A different kind of year for Jennifer Lawrence

August 14, 2017

A different kind of year for Jennifer Lawrence

Has any actor ever done the movies better than Jennifer Lawrence?

Notice that I didn’t ask if anyone had “done better movies”…that’s entirely a different question.

No, I mean someone who is more successful at the “game of the movies”…or the movie business, if you prefer the more prosaic.

That sort of success is typically measured in one of two ways: box office, and “respect”…for the latter, we can go with award recognition, especially the Oscars.

Jennifer Lawrence has the respect part down, having been nominated for four Oscars since 2011, and winning the Best Actress award.

Now, other people have been nominated (eventually) for more Oscars (although I think four nominations in your first nine years of movie credits is exceptional), but this many this fast and this consistently? That’s at the least rare.

For box office, we’ve been naming our Most Valuable Players since 2011. Basically, they need to be first-billed in a movie which makes at least $100 million dogro (domestic gross) and another movie which dogroes at least $40 million (but they don’t need to be first-billed).

It’s difficult to make it two years in a row. Most movies which make $100 million generally take a lot of time and effort: somebody who is first-billed in a tentpole movie doesn’t have a lot of time to make another movie that year.

Starting in 2015 (but looking backwards from there), we added the “On a roll” designation. For 2016, for example, only four actors made it:

  • Bill Hader
  • Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
  • Jennifer Lawrence
  • Simon Pegg

Of those four, only one of them was on more than their second in a row: Jennifer Lawrence, who was on her fifth.

In 2015, the situation was similar: four people who were “On a roll”, and with Jennifer Lawrence the only one who was on more than the second in a row (the others were Samuel L. Jackson, Elizabeth Banks, and Jai Courtney).

Unless something changes, though, this year will be different.

Jennifer Lawrence only has one movie scheduled for release, Mother!

With only one movie, it isn’t possible to make it to our

2017 The Measured Circle’s Box Office MVPs

list. It has nineteen people on it so far, with Hannibal Buress and Jenny Slate being the only two on a roll.

We don’t see this as any sign of a lasting downturn: we expect Jennifer Lawrence will be back at the top of the box office and wouldn’t be surprised to see additional Oscar nominations in her future.

This is just a different sort of year…

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Disney’s next “E ticket”? Star Wars Merged Reality

August 5, 2017

Disney’s next “E ticket”? Star Wars Merged Reality

Up until the early 1980s (and starting in 1959), the “E” ticket (or coupon) was the latest and greatest ride: the Submarine Voyage, the Matterhorn…the top of the line.

Even though Disney officially did away with the letter tickets thirty-five years ago, people still use the term. Pirates of the Caribbean, The Haunted Mansion, Indiana Jones…those would all be considered E tickets.

These are the buzzy rides…the ones people would talk about when they got home, brag about, and say, “You gotta ride…”

While Disney works on its Star Wars lands for 2019, this holiday season will bring a different kind of attraction…merged reality.

While that’s not the term that the company making it uses for it, it’s one of my four “flavors” as I defined in my first VAMM (Virtual/Augmented/Mixed/Merged Reality…which I’m tending to simplify to VAM) post:

Welcome, vammers! Our Virtual/Augmented/Mixed/Merged Reality coverage starts here

This is what I said:

“Merged Reality: this is new, and is a term used by Intel for its Alloy headset (YouTube videos). This is essentially the opposite of Mixed Reality. The headset maps the actual location (say, the furniture in a room), and then masks it with a story-appropriate appearance: a table might “change into” a control panel on a spaceship, or into a rock in a haunted forest”

What The VOID calls it is “Hyper-Reality”. They’ve been doing some really interesting things. You do wear a VR headset, and you don’t see the actual environment…but you are in a dedicated space for this particular experience.

If you pick up a light saber, the hilt can actually be a physical object…and then you would see and hear the “blade”, which would react appropriately as it fought another player. The hilt could even be made to vibrate with a hit. I don’t know that these are part of this actual experience…just giving you the idea.

It’s also social…you play with your family or your friends. As they move, you see their avatars move in VR. When I’ve been socially with people in VR, seeing their avatars’ heads move when they look at something makes it feel very real.

You could be interacting with actors or CGI…or a mix. You won’t really have a way to tell…until an actor does something physical.

In this

The VOID post

they point out that it could even involve smells!

Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire will open in Downtown Disney at Disneyland (in California) and Disney Springs at Disneyworld (in Florida).

This will be judged on a number of things:

  • How does it feel?
  • How immersive is it?
  • How Disney is it?
  • How Star Wars is it?

On the last one, ILM (Industrial Light and Magic) is involved, so that’s a good sign.

We also don’t know enough about the logistics yet…is it a separate charge? It certainly could be…you pay for things in Downtown Disney. How long will the wait be (only so many people can be in there at a time)? How long will you get in the experience (again, it can’t be that long, since people are waiting)?

My guess? People will talk about it…it will be an E ticket. 🙂

Oh, one other thing: this is not going to be dependent on the Disney infrastructure, meaning that they could hypothetically open it in other places across the country…and around the globe.

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Geeky Good-byes 2017 #4: 100 geek-related celebrity deaths in 2017

July 30, 2017

Geeky Good-byes 2017 #4: 100 geek-related celebrity deaths in 2017

The Measured Circle regularly covers the reported deaths of celebrities with geek-friendly credits.

Every one of them matters. One of the hallmarks of geeks is our inclusiveness: we recognize actors, directors, authors, and more who have connections with fictional works about things that are outside of consensus reality, as well as scientists, technologists, and others.

While we will unfortunately undoubtedly add additional celebrities to our

2017 Geeky Good-byes

we have just done the 100th listing for 2017.

We hope that some people take a few minutes to look at that list, to see the people who have contributed in ways large and small to our culture. Some of them have gotten mainstream coverage; others haven’t. In some cases, I’m able to do a full post (as I did in Adam West has reportedly died). I wish I could write posts for every single one of them, but that’s not possible. In this post, I will make comments on some people I haven’t address outside the listing yet.

I was particularly moved by the passing of June Foray, the legendary voice artist. With a career which lasted more than 70 years, it can’t be said that this was a surprise. However, the range and subtlety of her performances still astounds me. From Granny to Rocket J. Squirrel to Natasha Fatale to Talky Tina, Disney to Jay Ward to Warner Brothers, just her performances alone would be enough. However, behind the scenes, she advocated to get animation the respect that it deserves. That includes being influential in the creation of the Best Animated Feature Oscar, and founding the International Animated Film Society and the Annie Awards. In interviews, she always seemed genuinely nice. I recommend this one Beyond the Marquee interview.

While the mainstream tends to focus on actors, I was pleased to see Marty Sklar get coverage. I love theme parks (I had an idea for one, but I now think it might make a better virtual reality experience), and Disneyland wouldn’t be what it is without Imagineer Marty Sklar. Geeks can appreciate the combination of engineering and artistry, as well as being appreciated by the popular face of the organization.

Many people just think of George A. Romero and his first feature Night of the Living Dead, as just shocking gore, but that’s not the case at all. George Romero and John A. Russo’s script is really sophisticated and why the movie is so disturbing. I particularly enjoyed Martin, definitely one of his lesser-known works…which is really about the writing. It was also clear that he supported the community of amateur and up and coming filmmakers.

We thank them and all geeky creators for giving us a way to experience something which has never existed.

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What do Wonder Woman, King Kong, and Star Wars have in common? Us!

July 28, 2017

What do Wonder Woman, King Kong, and Star Wars have in common? Us!

I think it’s pretty clear I’m not a sellout: if I were, I wouldn’t spend so much time working on things that I enjoy, but almost nobody else sees. 🙂

Case in point…

I love working on timelines at

The History Project

The site has gotten some significant press, and some big names (both corporate and individual) have gotten involved with it.

Our main timeline,

The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip

continues to grow. It debuted about a year and a half ago, and I’m proud of it. You can watch public domain movies, TV shows, read books and comic books, and listen to Old Time Radio shows through links.

I’m getting close to 1,000 views…almost nothing on the internet, I know, but it’s still significant to me.

I’ve launched three other timelines (and have more in development):

That’s right…eight views for the most popular movie of the year. 😉

Now, admittedly, these are all growing, and they aren’t as robust as TMCGTT.

I do think there are some interesting things already, with more to come.

You can also add to it!

That’s how these timelines may eventually take off, when other people start filling them in.

You can also comment on things…I’d love to see that on TMCGTT especially!

They are really labors of love, and I don’t spend much time on them, but it’s a great thing when I want a break (yep, I usually take a break by creating).

If you get a chance, check them out…I’d appreciate any feedback.

You can let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

Oh, I did write a post recently on my ILMK (I Love My Kindle blog) which readers of this blog might enjoy as well:

What books should a robot read to learn morality?

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AFD News: Disney finds its Mickey Mouse for live action Steamboat Willie: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson

July 17, 2017

AFD News: Disney finds its Mickey Mouse for live action Steamboat Willie: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson

Note: this is a work of humor. Disney has not announced a live action reboot of the first released (1928) Mickey Mouse cartoon, Steamboat Willie

July 17, 2017 (AFD News)

At Disney’s D23 fan expo over the weekend, the dominant pop culture company had news about their Marvel, Star Wars, and Disney properties. They saved the first for last, surprising the enthusiastic crowd when Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson took the stage to introduce the first teaser trailer for Disney’s live action reboot of the first released Mickey Mouse cartoon, Steamboat Willie.

This would continue the collaboration between the two entertainment giants, following Moana and The Jungle Cruise.

Johnson was joined on stage by other cast members: Johnson’s Fast & Furious co-star Michelle Rodriguez as Minnie Mouse, Lewis Black as Pete, Jim Parsons, Paul Reubens, and Sean Hayes as Huey, Dewey, and Louie, Taylor Swift, Meghan Trainor, and Rihanna as April, May, and June, Kevin Hart as a parrot, and Neil DeGrasse Tyson as Robert Fulton. While not appearing on stage, Andy Serkis, Kate McKinnon, and Neil Patrick Harris will each play multiple undisclosed roles.

Directors Matt and Ross Duffler (Stranger Things) explained that the seven-minute cartoon will be expanded in part by increasing the passenger carrying element of the original, which explains the presence of Donald and Daisy Duck’s nephews and nieces. “That opens up a lot more possibilities for characters from the shorts to appear, but we can’t talk about that,” said the brothers. While the teaser did not reveal much more, sharp-eyed audience members noted that the steamboat was named “Disney Fantasy”, which is the name of one of Disney’s cruise ships.

The one scene in the clip, while clearly preliminary footage, showed Rodriguez in an update of the famous “panty hook scene”, in which a crane lifted up Minnie’s skirt and tucked into her underwear to lift her on to the boat. In an amusing update, Rodriguez (wearing pants) grabs the crane to swing on to the ship, despite the presence of a gang-plank.

When asked about his interpretation of the character, Johnson responded, “Mickey’s the man! The mouse is a total bad@ss.”

The movie will begin filming when Johnson completes his current commitments, and is scheduled for release to coincide with the movie’s 100th anniversary in 2028.

As a reminder, this is just a joke…not that I wouldn’t be there opening weekend! Or, you know, in virtual reality…

 

 

 

Microsoft’s new free app, Seeing AI, is a life-changing accessibility tool…and a lot of fun!

July 14, 2017

Microsoft’s new free app, Seeing AI, is a life-changing accessibility tool…and a lot of fun!

It’s been a while since I’ve had this much fun with an app!

That may seem odd, since this is ostensibly designed to help those with visual challenges.

It will do that. I know a couple of people it will help.

Let me link to it first (it’s only currently available for iOS…iPhones, iPads, iPod touch):

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/seeing-ai-talking-camera-for-the-blind/id999062298?mt=8

What it does is recognize things: people, text, dogs, a kitchen, a computer…it’s gotten all of those right for me.

It doesn’t just tell you that it’s a person…it guesses at age and gender, and will tell you hair color, if the person has glasses or a beard, and so on.

It also, and this will be very useful for people with autism, will attempt to interpret the person’s expression (happy, neutral, angry…).

Now, it’s important for me to say that it didn’t ever get the age exactly right, although it was often close. A person I know well wasn’t pleased when it interpreted them as significantly older than was true. 😉

I tried it both with photos on a computer screen, and with real life objects, and it was generally pretty good. We had fun when it interpreted a knit blanket as a close-up of a sandwich, but that was not typical.

It can also read text out loud, and that worked for me, too! There was a computer program which wasn’t accessible to the screen reader on the computer…but Seeing AI could read it. It will take some practice for how I hold it, but even initially, it did read what I needed.

I think you’ll have fun playing around with it!

A few tips:

  • The “scene” interpreter, which it says is in beta, is how it interprets objects (like dogs, toys, computers…)
  • Go to the Settings menu (three lines) to use face recognition…you can teach it to recognize specific people. That will be useful for someone I know who has “face blindness”: they can’t recognize celebrities or even family members in pictures by their faces
  • When I was trying to work with it reading off the computer, it worked much better when I went into settings and had it turn off “Manage lighting”…that meant the flash didn’t come on. When the flash was on, there was too much glare for it to recognize things

Okay,

Echo Show (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Gauntlet thrown! 😉

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When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

The Geeky Nineties

July 10, 2017

The Geeky Nineties

Sunday (July 9th) at 9:00, CNN will debut

The Nineties

the latest in the Tom Hanks/Gary Goetzman/Mark Herzog pop culture decade documentaries.

I’ve been writing about the decades from the geek perspective…and the 1990s had its share of iconic entries.

Overall, the decade felt like the mainstreaming of geek culture had become mature. The transformation had really begun in the 1970s with The Exorcist, Jaws, and Star Wars. It was still a surprise to see them do so well in the 1980s, but by the 1990s, not having geek-friendly movies dominating the box office would have been a surprise. The respect they had garnered became apparent, with the talents and tools of geek-friendly works moving into mainstream works (James Cameron directed the special-effects laden Titanic, and Robert Zemeckis also using the new technology in Forrest Gump).

However, the momentum was moving out of the movie theatres and on to the videogame systems…

Movies

  • Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace (that’s not a moon…it’s the box office! There was a lot of controversy with this movie, even with the concept of a prequel ((not to mention the execution and characters)), but it changed the game)
  • The Disney Renaissance began in 1989 with The Little Mermaid, but really dominated in the 1990s: Beauty and the Beast (nominated for Best Picture), Aladdin, The Lion King, Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Hercules, Mulan, and Tarzan all happened during the 1990s. Disney partnered with Pixar (which they would later purchase) in issuing the ground-breaking computer animated movie Toy Story (and the sequel, Toy Story 2, was in the top ten grossing movies for the decade). Also, 101 Dalmatians with Glenn Close presaged the life action remakes we are seeing now
  • So much Star Trek!  The Star Trek Next Gen crew had First Contact; Star Trek: Generations (Kirk and Picard); Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country; Star Trek: Insurrection
  • Steven Spielberg directed the adaptation of Michael Crichton’s The Lost World, and for many people, brought dinosaurs back from the cinematic dead (echoing the plot)…and Jeff Goldblum ruled the geek screen scene!
  • Speaking of Jeff Goldblum, Independence Day came out in 1996…with another geek star, Will Smith, showing that Goldblum didn’t rule alone! Roland Emmerich directed  blew up  a lot of landmarks. Emmerich also directed Moon 44, Universal Soldier, Stargate, and Godzilla in the 1990s)
  • M. Night Shyamalan burst on to the scene directing and writing The Sixth Sense, which got six Oscar nominations and everyone talking
  • Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith were the Men in Black, directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, and based on Lowell Cunningham’s comic (which radically departed from the concept of Men-in-Black in ufology…you can read my coverage of that here)
  • Yes, that was Jack Nicholson in Wolf
  • For some people, Ghost is still the most romantic movie, but it is also solidly geek-friendly. It also won two Oscars, including one for Whoopi Goldberg
  • Oh, behave! We met Austin Powers…and befitting a time traveler, had a second date with The Spy Who Shagged Me
  • Seven years after the original, the Terminator was back in Terminator 2: Judgment Day
  • Michael Bay directed Meat Loaf music videos before directing Armageddon (which had competition from Deep Impact)
  • This seems familiar…Groundhog Day
  • Drew Barrymore starred, and Rocky Horror’s Richard O’Brien had a small part in Ever After
  • Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, and George Clooney all starred in Batman movies (following Keaton’s first turn in 1989)
  • “Never give up, never surrender!” Galaxy Quest
  • Tom Cruise did decide to accept the Mission:Impossible give to him by Brian De Palma
  • Geek-friendly can be funny, as was the case with Jim Carrey in Liar, Liar and The Mask (and the latter introduced us to Cameron Diaz)
  • We took the red pill in 1999 and entered The Matrix
  • John Travolta and Nicolas Cage were the stars, but a lot of interest was in the director of Face/Off, John Woo
  • Houston, we have a problem…but not with Ron Howard’s Apollo 13
  • Alrighty, then! Jim Carrey was Ace Ventura, Pet Detective in two movies (but not in the animated series)
  • Bond, James Bond was Brosnan, Pierce Brosnan in Goldeneye, Tomorrow Never Dies, The World Is Not Enough,
  • The Blair Witch Project created the “found footage” genre, and was incredibly profitable
  • Babe, a pig raised by sheepdogs, was
  • Michael Jordan was in the animation/live action hybrid, Space Jam
  • Anaconda tried to put the squeeze on J-Lo
  • Luc Besson brought us his vision of The Fifth Element
  • There were three Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movies (following the animated TV series), and two TV series
  • Anjelica Huston and Raul Julia were Mortician and Gomez in The Addams Family
  • Some other movies: A Bug’s Life; The Mummy; The Santa Claus; Dr. Dolittle; The Green Mile; The Flintstones; The Nutty Professor; The Truman Show; Hook (“Bangarang!”); Total Recall; Wild Wild West (the song was popular, but the movie was a misfire with many fans); Interview with the Vampire (Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt, based on Anne Rice); George of the Jungle (Brendan Fraser…and John Cleese as the voice of Ape); Phenomenon (John Travolta); Dick Tracy (Warren Beatty and Madonna); Scream (Wes Craven); The Prince of Egypt; Tim Burton, who was a major factor in 1990s, directed Johnny Depp and Christina Ricci in Sleepy Holllow; Carl Sagan’s book Contact was given the big screen treatment (and treated as “serious” science fiction movie); The Rugrats Movie; Casper; Jumanji; Matthew Broderick starred in another cartoon to live action adaptation; Michael (John Travolta as a down to Earth angel); Flubber; The Haunting; Antz; Waterworld; Back to the World Part III (1990); Pokemon: The First Movie; The X Files; Bram Stoker’s Dracula (Gary Oldman); The Nightmare Before Christmas; Deep Blue Sea; Mortal Kombat (Christopher Lambert); Blade (Wesley Snipes); Lost in Space (Jonathan Harris didn’t cameo…he said they offered him a bit part, and he had never done a bit part in his life and wasn’t about to start); Beavis & Butt-Head Do America; Flatliners; Misery; The Devil’s Advocate; Fantasia 2000 (which came out in 1999); Natasha Henstridge starred in Species; name ten Meryl Streep movies: was Death Becomes Her one of them?; Bicentennial Man; Demolition Man; Terry Gilliam’s Twelve Monkeys; Edward Scissorhands; Forever Young; Alien 3 and Alien: Resurrection; What Dreams May Come; Halloween H20: 20 Years Later; Spawn; Starship Troopers; Small Soldiers; Arachnophobia; Dragonheart; The Crow; Mighty Joe Young; Angels in the Outfield (Christopher Lloyd); Stigmata; The Rocketeer; Practical Magic; RoboCop 2; Meet Joe Black; Timecop; The Jungle Book (Jason Scott Lee); Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990); House on Haunted Hill; Encino Man; Pleasantville; The Faculty; Hocus Pocus; Urban Legend; Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey; Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers: The Movie; Mars Attacks!; Sphere; My Favorite Martian; Junior; A Goofy Movie; Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare

TV

TV saw a few important geeky high points. We made our first trip into the Whedonverse…yes, the Buffy movie was in the 1990s, and there was Toy Story, but it was really with the Buffy TV series that we were there. While it wasn’t the first time that we’d had female led geeky TV series, Buffy and Xena brought straight up fighters (although there was much more to them than that). Xena was part of Sam Raimi’s shows, having spun off from Hercules. The X-Files was groundbreaking, but it’s really worth noting how animated series got quirkier and in some ways, more grown up. That was in part due to the fracturing delivery landscape, with Nickelodeon rising. Batman: The Animated Series was a milestone, and we would particularly cite Space Ghost Coast to Coast and The Tick animated series.

  • Family Guy
  • South Park
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager
  • Stargate SG-1
  • The X-Files
  • Mighty Morphin Power Rangers
  • Charmed
  • Futurama
  • SpongeBob SquarePants
  • Captain Planet and the Planeteers
  • Batman: The Animated Series
  • Sabrina, the Teenage Witch
  • Babylon 5
  • Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Xena: Warrior Princess
  • The Flash
  • Pokemon
  • Spaced
  • Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman
  • Lexx
  • Dragon Ball Z
  • Roswell
  • Cowboy Bebop
  • Spider-Man (1994 animated series)
  • 3rd Rock from the Sun
  • Farscape
  • Goosebumps
  • Dinosaurs
  • Rugrats
  • Are You Afraid of the Dark?
  • Sliders
  • X-Men (1992 animated series)
  • Highlander
  • Passions
  • The Outer Limits (1995 series)
  • Batman Beyond, The New Batman Adventures
  • Hey Arnold!
  • Touched by an Angel
  • Barney & Friends
  • The Pretender
  • Sailor Moon
  • Animaniacs
  • The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles
  • The Lost World
  • Arthur
  • The Powerpuff Girls
  • Relic Hunter
  • Blue’s Clues
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion
  • Millenium
  • Gargoyles
  • Dexter’s Library
  • Early Edition
  • The Secret World of Alex Mack
  • Courage the Cowardly Dog
  • The Magic School Bus
  • Superman
  • Rocko’s Modern Life
  • The Odyssey
  • Teletubbies
  • The Wild Thornberrys
  • The Ren  & Stimpy Show
  • Digimon
  • The Worst Witch
  • Young Hercules
  • The Wiggles
  • SeaQuest 2032
  • Weird Science
  • Spawn
  • Beast Wars: Transformers
  • The Tribe
  • The Adventures of Brisco County Jr.
  • Swamp Thing
  • The Tick (the animated series)
  • Bob the Builder
  • ReBoot
  • Trigun
  • Earth: Final Conflict
  • BeastMaster (1999 series)
  • Pinky and the Brain
  • CatDog
  • Kung Fu: The Legend Continues
  • So Weird
  • Aaahh!!! Real Monsters
  • Gullah, Gullah Island
  • Detective Conan
  • Jumanji (animated series)
  • Space: Above and Beyond
  • Bear in the Big Blue House
  • Darkwing Duck (“Let’s get dangerous!”)
  • The Sentinel
  • Roughnecks: The Starship Troopers Chronicles
  • Aladdin (animated series)
  • Forever Knight
  • Get Smart (1995 series)
  • Seven Days
  • Ocean Girl
  • Talespin
  • The Tommyknockers
  • V.R. Troopers
  • Space Ghost Coast to Coast
  • Duckman
  • Beakman’s World
  • Harry and the Hendersons
  • Bill Nye, the Science Guy
  • Caillou
  • Eerie, Indiana
  • VeggieTales
  • The New Addams Family (1998 series)
  • Wishbone
  • Timon & Pumbaa (series)
  • Big Wolf on Campus
  • Big Bad Beetleborgs
  • Celebrity Deathmatch
  • Bobby’s World
  • Dark Shadows (1991 Ben Cross series)
  • Happy Tree Friends
  • The Hunger
  • Tiny Toon Adventures
  • Crusade
  • NightMan
  • First Wave
  • Men in Black: The Series
  • The Adventures of Sinbad
  • Poltergeist: The Legacy
  • The Angry Beavers
  • Spider-Man Unlimited
  • The Little Mermaid (series)
  • Get a Life
  • Mobile Suit Gundam Wing
  • Animorphs
  • Earth 2
  • Back to the Future (animated series)
  • The Mask (animated series)
  • Cow and Chicken
  • Freakazoid!
  • The Crow: Stairway to Heaven
  • Svengoolie
  • The Land of the Lost
  • Robocop (TV series)
  • Team Knight Rider
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (TV series)
  • Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (TV series)
  • Kindred: The Embraced
  • Archie’s Weird Mysteries
  • Goof Troop
  • Now and Again
  • Space Precinct
  • Highlander: The Raven
  • Zooboomafoo
  • The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest
  • The Incredible Hulk (animated series)
  • Tarzan (Wolf Larson)
  • Legends of the Hidden Temple

Books

Harry Potter: drop the mic! Just kidding, there were a lot of geeky books of note. I listed

90 books of the 1990s

in my I Love My Kindle blog, but those include non-geeky titles, too. I’d particularly note:

  • Jurassic Park and the sequel by Michael Crichton
  • The Giver by Lois Lowry
  • Oh, the Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss
  • Man After Man by Dougal Dixon
  • I Am Spock by Leonard Nimoy
  • The Golden Compass (AKA Northern Lights) by Philip Pullman (first of His Dark Materials)
  • Outlander by Diana Gabaldon (kicked off a successful book series, which was later adapted for TV)
  • Relic by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child (the first of the Pendergast series)
  • The Children of Men by P.D. James
  • Blindness by Josè Saramago
  • Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson
  • The Adventures of Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey (first in the series)
  • Doomsday Book by Connie Willis
  • Star Wars books by Kevin J. Anderson (Champions of the Force, Dark Apprentice, Jedi Search, Darksaber); many other people were writing Star Wars novels, too
  • A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
  • Hogfather by Terry Pratchett
  • Dinosaur Summer by Greg Bear
  • The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket (1st of the A Series of Unfortunate Events books)
  • Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
  • Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb
  • The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan (Wheel of Time #1)
  • Wizard’s First Rule (Sword of Truth #1) by Terry Goodkind
  • Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
  • Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson (start of the Mars trilogy)
  • The Time Ships by Stephen Baxter

Of course, the Animorphs series (starting in 1996) had a big impact on younger readers.

Videogames

There was significant innovation in home videogames in the 1990s; arguably the biggest innovations since then (Virtual and Augmented Reality) are just really happening now. That’s not to say that there wasn’t innovation in the intervening period (there was), but the groundwork was laid for most of what followed.

The videogame consoles debuting included the Nintendo 64, the Game Boy, the Playstation, the Sega Saturn, and the Dreamcast. CDs began to replace cartridges, haptic feedback became a thing, and of course, online gaming took off (the term MMORPG ((Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game)) was coined).

Some notable games:

  • Street Fighter II
  • Virtua Fighter (arcade)
  • Tekken
  • Dead or Alive
  • Doom
  • Wolfenstein 3D
  • Goldeneye
  • Quake
  • Half-Life
  • Wing Commander
  • Super Mario World
  • Sonic the Hedgehog
  • Super Mario Kart
  • Gran Turismo
  • Ultima Online
  • EverQuest
  • Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, Metal Gear Solid
  • Alone in the Dark
  • Resident Evil
  • Silent Hill
  • Baldur’s Gate
  • Banjo-Kazooie
  • Oddworld
  • Battletoads
  • Pokemon
  • Diablo
  • Duke Nukem
  • Earthworm Jim
  • The Elder Scrolls
  • Fallout
  • Grand Theft Auto
  • Monkey Island
  • Rayman
  • Rollercoaster Tycoon
  • Spyro
  • Super Smash Brothers
  • Tomb Raider
  • Warcraft

Toys (edited to add)

Tech toys were big, but so were simpler, low-tech items. Collectibles were big, perhaps spurred in part by the rise of eBay in 1995 and other innovative ways to convert pop culture to cash.

  • Beanie Babies (geeky? Yes, there was a unicorn, for one thing)
  • Furby
  • Sky Dancers
  • Tamagotchi
  • Tickle Me Elmo
  • Magic: The Gathering

I’m going to stop there for now (after all, this is over 2,000 words) because I want to get it out before the first episode is broadcast. I haven’t covered comics (and that’s not because the 1990s have…a reputation for not being the best comics decade), Bufo’s Weird World, science…but what I’ve done so far should show you that the 1990s were geeky!

Feel free to suggest some of your own geek-friendly items for the 1990s by commenting on this post.

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Battle of the Network Stars 2017: The Hulk, Hercules, Captain Jack Harkness, and Cordelia Chase!

June 28, 2017

Battle of the Network Stars 2017: The Hulk, Hercules, Captain Jack Harkness, and Cordelia Chase!

ABC is reviving the 1970s and 1980s celebrity “sports” competition, Battle of the Network Stars!

It was a popular show: it wasn’t about seeing incredible physical feats, it was more about seeing the non-athletes being their authentic selves, doing the best they can.

The original series included some geek favorites: Lynda Carter, Richard Hatch, Lee Meriwether, William Shatner, Lou Ferrigno…

That last one is important, because he is one of a number of celebrities returning for the new series! Looking at the list of who is participating, my guess is that they invited many of the people back…quite a few are repeating, in addition to newbies.

The different format (twenty teams of five each) means that we get roughly four times the number of participants participants as the old show…and the geek is strong in this one. 😉

Each show has themed teams: obviously, we’ll be interested in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy team, but John Barrowman isn’t there…he’s on Troublemakers.

Here are the teams, with some geeky (and other) context. First, we define “geek-friendly” works as those presented as fiction which include elements that are presented to the audience as being outside of consensus reality (even if it is later revealed in the story that the “impossible” element is a mistake or a hoax). That can be fuzzy, but it’s rule of thumb.

We also are going to give you a geek factor score, which is also, of course, somewhat subjective:

Geek Factor

  • Non-geek (NG): no geek-friendly credits
  • Geek Factor 1 (GF1): perhaps a few scattered minor roles
  • Geek Factor 2 (GF2): at least one featured geek-friendly role
  • Geek Factor 3 (GF3): at least one starring geek-friendly role, or a featured geek-friendly role based on an existing gf character, or multiple featured geek-friendly roles
  • Geek Factor 4 (GF4): more than one starring gf role, or a starring GF role based on an existing GF character, or an established career as a geek-friendly supporting player…thought of by the public as a geek-friendly actor
  • Geek Factor 5 (GF5): icon

Additionally, we’ll indicate previous years of participation for the returners.

The teams (we expect to continue to update the individual listings throughout the season until we have done them all):

TV Sitcoms

  • Bronson Pinchot (Perfect Strangers) GF3: he does have some geek-friendly roles, especially voicework. He played The Prankster on Lois and Clark
  • Tom Arnold (Roseanne) GF2: his geek-friendly roles have been mostly voicework, cameos, and small parts
  • Dave Coulier (Full House) GF2: geek-friendly voicework includes Dr. Venkman in The Real Ghostbusters, and Animal in Muppet Babies
  • AJ Michalka (The Goldbergs) GF3: she played the young Dinah Lance in Birds of Prey, and appeared in The Lovely Bones and Super 8
  • Tracey Gold (Growing Pains) GF1: a few scattered geek-friendly roles

versus

TV Kids

  • Joey Lawrence (Blossom) (GF3): quite a bit of voicework, including as Zeus (The Dog Who Saved…) and on screen in Isle of the Dead
  • Corbin Bleu (High School Musical)  GF3: played Young Tommy in Galaxy Quest and Butch in Mystery Men
  • Nolan Gould (Modern Family) GF3: Young Jimmy on Out of Jimmy’s Head, John Warner in Eleventh Hour, Sam in Space Buddies, Young Jonas Stein in Monster Heroes, Timmy Graco in Ghoul, Adam in Abominable Christmas, two roles on R.L. Stein’s The Haunting Hour
  • Lisa Whelchel (The Facts of Life) GF1 (Returner: 1984) : she was a Mousketeer and appeared in Shadow of Fear
  • Kim Fields (The Facts of Life) GF1 (Returner: May 1984; December 1984): guested on Mork & Mindy and Cupid, and was in The Kid with the Broken Halo and Monster Mutt

Primetime Soaps

  • Ian Ziering (Beverly Hills, 90210) GF4: Fin Shepard in the Sharknado TV movies (and Lavantula), Vinnie in Biker Mice from Mars, Wildwing on Mighty Ducks, and Harry Osborn in the 2003 Spider-Man series
  • Josh Henderson (Dallas ((2012)))  (GF1): appeared n Leaches and in Betwixt
  • Gabrielle Carteris (Beverly Hills, 90210) (GF3) : Nan in Raising Cain, voices in Batman Beyond, Men in Black: The Series, Johnny Bravo, Gargoyles, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Elektra and Enchantress on Marvel: Ultimate Alliance, Laethwen/Vicki Vale in Batman: The Brave and the Bold
  • Donna Mills (Knots Landing)  (GF1) (Returner: 1977; 1980; 1981; 1983): Beyond the Bermuda Triangle, Look What’s Happened to Rosemary’s Baby, Fantasy Island, Alice in Wonderland (1985), The Stepford Husbands, Cursed Part 3, A Very Cool Christmas, Sharknado 4: The 4th Awakens
  • Mischa Barton (The O.C.) : Betty Ann Blongo on Kablam!, Kyra Collins in The Sixth Sense, Jessie Parker in A Resurrection, Ms. Monica in Gutsy Frog

versus

ABC Stars

  • Olivia d’Abo (The Wonder Years) (GF4) (Returner: 1988): Princess Jehna in Conan the Destroyer, Amanda Rogers on Star Trek: The Next Generation, Sonya Blade in Mortal Combat: Defenders of the Realm, Ten in Batman Beyond: The Movie, Star Sapphire on Justice League, Shannon in the 2002 The Twilight Zone, Jane Porter in The Legend of Tarzan TV series, Black Widow in Ultimate Avengers, Luminara Unduli in Star Wars: Clone Wars, many more
  • Shari Belafonte (Hotel) (GF3) (Returner: 1983; May 1984; co-host December 1984; co-host 1988) : Blanche on Gravedale High, Laura Wingate on Beyond Reality, Lupe in Sonic the Hedgehog, Diana Cruz on The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest, Doc Halliday in Mars, Mrs. Johanssen on Hey Arnold!, Elizabeth Trent on Babylon 5: Thirdspace
  • Michael Fishman (Roseanne) (GF2): Joey on Hey Arnold!, Mike Holliday in Little Bigfoot 2, Teen in Van in A.I.: Artificial Intelligence, Adi Shankar’s Gods and Secrets
  • Jason Hervey (The Wonder Years) (GF3) : Frank Dale in Frankenweenie, Milton Baines in Back to the Future, Kevin Morton in Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, E.J. in The Monster Squad, Troll King in Return to Zork, Eddie McDowd in 100 Deeds for Eddie McDowd, Dove in Justice League Unlimited
  • Anson Williams (Happy Days) (GF1) : Fantasy Island, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, The Hanna-Barbera Happy Hour

Variety

  • Joanna Krupa (model) (GF1): Friend at Leo’s Party in the 2001 Planet of the Apes
  • Nick Lachey (98 Degrees) (GF2) : Leslie St. Claire on Charmed, Vietnam Soldier in the Nicole Kidman Bewitched, Dwayne in Rise: Blood Hunter, Justin Towers in Star vs. The Forces of Evil
  • Vanessa Lachey (The Bold and the Beautiful)  (GF1): Johnny’s Wedding Date in Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer, Amy in Disaster Movie
  • Gilles Marini (Sex and the City) (GF2) : Henri in Screech of the Decapitated, Captain of the Guard/Paolo the Squire in Puss in Boots: The Three Diablos, Sebastien Valet in Teen Wolf TV series, Jacques Duchamp in Daredevil
  • Jack Osbourne (The Osbournes) (GF1): himself in Austin Powers in Goldmember

versus

TV Sex Symbols

  • Keegan Allen (Pretty Little Liars) (NG)
  • Traci Bingham (Baywatch) (GF2) : Party Babe in Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight, Featured Reporter on Battlebots (2000), Vapor in the Life’s a Gas episode of Roger Corman’s Black Scorpion
  • Rosa Blasi (The Thundermans) (GF3): Dawn in Lost on Earth, Carolina Marquez in Avalon: Beyond the Abyss, Maria in The Grudge, Jeanine Winthrop on American Dad!, Barb Thunderman in The Thundermans
  • Brant Daugherty (Pretty Little Liars) (GF2): Ballistico in Super Sportlets, Dale in The Starving Games,
  • Galen Gering (Days of Our Lives) (GF1): Luis Lopez-Fitzgerald on Passions

Cops

  • Erik Estrada (CHiPs) (GF3) : Pepe in the Legacy of Terror episode of Kolchak: The Night Stalker, Prince Sakari on The Six Million Dollar Man, Dr. Stone in Alien Seed, Duke in Earth Angel, Mr. Dork in Homeboys in Outer Space, Detective Francisco in Visions, Marco Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar Gabriel Garcia Marquez on Sealab 2021, Ambulance Driver Hero on Higglytown Heroes, voice on Phineas and Ferb, King Worm and Court Giant on Adventure Time, Carlos Sequin in Chupacabra vs. the Alamo, Nick ‘Loop’n Lopez in Planes: Fire & Rescue, Erik in Cool Cat Saves the Kids
  • Larry Wilcox (CHiPs) (GF2): Executive Producer, The Ray Bradbury Theatre
  • Kelly Hu  (Nash Bridges) (GF4): Eva Watanabe in Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan, L.A.X. 2194, Ensign Yukiko Fujisaki in Star Command (AKA In the Fold), Christine Hung in the Cypher episode of The Sentinel, The Sorceress in the Scorpion King, Yuriko Oyama/Lady Deathstrike in X-Men 2, Lana in The Librarian: Quest for the Spear, Visas Marr in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II – The Sith Lord (videogame), Dr. Julia Hoffman in the 2005 version of Dark Shadows, Caitlin in Devil’s Den, Okiku in Afro Samurai, Detective Pei in Succubus: H*ll-Bent, various voices on Robot Chicken including Olive Oyl and Rainbow Brite, Dr. Annabelle Fermi in Area 57, Shen in Dead Space: Downfall (videogame), Suki Toyoma in Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 (videogame), Ryoko Kurokama in Ninja Blade (videogame), Sha Shan Nguyen/Titania in The Spectacular Spider-Man (TV series), Miyumi/Miss Mirimoto in Scooby-Doo and the Samurai Sword, Wells in Terminator Salvation (videogame), Ms. Li in Batman: Under the Red Hood, Laira in Green Lantern: Emerald Knights, Stacy Hirano in Phineas and Ferb, Pearl Zhu on The Vampire Diaries, Jade Nguyen/Cheshire on Young Justice, Maizy in Scooby-Doo! Spooky Scarecrow, Abigail Chow on Warehouse 13, Dr. Gordon in Age of Tomorrow, Denise Brady in High School Possession, Katana in Infinite Crisis (videogame), D’Vorah/Sindel/Frost in Mortal Combat X (videogame), China White on Arrow, Karai on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2013 series). For more information, see the Kelly Hu born entry at The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip
  • Jodi Lyn O’Keefe (GF3) (Nash Bridges): Sarah in Halloween H20: 20 Years Later, Lauren Randall in The Crow: Salvation, Cancace Aimes in Tru Calling, Layla Simmons in Out for Blood, Spider Demon in Charmed, Kelly Weaver in Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 – Uprising (videogame), Mikayla in The Big Bang Theory, Lilith Reborn in Soul Fire Rising, Ava in Lost, Lisa in the A Cinderella Story episode of The Finder, Ronnie in the The Would-Be Prince of Darkness episode of Lucifer, Dr. Jo Laughlin on The Vampire Diaries 
  • Lorenzo Lamas (GF) (Renegade): Father Diaz in Real Blood: The True Beginning, Tom Astor in the Trust Me episode of The Hitchhiker, Sergeant Bobby Chase in Terminal Justice, Cale Oosha on Invasion America, Raphael “Rafe” Cain on The Immortal (2000 TV series), Dane Quatrell in Dark Waters, Trainor in Deep Evil, Hacket in Raptor Island, Andrew Dean in Sci-Fighter, Biggs in Unseen Evil 2, Mr. Jones in Thralls, Flight Instructor in Succubus: Hell-Bent, Lieutenant Michael Arronax in 30,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Allan Baxter in Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus, Lorenzo Lamas in Pee-wee goes to Sturgis, Special Agent Logan in Raptor Ranch, Meap on Phineas and Ferb, John on Ghost Girls, guest on American Dad!, Sargent Rock in Sharknado 3: Oh H*ll No!, Steve in Exorcist Academy, Julio Garcia in Scorpion Girl

versus

TV Sitcoms

  • Todd Bridges (Diff’rent Strokes) (GF2) : Petie in Twice Dead, Baron in The Darkling, Power Plant Guard in Ghost Dog: A Detective Tail, Ruben Herardo in Evil Grave: Curse of the Maya, Peter in Alien Express, Rick in The Damned, Larry Goleman in Monsters on Main Street, Mantus in Tesla Effect (videogame), College Fright Night, Hayden Webber in 2064: Read Only Memories (videogame)
  • Leigh-Allyn Baker (Good Luck Charlie) (GF4) : Mitzi in Shrunken Heads; Waitress in Leprechaun 3; Taylor/Maureen in The Incredible Hulk (guest voice, 1996 animated series); Alisa Silvermane on the 1995 Spider-Man animated series (voice); Hannah Webster on Charmed; Kate O’Rourke in the Luck o’ the Irish episode of Early Edition; Crewman Juliet Jurot in the Star Trek Voyage: Elite Force videogame and Star Trek: Elite Force II; Dr. Sidney Mobius in the Command & Conquer: Renegade videogame; Miyako Sudo in the Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly videogame; Jean Grey in the X-Men Legends videogame and X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse videogame; Merchant/Mender/Weaponsmith in the Everquest II videogame; Margie in the It’s Good to be the Queen episode of American Dad!; voice in Ninety-Nine Nights videogame; Flushed Away (videogame); Lakhesis in Gods of War II videogame; Major Elena Flores/Rebekah Petrovsky in Mass Effect (videogame); voice in Endwar videogame; various voices in Gears of War 2; Alice 1-30 in Halo Wars; Scarlett in G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (videogame); Bella Bon Bueno in The Penguins of Madagascar TV series; Abby the Cow on the Back at the Barnyard TV series; additional voices in Star Wars: The Old Republic (videogame); Bong Cha / Erin Mahler / Madame Rogêt / Shani / Sophie in The Secret World (videogame); Bong Cha/Scenario Operator 2 in The Secret World: Issue 8 – The Venetian Agenda (videogame); Bong Cha in additional voices in Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII; Cherri Pickford in Dog with a Blog; Queen Coralie/Mermaids in Jake and the Never Land Pirates; Queen Delightful/Snazzy Shazam on 7D (TV animated series)
  • Dave Foley (NewsRadio) (GF3): Alan Bean in From the Earth to the Moon (1998 miniseries); Flik in A Bug’s Life and Toy Story 2; Troy in Blast from the Past; The Baldwin Brothers in South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut; Hank the Technician in Cyberworld; Herb in Monkeybone; Francis in the Arthur, Interrupted episode of the 2002 live action version of The Tick; Laslow Oswald in What’s New, Scooby-Doo?; Priest in Lilo & Stitch: The Series; Mr. Boy in Sky High; Randall in Goose on the Loose; Francis Grey in the Seconds episode of The Batman; Henry Welby in Netherbeast Incorporated; Cult Cat in Slacker Cats; Malcolm Tunney in the Brain Storm episode of Project Atlantis; Principal Smith in Vampires Suck; Wayne in Prep & Landing; Yes Man in Fallout: Las Vegas (videogame); Buzz Chambers in Monster Brawl; Agent Rick in the Homeward Pound episode of Pound Puppies; Dr. Plotkin in the ONe Giant Leap episode of Eureka; Terry in Monsters University; Scientist in The Lair episode of Mr. Pickles; Dave Foley in International Ghost Investigators; Moff on Harvey Beaks
  • Willie Garson (Sex and the City) (GF3) : Board Member in Brain Dead (1990); Nerd Student in Repossessed; Heavy Metal Roadie in the original Twin Peaks; Alik Idell/Lee Harvey Oswald and Seymour in Quantum Leap (TV guest spots); Phil’s Assistant Kenny in Groundhog Day; The Barefoot Executive (1995 TV movie); Eddie Brenner on Touched by an Angel; Corporate Guy in Mars Attacks!; Strange Guy in VR. 5 (TV guest spot); Security Guard in the Killed by Death episode of Buffy, the Vampire Slayer (TV guest spot); Riga in Star Trek: Voyager; Guy in Restaurant in Being John Malkovich; Willie Dretler in Early Edition; Henry Weems and Quinton “Roach” Freely in The X-Files; Stanley Nussbaum in Fortress 2; Brett in What Planet Are You From?; Bones on Level 9 TV series; Ross Bowman/Amphorian/Cupid/Little Brother in Special Unit 2 (two episodes); Dr. Kreutz in Taken (Steven Spielberg alien abduction TV miniseries); Evan in the Lindsay Lohan version of Freaky Friday; Martin Lloyd on Stargate SG-1; Meyer Dickstein on John from Cincinnati; Mr. Frenchy on Wizards of Waverly Place; Dick Dicker in Pushing Daisies; Alan Hitchens in Medium; Tom Trudell in Monster Heroes
  • Jenna von Oÿ (Blossom) (GF2) : Mary Ann on The Kingdom Chums: Little David’s; Stefa in the Seasons of Belief episode of Tales from the Darkside; Amy in the Glim-Glim episode of Monsters (1989 TV series); Stacey in A Goofy Movie; Pandora in Hercules and the Green-Eyed Monster episode of (Disney’s) Hercules TV series; Sioned in Lands of Lore III (videogame); Co-Ed in An Extremely Goofy Movie; Rory in Family Guy; Gracie in Dr. Doolittle 3 (voice)

White House

  • Cornelius Smith Jr. (Scandal) (GF1) : Fabian North in the The Pugilist Break episode of Forever (TV guest spot); Case in the One Door Closes episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
  • Marlee Matlin (The West Wing) (GF3): April Hare in the The Sound and the Furry episode of Adventures in Wonderland; Jennifer Winter in the The Message episode of the 1995 Outer Limits; Mayor Laurie Bey on Picket Fences; Marlee the Librarian on Blue’s Clues; Lead in What the #$*! Do We (K)now!?; Baby Einstein: Baby Wordsworth; Stella on Family Guy; Annie Jump Cannon on Cosmos: a SpaceTime Odyssey; Harriett on The Magicians
  • Joshua Malina (West Wing/Scandal) : Calculator Kid #3 in Infinity; Egghead Announcer in the Rules of the Game episode of Sliders; Tim Messick in the We Have Cleared the Tower episode of From the Earth to the Moon; Cicero in the Bad Guy episode of Stargate SG-1 (TV guest spot); Tim Carmer in the Car Trouble episode of Medium; Agent Auldridge in the Born to Run episode of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles; Duncan in the Hound Dog episode of Valentine; Dr. David Curan in the Spooky Little Girl episode of American Horror Story; President Siebert on The Big Bang Theory; Travis in Knights of Badassdom; Dr. Gavin Beck in What on Earth is Wrong episode of Extant (TV guest spot); Barkeep in Thrilling Adventure Hour Live
  • LaMonica Garrett (Designated Survivor) (GF2) : Fireman in the Bonfire and Betrayal episode of Eastwick (TV guest spot); Morshower’s Aide in Transformers: Dark of the Moon; Lt. TAO Cameron Burke on The Last Ship
  • Mary McCormack (The West Wing) (GF2) : Myrna Foy in Miracle on 34th Street (1994); Forest Ranger in Chaos (videogame); Andrea Baker in Deep Impact; Lily in 1408; Sarah Sandalls in Operation Nefarion: Mystery of the Horriversity – A Natasha Fighterblade Adventure; Ms. Richards in Scooby-Doo! WrestleMania Mystery; Mary McCormack in International Ghost Investigators

versus

Lawyers

  • Elisabeth Röhm (Law & Order) (GF4) : Beautiful Cindy in the We’re Not Worthy episode of the 1998 Fantasy Island (TV guest spot); The Invisible Man (TV movie with Kyle MacClachlan as Jack Griffin); Detective Kate Lockley on Angel; Dr. Laurie Graves in Briar & Graves; Jennifer Zellan in Ghost Image; Lt. granger in The Awakening episode of Masters of Science Fiction; Lauren Gilmore on Heroes; Sheriff Glove in Lake Place: The Final Chapter; Rosie on Mega Shark vs. Mecha Shark; FBI Special Agent Dana Landon on Beauty and the Beast (2014 TV series); Allison Shaw on The Last Ship; Johanna Shannon in Wish Upon; Tiffany in Scales: Mermaids Are Real; Zelda in Starbright
  • Corbin Bernsen (LA Law) (GF4): Reporter in 1976 King Kong; Jason Chadman in Hello Again; Mickey’s 60th Birthday; Q2 in the Deja Q episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation; Chad in the Evie Nightingale episode of Out of This World; Host of The Extraordinary; General Morgan Breslaw in Final Mission; Duke Metger in Tales from the Hood; Foster Carver in Inhumanoid; Felix Medina in Menno’s Mind; Eric Weiss in the Angel of Death episode of Touched by an Angel; John Wahl in Tidal Wave: No Escape; USAF Colonel Henry “Bull” Eckert; Barnes in Spacejacked; Rob Preston in The Fairy King of Ar; Roger Stovall/Bill Water in the Death and Taxes episode of Twice in a Lifetime; Virgil Nygard in the Abaddon episode of the 2000 version of The Outer Limits; Dr. Hyde in Raptor; Carl Hart in Fangs; Larry in The Tomorrow Man; Sheriff C.B. Bishop in Atomic Twister; Mark Mallory in Dead Above Ground; Chief Spivak in The Santa Trap; Norbert in They Are Among Us; Captain Riley in Raging Sharks; Ira in the Right to Die episode of Masters of Horror; Rowland in House of Fallen; Burton in Vipers; Dr. F in Dead Air (also directed); Barry Polk in Suing the Devil; Bob Connelly in the Shorthanded episode of Scorpion; Mr. Friedrich in Sensory Perception; Buck in Dead Man Rising; Vanderveer Wayne Sr. in Powerless; Vulcan in the A Murder of Gods episode of American Gods; Alfred (Grandpa) in Jessica Frost
  • Matt McGorry (How to Get Away with Murder) (GF2) : Gorm in Gizor and Gorm; Spider-Man on One Life to Live; EMT#1 in the Foe episode of Person of Interest; Jacob in the Twilight Explains the European Debt Crisis episode of Jest Originals; 
  • Romi Dias
  • Catherine Bell

TV Moms & Dads

  • Chad Lowe
  • Greg Evigan
  • Ted McGinley
  • Lesley Fera
  • Jackee Harry

versus

TV Kids

  • Jimmie Walker
  • Mackenzie Phillips
  • Jonathan Lipnicki
  • Krista Marie Yu
  • Jeremy Miller

Famous TV Families

  • Danny Bonaduce (The Partridge Family) (GF3) : Small Boy in the Luke’s First Christmas episode of The Second Hundred Years (TV guest spot); Danny Shoemaker in the Jonathan Tells It Like It Was episode of The Ghost & Mrs. Muir (TV guest spot); two guest spots on Bewitched; Avery Arable in Charlotte’s Web; Danny Partridge on Goober and the Ghost Chasers (voice) and on Partridge Family 2200 AD (voice); Paul in the Speak No Evil episode of Shazam!; voice on Fred Flintstone and Friends; Hot Rod on Fantasy Island (TV guest spot); Smirch in the Street Up episode of Ozzy & Drix; Ranch Steer in Dr. Doolittle 3 (voice); Harley Anderson in Bigfoot (2012 TV movie)
  • Barry Williams
  • Beverley Mitchell
  • Willie Aames
  • Charlene Tilton

versus

Doctors

Troublemakers

  • Vivica A. Fox
  • Paul Johansson
  • John Barrowman (GF5)
  • Julie Benz
  • Catherine Bach

versus

TV Lifeguards

  • David Chokachi
  • Brande Roderick
  • Parker Stevenson
  • Nicole Eggert
  • Gena Lee Nolin

ABC Stars

  • Ted Lange
  • Troy Gentile
  • Jill Whelan
  • Denise Richards
  • Joely Fisher

versus

Variety

  • Lance Bass
  • Joey Fatone
  • Adrienne Houghton
  • Cameron Mathison
  • Kelly Osbourne

Cops

  • Marisol Nichols (Riverdale) (GF3): Sargeant Joanne Yarrow in the Hunted episode of the 2002 The Twilight Zone (TV guest spot); Bianca in the Chris-Crossed episode of Chamed; Detective Devon Williams in The Storm; Sarah Monohan on The Gates; Corinne on Teen Wolf
  • Roma Maffia
  • Adrian Zmed
  • Fred Dryer
  • Ryan Paevey

versus

Sci-Fi/Fantasy

  • Lou Ferrigno (GF5)
  • Vinnie Jones
  • Charisma Carpenter
  • Kevin Sorbo (GF5)
  • Jill Wagner

Should be fun! In looking back at early editions, which you can watch on YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=battle+of+the+network+stars

there are some elements we are likely to see…and five things you probably (or definitely) won’t see in the revival.

One thing is that there were a lot of quips, and yet, there was a serious competition. People did get injured, and there was some real passion. Part of what probably made it popular was the disputed running relay in the first episode. Robert Conrad challenged it, saying that one of the teams had cheated (by having a faster runner go back and take the baton early, outside of the designated area). That got referenced many times afterwards.

The commentators were also important…not just the lead, Howard Cossell, but others as well. Cossell was in classic mode, ridiculing performances. He had a tendency to call many people by diminuitives (an actor known as Richard might be called “Dicky”, that kind of thing).

The shows are fun to watch, but there are some dated elements…

5 Things You Probably (or Definitely) Won’t See in the 2017 Revival of Battle of the Network Stars

  1. Blatant sexism: there were so many comments about the female competitors’ appearance! Intros for men might talk about them being “bright” or strong, while women might just be “beautiful”. The women often also had “easier” versions of the obstacles
  2. Ethnic humor: “I’m a this so I’ll behave in this stereotypical manner”. That may not be entirely absent, but I doubt we’ll see it as much
  3. War imagery: after the first several episodes, they toned down the idea of it being an actual war, with cartoons of tanks and the like
  4. Participants smoking, as frequent Captain Robert Conrad would be shown doing…not during the event, but in video clips
  5. The idea of three networks…that’s clearly gone, both on the show and in real life

I do hope we’ll have great moments with the stars, both the newbies and returners! Amazing seeing Robin Williams in his rising Mork days on the old show, for example! While some of the stars have passed on, or won’t be likely to participate in 2017 or future possible seasons for other reasons, there are some I’d still like back. 🙂

Let the battle begin!

Update: having now watched several of the new episodes, and having gone back and watched more than a dozen (in order) of the old, I have a few suggestions in the hope of a second season:

  • We aren’t seeing enough of the actual competitions. In the old shows, you really did care about how the “game” was going. Take the three on three football: they didn’t show us every play, or even every exchange of plays, but we did see maybe ten plays in a row. The show was produced by the sports department, and it showed. They now have ten events being done in a shorter show, so we don’t see much of most of them. Cut down the number of events…I understand that the show probably can’t be lengthened. It’s okay to only show us part of something silly, like they did with the Simon Says segments in the past. Maybe show us the running relay, the kayak race, the dunk tank, the obstacle race, and the tug of war pretty much in full (the dunk tank can be abbreviated…they used to do that)
  • One big issue, interestingly, is that these aren’t teams who know each other or seem to have a team mentality. On the old show, they may not have known each other well, but they had an identity as ABC, CBS, or NBC, and there was a genuine real world competition. These tend to seem more like people who have never met each other before, and don’t have a shared goal. I recommend the book The Man Who Lied to His Laptop: What We Can Learn About Ourselves from Our Machines by Clifford Nass and Corina Yen for good insight on how you form teams. On the old show, it seemed like they worked out together for something like a week before the show…presumably, around their respective studios. That’s clearly not happening, and not likely to happen here…so you need clearcut team identities. Update: the best way to do this might be to have them play for charities, as they do on Celebrity Family Feud. That would bond them and give them additional motivation
  • Another thing we aren’t seeing is any real insight into the celebrities as individuals. I actually didn’t show the old one with Robin Williams to my Significant Other…you can see the emotional challenges he has. That was a tough decision, and I wouldn’t have my SO not watch Robin Williams acting…but this is different and insightful. Perhaps the right thing there would be web segments with the background pieces, and a “teaser” for that during the maincast
  • The original took people outside of their comfort zones, and we respected them for braving that. The new one seems to…do less of that. Yes, social media is going to be much tougher on someone who doesn’t look perfect now, than it did then, and I get that. I’m not talking about swimsuits or the body judgment Cosell and others made so often. We just want to get the sense that what they are doing is hard for them, that they are challenging themselves. Some of them definitely are, I want to be clear of that. It’s not that we want to see people fail or look foolish…it’s that we want to see them strive and grow

I am enjoying the revival, just not as much. Having some of the returners is definitely a big plus the original didn’t have, but they need to make it more engaging for new audiences.

The season begins Thursday, June 29th at 9:00 PM

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Kenneth Arnold, Flying Saucer Man

June 24, 2017

Kenneth Arnold, Flying Saucer Man

(sung to the tune of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band)

It was many years* ago today
Kenneth Arnold taught the world to say
“There’s a flying saucer in the air”
And it gave the people quite a scare
Now here’s another term you know
Today we just say U.F.O

Kenneth Arnold, Flying Saucer Ma-an!

What’s in the sky,
Lighted up, flying by?
Could it be a real alien craft?
Perhaps it’s a star or lights from a car
Or maybe I’m just going daft…

Oh, it’s giving me the ontological bends
Oh, I hate it when a paradigm ends

Could it beeee a delusion?
I just know there’s something there
Or an optical illusion?
I’m getting to the point I don’t care

Oh, this is one of those long-lasting trends
Mm, I don’t know just what message it sends
Message it sennnnnds!


* I think I first published this in 1994…a version I found said, “It was was forty-seven years ago…” I’ve updated it for today, the 70th anniversary of the Kenneth Arnold sighting that established the term “flying saucer” by changing it to “many years”, which will enable me to keep using it for future anniversaries. 🙂

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When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

Adam West has reportedly died

June 10, 2017

Adam West has reportedly died

So long, old chum.

I feel like Adam West was a friend, although I never met him.

For me, and many others, Adam West was Batman. Sure, he wasn’t purely, or even much, like Batman in the comics…but the 1966 TV series did have a big influence on the comics.

It was a huge hit, due in part to West’s clever, straight-faced portrayal. Allan Sherman referenced the popularity in his comedy song, “The Rebel”: “They even took Batman off the TV screen to show the rebel!”

West, though, was smart about the part. He didn’t disrespect it or the fans. He had reportedly been a Batman comics fan as a kid.

He would return to voice the character in a 1970s Saturday morning cartoon series (and others)…and was working on the latest animated Batman movie (with original co-stars Burt Ward and Julie Newmar) when he died (or at least, it was in post-production).

I also remember him literally sticking his tongue in his bat-cheek for the comedy superhero roast, Legend of the Superheroes in 1979 (which also had DC characters Green Lantern, Black Canary, Hawkman and more).

He played other characters in the Batman universe, including Thomas Wayne, Bruce’s father.

While that would certainly be enough to put him in the geek pantheon, it was hardly his only geek-friendly work:

  • A very early uncredited role was a radio operator in the Boris Karloff movie, Voodoo Island
  • He played the supporting part of Colonel Dan McReady in 1964’s Robinson Crusoe on Mars (the first part is reminiscent of the recent hit movie, The Martian)
  • Many people still remember the “sand sharks” episode of the original The Outer Limits, “The Invisible Enemy”, with West again as an astronaut
  • He guest-starred on Bewitched…all of this was pre-Batman
  • He played Mr. Hyde on Night Gallery
  • He was in the TV movie The Eyes of Charles Sand
  • Christopher Lee played Lucifer in Poor Devil (featuring West)
  • He was the voice of Hercules in Shazam! (for a single episode)
  • Warp Speed (a TV movie) had Adam West voicing Captain Lofton; that same year saw him as a different character in Time Warp
  • He took a trip to Fantasy Island
  • 1987 saw Adam West in Zombie Nightmare
  • The next year, 1988, he was in Doin’ Time on Planet Earth
  • Adam West was the big name in Omega Cop, ushering in the 1990s
  • He was pseudonymously credited when he played “Hippy Guy” in the 1990s Flash TV series
  • When the Rugrats needed a Captain Blasto, they cast Adam West
  • 1993 saw him on Tales from the Crypt
  • Space Ghost interviewed him on Space Ghost Coast to Coast
  • Still supporting DC, he was Jerry Retchen on Lois & Clark
  • He voiced the Galloping Gazelle on Goosebumps (and the videogame)
  • An American Vampire Story? Adam West as The Big Kahuna
  • Johnny Bravo, Animaniacs, The Secret Files of the SpyDogs (where he was Dog Zero)…Adam West was busy doing voices in the 1990s
  • For Roger Corman’s Black Scorpion series, Adam West was The Breathtaker
  • The 2000s saw Adam West voicing characters on Kim Possible and Scooby-Doo, and as Mayor Adam West on Family Guy
  • 2004’s Monster Island had Adam West as “Dr. Harryhausen”
  • The 2000’s included Chicken Little, Meet the Robinsons, Sexina, and The Fairly OddParents
  • Amusingly, Adam West was the young Mermaid Man (a Batman-like parody) on SpongeBob SquarePants
  • This decade, he was in The Super Hero Squad as Nighthawk, Funny or Die, Jake and the Never Land Pirates, Grand Theft Auto V, he was the announcer for the FanAddicts! TV series, was on Robot Chicken and The Big Bang Theory, as well as Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero
  • He was Chairman West in TV’s recently canceled Powerless, a series about people on the periphery when superheroes exist

He shared a TV Land Award for Favorite Crimestopper with Burt Ward, and got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He was recognized by the mainstream, and beloved by geeks.

You will be missed, Adam West…thank you.


For more geeky good-byes for this year, see

2017 Geeky Good-byes


My current Amazon Giveaway

Amazon Giveaway for And Then There Were None!

https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/3e6a60b4814649a3

Winner:Randomly selected after Giveaway has ended, up to 1 winner.
Requirements for participation:
Resident of the 50 United States or the District of Columbia
Follow @TMCGTT on twitter
18+ years of age (or legal age)

Start:May 12, 2017 6:24 PM PDT
End:Jun 11, 2017 11:59 PM PDT

===

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* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

 

 

 


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