Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The 3 Nerdiest Sitcoms of Today's Generation

We're living in a golden age of ‘nerdiness’. Comic books, video games, and extreme fandom are all hugely popular, with comic conventions being some of the biggest events in American pop culture. What this means is that nerd chic is all the rage, especially in television. Chances are good you know at least one person who can quote The Big Bang Theory line for line, or who goes on and on about "The Doctor". Even if you don't consider yourself a die-hard "nerd", you've probably watched one of these sitcoms.

Nerdy Sitcom #3: The Office
For 9 seasons, we watched the ridiculous antics of Michael and Dwight, pined for the love between Pam and Jim, and primarily simply laughed at the office of Dunder Mifflin. A curiously successful adaptation of a British comedy of the same name, The Office was a hugely successful sitcom, one of NBC's biggest. It's the nerd crowd, however, that bolstered the ratings and kept it going for 9 years. A show about awkward people in an office setting, trying to interact and find their place, is a concept that's pretty easy to relate to, especially for well, nerds. Spanning a multitude of story-lines, personality types, and varieties of humor, The Office's appeal is still apparent, even now, two years after it ended.

Nerdy Sitcom #2: Doctor Who
This is a very unique program, in that it's been on the air for so long. Beginning in 1963, and only increasing in viewership and popularity as time has gone on, the show exemplifies what high-quality writing can do for a series. And a popular one at that with nerds for many reasons. Doctor Who is at its heart, a sci-fi series about an immortal "Time Lord" and his travels throughout the universe, helping people and saving lives. The heroics resonate with viewers for sure, but the ability to manipulate time and space makes for an endlessly refreshing potential for plots, locations, and companions for the Doctor. As previously mentioned, the show is incredibly well-written, which serves to fill the gaps that the small-budgeted and often silly special effects create.

Nerdy Sitcom #1: The Big Bang Theory
With 4 extremely nerdy personalities and a beautiful neighbor, The Big Bang Theory seems like an odd mix. It's only after you see the effective humor, cogent cultural references, and appealing humanity of the characters that you really understand why nerds (and everyone else) loves this show. While nerds can identify with the characters' personalities and struggles, it has done a lot to help 'nerdiness' become mainstream in general and allow people to feel good about letting their inner nerd out.

While there are plenty of other nerdy shows out there currently, these are undoubtedly the biggest and most influential. What shows can boast the broad viewership of The Office, the longevity of Doctor Who, or the cultural impact of The Big Bang Theory? Do your nerd-side a favor and check them out if you haven't already, and see what the nerds already know!

Friday, November 27, 2015

Is It Time to Remake “Back to the Future”?

One of the most successful movies ever is definitely ‘Back to the Future’, written in 1985 by Bob Gale and Robert Zemeckis, who was also the director. The starring roles were given to Michael J. Fox, Thomas F. Wilson, Crispin Glover, Lea Thompson, and Christopher Lloyd. This movie is a story about a teenager who was sent back to the past to the year 1955, and suddenly, he met his parents and fell in love with his mother. But, he realized that he must repair the history and make his parents fall in love. Of course, he would do all this with a help of a scientist, and then he would return back to 1985. An exciting story, isn’t it?

Modern time travel movies appear to be more sophisticated than they were some 30 years ago. Once Back to the Future achieved its success, Hollywood has got overwhelmed with time travel movies. Some of these movies, such as The Terminator, have seen several successful sequels. Because of all these movies, it appears that the audience has got used to a bit different story lines. This opens up lots of possibilities for a fantastic story to be developed for Back to the Future.

According to Hollywood’s big preparation for the remake of Back to the Future, we can expect the new version soon. But, the director, Zemeckis, doesn’t think the same. He refuses to give the authority to reboot the first version of the movie although millions of fans are waiting for its return. Despite this, the Universal Pictures has already started with the project of remaking Back to the Future.

Who are the main actors?

The remake can’t have the same actors because the starring Michael J. Fox suffers from Parkinson’s disease. Unfortunately, the first version released in 1985 went on the 11th place on the box office charts, so the Hollywood productions are still pushing the idea of its reboot.

The actual proposal for the remake of Back to the Future by Universal Pictures West and Robert Zemeckis for 2016 would look like this. The writers would be Josh Trank, David S. Goyer, and Zemeckis, who would also be a director and co-producer. The producer would be Avi Arad (Iron Man). And, the most important thing, the main actors will be Aaron Paul as Marty McFly, John Malkovich as Emmet Brown, Jimmy Tatro as Biff Tannen, Sam Rockwell as George McFly, and Betsy Brandt as Lorraine McFly. The other actors on the list are Jonathan Banks and Christa B. Allen. The budget for the film, according to Zemeckis, would be about $180 million. There is some news that the shooting should end in the fall of 2016.

And the special effects?

When we think about special effects, the idea of having a remake of Back to the Future sounds really cool, especially if we take into account everything that the special effect technology can do. This will maybe give the remake a deeper storyline, maybe with some Matrix-like special effects. Also, since the car from Back to the Future was smashed to bits, there would have to be a new one.
Some movie experts agree with this believing that the movie could be rebooted perfectly, as every character can be brought back to life with the use of certain special effects and computer graphics. Also, they think that the special effects in the remade version should support those from 1985, which were made by Industrial Light and Magic. 

As you can see, the remake of Back to the Future is a huge challenge for Hollywood production houses. But, it’s possible to happen, especially when there are a good crew and budget to make it real! So, would you like to watch the remake of this movie, with some little changes, but with the best special effects ever?

Well, hopefully, Back to the Future can be the nearest future of the movie world.


epicfail comic con costumes
Comic Con is a right of passage for so many, and at the same time, it's a place were fans can go to meet like-minded others, similar die-hards that share your same passions.   But it's also a place where fans go to dress up like some of their favorite comic book, movie, or television characters, and while, mostly, these costumiers go way out of their way to create a costume that, sometimes, rivals the screen-used version, there are others who really just completely half-ass their costume.

Here are some of our favorite #EPICFALL Comic Con costumes of the last 2-3 years of Comic Con season from across the country as well as from the United Kingdom.  These are so bad that they're good.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

#EpicFail: The Top 5 Worst Superman Movies

The Worst Superman movies
At the end of the day, no one can say anything bad about Richard Donner's, filmed back-to-back, Superman: The Movie and Superman II.   Both of these Superman films star the great, and gone-much-too-soon actor, Christophe Reeve.    Donner, filmed both films at the same time more or less, and although, in the end, Superman II was ripped out of his hands by the films' producers and he was fired,he managed to have his day with his Special Edition Superman II Donner Cut DVD release.   The Donner Cut really shows the greatest of the early 80's Reeve Superman; which is a pity because ultimately, while Superman III has it's loyal campy and cult following, Superman IV makes it all the more bittersweet because of just how awful that film really is.  And certainly, given the rise in popularity of the superhero movie in the last ten years in Hollywood; these films earning big box office bucks in a time which we've seen only Hollywood studios recycling everything, including yesterday's news---Superman had tried and tried to make his way back to the big screen since 1987, since Superman IV tanked and made the franchise a laughing stock.    And while there have been those in Hollywood who have fought and struggled to bring the Man of Steel back to the big screen, we've heard about the failures, especially with the recent documentary out highlighting Tim Burton's re-imagining for Clark Kent.  
And then there's Bryan Singer.   Singer, who was once best known as the film-maker who crafted such masterworks as Public Access and The Usual Suspects, has turned his sites on comic book movies and superhero influx.   While Singer has found great success in bringing the X-Men to the big screen, his take on Superman was a turd, although a steel one at that.    With Singer's Superman in the can, and 2013's improved but still lacking Man of Steel, is it possible to bring Superman back to the big screen. But with the same grace and magical propensities that Christopher Reeve had in the role? Or with the same great qualities that Richard Donner brought to the character and story?     Perhaps, only time will tell.   In the meantime, the answer is likely no.     In the meantime, we're supposed to be satisfied with the Supergirl television series?    Are we supposed to be re-watching our Lois and Clark DVD box set?   At this point, one would expect that their DVDs of Superman: The Movie and Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut would be getting worn out from repeated play.  When will Superman return to the big screen proper?   Richard Donner will you please save us?
Here are the Top 5 Worst Superman and Superman-related movies (in no particular order):

Sunday, November 22, 2015

What Made "How I Met Your Mother" So Popular to Watch?

"How I Met YourMother" was a unique and engaging show that kept audiences guessing. There are many sitcoms in which you can watch different episodes at different times without having to miss out on most of the storylines, but with "How I Met Your Mother," it acted as a timeline that you had to keep up with; an excellent way to keep audiences engaged for each airing. Besides this, there were many other reasons why "How I Met Your Mother" was so popular for audiences to watch.

Good Cast Chemistry
The cast of "How I Met Your Mother" seemed to have always been friends. They were friends off-screen, which helped them to develop this dynamic, and it worked. Barney and Ted had the perfect ‘bromance’, and Lily and Marshall were the perfect couple and it felt wrong that it wasn't that way off-screen, although they’re friends. And Robin added the perfect twist with her unstable, but close relationship with both Barney and Ted.

Unique Comedy
The social rules in "How I Met Your Mother" were probably one of the most intricate and unique pieces of comedy that the show offered. There were things such as the ‘slap-bet’, ‘bro code’, and the ‘nothing good ever happens after 2 AM rule’. Audiences watched as the characters struggled to follow these rules, mostly according to the way Barney developed them, which was always entertaining and sometimes even took over the whole story-line of episodes. Audiences also had to remember that the stories were being told from future Ted's perspective. He was telling the stories to his kids, and sometimes they were censored or changed slightly, which was another comedic aspect of the show that was unique. For example, many bad words were changed to "Grinch" and "smoking marijuana" was changed to "eating a sandwich."

Intricate Character Personality
With the multiple flash-backs, audiences follow throughout the entirety of the show. The character development shines and makes their personalities intricate, more in-depth, and overall, more comedic. With Robin going from a Canadian teen pop star and Barney going from a confused kid with no father and a brother who looked nothing like him to a hippy barista to an always wearing a suit bachelor, it kept audiences intrigued and entertained. Not only were there flash-backs to show character development, but there were also flash-forwards that gave little hints to future events, but not enough to give anything away completely.

These three factors were what made this show so unique, funny, and connectable. Many audiences find themselves wanting to re-watch the episodes to catch subtle hints of the ending that they might not have noticed before. Even though the show’s over, it still seems to be going on.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Movie Review: The Night After (2015)

 The Night Before offers little laughs....

 As we've just started the 2015 holiday season, Americans are flocking to their local multiplex for a spot of entertainment.  This means that they're out there looking for that perfect holiday movie.   These types of movies usually involve a story with heart that is set up against the backdrop of a holiday such as Thanksgiving or Christmas itself.   These movies are mostly always centered around a comic situation as well, which is why, on the exterior The Night Before likely looks be the perfect holiday season movie-going fodder.     
And one would be correct in that assumption about the film. Certainly an indication of The Night Before's intentions would be easily deciphered simply by one watching the film's trailer that has been heavily-touted around on television over the last several weeks.   Which is fine, and The Night Before is enjoyable, but only to a degree.
The Night Before has no intentions to re-invent the comedy wheel.  It was designed simply as a piece of entertainment during the holiday season hussle and bussle.   In fact, its too entertaining. And it tries way too hard to be a bunch of different things all at once.   It's so loaded with Hollywood tropisms that you can predict how its all going to end in the first seven minutes after its started.   So the question becomes: if you know how a movie is going to end right when it begins, can you still enjoy it?  The only way one can do that is if they believe and identify/sympathize with the characters.
Does The Night Before allow one to do that?  Not really.  The basic premise, and not to give out too many spoilers: three friends get together every year on Christmas to have a wild night out on the town together partaking in a lot of drinking and drugs.   The tradition was started ten year prior when one of the friends (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) loses both of his parents in a horrible car accident.  His friends come to his aid, like good friends should, and they become his surrogate holiday family.  Everything is kicked off when Gordon-Levitt's character steals a set of special tickets to an exclusive party that the three have been trying to get invited to for a decade while sporting some pretty funny ugly Christmas sweaters.
When you walk into the movie theater to watch something like The Night Before, something that, for better or worse, has been marketed, almost passively-impressively as a holiday movie, one doesn't think that they're going to be subjected to over-the-top debauchery that features more dicks than there are boobs and a character that is so steeped in his own drug use that he rivals Keith Richards' own in the 1970s.  
The Night Before does promote heavy drug use, and doesn't attempt to, at least, suggest that it might be a bad idea to take a lot of drugs out for a night on the town in the holiday season by the end.   The problem with the drug jokes in the movie is that they're just lame.  All in all, the target audience for The Night Before, although the screenwriters wouldn't likely admit it, would be those between the ages of 30-35; those who have been through some drug experimentation and are well on their way to middle age suburban death, those who are stuck in crappy jobs, those who are about to become parents or parents for the second time.   People under 30-35 will laugh at the jokes, but only because they've barely lived any of the experiences that the characters in the film are smack in the middle of themselves.  

And what of the holiday audience?  What about the Grandmas that may see the film with their family this holiday season thinking that this will be the perfect holiday season movie fare?  Will the film be too much for them?  Well they get the drug references or will those alienate them?      After all, this isn't Seth Rogen and Barbara Streisand driving in a car together across the country; a film that most likely pleased Grandma.   Will Grandma appreciate the scene in The Night Before of Seth Rogen talking to his wife while he is on LSD and seeing her as a dragon?  Will she find the dick pic texting scene hilarious?  Doubtful.    Which is why The Night Before doesn't quite work, firstly as a holiday movie, but secondly as a comedy.   It's very uneven.  The jokes, in particular, the drug jokes, the man questioning his sexuality jokes, are just sort of played out, they're not used here in a fresh or unique way.  Perhaps those that find everything Seth Rogen does as funny; perhaps those people will find this all-in-all amusing, no matter what the age, but those people may be few and far apart.    Overall, it's a very uneven film, it's predictable too.   Even the "surprise" cameo of James Franco was expected.  Watch for a silly Miley Cyrus cameo as well here.  
In the end, The Night Before can't seem to decide whether it wants to be a comedy or a drama.  While some may not find the jokes funny, they are there nonetheless, but they are so few.   The scenarios aren't even absurd. The situations are mild.   The film can't even manage to come across as a comedy of manners.   It also tries to be this Charles Dickens Scrooge kind of thing, but in the end, because it can't decide if it wants to make you laugh, make you cry, or play into your holiday whimsy, it doesn't successfully do any of those things because it tres to go into all three directions at one time.  

Friday, November 20, 2015

#EpicFail: The Top 5 Science Fiction Box Office Failures

Top 5 Sci-Fi Box Office Failures
There are great science fiction films, and then there are those that are not-so-great.   Still, if you're a sci-fi junkie like we are here at TVSO then you probably just love it all whatever the heck it is as long as it has some spaceships in it, right?   If there's a contemporary genre of movies that is as popular as American comedy today it's science fiction and horror.   While dozens of horror films get churned out, almost weekly, it seems--science fictions take a little more care.   And yet, to go back to those not-so-great science fiction films again:  are they really that bad, or are our expectations so high and mighty that it is impossible for us to enjoy them in the first place?   There may be something to that when it comes to a beloved adaptation of your favorite science fiction book of yesteryear.

Books like Battlefield Earth and Dune certainly proved themselves to be major let-downs when it came to their movie adaptations.    And what of the remake? Did Tim Burton really have any rights to attempt a remake of a classic such as Planet of the Apes?  Hell, no.  He didn't, and his career, his perfect filmography, will forever be tainted by that hairy Tim Roth-y-over-the-top-disaster.  The Science Fiction genre should wow, dazzle, and inspire.  It's the thinking person movie genre.  It should have a aura of mystery about it, and at the same time, be completely entertaining. 

While the following list reflects only a selection of sci-fi movies that have failed at the box office in one way or another, let it be suggested, that we here at TVSO don't have anything negative to say about any of these films in themselves.  Each has found itself a cult following (no matter how tiny) and each has its detractors and its admirers.    These just so happened to be #epicfails at the box office.  Audiences stayed away in droves or took a stand against these.   Okay, Tim Burton's Planet of the Apes was so awful...there's no sugar-coating that.    We'll never forgive him for it either.  

What follows is our list of the Top 5 Science Fiction Box Office Failures (in no particular order):

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Fascinations with the Supernatural in Comics Books

Almost every comic book out there has some element of the supernatural. Batman has to deal with the Penguin, who has been mutated in a non-normal way into a super-villain. ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ is always out there slaying vampires--it's all in the title! Then there's ‘Thor’, who isn't actually a "God", but people on Earth perceive him as one because he comes from a different realm. Spawn has to do with a man who is combined with some kind of demonic entity, and becomes a crusader for good. In short, most comic books use as a vehicle either for the plot or the protagonists some supernatural motif. 

But why?

Well, part of the answer may have to do with the generation to whom the content of the comics is being marketed to. Modern generations have forgotten the supernatural in their brick-and-mortar, cement-and-electrical, internet-and-television worlds. Today, everything's let on to be explicable by naturalistic sciences. The reality is, naturalistic science does a terrible job of explaining the modern world in many ways, but scientific terminology hoodwinks those who don't know better into thinking everything is understood. Yet inside them they know it isn't, and for this reason a drive toward exploration of supernatural entertainment naturally grasps them.

Consider that great volumes of supernatural fiction weren't around in the past, when many stories are set. In antiquity, people were relatively illiterate; but it's presumable certain supernatural exigencies of life assailed them enough, it became desirable to block them out! The legends survived because they were based on facts, as inconvenient as that may or may not have been.

Now, we still have apparitions in the attics, demon possessions in the streets, and warlocks creeping around at night effecting their wicked charms. There are even people that actually believe themselves to be vampires--in the 90's an entire cult was started around the subject. As it turns out, scientifically there's some aspect to ingestion of human bodily fluids which fundamentally changes the ingesting party's genes--Ted Talks have indicated what we do directly affects our DNA.

So why do we like supernatural things today? They've been excluded from us, and we're told they don't exist; but in our hearts and souls and minds we know naturalistic explanations just don't explain everything. So the writers of comic books like Buffy the Vampire Slayer bring us back to reality, as ironic as that sounds, by reminding us there are things that go bump in the night; and perhaps we should be grateful for the trappings of modernity.