Leonard Nimoy 1931-2015

“My work is done here.” “What do you mean, ‘your work is done’? You didn’t do anything!” “Didn’t I?”

-Leonard Nimoy and Barney, Simpsons “Marge vs the Monorail”.

Leonard Nimoy, known to pretty much every sci-fi fan as Spock from Star Trek, has died at age 83.

I’m not one for sappy, dramatic tributes, but I feel a quick little one is necessary. If I might tie this into the two shows that launched this cheesy blog, Spock, aided by Mr Nimoy’s portrayal of the character, set the tone for other logical science-minded characters within the realm of sci-fi and fantasy. It’s hard to see how Data, T’Pol, Dana Scully, Kerr Avon, Dipper Pines, Kryten, etc. would exist the way they do without the influences of Mr. Spock. Leonard Nimoy’s acting, in a show often snarked at for it’s acting quality, really sold the character as a centerpiece of American TV, sci-fi, and 60s/70s pop culture.

And besides, to quote Dr. McCoy himself… “He’s really not dead… as long as we remember him.”

Thank you, Mr. Spock.

Gravity Falls Review: "Northwest Mansion Noir/Mystery/Whatever-the-Hell-It’s-Called" (Season 2, Episode 10)

Pacifica and Dipper hiding from a ghost.
A ghost that can directly affect it’s settings in this universe. In Red Dwarf, the default is soft-light. Science fiction and fantasy are strange, indeed.

Airdate: February 16th, 2015.

Synopsis: The Northwest family is preparing for its annual shindig. After an incident involving the china, Pacifica is tasked with getting Dipper to de-haunt the mansion within 24 hours. Given that Dipper’s relationship with Pacifica is poor, he only agrees as long as Mabel, Candy, and Grenda get free access to the party. While there, Dipper and Pacifica find out disturbing things about the Northwest heritage… up to and including why the house is haunted.

Meanwhile, Mabel, Candy, and Grenda get a subplot. It involves the potential of romance with a baron.

Review: AUSTRIA IS A REPUBLIC! THERE IS NO ROYALTY THERE! WORST EPISODE OF TELEVISION EVER! WERNER FAYMANN AND HEINZ FISCHER SHOULD SUE THE DAYLIGHTS OUT OF-

Sorry. Political scientist in me got a bit wild – and somewhat inaccurate – for a second. Ahem- now to the real review… after the break. Spoilers from the break/here on out.

Continue reading

Happy 27th, Red Dwarf!

Twenty-seven years ago today, BBC Two debut a sitcom in space. It was called Red Dwarf, and it was created by two writers from a puppet show on ITV.

Ten series, sixty-one episodes, and many cast and setting changes later, the show has firmly set it’s place in the science fiction and British pop culture spheres.

Through the ups and downs, from the TIVs to the dinosaurs, I will never regret a single moment of watching Red Dwarf. In retrospect, the doldrums made the great episodes that much better.

What else can I say? If you haven’t watched Red Dwarf before… please, watch it.

Gravity Falls, Dipcifica, and You!

Hey, welcome to the new site. Same as the old site, just at a new URL.

What better way to make a first “real” post for the new URL then speculating on the “Northwest Mystery Noir”, the next episode of Gravity Falls? Or, as I like to call it, “ShipCON 2”, given that the fandom is freaking out over who is going to make out with whom.

Yes, Dipper and Pacifica will wind up in a mystery together in Pacifica’s mansion. Alone. Without anybody else. Apparently, they have to go take on a ghost or something of the sort. Gee, what uncharted territory.

Fans right now are waiting, hearts skipping beats as the American airdate (February 16th) comes closer, so they can flip out if and/or when Pacifica smooches Dipper.

Given the buildup this episode has (coming off of a nearly three-month hiatus not helping), I figured I’d discuss what might be the most discussed aspect of this episode so far- the possibility of Dipcifica, or Pacifidip, or the Lilac Tree, or whatever the hell the fandom is calling this ship.

Ladies, Gentlemen, representatives from the fine press establishments and the New York Post

Surprised? Continue reading

Scullyfied Simpsons: Season 9, Episode 23: "King of the Hill"

Airdate: May 3rd, 1998

Synopsis: After a disastrous outing to a church picnic, Bart realizes that Homer is pathetically out of shape. Homer, disappointed in himself for failing his son, decides to take up an exercise regiment, complete with trips to the “gyme” and eating Powersauce bars. Impressively, with the help of Rainier Wolfcastle, he manages to build up sizable muscles within two months, albeit developing a bit of ego along the way. One particular trip to the “gyme” has Homer and Bart meet up with representatives from Powersauce, and Bart convinces Homer to take up on an offer to climb the super-tall Murderhorn. The executives sponsor the trip along the way, turning it into an ad campaign… even having sherpas help Homer.

Review (SPOILERS): Watching these past few episodes has been like a pendulum. We had “Trillions” show the assassination of satire, “Girly Edition” show the brilliant satire formed over the previous eight seasons, “Trash of the Titans” show Homer get a job and act like an asshat all the way, and this episode, actually extending pathos to Homer. Is this the last we’ll see of a sympathetic Homer? Who knows? (Hint: probably.)

This episode chooses to look at one of Homer’s defining physical features- his rotundness, and how it contrasts to society’s expectations of machismo. It’s a bit strange that, given the relative zaniness of these past few episodes (Cuba? Really?), this episode actually has a somewhat realistic portrayal of Homer’s health and what happens when he exercises- even though he gets muscles in two months, he’s still not presented as fit. The way this episode portrays his strives to get healthier actually makes you feel for Homer through the entire episode.

Unlike future episodes, which will show Homer become macho thanks to the power of a dietician, this episode shows the fraudulence of certain “schemes” to healthy living- that is, food in “health bar” form. This actually shows a realistic viewpoint of that scheme- eating the bars seems to motivate Homer. When the rug is pulled out from under Homer (mmm… Chinese newspapers), he rejects the Powersauce Executives fears that he won’t make it to the summit… only to embrace it after almost dying.

He only truly abandons his quest after he learns something about his father. Why? Eh, it’s a plot arc introduced in the third act. I would’ve placed something a bit earlier, but it fit with the pacing of the episode. Still, he realizes that there can be no greater shame than what his father did, and that whatever he does is still more dignified. I won’t spoil it, but it is a pretty dark moment.

While Homer does dip in a little bit of “Jerkass” territory here, it’s relatively minor and somewhat excusable- with the pathos built up, it’s understandable why his ego inflated a bit after gaining some muscle. Likewise, the resolution of the plot is a bit… strange. Still, somewhat alleviated by Homer’s pathos.

Getting back to the macho part, this episode does take some shots at society’s expectations of macho-ness via Wolfcastle. The muscles. the feats of strength. Yet, he won’t do the impossible in real life- climb the Murderhorn. Granted, his reasoning is justified, but still. The Gravity Falls episode “Dipper Vs. Manliness” did a similar episode 15 years later- one that criticized masculine stereotypes. Being that “Manliness” happens to be one of my least favorite Gravity Falls episodes, I find it strange how an episode from the waning years of The Simpsons can best a similar episode of a show which might be my all-time favorite.

Not much to say here, really. A good episode, albeit relatively unmemorable (except for “gyme”), probably the last before Scully’s brand of Simpsons fully takes over.

Tidbits

  • The mockery of advertising is brilliant. The Powersauce executives are annoyingly hysterical- they’re more callous about death and danger than Mr. and Mrs. Valentino! 
  • This just in: Powersauce is amazing!
  • Note to self: always use “gyme”.
  • Apologies for being out these past couple of weeks. Writers block, plus new blog, plus a new semester, does not motivation make.
  • One last note: this will likely be the last blog post under the current URL. At the latest, as of the posting of my review of the next Gravity Falls episode, “Northwest Mansion Noir”, the URL will change to starbug1729.blogspot.com. I would preemptively bookmark it, if I were you.
Favorite Scene: Every scene with Abe and McAllester is brilliantly done. Nothing says character development like those scenes.

Least Favorite Scene: Eh… can’t name a scene that stood out for it’s weaknesses. All of them were necessary to the plot.

Jerkass Homer Meter: 1.5. Homer gets a bit more aloof and callous when he gets fit, but it’s immediately balanced out by the pathos in the episode.

Zaniness Factor: 2… mainly for the last three minutes.

Score: 7.

Update- 2/2/15: Not related to The Simpsons, but I’ve just learned/realized that Geraldine McEwan, who played Cassandra in Red Dwarf, died recently. In tribute of her, I post this quote from “Cassandra”:

Cassandra: All of the Canaries will be dead within 1 hour, except for Rimmer…

Rimmer: YES!

Cassandra: …who will be dead in 20 minutes.