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The Doctor's of Doctor Who: Patrick Troughton

After William Hartnell had to retire from the role of the Doctor, the writers had quite a job on their hands to keep the show going without the lead actor. A few ideas were thrown around, including making a son of the Doctor, who would take his place upon his character's death. What they ended up going with, however, is one of the most innovative pieces of sci-fi lore: regeneration. By giving the Doctor's species the ability to change bodies upon their death, they allowed for the character to be changed out for new actors as much as was needed, essentially giving the show an unlimited potential run time.

Originally, regeneration was supposed to be a turning back of the Doctor's age. Hartnell's replacement, Patrick Troughton, was originally going to simply be a younger version of the first Doctor. As he went on, however, the idea was changed so that the new Doctor was an almost entirely different person from his predecessor. Essentially, the Doctor remains the same man with the same values, but different aspects of his personality are highlighted in different incarnations.

Now I will admit that I have not seem much of the second Doctor, but in fairness, no one my age has. There is only one complete story arc of his still in existence, as most of the film from his era was lost when a BBC building caught fire.

Patrick Troughton, the second Doctor, was often referred to affectionately as the “Cosmic Hobo”, due to his costume, which included the bow tie that inspired the costume of today's Matt Smith.

The second Doctor was cunning, quick witted, and always a few steps ahead of everyone else, but he often pulled a Jack Sparrow: pretending to be a total idiot while subtly setting up his plans. He was also fond of playing the recorder, his trademark hobby.

What really set the Troughton era apart from the Hartnell period was the style of the stories. While Hartnell's stories were often a mix of historic fiction and sci-fi, Troughtons were almost solely the latter. Even when his Doctor did visit the past, he would encounter an alien presence, rather than simply interact with the historic figures he'd meet. The writers also took full advantage of Troughton's age, as he was much younger than Hartnell, his stories could be much more fast paced, and much for action oriented. The stories became “monster of the week”, and the show eventually came under fire for its frightful content.
This was apparently what was considered terrifying in the late 60's
The major new element that was introduced in the Troughton era was the introduction of the Doctor's species: the Time Lords. At the end of his time with the show, the second Doctor was forced to seek their help in returning a group of temporally displaced humans to their corrects eras. He was arrested, and put on trial for breaking the Time Lord codes of non-interference. He was banished to earth, his TARDIS was disabled, and he was forced to regenerate once more.
There are some corners of the universe which have bred the most terrible things. Things which act against everything we believe in. They must be fought.



Robin Hood: Beyond Sherwood Forest

Okay, so my last two movie review have explored the depth of awful movies, from hilariously awful to beyond funny bad and just plain disappointing. Well, going through the Sy-Fy channel's schedule, I saw the movie "Robin Hood: Beyond Sherwood Forest" scheduled for eleven pm. A Sy-Fy original at a late night slot? This looked promising. According the the description, the Sheriff of Nottingham unleashed a shape shifting monster on Sherwood to defeat Robin Hood.
So I hit the record button, and the next day I sat down for what I was sure was going to be a hilariously awful destruction of a classic story. And oh man, what I saw...was surprisingly good. I mean, it wasn't a great movie, but for the absurd premise, it really wasn't that bad at all. The shape shifting monster really has very little to do with the story, and only shows up about four times. As a matter of fact, if they had just taken the whole fantasy monster thing out, it could have been a really good  version of Robin Hood.

So what is the story? Well, while Robin's father and the future Sheriff were out on a hunt, a dragon-like beast swoops down and slays their superior. They manage to subdue the beast, and now Robin's father is the rightful new Sheriff. Of course, that doesn't work out well for Robin's dad, who the Sheriff kills in front of his son, who was just in the middle of trying to impress the young Maid Marion.

We fast-forward Robin is a man, fighting for King Richard in his absence, stealing from the rich, giving to the poor, you know, the Robin Hood thing. Maid Marion has grown up and is being promised to a man that she doesn't love, Prince John. What a twist. Anyway, she runs away and Prince John demands that the Sheriff get her back and destroy Robin Hood once and for. The Sheriff decides to send his secret weapon, the shape shifter that's he's kept captive all these years. Now Robin Hood has to unravel the mystery of this new creature, protect Maid Marion, and avenge the death of his father.

So the acting and dialogue is surprisingly good for the genre and premise, and the story, minus the whole shape shifting monster thing, isn't all that bad. It's your average vengeance story for Robin and the average getting out of an arranged marriage story for Marion, but both are done reasonably well. Again if we just removed any mention of that horrible CGI fantasy creature, this could be really good.

As it stands, it's objectively average, but I will give it props for being more of a Robin Hood story than Russell Crowe's Robin Hood.
Yes Crowe, Sy-Fy did it better than you.

Free MMO Madness #2: SilkRoad Online

After a long break following Runescape, I finally got back on MMOs with SilkRoad Online.


SOPA, and why you should be concerned.

Hey all, I meant to do a video skit regarding SOPA, but I'm afraid I've been more than a little sick lately, so that's a no go.

If you've a frequent internet browser, I'd be shocked if you haven't heard of this bill. SOPA (the Stop Online Piracy Act) is essentially a government attempt to police the internet. So lets say that a site was accused of hosting pirated material. Under SOPA, the government would have the power to do a number of things
1: Blacklist the site from search engines, meaning they could not show up on a Google search.
2: Force internet providers to block those websites from their clients.
3: Force advertisers to pull financial support from the site.
4: Imprison the one running the site for up to five years.

Now the first and foremost problem with the US government policing the internet is the whole "world wide" part of the web. Obviously, we don't have the authority to imprison Koreans for pirating our material, nor the authority to force foreign companies to withdraw advertising. Trying to impose such power on the world would be most unwise. Instead, under SOPA, the government would block the sight from search engines and providers. The problem is that if said sight's traffic was heavily reliant on American viewers, they could simply make a minor change to the name of the site, and poof, they're back online, and all the work has been a waste of time and resources. I guarantee that a person can come up with domain names faster than the government can find and block their sites.

So that just makes the bill ineffectual, but is it actually harmful? Well, let's look at who it would actually hurt. Two groups stand to lose the absolute most: user generated content sites, and online reviewers. Youtube, for instance, cannot possibly monitor everything being posted by its users, but a complaint of copyright infringement on one of their videos could be enough to take down the site. Combine that with the incredibly vague wording of the bill and the pitiful amount of time that the site is given to refute the claims, and what we have is nothing short of the death of the internet as we know it. Youtube would certainly be slowly killed by legal battles, as would Tumblr, Reddit, LiveJournal, ThatGuyWiththeGlasses, Escapist Magazine, and so many others whose existence is built on either user generated content or reviews.

There is also the fact that the internet is, without a doubt, the fastest growing industry on the planet, with an ever growing number of people making a living off of running popular sites. With a global economy in such turmoil, imposing such legislation on the web cannot be a good idea.

"But Mike," you say, "I don't make a living on the internet, and I'm not on it all that much. Why should I care?" One word: censorship. The internet is the epitome of free speech, and connects us to not only the ideas of our neighbors, but the ideas of people around the world. Giving the government the ability to censor what they say is infringing copyright is introducing unheard of powers. Blocking you from accessing said material is nothing short of a massive blow to your first amendment rights.

And please, don't take my word for any of this. Look it up yourself, do your own research. Educate yourself on the matter, and then speak what you think is right. Thanks for reading.


Movie Review: I Am Omega

Oh zombies, we love you. Sure, the thing we love about you is that we can enjoy hours of unadulterated violence inflicted on you with no moral repercussions, and it's always nice to imagine that one guy you really hate becoming a member of the undead so you can be on the one to “solemnly” bash his head in with a cricket bat...or is that just me? Anyway, if there's anything violence-y that I like as much as a go zombie slaying, it's kung-fu. Sure, it's ludicrous in a real-life scenario, but that didn't stop up from leaving the showing of “The Matrix” with the urge to do a bullet-time flying crescent kick into the head of the first person to mess with us. Again, maybe this is just me, and I'm an exceptionally violent individual.

But I'm getting sidetracked. This is all leading up to the lowest of B-grade movies that I may have ever seen...
...o rly?
...okay, second lowest of b-grade movies I've ever seen: I Am Omega. Looking at the cover, you don't see how this could possibly fail. It's advertised as a kung-fu zombie movie, and looks like it's just one martial arts master taking on a swarm of the undead. Sadly, that is not the movie they chose to make here. While the main protagonists is a martial arts expert, we hardly see it in use.

So anyway, we open with our main hero, Renchard, alone in his fortified house/bunker. He's just going to wait out the zombie apocalypse, but two guys claiming to be with the military, named Vincent and Mike, blow up his house with an RPG to force him to come along with them. They need his help to find the last survivor of a major city, whose blood is apparently immune to infection. She's their last hope, and they've got to get her out of there.

So how does the action stand up? Not well. Like I said, there's hardly any martial arts, save one scene where he takes on a group of the undead with a pair of nun-chucks. And you know what? That scene was glorious! I don't know why they couldn't have just made the movie that! But no, mostly, it's just brandishing guns or halfheartedly shooting.
Michelangelo: Zombie Hunter would have been a great movie compared to this
The characters are also pretty bland for the most part. Renchard has one bewildering scene in the beginning where he hears voices on the radio that aren't there, I guess to show the hermit lifestyle is driving him mad, but it's never revisited. Not even a mention. I remember nothing about the female protagonist, save her immunity to zombie-ism.

Spoiler alert: Vincent and Mike are bad guys, and want to kill the girl so that only the strong can survive the apocalypse. After Mike is killed, though, I gotta give Vincent props. He goes scarily psychotic, and easily steals the show from the rest of the actors.

So, this movie is pretty terrible, and not in the terribly funny way that Mega Shark was. It's just bad. It's a waste of your time and money, and I'd definitely say skip this one.
Oh movie, I am disappoint...


Movie Review: The Last Airbender

Let's get one thing out of the way right now: I love Avatar: the Last Airbender. It was an original, epic story. It had well developed, emotionally driven, memorable and believable characters. The world it took place in felt huge and ancient, with deep, rich cultures and histories of the four nations. This was beyond anything that I could have ever expected from Nickelodeon, or from cartoons in general. So when I heard that there was an Avatar movie in works, I was pumped.
I guess there were some rewrites?
Then there came a few new facts that took some of my excitement out. First: it was live action. Okay, I thought, so it's live action. So what? Special effects technology is really advanced, and hey, the story is the really important part anyway.

Second, I saw the casting choices. Okay, I thought tentatively, So Aang, Katara and Sokka are obviously white, and I guess the obviously Japanese based fire nation are now Indian, but whatever. It can still be good.

Then, I discovered who was behind this project. M. Night Shyamalamadingdong. Okay, I thought, more desperately than anything, it's not like this is a story that he came up with. It's an established mythos. Heck, all he has to do is take bullet points from the show and adapt it to live action. The story has literally been handed to him.
So on the midnight premiere, some friends and I picked up our 3-D glasses (another strike, but hey, I was committed at this point) and sat took our seats. When the lights turned back on, the person next to me threw their 3-D money traps on the ground in disgust. This movie was awful, and I don't mean that just as a fan of the series. This was an objectively terrible, terrible movie.

So what was the problem? Well, the easier question would be what the movie gets right. I did appriciate that Zuko was given the amount of time he had, I suppose the fight choreography is pretty impressive, and the special effects for bending is alright as well. What I don't like is how they meshed them together. Shyamalan said that he envisioned bending as a super-soaker: a lot of pumping air pressure for just a little effect. I guess I get the logic, but that undermines the fluidity of martial arts, and the philosophy of being one with the element in the legend. It's a fundamentally flawed change.

The story was just wretched as well. Shyamalan picked all the wrong scenes to adapt, and seemed to be more focused on giving us flashy action scenes than he was on providing us with a memorable, cohesive narrative. What stuck out to me was the narration. Instead of just showing us what was happening, he has Katara narrate the events, because we were apparently not smart enough to get it ourselves. Most annoyingly, when Sokka meets the Water Princess, they feel the need to narrate “Sokka and the Princess liked each other. This meaningful look they're giving each other is indicating that they are attracted. Get it? Just to reiterate: Sokka and the Princess are falling for each other.”

But beyond that, the characters are just flat. And I mean pancake flat. Their line delivery is deadpan and there's no emotional background or believability. I don't understand how they took such memorable and colorful characters, and just killed them. It was just devastating.
Someone find Kristen Stewart and we can have a bland-off for the ages
Most unforgivable of them all: they destroyed the relationship between the characters. Sokka, Katara and Aang are supposed to form a cohesive and supportive family unit. It makes their pain all the more intense when it's shared with the others, and their happiness is equally magnified. In this movie, I don't think they even talk to each other all that much. They're just three strangers on a bus. Again, this is to make way for more flashy fight scenes.

They try to plug a sequel at the end of the movie, but I hope to whatever holy power is listening that it never sees the light of day. Avatar needs to be a: animated, b: culturally diverse and c: about the characters and their relationships. That's what made the cartoon so good, and it's what mad this movie fall absolutely flat. Stay away at all costs, and just watch the cartoon.


Third Panel Review: Super Dinosaur

Today's piece is a free comic book day edition of Super Dinosaur. Is it a robo-roller coaster or is this destined to go extinct?


Today's Movie: Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus

I'm going to be honest: I love the SyFy network. It has a couple of great shows, like Eureka and Warehouse 13. Those are awesome. And before I got BBC America on my T.V, this was about the only place that I could get my Doctor Who fix. Now those are both legitimate reasons for liking the network, but oh man, are they not my only reasons. No, probably the most enjoyment that I've ever gotten from SyFy has been from the gold mine of hilariously awful movies that they are constantly putting out. There are so many to choose from, but my personal favorite, and possibly the greatest monster movie I have ever witnessed has got to be: Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus.

This title alone let me know that I was in for something awesome. Horrible, cheesy, completely ridiculous? Yes. Awesome? You have no idea, and that's why I'm here.

Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus is exactly what it says on the tin. There's a giant octopus, and a shark that can be reasonably described as “mega”, and they have to fight. Why? Well, apparently they were fighting thousands of years of years ago, and somehow got flash frozen, cryogenically preserved for thousands of years, and ice cube like prisons somehow floated to opposite ends of the earth. Now, they've thawed out, and they're tearing up everything in their path to finish their epic struggle.

Our main heroes here are oceanographer Emma MacNeil (Deborah Gibson), her old professor Lamar Sandars (Sean Lawlor) and Dr. Seiji Shimada (Vic Chao). They are trying desperately to determine what's causing all the damage being done to the ecosystem and to marine equipment. Oh, and what happened to an airplane. That's right, the Mega Shark leaps thousands of feet out of the water to chomp down at a trans-continental airplane. It is possibly the most glorious thing I have ever seen. Just look at this.

If that was not the greatest thing you've ever witnessed, then you officially have no soul. Anyway, the three heroes are working on the schedule of the nefarious Allan Baxter, our resident gun crazy military officer. He's evil because he wants to employ high powered explosives or nuclear weapons to destroy the giant creatures before they kill again. And this is a bad idea because...well...I don't really know. Radiation? I mean, it's certainly not going to kill much life in the middle of the ocean. Not much lives in those areas. I'm not up on how radiation effects the water cycle, so maybe that would have some adverse effect?

Hilariously, MacNeil and Shimada fall for each other, as shown to us by absolutely nothing. I'm serious, they're working together, aren't even talking to each other that much, and suddenly they're just doing it in a supply closet. Weird. The fight, of course, is just a string of low budget, close up CGI where you can't tell what in the hell is going on, but with scenes like the airplane one, that's totally fine. It also goes without saying that the acting is atrocious, but hey, it's a SyFy original. What did you expect?

All in all, Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus is hilariously over-the-top, horribly acted, and just a glorious cheese-fest. If you've nothing to do, check it out.


Comic Review #2: Superman: Red Son

When Superman lands in Soviet Russia instead of America, the race is on for the US to remain on top.


The Doctors of Doctor Who: William Hartnell

When I came back from a semester in Scotland, I found that there was very little about the States that had changed. Yeah, the dollar had gone down a bit more, and the Simpsons was over, but neither were huge shocks. Oh, and there was the Xanathurian invasion. That took me a little by surprise.
Hail Xanathu!
I also noticed that Doctor Who seemed to have gained a bit of popularity here in the US, and that's fantastic. If people are watching that, then maybe I can allow myself to regain just a little of my faith in this species. Now I don't want to pull the hipster card and say that I was watching Doctor Who before it was cool, (though for the record, I definitely was) but I can't help but fear that some of the new fans may not appreciate the history of the show. This is the longest lasting Sci-Fi series of all time, starting in 1963 and still going strong today, and Matt Smith isn't referred to as the eleventh Doctor just for fun. There were ten others before him, and we're going to look at all of them: starting with William Hartnell, the first Doctor.

Hartnell started with the show in 1963, and it probably was not what the new fans would have pictured it. To start off, it was a kid's show, meant to be educational about history and science, and therefore had a severe lack of Karen Gillan in a "police uniform." Second, at first the Doctor really wasn't the main character, that fell to his companions.

The first episode, "An Unearthly Child", two school teachers, Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright, have taken interest in an unusual student: Susan Foreman. Susan is incredibly bright at science and math, but when it came to everyday knowledge, she seemed suspiciously inept. Instead of alerting a superior of their concerns, the two do the sensible thing and follow her home. Without her knowledge. Sneakily.
Remember, it's not bad if it's for your own good

The two follow her to a junkyard, where she ducks into a police call box. The two manage to follow her inside, and discover that it's...(wait for it)...bigger on the inside! Yes, this is the TARDIS, and with the TARDIS of course, comes the Doctor. This Doctor is less the excitable ball of energy and enthusiasm here, and more kinda of, maybe, sort of a total jerk. Wanting to maintain the nature of the himself and the TARDIS a secret, he essentially kidnaps the two humans and takes them back in time in the first ever trip in the big blue box. That starts a series of events that brings the group all around space and time, in good old Doctor Who fashion.

So what does the first Doctor bring to the overall character? Well, it's during his tenure that we first meet the Cybermen and the Daleks, the two most recognizable villains the in whole series. As for the Doctor himself, he starts out as a cranky, rude, patronizing old man, and had a streak of ruthlessness that once almost had him straight up murder a man to achieve his ends.
Today's episode is brought to you by the word homicide!
This Doctor is traveling the universe by accident, and because the circumstance is forcing him to, and at first he's highly resistant to it. After awhile though, he grows to enjoy his new lifestyle, and becomes more like a grandfather figure to his companions. This shift from cranky old man to the wise, loveable grandpa essentially encompassed the two versions of seniors that kids were most familiar with, and that they could easily connect with. For the rest of us, it's the beginning of the Doctor's journey's and the introduction of some of his most iconic enemies. Hartnell had a habit of messing up lines when they couldn't afford second takes (not by his own fault, but because he had an undiagnosed case of arteriosclerosis), but his tripping over his words just enforced the bumbling, eccentric old man character.

Sadly, by 1966 Hartnell was no longer in good enough shape for the role, and the writers had to figure out how to keep the show alive without the actor portraying their title character. A few options were thrown around, including introducing a son of the Doctor to take over. However, they eventually settled on the solution that was probably the most brilliant actor-swap excuse television had ever seen: regeneration. After a strenuous fight, the Doctor's frail, old form gives out, and we behold one of the most mysterious traits of one of the most mysterious figures in fiction: the ability to change from one man to a completely new one.
If you could touch the alien sand and hear the cries of strange birds, and watch them wheel in another sky, would that satisfy you?