor is the Doctor is the Doctor. And the next person they cast in the role will certainly be the same.

And we’ll have to say good-bye to our curmudgeonly Scottish punk rock Doctor to get there. Thanks, Capaldi. You were a blast. And while there’s a lot of speculation about just when and how he’ll go, we won’t really know for absolute certain until we’re sat in front of our screens and it’s happening. I’ve watched that second trailer about a dozen times, and even knowing it’s coming, that moment of the regeneration energy rising off his hand hits me like a punch in the gut. This one’s gonna hurt. But we’ve made it through every time before, and so I wanted to take a look at each regeneration in turn.

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Nope. No. Don’t. NO. NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

11 into 12/Smith into Capaldi

This was the first regeneration I watched as it aired, and I’ve always found this one disappointing. Admittedly, I’m not the biggest fan of 11, but I deserved a good cry over his leaving (I mean, I cried when that triceratops died, I should certainly lose it when the Doctor goes). I didn’t. The plot of “The Time of the Doctor” felt needlessly convoluted, constantly tripping over itself. And it was an adventure I felt the audience was very much left out of. Why do you think we care about Clara’s awkward family dinner, when the Doctor has wooden Cybermen to fight?! On top of that, the regeneration kept beginning and then would be interrupted, and we didn’t get the definitive transition that we usually do. He de-aged, bopped his head, and BAM: 12.

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Sorry, I blinked and missed it. Could you do it again?

And the fact that he was regenerating at all was an anomaly. I get that it was a Christmas special, but I would have preferred the episode to be dedicated to saving him or resetting his regeneration cycle or whatever happened there (I’m still not sure). That being said, the last little speech is lovely, and his moment with the imagined Amy is very (bitter)sweet, and when he did regenerate we didn’t need to worry that they’d done anything silly with the character, like suddenly make him competent (“Do you happen to know how to fly this thing?”).

10 into 11/Tennant into Smith (Take 2)

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Tennant is one of my two favorites. Unfortunately, I got a bit jumbled up near the end of his tenure. Silly me, I thought series 5 came after series 4. So I plunged into “The Eleventh Hour” after “Journey’s End,” and thought to myself. That’s a bit odd. Did I miss something? Did they forgo a regeneration sequence?

So I looked it up and sure enough I had missed 5 episodes between series 4 and 5 (I refer to it as the secret season). So I went back, but something about seeing even just a bit of 11 before I got to say good-by to 10 really annoyed me. Still does. That being said, damn I feel so many emotions in “The End of Time.” He says good-bye to all his friends and then dies alone. *SOB*

10 into 10/Tennant into Tennant (Take 1)

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Remember he actually regenerated earlier in the last episode of series 4 in what I firmly believe is one of the greatest fuck-you’s to the audience ever. After being separated from his great love, Rose Tyler, a couple seasons earlier, and her trying to reach him all season long and just missing him, they finally find each other. And just as they’re rushing into each other’s arms a motherfucking Dalek pops out and exterminates the Doctor. Such is their relationship.

I do like that he’s not alone during this death. He’s with Rose, Donna, and Jack. Fair enough group for this Doctor’s exit. But then he uses the lizard hand that got chopped off (we knew there was a reason they were keeping that around) and regenerates into the exact same Doctor.

Buuuut, it still counts as a life. the 11th Doctor says so when explaining that he’s out of regenerations. That’s right, Capaldi’s the 14th Doctor.

9 into 10/Eccleston into Tennant

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Completely traumatized. My first Doctor. And I didn’t know about regenerations. And I didn’t know I was gonna like Tennant so damn much. All I knew, was I just discovered a new show and 13 episodes in, they axed the main character. I was ready to abandon Doctor Who all together (thank God, I stuck around a few more episodes).

It was a long time before I was willing to admit that just maybe 9 wasn’t my favorite Doctor. His regeneration scene is still one of the most upsetting moments, but I’m also really happy to see 10 after it’s all over. So. Many. Feelings.

War into 9/Hurt into Eccleston

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I was caught slightly off guard by this one. I mean, I guess it makes sense. The war ended, so the War Doctor did too. But he didn’t seem injured or anything (and I really really hoped that we were gonna get just a cameo from Eccleston, and to be completely honest, I’m a little annoyed he didn’t agree to do just that one bit), but it was a good strong moment, and didn’t have the same sadness behind it that most regenerations do. This was the beginning, not the end. This is where the show picked back up and where many fans (myself included) started. And the War Doctor fully accepted it.

And it meant we got to see a proper beginning and an ending to Hurt’s Doctor. All the Doctor’s deserve that. Even ones that only get a single episode (we’ll get to that other one in a second). And, no, I don’t think it’s tacky that they day John Hurt died there were pictures of his regeneration all over the internet. I thought it was beautiful. It was between that and Alien.

8 into War/McGann into Hurt

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So glad we finally got this sequence! One of the gifts we got going into the 50th anniversary was this little mini-episode called “The Night of the Doctor.” It was the 8th Doctor making the choice not to be the Doctor anymore. He would instead become a warrior in order to end the Time War. It’s such a beautiful piece of television. And any little bit of Paul McGann as the Doctor should be treasured.

And with some fancy technology we see young-man Hurt reflected afterwards, which let’s us know just how long he had been fighting in the war and makes it a little clearer why he had enough and could take “no more.”

7 into 8/McCoy into McGann

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I think it’s fair to say this is least like the others. There’s no shiny regeneration energy, and there’s a real long gap between his death and regeneration. Which kinda makes sense. An American network was trying to update the effects of the classic series while still honoring it. And kudos to them for actually including McCoy’s Doctor and bridging that gap. But anti-kudos for killing him off in such a stupid way.

The death also takes awhile. I mean, he’s shot (SO dumb), then taken to the hospital, then dies on the operating table. And technically it wasn’t the gun shot wound that did it, but the way they tried to save him, not knowing about the second heart and all. But everything about the death and regeneration felt really stretched out. We should have skipped to our new Doctor quicker than that.

6 into 7/C. Baker into McCoy (well…sort of)

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Oh, dear. Well, McCoy did his best. After Colin Baker was fired from being the Doctor, McCoy notoriously began his tenure as Doctor with a curly wig and an obscured face. And we saw it happen mid story it seemed. Like, there was a bunch of action that we had missed out on, but all we needed to know was it killed the Doctor, and now this little Scottish guy who we were pretending wasn’t Scottish was running things.

Unfortunately, this isn’t really one you can go back and retcon into the show, because we did actually see the tail end of the regeneration. However, if you’re a really dedicated 6th Doctor fan and wish he had a better departure story, check Big Finish. I think they may have an audio adventure with his death in it that doesn’t mess with anything televised.

5 into 6/Davison into C. Baker

http://vignette2.wikia.nocookie.net/tardis/images/b/bc/FiveRegenerates.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20120212064638

Davison often complains about how his death scene was upstaged by Peri’s cleavage. Personally, I always remember the scene for 2 other reasons: the spinning heads, which we only ever saw in one other (maybe) regeneration and the way the 6th Doctor’s “you were expecting someone else?” line is delivered in what may be the most clear personality shift between any 2 Doctors, perfectly encapsulating the arrogance we would come to recognize from him.

Davison himself does a good job dying. He got “death by poisoning,” which is a nicely gnarly way to go, lasted the length of an episode, and was also part of a sacrifice-for-companion plot line. Even if the companion was Peri.

4 into 5/T. Baker into Davison

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First of all, this is some nightmare fodder right here. I’m pretty sure if I had seen this as a kid, I’d be talking about it in therapy.

After falling to his (not immediate) death, after a tussle with the Master (slightly dumb, but see, the Master did manage to kill him once), a ghostly white figure passes through Baker and transforms into Davison.

It’s probably, visually, the most bizarre regeneration scene. And I still don’t 100% understand what was going on (though I only saw it once, under distracting circumstances). But you could argue that for that exact reason it’s a memorable and epic way to say good-bye to one of the most popular and beloved Doctors.

3 into 4/Pertwee into T. Baker

http://vignette4.wikia.nocookie.net/tardis/images/0/0e/Third-doctor-regenerates.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20120303012935

Fun fact: this is the first time the Doctor dies from radiation!

This is a little less memorable one for me, and I don’t have much to say about it. I actually find Pertwee’s first serial, when he clearly still thought he was supposed to play the part like Troughton, to be more interesting. AND we never got a clear transition between them two.

Nonetheless, this was the transition into arguably the fan favorite Doctor. He was with the Brig, who was probably in the most episodes with the 3rd Doctor, and Sarah Jane was there, and his last words were to her, so that was very sweet.

2 into 3/Troughton into Pertwee(?)

https://i1.wp.com/whovianknowledge.weebly.com/uploads/5/7/4/7/57472691/1705317_orig.pngTroughton is my other favorite Doctor. He possibly has the most puzzling regeneration in that there’s a lot speculation that whatever it was that was happening to him at the end of “The War Games” may not have even been a regeneration. That’s the season 6B theory. I’m not sure whether or not I subscribe to that. There are as many holes in that theory as there are that he was regenerating.

I’m willing to sort of believe that, sure, this was his regeneration. We had the swirly heads when 5 kicked the bucket, and the mugging Troughton was doing did look like the sort of face stretches necessary to morph into Pertwee.

1 into 2/Hartnell into Troughton

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Is it the best regeneration sequence? I don’t know. It’s a good one. And maybe the most important sequence in all of Doctor Who. The show isn’t still being made in 2017 if it wasn’t for this regeneration. Hell, the show may not have made it through 1966 if it weren’t for this regeneration. Shockingly, while we don’t have footage of the episode this takes place in (the final part of “The Tenth Planet”), we do have footage of this sequence.

And I can’t even imagine what they thought when this happened. Or maybe it was like my experience with 9. But I didn’t have to wait for the next episode.

Something I really like about this regeneration is that you hear the sound of the TARDIS as it happens, letting you know that something exciting and Time Lord-y is going on.

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So, we’ve done it loads before, and I suspect we’ll do it loads again. But we’ll be sad when Capaldi leaves. As usual. And then there will be a new Doctor to go on adventures with. And we’ll be happy again.

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Max Headroom: 20 Minutes Into the Present

https://i1.wp.com/electronmagazine.com/content/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Have-a-Nice-Future-max-headroom-1024w-600x450.jpgI’d forgotten about the show for bit, but a week ago I watched the original…er…well, it’s categorized as a “TV movie.” It feels more like pilot episode. I think its proper name is Max Headroom: 20 Minutes into the Future. I’m talking specifically and exclusively about THAT for this post. I think what happened was the BBC didn’t pick it up for a series, but the American network ABC did, and as a result, that first episode was remade. But I’m talking about the first version. There were just a few little things that struck me that I wanted to get out without getting into just how good the show actually is, and how good all the supporting characters really are.

But a quick recap: In the not so distant distopian future (as the show always puts it “20 minutes into the future”), a smartass reporter, Edison Carter, works for a TV news station. TV stations essentially control everything, and Carter’s show is pretty popular because he wants to dig up the truth and is willing to go to extreme lengths to get it.

https://i2.wp.com/www.maxheadroom.com/images/6/6d/Mh-ch4-0-1-broken-headroom-bar.jpg

Going after one particular story, he’s chased by two goons. Trying to escape through a parking garage, he hits his head on a traffic barrier arm that reads “MAX HEADROOM,” the last words he sees before he’s knocked out, and his consciousness is uploaded into a computer Still with me?).

Carter recovers, but now there’s a rogue A.I. avatar that thinks like Carter, has even less of a filter, and no danger of bodily harm. So it just spouts the truth. It ends up in the hands of a pirate TV station and audiences can’t get enough. It could topple the entire system.

And the avatar assumes its name is Max Headroom, because they’re the first words it saw.

Okay. So all that at least sounds fun, right? But what about a show from the mid 80’s stood out to me in 2017? The themes and the tech.

Themes

Really a lot of things about the show sound a little familiar. I don’t mean that as a diss. Considering when it was made, it beat out lot of other media playing with the same ideas.

First of all, there’s “20 minutes into the future.” The creators clearly thought the ideas they were dealing with, while somewhat fantastical and certainly science fictional, suggested these things were coming up fast.

https://cinematrices.files.wordpress.com/2009/01/vlcsnap-1707384.png?w=415&h=311

Max Headroom

And we have to talk about Max, of course. The idea of TV taking over government, considering certain recent elections in this hellscape we’re calling reality, suddenly doesn’t seem so farfetched. And we seem to be fast approaching a world that looks like any given exterior shot from the show. A sort of post-apocolyptic wasteland decor. You wanted Zombieland? You got it.

But with the creation of Max it suddenly seems like maybe you can take down TV system with Mr. TV. I mean, Max seems pretty obsessed with uncovering and then telling the truth. Its personality is, after all, a copy of a reporter. And Max isn’t really even the hero of the story, its reporter alter ego, Edison Carter, is.

There’s something cultural that I thought was interesting about the TV vs. Max and Carter dynamic.

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Remember, this was originally a British production, and all the fatcat bureaucrats that ran the TV station were British (but so is most everyone else). The rebellious reporter protagonist and his A.I. mouthpiece were American. This seems to suggests two conflicting lines of thought. Either the creator saw Americans as the noisy semi-crass over-the-top presenter personalities that Max represented, who may present substantive material, but literally don’t exist outside of a monitor, or as the hard working reporters that Edison Carter represented, who gets into a lot of trouble, but usually for the right reasons. Or both. Maybe they don’t have to conflict.

In any event, I don’t think we need to wait 20 minutes to reach the future, because the future is now. I’d be curious to see this show with an updated look.

Who owns the rights to this now? ABC? Cause it’s ripe for a reboot. What would be better theme music: Video Killed the Radio Star by The Buggles or Big Time by Peter Gabriel? Come On! Let’s make this happen. Or, God, throw it back to the BBC. They’re great at reboots (Doctor Who).

Tech

Again. 1985. This is crazy! No, the computers don’t look like they do now, but think about how they’re used.

https://i2.wp.com/www.maxheadroom.com/images/1/10/MH-11-Bryce%27s-floor-13-or-126.jpgThey have typewriter style keyboards (at one point the boy genius, Bryce, is typing, and he’s using just his pointer fingers), but what they use the computers for is pretty impressive. This is really where the other lead, Theora, comes into play. She’s brought on to help Edison remotely (though this doesn’t last long, and she quickly gets caught up in the action as well).

They’re able to communicate with each other from miles away, her at the TV station, him wherever the story is. She can get him in and out of buildings by giving him codes, allows him to travel to different floors on elevators, and can raise traffic barrier arms in parking garages. Or could, if Bryce hadn’t been counter hacking her work. Oh, yeah, cause there’s a bunch of hacking going down throughout the whole thing.

Then there’s blipverts, ads condensed and fed into a viewers brain at an accelerated speed. These ads have a nasty habit of causing spontaneous combustion in certain viewers. They remind me of those YouTube ads that you can skip after 5 seconds, or banner ads on any website. It’s just chillin’ next to that article you’re trying to read (maybe even this one).

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And the technology of giving a digital creation a full on personality and artificial intelligence is still out of out reach. But has gotten a hell of a lot closer since 1985. Max seems to be able to think, learn, joke, philosophize, and most certainly speak. Siri can do 3 of those 5.

Avatars weren’t a thing yet either. And Max Headroom wasn’t created digitally. They had to put prosthetic and latex on the actor (Matt Frewer), plus a fiberglass suit and contacts, and then just film him. Because they didn’t have the computer technology to do it any other way. But they didn’t want anyone to know that was the actor, and they did a damn good job. The production team may as well have time traveled to make an avatar so similar to ones we’ve all seen.

Then again, for all this modern tech, Edison is still running around with a bulky 80’s camera that’s half as tall as him and twice as heavy.

https://rickkeatingsrandommusings.files.wordpress.com/2016/06/edison-carter.jpg?w=356&h=264

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