Saturday, October 11, 2014

Circumstances have caused me to take a hiatus from the blog for a time. I have the start of one Halloween episode saved and will most likely post it in the next week or so. From then hopefully I will be back sooner rather than later. Thanks Shadow fans for your support and fandom. I hope I will be back soon.
The Shadow

Monday, September 29, 2014

Tripping the Rift is pretty rift trippy

     Hello one and all and welcome back to another installment of the Shadow knows. This month seems to be one of those months of yuck for your old pal the Shadow true believers. It is my hope once I have another vehicle that things will get back to normal and I will be able to start posting again on Thursday with more regularity. So then what does the Shadow know today kiddies? Well this little nugget comes straight off the warning labels of car window sunscreens everywhere. Apparently when you put your sunscreen up you are not suppose to drive your vehicle. I mean really, why not? It would after all block out all that horrible sun and help keep your car cool. I mean do we really need to see where we are going? Isn't that a noble trade-off for such a great device. The world may never know and when the small minded discover the answer they may well be lucky to get away with that info with their necks intact. I am afraid though they will not learn from it. Alas poor Yoric, I knew him well Horatio... So any who onto the How I Geek show on kiddies. This last Sunday we finally talked TV, well transformers TV. Do you talk TV? I sure do, don't touch that dial and now the news. By gum he sure do and we will fix up your smashed up friend like new with 90 day warranty. So anyway why don't you come check it out. It is I believe more then meets the eyes.

     So now to the topic and last game system of the month and what is that you ask? Why that grand old outdated Palladium system of course. Founded in Detroit, Michigan in April of 1981, by Kevin Siembieda Palladium started out as a fantasy setting. Kevin created this system while playing D&D in the late 70's, but this was not to be the first actual book to be published using his unique gaming system. That honor falls to the Mechanoid Invasion. The story around this games was that the Mechanoids, a malevolent race of aliens come to invade the planet Gideon E colonized by humans. It was originally released as 3 comic book sized source books. I can't really give you many facts about it other then it exists. I am afraid that out of all of the games run on this system this is one I have had the littlest experience with. After his success with this release Siembieda finally released Palladium Fantasy Role Playing Game. This game is like most fantasy setting RPGs with the same types of races and beasties to fight. Next up Kevin came up with his own super hero universe game called Heroes Unlimited. With all the big comic companies out there holding the licenses tightly for their individual characters Kevin had to come up with ideas of his own. This must have come naturally to him since his dream was to be a comic book artist. This game and story arc is very unique to itself and I had had quite a bit of fun fighting super villains before there were any games of this type really (Marvel and DC each put out their own RPGs with limited success). There were other worlds crafted and created each with their own uniqueness and flair like the TMNT setting and Robotech which I will touch base on a little later. The world series that I loved the most through Palladium though was Rifts. Rifts is a post apocalyptic setting in which magic tears a hole in the fabric of space, time, and reality. This of course destroys the old world and from the ashes a new world is formed. It kinda has a Thundarr the Barbarian feel to it, with all kinds of other elements thrown in together from all across reality. I always had fun playing games in this setting and would love to get another game in sometime in the future.

     So yeah I know I mentioned Robotech not that long ago and here we go with that. In 1986 Palladium books made a deal with Harmony Gold to license an RPG based on the Palladium system. This was quite a feat considering the reputation that Harmony Gold has had when it comes to the licensing of their products. The game was a success and spread far and wide much to the delight of fans everywhere. In it's time it was fun to play and kicking the butts of everything from the Zentradi to the Invid was a blast. So when I discovered that Palladium was going to release a miniatures game based on the RPG with Ninja Division I jumped right onto the band wagon. That my friends was waaaaaay back in March of 2013 with a release date of December of 2013. Here it is September of 2014 and no product have I received in my grubby little hands. They are finally receiving containers and are suppose to be shipping to backers by the end of this week beginning of next. I know, I know plenty of Kickstarters never reach their intended release dates due to underestimating the size a kickstarter can explode into. My issue here is the fact that information to the backers has never been what you would call very forth right or forth coming. When updates would finally come with any sense of regularity they would be filled with inconsistencies and felt untruthful. We would get told one thing and then the next post something completely different. I for one am still jazzed about the game and I can't wait for it to hit the shelves. I just hope that with the way this thing has gone Kevin has not cut his own throat with this game. I guess we will see and only time will tell.

     So now let us talk a little bit about the rule set. This system of course is way different from that of D&D or really any other RPG out there then or today. The one good thing about the system is it is straight forward once a character has been generated (for the most part). Alas that is the trick isn't it? To really get a game going right away you need to make your characters up in advance. This is of course something every gamer does right... wrong. This can really dig into your game time and quite frankly sucks. Why you may ask? Because to generate a character using the Palladium system is quite time consuming and is rather involved. The process takes up lots of valuable gaming time and character generation can be very confusing to those who are just starting out with the game. I believe that this game is really in need of a massive overhaul to streamline a lot of unnecessary things and make character generation much faster and efficient. Then there is the fact that once you start to gain experience and level up you really don't get anything for your trouble and characters can become really stale to play. On the other hand once you get used to playing it does become easier, but in this world where nobody wants complicated games anymore I believe Palladium is stubbornly hanging onto outdated concepts that will cause them to lose their share of the market. Listen to me sounding all smart and stuff.

     Well folks that is all I really have to say on the matter of Palladium at this time. So what do you Shadow fans think? Has Palladium Books gone past it's prime and need to retire to an old retired gamers community? If you play their system do you have a favorite world you prefer? Has anyone played the Mechanoid Invasion and if so how was it? Is it possible for Kevin Siembieda to stop pissing off his fans? Does anybody know what she does after she comes around the mountain and why does she choose come around the mountain? Why not go over or under? These are those big hard hitting questions I hit you all with each week true believers. Well that is it and I am outta here, peace out, and I will see you from the shadows.

 Update: well today I got wave one, well will wonders never cease. I am going through the booty and I have to say I don't care for the over complexity of the models. I will continue to go through the game and see what is what. To be honest I am more excited about the Shadows of Brimstone I am getting tomorrow... FIN 11/11/2014

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Generals Gathered in Their Masses...

     Welcome one and all to another lovely Thursday with your old pal the Shadow. Are you excited? I know I am, can't you tell by the look upon my face. Well take a look, look closer, closer, closer... BOO! Well darn that only really works if A you're gullible and B you are actually in the room... oh well I tried. So what Shadow fans does the Shadow know on this fine day? Well in truth lots of things, but today in this very moment what I know is this. After laying out some more ant traps to help rid myself of such vile vermin I happen to notice this little nugget of wisdom. Apparently ant traps contain peanuts and should not be ingested in case of allergy... WTF! Again I find this world we live in bursting at the seams with the rocket scientists of the world. Hmm, I dunno if I would be concerned so much with the peanut allergy after ingesting a nice lethal dose of cyanide! Hey what the heck do I know. I am just a little guy with a blog. I am not one those smart peoples of the world. So any who be leery when you suck on your ant traps if you are allergic to peanuts. You could go in to anaphylaxis and die. May the force be with you. So now onto How I Geek, on with Greg and the gang. This week we will be discussing for your ear lobe funtertainment Transformer's in honor of their 30th anniversary. I hate inviting the Decepticons over to the house. They get energon all over the house and I don't think, Ravage, Lazerbeak, or Buzzsaw are house broken. So come on by and we'll fix your leaking lubricants. It will be a blast I tell you a blast, (well it will if Michael Bay stops by... oh yes, it will be). So we will catch you then.

     So here it is game number two for a month of gaming and that little nugget of joy is Games Workshop's Warhammer 40K. I think number two is very appropriate because Games Workshop often takes a dump on it's fans, but alas I digress. Created by Rick Priestley in 1987 40k takes place in the 41st millennium of mankind's history. It is a thousand years after a great war with the evil chaos Gods and their twisted minions for control of the universe. In that time the great emperor of humanity has created the perfect gene seed and seeded 20 great generals (his progeny as it were) to lead his massive Space Marine armies. These soldiers have all been turned into the ultimate super soldiers and they are tasked to defend the great Imperium of man. To consolidate his new Imperium the emperor rallies his troops to unite the far flung colonies of man under one banner. It is during this time that the chaos gods begin to warp the mind of the emperor's greatest champion Horus. It is though Horus' arrogance that he is forever warped and changed into a being of pure evil and brings with him several legions and generals with him. The Horus Heresy as it will be called dragged mankind into a massive civil war with the emperor himself felling the final blow and ending it, but only at a great cost to himself. The minions of chaos scurried back into the warp. This all occurs in the 31st millennium. We fast forward 1000 years and that is were they game begins.

     One would think that after all that work there would be peace in the universe. Alas you would be wrong as the victory is a short lived one. The minions of chaos continue to fight the heroes of the Imperium through what seems to be a never ending struggle. To top this off many great technologies and the knowledge to build them were lost during the the great war. Also many enemies of man have surfaced (some ancient and others new) to attempt to take their place in the universe. First are the ancient Eldar. They are the ancient elves of old. In their own arrogance they released a chaos god and caused the slow demise of their race. They travel the universe  on world ships hoping to stave off their eventual extinction. Next is the Orks. In some editions they were said to be made of plants. In any case they were created by the Eldar to battle the chaos forces they unleashed only to discover their creations thirst for blood and battle was to insatiable to control. The Ork only knows war. It is all he thinks about, dreams about, or even talks about. They are quite a bit slow and dimwitted, but have a way of somehow stealing other races tech and converting it for their own uses. Next come the Tyranid. These beings are intelligent in their own right. They are comparable to the James Cameron movie Aliens, aliens. They scurry across the universe spreading their seed to devour entire worlds. They have no interest in conquest, but only rather to exist and grow as a species. Perhaps that is what makes them the most terrifying to those of the Imperium. They can't be bargained with or reasoned with. They simply wish to devour, consume, and continue. This brings us to the next race the Necrons. They are a race of mechanical beings who have had all their humanity as it were removed to become soulless machines. Soulless is really not true as they have a soul. It is just trapped in a emotionless body that is bent upon conquest. With each new soldier they kill upon the battlefield becomes a new soldier amongst their ranks. They are similar in appearance to James Cameron's terminators from the movie of the same title and they to cannot be reasoned with. They simply exist to conquer and reshape the universe (also not to unlike the borg). Next up are the evil counter parts to the Eldar, the Dark Eldar. These dark elves in space are more like pirates and live more to feed their own needs rather then conquest. They broke away from the Eldar long ago and basically pillage and plunder across the universe... yo ho ho and a bottle of rum. Next up is the newest of races and the greatest shooters in the game the Tau Empire. The Tau are considered the bringers of light and justice. They are a highly advanced culture that is doing it's best to protect its lands from the encroaching races across the galaxy. They have allied themselves with the more primitive Kroot as the Tau are rather squishy on the battlefield in hand to hand combat. Finally we have the Daemons of chaos. they are those foul things that go bump in the night and the horrors that live within your nightmares. These entities come through the warp gates and bring terror and death to those they touch and cannot convert for their chaos masters. They ride along with the often mutated fallen chaos space marines side by side. These are the enemies of the Imperium. This is just really an over simplified synapses of what is out there. There are many different sects and subgroups within the Imperium itself, but I will not get into them here. As you can see the world of 40K is filled with a lot of diversity and complexity, but what of the game itself.

     Interesting fluff and story telling aside Games Workshop will be the first to tell you they are a model making company first and a gaming company last. They do indeed make many wonderful models and once painted up look really great on the battlefield, but unfortunately the rules made from edition to edition do not match these wonderful models. Since 87 there have been 7 editions of 40K with 4th and 5th being my least two favorite editions and also a new codex released for every army under the flag of each edition. One of the first big issues I have here is that with every time they do reset they nerf (or blunt) something that was big and bad in the previous edition and thus making it a walking waste of your money. The second thing that bothers me with these edition changes is that they restructure (reinvent the wheel) on most armies forcing you to be constantly buying new minis. This would not be so bad if it wasn't for the fact that they keep hiking the prices with each new edition as well. When I first started playing I could get a Space Marine land raider tank for just under 40 bucks (back in 2005 for those wishing to know). Now you would be lucky to find one for under 80. Codex's that are required for your armies are up to 50 bucks apiece and the core rulebook almost 100 bucks. With other miniature gaming companies pumping out better quality models with superior rules sets it is only a matter of time before Games Workshop has painted itself in a corner.Don't get me wrong I love playing this game and I love seeing big armies crush each other on the battlefield. I just think that for what you get with your money (as far as rules) this game just isn't worth the price you are paying. Perhaps you feel different and I say to you that is OK, but me I have a family and not the kind of disposable income I had when I was younger. I feel more and more priced out of this game every year and as with my role playing I have gotten fewer and fewer games in. I dunno perhaps it is time for me to sell at rock bottom prices. As my Aunt is always fond of saying it is what it is, So alas I digress. Warhammer 40K is a pretty sweet game and I have had a lot of fun playing it over the years in spite of Games Workshop. I encourage anyone to give it a try and see for yourselves. I just hope you don't have a stroke when you see the price if you buy all new.

     Well folk that is it again for another installment of the Shadow Knows. What did you think this of this weeks installment? Do you play 40K? What is your favorite army? Do you play any miniature war games? Did you know that witches have black masses? I am just saying that when generals gather in their masses it is just like witches and their black masses. I know this cuz Ozzy told me so. He bites heads off bats, so he must know everything.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse!


     Hello one and all Shadow fans and welcome back to another installment of the Shadow Knows. This week has been crazy for me and my family. Between first week of school and getting paperwork together for insurance on my wife's accident the week has been crazy. So now here I am posting another late blog post. Late heck, here we are one week later. Well that is just the way it is sometimes with life. One day you're eating steak and potatoes and the next thing you know the steak and potatoes are eating you. I tell you what that is just dog eat dog. Or is it potatoes eat cows? Well not really, I don't want P.E.T.A. on my butt here. Now that would be all I need... So that is really just what the Shadow knows today. That when you are not watching life can come up and bite you in the butt like a great big snake man. Let me tell you when a snake bites you in the butt you really know it... ouch! So now onto How I Geek with Greg and the gang. This week is our top 5 fav action movies. There will only be 3 of us this week and so it shouldn't take us long to burn through that. But hey, you never know with us. So come check us out for some car chases, boulder rolling, shoot-out, fight scene. excitement. Yep that is what we did last week alright. So this week, we are doing 80's TV shows. You know another top 5 as it were. We are also having our How I Geek cook out Saturday. Greg says he doesn't think we can record open mic that day. I think my friends we can and it would be glorious. WE shall see what happens. So now like Aquaman returning home let us dive right into the action of this weeks crazy, mixed-up, blog-crafting excitement... shall we?

     So as promised we are diving right in with a month of role-playing/gaming. I have been a bit removed from that which is role-playing awesomeness and wish I had another group to play with, but alas I digress. Up for your ocular pleasure is Dungeons and Dragons. This game, originally known as Chainmail started as a small boxed set containing a series of three pamphlets. The game was the brain child of partners and friends Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson and published in 1974 under the flag of Tactical Studies Rules inc. (TSR). This is really the game that started it all. Up until this time most games were either regular old board games or table top miniatures strategy games. From this single game an entire genre was born. As this game took off it grew and expanded in many different ways. One of the first was dividing it into two sections. First was basic D&D and it was played with a very basic set of rules. Second was Advanced D&D or AD&D and this was of course played with a more advanced rules set. With this twist in the rule set D&D grew and grew with greater popularity until 1989 when AD&D became AD&D 2nd edition. This is the point where I jumped onto the band wagon and my life was forever changed. At the time I had no idea that 2nd edition had just come out. Nor was I aware of how the other editions played. At first I was not even aware that the game was in two parts with basic and advanced forms of play. What I do know now is what D&D gave me in the friendships that I still carry to this day. One of the big draws for me was how inexpensive it was to get into the game. The rules were a bit complicated, but once learned and mastered were easy to maintain. The one flaw of course being the Thac0 system, or To Hit Armor Class Zero. Since zero itself was counted as a number (of course it should be it is after all) instead of starting with one it  would throw the calculation off by one. It made things a bit awkward to figure out and as such made for some serious fights at the game table. Nobody wanted to do awkward math. All they wanted to do was play a game. With that one single flaw aside and perhaps some minor ones in between this was a really good system. It was fun to play and the way the system ran it allowed for plenty of imagination in game play. The Dungeon Master ran each game session as kind of a narrator of the tale unfolding before you. A crafty one could handle most situations on the fly without too much hassle. There was never really any reason to change the system, besides of course Thac0. Unfortunately though there would be those who would cause the rains to come.

     Now large thunder clouds came overhead in 1997 when a nearly bankrupt TSR was bought out by Wizards of the Coast. You know the guys who make Magic the Smothering... err I mean Gathering. Once they took over they decided to reinvent the wheel. First came 3rd edition and 3.5 which introduced the world to the D20 system. These editions were not bad, especially since Gygax and Arneson both had impute on these editions. These editions also folded the game back into one with no basic or advanced editions, but rather one edition. The introduction of feats and skills was neat as was making the game license open. This allowed for anybody to make their own world books based on this system. This of course caused a flooding of materials and options to be generated. I still say 2nd edition was more than adequate, but 3 & 3.5 were decent enough. What killed D&D for me was fourth edition. I mean by this point all this game was about for WotC was profit margins. Gone were the cheap rule books and in their place were 50 dollar books that did not give you everything you needed to play the game. Each book only contained like two classes each. It is bad enough to pay 100 bucks for the Monstrous Manual and the Dungeon Masters Guide, but to throw away coin just to get a complete class list for your players was insane. I mean you are talking 100's of bucks here on a role players salary. From what I have seen Of 5th edition it has taken them back to the fundamentals and more complete rulebooks for less money, but I don't think I could play anything beyond 3.5. This company has killed the game for me and I want back my old TSR. Alas with Gygax and Arneson both gone from this cruel world we may never see the return of the glory that was what D&D once was. I know there are those of you out there that disagree and say I am nuts and that is OK. Really though I am more insane then nuts, but alas I digress. If the later editions are your thing I say cool. I hope you get as much greatness and wonder out of the game as I did.

      Now speaking of greatness and wonder I cannot complete the story of D&D without mentioning the great convention that sprang from it's loins as it were. That convention is of course Gen Con, which is short for Geneva Conclave. This name comes from where the convention got its start in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, home of Gary Gygax and the former headquarters of the once great TSR. Started in 1967 (yes before D&D existed) Gary Gygax started this thing as a kind of gathering of gamers and it is through this convention that he would meet his partner in crime Dave Arneson and this coupling would later give birth to D&D. The convention grew every year from it's start until finally the venue had to be moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin and the MECCA Center. This is the place for all the new and great games coming out to be previewed for all the world of gamers to see. When it was in the hands of TSR it brought me great memories and I met many a great star from Mark Hamill to Ernie Hudson. The swag was bountiful and I believe the atmosphere was stellar. Now since it has passed though the hands of others I see it becoming more about the wallets of the attendees then the fun of the games it is to promote. This is another soapbox issue for me as well. I loved this convention and have attended since 1995, but it has been losing its luster and become quite tarnished for me. Gone is the infamous swag bag. in its place is a coupon book that finds its way into the trash every year. It is pretty much just useless paper better suited for the out houses of the days of yor. Gone too are the SciFi and Fantasy movie greats that would make appearances, promote their latest movies, and sign autographs. There are still great authors and artists to be found there and their work on display is most awesomely killer, but this does not make up for the other losses. Now I know the economy sucks right now and that gaming is more then just about the swag. The thing is this thing keeps growing, you pay 70 bucks to get in for those four days of gaming and what do you get for your money. The right to game at the convention and buy things in the hall. Well I can game and shop at my local gaming store for nothing more then the cost of what I buy. Sure I get to see the new and now, but when all they do is try to push for more of your money to preorder a game that you have no idea will be a success or not this becomes a huge turnoff. I mean my basement is full of by gone games that fizzled and died. Nobody plays them and that is just more money wasted that could have gone elsewhere. I dunno maybe you all see it differently. I hope that there are still those who are having fun in the wonderful worlds created by Gygax and Arenson, but as for me I fear my disillusion has caused me to continue to lose interest in that which I hold most dear. In the end I leave it up to you my loyal readers to decide.

     Well there you have it folks, better late then never I suppose. That is all the time I have left this week for the Shadow knows. I know, I know I said I might post a twofer, but I really don't have time for that today. Perhaps I will post a small segment on something to make up for the lost article. That is if life does not hit me with another right hook. So any who tell me what you think loyal Shadow fans. Is D&D still great for you? Do you like where it has gone? Do you have a favorite class or race? What of Gen Con? Is it still your happy place? I sometimes have to go to my happy place after that horrible mauling I got once from a gazebo. Hey those things can be quite painful and downright deadly. I almost lost an eye... or was it that I just got a splinter in my foot, or maybe that was me being trained by Master Splinter to defeat the foot clan and I was the 5th unofficial TMNT. Who can really say in this crazy, mad, mad, world. Well folks I will see you next time from the Shadows.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Sorry folks life has once again gotten in the way of the blog. I will have the new one up today or tomorrow. BRB

Update: I feel like Robert Stack on Unsolved Mysteries. Well life just keeps getting in the way this past week. I will post something and it will be profoundly profound in the not so profound way. If I don't get anything up by Thursday maybe I will post a twofer... wooohooo. I can hear the excitement roaring from the audience now. Peace out... drop the microphone for dramatic effect and scene!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

And now the conclusion of a month of cop shows that rock that aren't Cop Rock.

     Well folks it is another Thursday and here we are together again. It truly fills me with that feeling of warm fuzziness and other such stuff to know you are here with me today. So what does the Shadow know this day good friends and true believers? Well what I know today is that something is happening to the young people on this blue ball of ours. While searching for unique and fascinating facts for you fans out there I came across this gem of intelligence. Apparently a teenage boy was questioned by police officers after being admitted to the hospital with head injuries. He had been struck by a train. When asked how he got his injuries the boy simply replied he wanted to see how close he could get his head to a passing train before it got struck... WTF! I mean seriously what has the youth of today come to? Sure we have all done our fair share of crazy things in our lives, but I can't ever remember a time I wanted to squish my head like a grape by way of a oncoming train. Has common sense just gone out the window... seriously?! So any who now onto the next I say. This week on How I geek with the Greg and the Scooby gang we will have a discussion on general geektatudiness and such and so forth. It will be a hot time in the old town tonight I tell you. So you should be there or be square.  

     So into the meat of things as they say in butcher shops everywhere. The start of the last of my four cop show reviews will the ever incredible Simon and Simon. This show of awesomeness ran on CBS from November 24, 1981 to January 21, 1989. The first season had brother protagonists Rick (Gerald McRaney) and A.J. (Jameson Parker) working for a detective agency and solving crimes. The show did not do well in it's first season and almost got canceled. The shows creator Philip DeGuere convinced CBS to give it another chance and they agreed. The show was moved to come on after Magnum with a second season cross-over of the two shows to increase the ratings. The brothers also moved on to go into business for themselves leaving behind the agency they worked for. These combined elements came together well with the fans and the ratings skyrocketed. One of the great things about this show was just how polar opposite the brothers were. Rick the older brother was a former marine and Vietnam war vet. He is the type of guy who would bend the rules as a private investigator to solve the cases. He would be more viewed as a sorta country boy with simpler interests in mind. A.J. on the other hand is college educated, smart with his money, and a lot less loose with the rules of law. The cases the two brothers worked on usually had them arguing over their individual ways of tackling a case and coming to terms with each other. There was tons and action with just a twist of this feudal comedy thrown in. To me this really made the show and with it on right after Magnum I was glued to the set for at least those 2 hours. After 8 seasons though this show came to a halt. This was due to the declining ratings because the network had moved the show to Saturday. This is what most networks do to kill shows the fans don't want to die. I say it is completely dirty pool and shame on them. The final season was only a 13 episode run, with only 11 episodes actually airing. In 95 a reunion made for TV movie was put together with A.J. being divorced and a lawyer and Rick doing odd jobs. The brothers pair up once again when a boat Rick is transporting is hijacked. I liked this movie and I wished they had done more. This is another one of those shows that I would love to see return to television. Of course the network has to do a reboot with the original cast most likely not returning. I just hope that if a reboot does happen the network does it justice. So now that we have hit Simon and Simon what do I have next up my sleeve?

     What do I have next you all ask? Well I know one of you had to of asked. It does seem like a logical thing to ask it does. So up next is that Glen A. Larson classic Knight Rider. You know that show that is about a shadowy flight into the dangerous world of a man who does not exist. Knight Rider aired on NBC from September 26, 1982 to August 8, 1986. The protagonists of this show are Michael Knight (David Hasselhoff ) and K.I.T.T. (William Daniels) Micheal's artificially intelligent car. The series starts out with Micheal long a detective on a big case who is gunned down in the course of his investigation. He is saved by Wilton Knight (Richard Basehart of Voyage to the Bottom of the sea fame) creator of F.L.A.G. the foundation for law and government. Knight gives Long a new face and new identity as well as a job within his organization. The now Michael Knight continues his crusade for justice with his A.I. car partner K.I.T.T. aka Knight Industries Two Thousand. This team combination was awesome to watch week to week and it's first three seasons kicks butt. Larson, who created the show said he wanted to make the Lone Ranger in modern times. A sort of western sci-fi kinda show. His formula really set well with the public at large and is still a cult classic today. The trouble with this series started in the 4th season when everything changed. K.I.T.T. loses his special coating that protects him from all damage and some really bad script writing from there really killed this show. The new super pursuit mode was pretty cool, but really that was the only cool thing about that fourth season. In 91 a sequel movie to the series, Knight Rider 2000 was aired. This movie killed off Knights long time friend and FLAG boss Devon Miles (Edward Mulhare). Knight was no loner a member of FLAG and K.I.T.T. is in pieces. He is later reassembled in Knights 57 Chevy. At the end K.I.T.T. was put into the Pontiac Banshee concept car that was the final design for the Firebird before it was discontinued. The plot was weak and the movie was not as great as it could have been. In 97 another series based on the showed aired with 22 episodes called Team Knight Rider. This show was set in the not so distant future and had no Hasselhoff at all. The show was also a flop. Finally in 2008 NBC came out with a new show that was not a reboot, but rather a continuation of the previous show. K.I.T.T. was now a Ford Mustang since Pontiac refused to bring back the Firebird for the series. I think that was insane since they brought back the Camero for Transformers, but alas I digress, Val Kilmer was brought in for the voice of the new K.I.T.T. and Justin Bruening was brought in to play Knights estranged son. This show started out with a completely different formula in its first half. There was no FLAG and everything was CIA. It did not go over well with the fans and NBC tried fixing it in the second half of the season. The show was getting better now that it was back to its roots, but NBC decided it had, had enough and let it go. It is a real shame because this show could have gone somewhere. I hope another attempt is made to revive this show in the future. Alas only time will tell and we shall see. So let us travel on to the next.

     Now up for your reading pleasure we have the CBS show the Equalizer. This series of greatness aired from 85 to 89 and starred Edward Woodward as Robert McCall a former government operative trying to atone for his past sins by offering his services free of charge to those in need. You contact him through a paper advertisement that states, "Odds against you? Need help? Call the Equalizer. 212 555-4200." This show as a whole was pretty cool. I have not seen any episodes in years and I wish some network would pick it back up on syndication. McCain's former spy ties often came into play in this series. He is a estranged father to his son Scott (William Zabka of Karate Kid fame). At first his son is bitter towards his father and his life, but as the series progresses he warms up to his father and often becomes involved in his cases. Robert Lansing of 12 O'clock High and Kung Fu the Legend Continues fame made many appearances as McCall's former agency boss only known as Control. Towards the end of the series Woodward had a heart attack and had to reduce his work load. So Harley Gage (James Jordan) and Richard Dyson (Robert Mitchum) were brought in as friends and former agents that work with McCall to help solve his cases. This year Denzel Washington will be releasing a movie in which he plays the charismatic Robert McCall. I am hoping this movie will be worthwhile and not a steaming pile of flying monkey poo. I like Denzel and love most of his movies. As such I am willing to give it a try since I love this show so much. Once I have seen it I will post an update on my feelings about this. I guess this is all I really have for this one so on to the next. 

     The final show I want to discuss is a little known show aired from September 16, 1993 to May 13, 1994 the great Michael Dudikoff series... Cobra. Dudikoff plays Robert "Scandal"Jackson Jr. an AWOL Navy Seal who did so because he refused to blow up an enemy command center because it housed noncombatants. While hiding in Alaska some assassins find him and shoot him. Believing he is dead they leave him to his fate. But Jackson's fate was not to die but rather join a elite private investigation organization who fakes his death and gives him a new face and identity. Dudikoff, known for his American Ninja movies does an awesome job with this series. It only lasts a year, but I really think that it could have really taken off if it was given half the chance. I really don't have much more to say about this show other then watch it for yourself and you decide. 

     Well that is it this month for the crime dramas we all love so well. next month I think I will do a review of RPG's, but then again I may not. I will leave it as a surprise... boo! So what do you think of crime dramas? Are there any past favorites of yours I did not mention. Do you have a favorite decade of crime dramas? Did Han really shoot first? I say heck yeah. There is no way Han didn't shoot first. Greedo was just a punk. Any who that is all the time I have this week and I will see you all from the shadows,

Friday, August 22, 2014

The continuing adventures of the cop show 80's edition 


     Welcome back folks to another Thursday with your old pal the Shadow. Yeah right, looks more like Friday. Sorry once again for the lateness of this, but my wife was in an accident Thursday on her way to work and so had to postpone the show. Fear not true believers, she is unhurt and only my Jeep has a boo boo. So without further ado we bring you back to your regularly scheduled program. What pray tell does the Shadow know today you ask? I know you did. I heard you with my mind. This one comes from the dark corners of the imagination. Apparently in recent history there was a poll taken among morticians nationwide. What were they polling you might ask? Why they were polling the the decomposition rate of the human body and as it turns out we are decomposing in some cases up to 3 days slower then the norm. This is due to the amount of preservatives we are consuming on a daily basis. What does this all mean folks? Well what this means is that in our future it is quite possible that we will turn into plastic, soap, or wax after death. Can you image what this means? What do we do with the bodies? Will the future see family wax museums, or will family members be kept in the home for those more sentimental minded folks. I can see it now. Oh no the power has gone out hey sweety can you light grandma so we can see to finish our game of checkers. How about if the medium of decomp happens to be soap. I mean what do you do cut off grandpa's hand as a soapy shower back scratcher. Yuck! My, my the future sure looks bright doesn't it? So now onto How I Geek @ with that famous pop sensations Greg and the Gang. This week we may not be having a show due to work obligations. If we do have one it will be on 80's movies. Greg defined those to me as any movie released between 1980-1989. Hmm, I am glad he is here to point out those little nuances to me... thanks buddy!

     So now let's continue this month of my favorite cops shows aired during my lifetime with the next decade, the 80's. First up for your eye hole viewing pleasure is that great dramedy CHiPs. CHiPs is often referred as a dramedy due to the fact that it was a cop drama with little to no violence and comedy thrown into each episode. This series ran on on NBC from September 15, 1977 to July 17, 1983 and lasted a whopping 139 episodes over six seasons. I know the show started in the 70's, but hey it ended in the 80's and that is good enough for me. I say it is a very nice transistion. The protagonists of this show are Officer Francis (Frank) Poncherello (Erik Estrada) and Officer Jonathan (Jon) Baker (Larry Wilcox). Highway patrolman generally don't travel in pairs, but the show got around this by saying that Ponch was in some sort of trouble and that he had to ride with a training officer Jon. By the end of the 1st season this was phased out as people got used to the two pairing up. Ponch was the wisecracking kinda trouble maker and Jon the straight laced officer. This buddy cop show was known for it's constant and large car pileups. There was never any real violence in this show, but man the action and comedy really made this program work. I loved it and watched it every chance that I could. Unfortunately Estrada was not easy to get along with and Wilcox not liking the producers favoritism with Estrada forced Wilcox leave the show. His leaving was a real detriment to the shows chemistry and it just died out in its final season with a fizzle. This seems to be what kills off most shows with the infighting and actors getting to big for their britches. So a great show comes in like a lion and goes out with a whimper. With it's passing ended the final gasps of life to the 70's cop dramas. So onto the next we merrily go.

     So what is next you might ask? Well you might and if you do I gotta have an answer. So what is next is that great Tom Selleck hit, Magnum P.I. Magnum ran on CBS from December 11, 1980 to May 1st 1988. This show was the creation of powerhouses Donald P. Bellisario and Glen A. Larson. These two guys are still going strong today in the TV world. The protagonist of this show is Thomas Magnum (Tom Selleck) a former Navy seal turned private eye. His main source of income is running security for fictional famed author Robin Masters and includes living in the guest house on the mansion grounds and access to the Ferrari. Of course this gives him the freedom to only work on the case he wants to work. One of the great aspects of this show was Magnum constantly narrating the story as it preceded forward. This gave the show a bit of a film noir feel to it. This show was definitely first rate in my humble opinion and was one I never missed if I could help it. There were many great costars too that helped draw this series together. First is the other caretaker of the Masters estate, Jonathan Quayle Higgins III (John Hillerman). He was a retired sergeant major of her majesties army and a bit of an author himself. He often patrolled the grounds of the estate with his two dobermans that he referred to as the lads. There was often friction between Higgins and Magnum, but the pair eventually became good friends with mutual respect for one another. Then there is Magnum's Vietnam buddies Orville Wilbur Richard (Rick) Wright (Larry Manetti) an exclusive club owner and the guy with the know and the fingers in the underworld. Then there was Theodore Calvin (T.C.) (Roger E Mosley). He is a copter pilot for his business Island Hoppers and Magnum often takes advantage of their friendship to get him to fly him about on cases. Season 7 of this show was supposed to end with Magnum's death, but the out-crying of the fans caused the network to add an 8th season in which Magnum survives. Alas though with all things the show came to an end and we were robbed of more Magnum awesomeness. I hope someday they reboot this show. I just hope that they put the right elements together to make the reboot as awesome as the original, if one is to ever come. So now let's go further and deeper down my rabbit hole and see if I can pull one out my hat.

     So up next for your satisfaction is another one of those great 80's cop shows (man there are a lot of them) that great, "Works for me detective" Hunter. Hunter ran on NBC from 84 to 91 for 7 seasons, 3 made for TV movies, and a very short lived revival series (5 episodes 3 aired in the US). This series was created by another TV powerhouse Frank Lupo and produced by the great Stephen J Cannell. This show is entirely the brain child of Lupo and is one of the very few shows that Cannell only produced and did not at least co-create. In its first season Hunter was a more violent series and this theme did not set well with the viewers. As such the show came pretty close if not making dead last in the ratings polls causing it to be almost canceled. For season 2 Cannell brought in his old friend and mentor Roy Huggins of Maverick and Rockford Files fame. His re-tuning of the show had an immediate effect and the show turned around. The shows protagonists were Sgt. Rick Hunter (Fred Dryer) and partner Dee Dee McCall (Stephanie Kramer). Hunter had that Dirty Harry feel to him. He is a tough no nonsense cop with a high moral compass. He does what it takes to get the job done, and done right, within the law. McCall and her chemistry with Hunter helped temper the show and Hunter's gruff personality. This show was pretty great and I watched it to every chance I get. I know I say that a lot, but it is true. Kramer left the series at the end of it's 6th season to pursue other aspects of her career. So first Darlanne Fluegel was brought in as officer Joanne Molenski, but because of creative differences of opinion she left the show. Her character was killed off by a female serial killer in "Fatal Obsession." After Molenski's death Lauren Lane was brought in to play Sgt. Chris Novak, a former love interest of Hunters. The whole changing of the guard as it were did not go over well with the fans and it finished 45th in the polls. An 8th season was planned but due to Fred Dreyer wanting more money, money issues as a whole, and creative issues the show was finally canceled. There were 3 made for TV movies aired in the following years after it's cancellation with the final one being the pilot for a revived series. All three did very well showing that Hunter was still just as awesome. The new series only aired 3 episodes (though they made 5 total) before NBC canceled it for financial reasons. It is a real shame, because this show was really great and deserves a good re-look. I for one would love to see it's return to TV. So any who onto the last review of the week.

     So what is my final pick for the week? Why it is that Michael Mann show of awesomeness Miami Vice. Miami Vice ran on NBC from 1984 to 1989 and was written by Anthony Yerkovich of Hill Street Blues fame. This show is about a team of vice cops that deal with drug trafficking and prostitution in the Metro-Dade Miami area of Florida. This great show was innovative for it's time integrating music and the diverse, yet vibrant culture of southern Florida. It is said they spent at least 10,000 bucks an episode for unique music from famous artists like Phil Collins and The Police, but believe me there are many more. With this hard hitting, cutting edge show of popularity, audiences were delighted far and wide. The main characters of focus were James (Sonny) Crockett (Don Johnson) and Ricardo (Rico) Tubbs. The show started with Tubbs coming to Florida to solve the murder of his brother and seek revenge. He ends up working with Sonny. they solve the case, Tubbs decides to stay in Florida, and the rest us history as they say. Doing research on the show I found it very interesting all the different folks considered for the role of Sonny Crockett. Nick Nolte, Jeff Bridges, Mickey Rourke, and Larry Wilcox were all considered for the part of Sonny and even Mark Harmon was up for the role when Johnson threatened to quite over a contract dispute. Man, all these guys are big named actors for their time, but I could not imagine anyone other then Johnson in the role. It would have been like if Christopher Walken had gotten the role of Han Solo in the Star Wars franchise. Now that I could not imagine either. He is a great actor but no Han Solo. What I can say? This show was well written and directed for it's time. It was cutting edge and integrated all the latest technologies like cell phones into its stories. I personally love it and that is that. In 2006 Michael Mann tried to revive this series in the form of a movie. I have to tell you Shadow fans this movie was way sub par. It is a shame to because of how awesome the series was and how far special effects have come since the 80's. I mean they had a lot of good material to work with and they flubbed it... blah. Maybe they may take another crack at this on the small screen and let us hope that they learned their lesson from the dismal failure of the movie. Alas though who knows. I mean it does seem like movie execs love the smell of flying monkey poo after all.

     Well Shadow fans that is all the time I have this week. I am already way late for this and need to get out to you folks. Instead of my usual questions I want to thank all those who participated in my contest. it was great meeting you all and I hope you had as much fun winning the prizes as I did giving them out. Congrats to Gary Smith, Tom Monroe, Amy Sanders, and Amber Lipton and thanks again for playing. Maybe I will do this again next year. So any who I hope you all enjoy cop show as much as I do. Do you have any favs I have not mentioned? Well till next week folks I will see you from the shadows.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Gen Con Contest Fourth and Final Day...

     Well this has been a fun weekend and I have had a blast. My final location will be once again Paizo #203 but this time at 3pm. I hope you all have had as much fun winning the prizes as I did giving them out. Maybe I will do this again next year. Happy Conning everyone.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Gen Con Contest Day #3

     Well here we are now to Saturday. I will be once again at Paizo Booth number 203 at 2pm again. This is a large booth and goes all the way to 403. I am having a blast and I hope you guys are too.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Gen Con Contest Day Two.

     Ok folks here we are going on to day two and prize number two. You will find me at the Paizo booth #203 at 2pm. I will be holding one of my business cards with the awesome page background of the blog on it, Find me answer the question correctly and win the prize of the day. Like I said before I can only afford to give out one prize a day. I hope you guys are enjoying this as much as I am and I will see you all tomorrow.

Cop shows that rocked that aren't Cop Rock

     Hello one and all and welcome to another exciting adventure of the Shadow knows. What does the Shadow know this day folks? I know that vacations rock and so does Gen Con. This will be my 19th year in attendance and there is just tons to see. For those that don't know, Gen Con is the largest North American gaming convention. Every game known to man can be found here and new games yet to be seen are prereleased there and then sent everywhere. If you have never attended Gen Con you should come sometime and check it out. There is so much to see and do there is no way that you can fit it all in in four days. The Gen Con contest is only on its first day and we have our first winner. Only 3 more days and 3 more prizes till the end. Are you excited? I know you are. Now onto and How I geek with the Scooby gang. This week I believe they are doing a tribute to Robin Williams (RIP). John and I will most likely not be there as we are of course both attending Gen Con. So drop by and check out Greg, Marv and Amy this week and John and I will be back next week.  

     So what is the topic of the day intrepid Shadow fans? Well as I pointed out last week the rest of the month will be dedicated to some of my favorite cops shows aired during my lifetime. First up for your reading pleasure is the great Starsky and Hutch. This show aired from April 30, 1975 to May 15, 1979 and started out as a 70 minute movie of the week on ABC. Created by William Blinn writer of Roots, Fame, and the TV movie Brian's Song and produced by Spelling-Goldberg productions. It seems like Aaron spelling was everywhere during my lifetime. The protagonists of this show were partners David Michael Starsky (Paul Michael Glaser) and Kenneth "Hutch" Hutchinson (David Soul). These buddy cops drove around in a 74-76 Ford Grand Torino, bright red with a white vector stripe down the sides (they used many cars during filming because the body style did not change in those years). Man this show was innovative and hard hitting for it's time. The show also had some pretty sweet script writing in its first two seasons. The duo had this great informant "Huggy Bear" played by Antonio Fargas. Huggy Bear owned a bar in which Starsky and Hutch would frequent for information and good times. Alas though, sometimes great actors get great big heads and can cause an awesome show to whiter and die. Paul Glaser was one such actor. For he is the reason that this great show whithered and died on the vine. By season 3 he had become disgruntled with the show saying it was to violent. He of course threatening to leave the show if he did not get his way. So after his diaper baby whiney fit he was given a raise, directing privileges, and creative license. The violence was toned down and in it's place was put more romance themed and buddy focused episodes. In season 4 Glaser again threatened to quit, but in the end changed his mind and finished out the season saying he would not do a season 5. Well he had nothing to worry about because of his bitching and the falling ratings as a result of his changes there was no 5th season even though one was planned. I mean what a whiny diaper baby. You are on one of the hottest shows on TV and you flake out like that. Who does he think he is Britney Spears for pity sake. That show could have lasted several more seasons if the formula had not been tampered with. Alas I say, sometimes Hollywood actors get all diva and turn gold into poo. I still watch this show every chance I get and it is now shown on the El Rey network. Now there is a network that I can't say enough good things about. It just rules. Robert Rodriguez really knows how to put together some good TV, but once again I digress. If you have not seen this killer series go out and find it. Watch for yourself and see if you don't like it. So then what is next?

     What is next you ask or was that me? I often get confused on these little inflections. So next up is Quincy M.E. another show that was ahead of its time. Quincy ran for 8 season running from October 3, 1976 to September 5, 1983 on NBC. This show was the brain child of Glen A Larson (another powerhouse from my era) and inspired by the novel, "Where Death Delights" by former FBI agent Marshall Houts. The character Quincy himself was also loosely based on coroner to the stars Thomas Noguchi. Quincy (played by Jack Klugman of Odd Couple fame) worked for the Los Angeles coroners office with his partner Sam Fujiyama (played by Robert Ito). Where all crime shows at the time were showing the solving of a crime with foot work and good old investigative prowess, this show was solving crimes with science. This was a formula that would not be seen again until the 2000s. That is right, this show from the 70's inspired the likes of shows like CSI, Crossing Jordan, and NCIS. I mean just how cool is that? A show 30 years old inspired the great crime shows of the here and now. It just goes to show how really great this series really was. To describe Quincy one would say he was a morally driven man who would fight tirelessly to solve his cases. In his past he was married once. She, his first wife died of cancer before the series began story wise. In the final seasons he marries again and sells his trademark house boat. I would guess as a way to show his growing up and settling down as it were. I have to say that Jack Klugman played this part so perfectly and I could not see anyone else in this role. The scripts and acting are what you would call first rate in this fine show and every episode is like mining gold. They have this on Netflix and I watch it with my kids every chance they let me. I mean what can I say. This show was really great (I know I keep saying that,  but it was) and I have fond memories of watching it with my grandparents. They loved crime dramas and we would watch them together all the time. I often think about how much they would enjoy the new crime dramas this show inspired today, but alas once again I digress. So let's see what I have for you all next. 

     What I have next for you is another great crime drama also shown on Netflix, This is another great series I can't get enough of. This is to another show I watched with my grandparents. That show is of course the James Garner classic the Rockford Files. Airing on NBC from September 14, 1974 to January 10, 1980. The pilot episode was aired as a 90 minute made for TV movie that was such a hit it got its own series. Roy Huggins of Maverick fame wanted to make a modern day Maverick TV series with a P.I. twist. Huggins approached Stephen J Cannell (again another powerhouse of my era) to help him co produce this show. From this co mingling of minds we got Jim Rockford P.I. an ex con who was wrongfully convicted and pardoned by the governor of California. Rockford's character is a lot like Bret Maverick's in that he does not look for trouble and prefers to use his words rather than bullits to get out of it. He has a gun but never uses it alwasy saying he doesn't have a permit. Rockford is always down on his luck and has a hard time making ends meet. He is very careful about the cases he takes insisting on only taking cold cases. He does this so that he can avoid any police entanglements. At the end of the day Jim Rockford is morally driven and does what he can when he can to do what is right. Though he often regrets it in the end. I have to say I love the mans gold Firebird as well. What can I say I am a sucker for a Firebird and have owned two in my lifetime. Another cool aspect was the answering machine opening to the show. Each week the series would open with a bank, bill collector, or some former client trying to get out of paying the man. It became the shows kind catch phrase as it were and this painted the writers in a corner. Could you imagine trying to write jokes continuously for eight seasons. They became so desperate that they took advice from anybody who would give it, from the janitor to the guy delivering their food on set. This show was just so greatly done and James Garner was just as perfect in this role as he was in the title role of Maverick. It is also of note that the J-turn is named after James Garner for the turn he used to escape pursuing vehicles on the show. This show did inspire later detective dramas like Magnum P.I. and in fact there was a planned Magnum episode in which Rockford would have appeared. Alas though it was not meant to be. This was due to the fact that Garner was in the middle of a lawsuit with Universal Pictures (owners of both Magnum and Rockford properties) and stated he would never step foot on another Universal lot as long as he lived. Fortunately things with Universal were settled because we got 8 made for TV Rockford movies in the 90's. Somehow I missed these and I am now in the process of trying to find them.Tom Selleck did appear a couple times on the show as a P.I. named Lance White. White was the kind of P.I. that was rich, famous, and bit of a ladies man. All the things Rockford was not. The Lance White character is actually mentioned a few times in the Magnum P.I. series, which is just another way that the two shows connect. The show finally ended in 1980 mid season due to health issues on Garners part and money issues on NBCs part. It is also of note that NBC has been trying to revive this show for the last 4 or 5 years. So who knows we may have a Rockford reboot in our future. I just hope that the reason for this delay is due to the fact that they want quality and not flying monkey crap. RIP James Garner.

     Speaking of shows of better quality we have for your final reading pleasure the great lollipop sucking man himself Kojak. Kojak ran on CBS from October 24, 1973 to March 18, 1978 with a two TV special run during the 1980s. This series was the baby child of Abby Mann (no relation to Michael Mann of Miami Vice fame). Mann was disillusioned by the treatment of different ethnic groups during the 60's and 70's and so created a pilot movie loosely based on the case that brought about Miranda rights, "The Marcus-Nelson Murders." Kojak himself is a composite character of the different people who work on that original case, "the Wylie-Hoffert murder case." Kojak (played by Telly Savalas) is known for his trademark tootsie pop. A little known fact about this is in the first half of the first season of the show he smoked and not used lollies. Due to the surgeon generals warnings on smoking and Savalas wanting to reduce his own habit he switched to tootsie pops mid season in the episode, "Dark Sunday." In the episode he goes to light a smoke while questioning a suspect, thinks better of it and plops the sucker in his mouth. Let's just say after that history was born. Of this fact Savalas once said he was unable to quit smoking and he ended up getting a couple of cavities from the lollies. Kojak the man was a no nonsense hard hitting detective who moved through the ranks as the show progressed finally making Chief Inspector of the major crimes division in the TV movies. Though he was rough and tough he truly cared about the cases he worked on and went to great lengths to make sure the cases were closed at the end of the day. One of Kojak's inspectors, Sgt. Heathcliff "Fatso" Stavros was played by Savalas' own brother Geroge Savalas. Heck if I had my own show I'd give my family a break too. USA Network attempted to revive this show back in 2005 with Ving Rhames in the title role, but it did not pan out. In truth I can see why. I love Ving Rhames as an actor, but I just don't see him as Kojak. He was awesome in the Mission Impossible movies, but Kojak he is not. In truth I don't really picture anyone else in that title role either. I guess some roles you just have to wait till the right person comes along to fill it and we just don't have that person as of yet in Hollywood. Any who the long and the short of it is I loved this show growing up. Unfortunately they are not showing it anywhere and Netflix took it off quite some time ago. I would be introducing my kids to this show of awesomeness if I could, but I cn't for now so I wont.

     Well Shadow fans that is all the time I have this week for the show. So tell me what you think. Did you watch any of these shows in prime time or syndication? What were your favorite 70's TV cop shows. Do you think we will ever see any of the ones I mention given the  reboot treatment and breathed back to life? If they do come back can the networks do them justice? Does Dudley really do right? Can't he ever get it wrong? I mean come on now nobody is perfect and he seems rather implausible to me. I don't care if he is  a mountie or no by gumbo. Though he is just a cartoon character and they can do anything. Well that is all I got for now. So I will see you next time from the Shadows... who loves ya baby?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Gen Con Contest Day One

     OK I hope you're all excited cuz here is my first time and location. You will find me at Flying Frog #933 at 4pm Eastern time. 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Look at the size of those Dragonballs!

     Hello Shadow fans and welcome to another crazy Thursday with your old pal the Shadow and the very strange things he knows. What does the Shadow know this day true believers? Well this fun fact comes from the oral thermometer I bought for my kids the other day. Apparently you are not to use this device orally after it has been used rectally... WTF! Really, people need to be told this? They make these labels because someone, somewhere actually did this. What was their thought of the day? Man I think I might have a fever so I will take my temperature rectally. Hmm I seem to not have a fever, but I have always wondered what my poop tastes like... ugh!!! I really have no response to what could cause an individual to just do that. My goodness doesn't life just bring before us the darnedest things? As a reminder don't forget about my Gen Con contest. It should be a fun time and I am looking forward to meeting some of you who enjoy my insane ramblings. So now onto How I Geek with those pop sensations Greg and the Gang. I have good news we are back in black and even better. All technical difficulties have been resolved and a show should be posted this Sunday. The topic for your merry amusement this Sunday will be our top five favorite classic video games. Will it be Pong VS Donkey Kong? Drop by and find out. Greg is popping for the soda and pizza.

     So now onto the topic of the week and what pray tell is it you ask, I know someone did. Well I was going to do a solid month of my favorite cops shows. Instead I decided since I took my old pal and life long friend Greg to the new DBZ movie for his birthday I would cover Dragonball. The rest of the month will be the cops shows, so get ready to be dazzled with them then. So without further ado I present for your reading pleasure Dragonball. Dragonball was the brilliant baby child of Akira Toriyama and was published in the pages of Shonen Jump from 84-95 with 519 individual chapters published. The story follows the exploits of a kid named Goku, the adventures he has from youth to adulthood, and the villains/friends he meets along the way. As a manga it was titled Dragonball from beginning to end, but as a animated series it was broken down into two parts. The first part is simply titled Dragonball and the second Dragonball Z. This is bar none one of the greatest anime serials of all time and has definitely got the fan base to back that statement up. This one manga spawned three TV series, 3 TV movie specials,  18 animated movies, and 3 live action movies. This series itself inspired the creators of Bleach, Naruto, and One Piece in the making of their own masterpieces. This and Robotech were my introductions into the awesome world that is Japanese anime. I have never looked back since. So to follow I will discuss this awesome manga/anime the best I can in the time allotted. So let us just dive in shall we.

     Running from 89 to 96 in Japan Dragonball captured the hearts and minds of the people. The story begins with young Goku meeting a teenage Bulma and together begin a common quest to find and gather all seven of the dragonballs. When all seven dragonballs are brought together, and the secret phrase is said, the mighty dragon Shenlong will appear and grant the summoner a single wish. Where I can get some dragonballs eh? Along the way they meet Yamcha the ladies man, desert bandit. He later becomes an ally and close friend. Next the duo come upon the Ox King and Goku unwittingly agrees the marry his daughter Chi Chi. After Chi Chi the pair crosses paths with the wicked Emperor Pilaf who seeks the dragonballs for world domination. After defeating Pilaf due to Oolong (a shape shifting pig folks) making a wish faster then Pilaf could. What Shadow fans does he wish for, but a pair of ladies panties. Can we all say creeper, I know we can. Goku then seeks out Kame the turtle sage for training and it is during this time he meets his best friend Krillin. With his training complete Goku goes to compete in the world tournament. Then our intrepid hero fights and destroys the Red Ribbon Army single handily. This is something that will come back on him in the later years. After thwarting the Red Ribbon Army Goku goes in search of the 4 star dragonball given to him by his adopted grandfather Gohan and seeks out Kame's sister Baba the witch for her help. Goku defeats her warriors and is granted her help. Along the way another tournament is fought and some bad guys seek their revenge on Goku there (this is a recurring theme, Goku tends to not only convert many enemies to good guys, but make many more enemies obsessed with defeating him). In the mix King Piccolo is released from his centuries prison and let loose upon the world. Goku defeats him, but not before King Piccolo spawns his replacement Piccolo Jr. That pretty much sums up most of the first series. Of course there are other friends that he meets along the way like Yajirobe, Pu'ar, Chaozu, and Tien. Some of which start out as enemies, but become the closets of Goku's friends. Let us not forget the whole monkey tail thing in which the light of the full moon turns Goku into a giant crazed ape beast. Fortunately Goku's tail is removed and that stopped the transformations. What can I say? This was really a well put together show and I salute Toriyama on his genius. This though is only half the story, for what we get in the second half is even better then the first I tell you.

     Part of that 89-96 run is the second half of the story of Goku unfolding in the tale called Dragonball Z. In this part of the story Goku is grown up, married to Chi Chi, and has a son Gohan. A strangely familiar man comes to Earth and announces that he is Goku's brother Raditz and that Goku's name is actually Kakarrot. He reveals that they are part of a warrior alien race that is all but extinct. Goku was sent to Earth as a baby to conquer the planet and bring it under their rule. Raditz is confused as to why this had not been done. It is revealed that when Goku's adopted grandfather had found him as a baby Goku was wild and unruly. One day while they were out an accident happen in which Goku hit his head and all that negativity went away. He was transformed into a kind and gentle spirit from that day forward. Goku, Gohan, and Piccolo battle Raditz costing Goku his life. With his dying breath Raditz announces that two more even more powerful Saiyans are on the way and they will conquer the Earth. Goku trains in the other world under the tutelage of the North Kai. Piccolo trains Gohan and Bulma goes in search of the dragonballs to bring back to life Goku. Well long story short to late. Vegeta comes and is barely defeated by the Z-Warriors as they are coined. Afterward Krillin, Bulma, and Gohan go to the planet Namek (the birthplace of the dragonballs) to revive all who were lost during the battle with Vegeta. Where the gang meet Freeza and his Ginyu Force. Goku almost loses his life battling Freeza, having to turn into a legendary super saiyan to do so. After that the Red Ribbon Army returns for revenge in the form of androids. The Z gang are warned of this by the future son of Vegeta and Bulma Trunks. The warriors train hard to defeat the androids only to be bashed by the ultimate android Cell. Goku again loses his life trying to defeat cell and it is Gohan in the end who finally does away with him. Goku trains again in the other world and fights in a tournament there. On Earth Gohan grows up and a new son Goten is born to Goku and Chi Chi. A new evil in the form of Majin Buu is awakened and Goku is given life again to fight this evil. Goku achieves his ultimate form and finally defeats the final evil version of Buu with a spirit bomb. In that final act Goku wishes that Buu would be reborn as a good being. The final chapter of this show has Goku fighting and then training the reborn buu (Uub, I am not sure, maybe he is not the reborn Buu). This second half of the series is awesome beyond words. The fight scenes just got better and better as did the villains. If you have not seen this series what are you waiting for go see it. If you are an anime fan, or a fan of old kung fu movies you have to watch this series. So onto the next.

     So after Dragonball ended Toei Animation studios (responsible for all the DB animated serials) decided to move forward with a continuation story of the Dragonball time line. This new version, GT had little to no input from Toriyama and this is one of the reasons this show sucked so bad. The only thing good about GT was that the animation was stepped up a notch. Running from 96-97 and only lasting for 64 episodes compared to the over 200 episodes of the original Dragonball. I think that speaks for itself to the lacking popularity of this show. Goku is turned into a kid again by Emperor Pilaf from a wish made from a set of darkstar dragonballs that really should not even exist. This is the story line that starts the series. the villains really sucked, the fight scenes were lackluster at best, and the overall plot was well weaker then Sanjaya Malakar (of American Idol infamy) as a pop artist. I compare this horridness of animation to the Transformers Beast Wars debacle.. ugh. I try to find some redeeming qualities about this series but alas I can really find none and that is quite sad. I believe that if this was a true and pure Toriyama created series we would not have had to endure the flying monkey crap that this series was. I was playing the Score's DBZ collectible card game and GT even ruined that. They switched formats when they switched from Z to GT and it ruined the whole game. It just fizzled and died after that... ugh!!! It would seem that GT has done nothing for the franchise but leave a horrible taste in every ones mouth. There is hope though true believers because Toriyama has released a new movie and there is talk of another one coming. Could this lead to the return of the original series? I truly hope so.

     So movies did I say? Yes I know I did just up there in the last couple of sentences. There have been 18 animated movies, 3 made for TV animated movies, and 3 live action movies. The first three of the eighteen are connected to the Dragonball half of the series and remaining 15 on the Z side of things. Movie four (Lord Slug) has the best soundtrack (IMHO). I will not go in great detail here as I think you should give them a watch and I will not give out spoilers here. Each one of these animated movies (including the 3 made for TV ones) are all by that mad genius Toriyama. To the best of my knowledge there have been no GT movies (though I reserve the right to back peddle at any time) and for that I am pleased as punch as they say. There are lots of great villains from Freeza's brother cooler to the destructive Broly a Saiyan who is bent on well, destruction. Brilliant fights scenes and story twists these movies are what we come to expect from Toriyama's work. They have all been great, but I want to talk about the last movie Battle of Gods. Toriyama hits this one out of the park again. All the elements are there to make this one of the greatest Z movies in the history of ever. The fight scenes were sweet as were the scenes in which Vegeta had to calm down the situation (you just gotta see it to believe it right Greg). There are plenty of surprises in this movie as well and I have to say if you can still see it in your area then go quickly, run do not walk and go see it. If you are a Dragonball fan you shouldn't be disappointed. The way they put this movie together makes me wonder if there is going to be another DBZ series in our future by Toriyama himself. That would truly kick butt if that is the case. We need more DBZ in our daily lives. I love to start the day with at least a full cup of DBZ in the morning, don't you? I will end by saying that the live action movie released by Fox was just OK. It did not do a great job of following the original story. The fight scenes in this movie were decent, but overall I would rate it about a 2 stars out of 5. If you want to see it I suggest either waiting for it on TV or rent it. I do not suggest buying it as you may feel you have wasted your money. The other 2 live action films have not been released in the US to the best of my knowledge and if they have I have never seen them. I do know that they are not Toriyama creations and so could very well be a mixed bag of nuts indeed. 

     Well folks that is all the time we have this week for the Shadow Knows. Tune in next week where we will be using DVD copies of GT for skeet shooting practice. So Shadow fans what is your opinion this week? Do you have a favorite Z character? Goku fan here and the wife likes Gohan. Do you have any favorite villains from the show? Did you like GT or would you rather watch it fall into a dark hole as well. Do you think there will be another DBZ series? Does anybody know a good vet? One of my poor flying monkeys got his finger caught in a GT DVD and it's turning purple. Man it is hard to find good flying monkeys these days. Well that is it for me today folks and I will see you from the shadows.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Shadow's Gen Con contest

     Hello true believers and welcome to the Shadow Knows. I wish to announce today my first contest. If all goes well I may do it again. So Shadow fans here's the skinny. Starting the first day of the con I will post a location and time. First person to find me must answer a trivia question based on my posts. That's right kiddies I have already given you the answers you just have to bone up on them. This is first come first serve. I will be awarding only one prize a day (hey I am not made of money). So Shadow fans it's just that simple. If you are going to Gen Con this year study my blog posts, watch for where and when I'll be, find me (that is the hardest bit), answer a trivia question, and win a prize. What could be simpler I ask you?  So run and tell everyone, your friends, your family, your dog, maybe even a passing bird and I will see you true believers at the con and good luck.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Just how friendly are the Super Friends? 

     Hello one and all and welcome back to another heart pumping episode of the Shadow Knows. So sit back grab some soda and popcorn and enjoy the show. So what pray tell does the Shadow know on this day faithful readers? I know you should never use a microwave to dry your pets. I know, I know you guys are thinking, "But Shadow it would be so much faster." I know it may seem like it is faster, but in reality there are these horrible bursts of microwave energy and before you know it your pet goes poof and blows up. I mean haven't you ever seen Gremlins? That smell would last forever and what a mess to clean up I tell you what. What? I just told you what. So any who now you know and knowing is half the battle. So now on to How I geek on with Greg and the gang. Well what I have to report this week Shadow fans is that How I Geek is experiencing technical difficulties and may not be online again for at minimum 30 days. Fear not true believers, for I the Shadow will keep you all posted on it's return and keep you at least slightly entertained with my jovial and juvenile antics. I thank you for your support. 

     So now on to the topic at hand my eager little beavers. To end this month of cartoons turned movies I wracked the caverns my mind and opened every door in the dungeon within. I have searched tirelessly for you my true believers to bring you this topic, battling many hobgoblins I might add. I know the suspense is riveting isn't it (of course the title and picture kinda give it away)? Any who the topic of today is that groovy D.C. Comic justice League. Justice League got it's start in 1960 in the pages of The Brave and the Bold comic series. In the 1950's DC had reintroduced and reinvented some of it's golden age characters and so editor Julius Schwartz asked writer Gardner Fox to reintroduce the Justice Society of America, with what M. Night Shyamalan would call a twist. Being inspired by major league baseball and its two leagues Schwartz decided to name this new group the Justice League of America. The original all star cast for this book was Superman, Batman, Aquaman, Flash, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, and Wonder Woman. Their appearances were a immediate success and by the end of 1960 they had a title all of their own. This initial run would last for 261 issues, ending in 1987 (Crisis on Infinite Earth remember Greg) and inspired the creation of the Fantastic Four from Marvel Comics. Justice League would change it's roster several times over the course of it's decades run and has had a few reboots until it's current incarnation run in DC's new 52 comic line. For all it's popularity J.L. has never had any live action movies or TV serials over the years, but has had successful runs as animated cartoons and movies. Soon, we are getting a new live action movie to be released in theaters in the next couple of years (fingers crossed). So now let us dive down deep with Aquaman into the legend that is Justice League.

     In the 60's Justice League got it's animated start on the Superman/Aquaman hour of Adventure (67-68) in three animated shorts. It seems strange that with all the other shorts and characters shown on this show that the JLA would only get 3 shorts. In my humble opinion it just goes to show that DC only put stock in it's big names and could not be bothered with the JLU as a whole. I think that Aquaman is the most underrated character in the DCU these days, but I never really saw him as a stand alone kind of character. So I cannot fathom why they would have done solo episodes back to back with Superman as an animated hour. Alas I digress, these shows all of them (even Aquaman) were decent for the time period they come from. I absolutely loved the JLA episodes though. They were fun to watch even though they came a bit before my time. Now although the Justice League did not get much coverage in it's early years during its Filmation series run, that series did inspire a new series by Hanna-Barbera. So as it were in 1973 we got from the creators of Yogi Bear and Scooby Doo the Super Friends. This show ran from 1973-86. Now here is the interesting thing each version of the Super Friends only ran a season or two before it was canceled. Yet this show ran for 109 episodes over the course of 13 years. Every time a show went down Hanna-Barbera would just rework it and put it out a little different. I can't say I have ever heard of this happening with any other program on television. I mean come on, when a show dies you don't see it reworked and come back out a year later fresh as a daisy. Wouldn't it have been great if this happened to Firefly? Man that would have been sweet, but alas that sort of thing just doesn't usually happen. Now as far as my review of this show Challenge of the Super Friends was my favorite. The Legion of Doom kicked butt, they had a great JLA lineup and the stories were out of this world. The other variations were pretty cool too and so I say unto you young one go and find yourself a copy and watch em. They will be fun, at least I hope so. I know they are for me at any rate. It was sad when this series ended and we had a long wait before the JLA found its way back to us on the TV. From 2001-2006 Cartoon Network gave us Justice League and Justice League Unlimited. This show was great and I can't say enough good things about it. Sadly when it ended it ended an era of DC television that started with Batman the Animated series back in 1992. Even though the histories were a little different, (like John Stewart being Green Lantern and Wally West being the Flash) they gave us great stories and I loved watching this show every chance I could get. This is another series that I suggest that you watch if you get the chance. If you don't like it I will still blame my parents. Alas the closest thing to Justice League we get after this show is Young Justice. This to was a great show from Cartoon Network that followed the Teen Titans, but alas like a lot of good shows that this network has had it never got a chance and they killed it. I guess they like shows that kill brain cells rather then quality television over at CN blah!!! Fear not though because we have gotten many great animated, straight to DVD releases that kick butt.

     Yes you heard it right there have been many great DVD releases for the JLA. First off we have New Frontier released in 2008. It takes place from 53-60 and is a origin story of sorts for the JLA. An entity has it's sights set on destroying the Earth and puts it's plans in motion to see it done. The individual members of the JLA come together to defeat said entity. This is a really great movie and definitely gets my full recommendation. Next up is Justice League: Crisis on two Earths from 2010. This movie has a good guy version of Lex Luther seeking the help of the JLA to stop evil versions of themselves in an alternate universe. This movie was freaking awesome and the ending between Owlman and Batman is just... well go watch it cuz you wont be disappointed. I personally loved this movie and well highly recommend it. The next one up is Justice League: Doom. In this story Vandal Savage steals Batman's plans to stop the Justice League (in case of emergency) as a distraction to take over the world. again I can't say enough good things about this movie. It is so well done and just plain awesome. So again I say watch it. The next JLA movie released would be Justice League: Flashpoint Paradox. In this movie the Flash travels back in time to alter a single event and this event changes all of history in a very serious way. Again this in another great DCU, JLA movie and again I recommend it. So finally the last released movie is Justice League: War. This story retells the new 52 Justice League origin story told in the first issues of the new series. Having both read the books and watched the movie what can I say, I loved it and I thought it was awesome. It seems like DC has really been putting out quality movies from their animation department. I don't just mean JLA movies, but also their other titles as well. Coming in the next year we will get two more JLA movies Justice League: Throne of Atlantis and Justice League: Gods and Monsters. Now I say given the quality of movies DC has been putting out I am excited about these movies and can't wait till they come out. My kids are big fans of these movies too and we love to watch them together as part of our bonding time. My kids rule! Finally on this thread of JLA movies with the release of Batman/Superman next year DC will have most of the groundwork set up for a live action JLA movie. To be honest I have reservations about this. It seems that even though DC's animation department is on their game their motion picture department is being run by flying monkeys. You know the ones that throw their poo at the wall to see what sticks and the quality of their movies smells just as bad... blech. I really hope that DC get's their poo together, because I really want to see an awesome JLA movie, but we will just have to wait and see. What I do believe is that the Batman/Superman movie will give us an idea on the quality of JLA movie we will get.

     So this brings me to the final point that I want to make on this lovely evening. It seems to me that the only successes that DC has had have either been Batman or Superman, although there have been a couple stinkers with them as well. The point being is that it seems like they can't ever get it right when it comes to their movie department. I mean Green Lantern wasn't as bad as a lot of people made it out to be. On the other hand Superman returns was really not the greatest Superman movie and tied with Superman IV in stinktatude. The first two Batman movies from the 90's were great, but the last two really need to fall into a bottomless chasm to be lost forever. Now the Christian Bale trilogy were not bad, but the reality is that these stories were not Batman. I don't really know any other way to put it then that. I watched them and I think these seem like great movies, but I just see things unfolding in the movie that say to me this is just not the Batman of the comics. So any who, DC has done alright in the past when it has come to live action TV shows with the 66 Batman for starters. Although it targeted kids it was a fun show to watch. In the late 70's and early 80's we had the Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman. This show changed up a bit over the seasons, but I thought was pretty great when I was a kid. Next up there have been several incarnations of Superman from the movie reel days of the war era (Batman was there too) to the 1950's Superman series a couple Superboy series, Lois and Clark, leading finally to Smallville. All of these variations of Superman have had their good points and bad. I think over-all they have been good and I have really liked them all in truth. Also in the mix we had a Flash series that was far to short lived IMHO. I say that it was another case of a network not giving a show a chance. Now finally in recent history we have the on going Arrow series, a new Flash series and Gotham before there was Batman, but after the Wayne's death series. Arrow is not to bad and I have liked what I have seen, but Ollie in this series does not act like the Ollie in the books. It seems like they are building him up to this Ollie though. So we shall see. I am excited about this new Flash series, although they seem to be portraying Barry Allen more like Wally West IMHO, but again we shall see. The final newbie to come this next season is of course Gotham. This is another series that I am looking forward to. I think there are a lot of great ways they can take this show, but again it also falls under the wait and see how it actually is before I make my final assessment as it were. 

     So that is it this week Shadow fans. So tell me what you think. Isn't Mark Hamill really the only true voice of the Joker? Who are your favorite JLU characters? What are your thoughts on the animation department? Were there any animated movies you didn't like? What about the live action movie, does this thing even have a chance out of the gate? Will Superman and the Flash ever figure out who is faster? I mean what have they done like five races and all end in a tie. I tell ya something is stinky here, or maybe that was just Superman Returns... peeyou. Well folks till next time I will see you from the shadows.