Thursday, July 24, 2014

Is the master of the universe really a He Man, I thought that He Man was a club.

     Hello Shadow fans and welcome back to the next installment of the Shadow Knows. What pray tell does the Shadow know this day you ask. I know you did, it is your favorite part of the show after all. What I know today Shadow fans is that the stomach flu is not good for you. Sure you don't eat and you can lose some weight, but believe you me when I say those benefits do no outweigh the negatives. I should know I am just getting over this accursed flu. My kids love me so much that they gave it to me as a gift. I tell you I feel so special. So here I am still ill and passing my thoughts onto you my loyal fans. That is dedication to the craft I tell you. So any who onto How I geek on with Greg and the gang. This week I believe we are doing a James Garner dedication, but wont swear by it. I was hosting my son's first birthday party and could not be there for our last podcast. If I find out before Sunday (which would be nice so I can, oh  I don't know, prepare) I will post the topic as an update to this post. So now onto the show.

     So today's topic of discussion shall be that master of the universe  (by the power of Greyskull) He Man. He Man got his start as a concept for Mattel made by Roger Sweet. Back in 1976 both Mattel and Mego were offered a chance to produce Star wars toys. Mego basically did not see a profit in it and Mattel did not want to pay the 750,000 dollar licensing fee. Of course as we all know that was a colossal blunder on both their part. I mean that was like Jordan deciding to play baseball kinda mistake... eeesh. Once Mattel realized it's mistake it sought it's own original successful toy line. That is where Sweet comes in. In 1980 he glued a Big Jim figure into an action pose and added clay to buff out the body. He then made a mold of his creation and designed three different unique He Man prototypes. He made one as a barbarian, one as a soldier, and one as a spaceman. Sweet took them before the higher ups billing him as man for any situation... the He Man. The powers that be decided upon the barbarian and the rest is history. Now there is a belief that He Man is just a blatant ripoff of Conan. It is true that Mattel was approached by Universal Pictures to make a toy line for the upcoming Conan the Barbarian movie and a licensing agreement was struck. The powers that be saw more potential in it's He Man line and not wanting issues with Universal they dropped the license and returned all property relevant to the line. Of course once He Man became a huge success Universal cried foul and opened a lawsuit. Fortunately for us Mattel won the suit and all was well once again in Mudville as it were. The He Man story has evolved quite a bit over the years starting with the mini comics that came with the figures and ending with the movie slated for release sometime in 2015. To follow we will discuss these different aspects of the series. So let's hop in the way back machine with Mr. Peabody and Sherm and be on our way.

     In 1981 Mattel first released it's He Man and the Masters of the Universe toy line. Within each toy was a little comic book that told the story of He Man the defender of The Planet Eternia. In these early stories Eternia is recovering from a great war. The secrets of technology has been lost to all but a few and vile villains have risen up to conquer the shattered world. In this version there is no Prince Adam. Both Skeletor and He Man each hold a half of the sword of power. When the two swords are put together they form the true power sword and the key to Castle Greyskull. I still own a number of these books and I always thought that the stories were pretty cool. In 1982 DC comics picked up the license to do a He Man mini series. It was in this series that we get the ideas that forged the cartoon that would come later. Prince Adam is introduced as the chosen one by the Sorceress. King Randor and Queen Marlena as well as their kingdom of Eternia are also introduced. The He Man story arc was first seen in the DC continuity through the pages of DC comics presents number 47 in which Superman crosses dimensions and ends up on Eternia. This series had a limited run and I never got the opportunity to read them. Every one I know who has read them liked them. I for one would love to find these back issues sometime. Marvel comics picked up the license for a short time during its Star Comics run. The Star comic line was designed specifically for younger audiences and let's face it the Star line was not Marvel's finest work as I recall. So it is little to no wonder that Masters of the Universe fizzled under their flag. A couple of years ago Masters of the Universe did a retro throw back toy line much like Transformers and G.I. Joe toys lines from Hasbro. Dark Horse comics was tapped to put the new mini comics in with the figures. I have never seen any of them and can't really report on how good they are. Knowing Dark Horse like I do I am willing to bet they are pretty well done. So if I ever come across any I am willing to give em a read. Finally DC Comics picked back up the license in 2012. It is a heart warming tale in which Skeletor has erased all the memories of the good guys and hidden the sword of power in an attempt to gain control of Castle Greyskull's secrets. I will not go into spoilers here, and in truth I have only read reviews and a spoiler page on it. From what I have gleamed from it all is that I like what I have heard and want to check it out. I say so should you young padawan, it is your destiny. If you don't like I still blame bad parenting on my parents behalf and you can throw tomatoes at them. So from here we will travel to the animated series world.

     In the year 1983 Mattel made a deal with Filmation Studios to release a He Man animated series. The show ran from 83-85 and aired 130 episodes. I loved this show and could not get enough of it when I was a kid. It was one of those shows that tapped a kids imagination and made you use it for good. My good friend Greg of How I Geek fame was not a fan of the animation as I recall and not a big fan of Filmation animation as a whole. He did like the show though. I to was not a huge fan of their animation style, but they were famous for these dramatic kind of poses and movement. They made their characters seem larger then life that is for sure. OK, maybe I liked it more than I thought. He Man had one spin off series titled She Ra Princess of Power. This show was about He Man's twin sister stolen by Skeletor's former commander Hordak when she was a baby. She now leads a rebellion against him and the evil Horde on the planet of Etheria. This show was marketed to target the girl audiences and ran only from 85-86 lasting 93 episodes. He Man appears in several episodes of this series run. I always thought that was cool since He Man was canceled in the same year She Ra appeared. Yeah the show targeted girls, but I wanted to catch some He Man dang nabit. So I really did not care if it targeted girls or not. So any who we do not see a return of He Man again until 1990. This show carried He Man/Adam and Skeletor into the future where they battle each other once again. From the bottom of my heart I must tell you this show sucked flying monkey poo and stank just as bad. I can't decide which is worse, the bad story telling, or the horrible animation. It was meant to be a continuation of the original story arc, but falls so short that is lands on its face. If you are looking for a show to watch that will make you want to gouge your eyes out or bang your head repeatedly into the wall, well look no further then The New Adventures of He Man... ugh! Mercifully the show only ran for one year and 65 episodes... kaput! Finally in 2002 He Man would get a reboot. This show only lasted 2 seasons and had a 39 episode run. In this series Prince Adam is a teenager when the sorceress reveals he is the chosen one. In the original series there was not a lot of difference between how He Man and Prince Adam appeared (much like Clark Kent and Superman) so in this version He Man is made to look way different then Adam. This show was ok IMHO. I mean the animation had clearly improved, but there was just something about the series that I just could not connect with. All I can say is that it was just OK. I think at some point I will watch it again, but then again who knows. Well I  guess that is about all I can say about that so on to the next.

     So now we go from the small screen to the big screen like the changing of the seasons. In 1987 Cannon Films gave us Masters of the Universe starring Dolph Lundgren. The main plot of this movie of course is He Man is trying to free Eternia from the evil of Skeletor. During the battle He Man, Man At Arms, Teela, and a locksmith named Gwildor are accidentally transported to Earth and are aided by the help of friends they make there. The final fight scene between Skeletor and He Man is pretty cool, but there were so many things they could have done to make this movie much better. I mean for one thing there was no Prince Adam or Battle Cat/Cringer. They did not follow the main story plots set from the comics and animated series. I dunno, it was not my most favorite movie in the world, but it wasn't anywhere near as bad as The New Adventures of He Man. Go I say unto you and watch it for yourself and see if you like it. Sometime in 2015 a new He Man movie is coming our way starring Channing Tatum (eye candy for the ladies) as Prince Adam/He man. According to what I have read on it Adams twin sister Adora will be in this movie as well. Basically King Randor is overthrown by his trusted adviser Skeletor. I mean really who trusts a guy with a skull for a face, but alas I digress. Adam. Adora, Duncan (Man At Arms for those who do not know), and Teela are exiled to the wastelands. It is during this journey that they encounter Castle Greyskull, the Sorceress, and Adam's destiny. It sounds to me that they may be on the right track with this movie, but one never knows. I have yet to see a trailer for this movie, but I suspect they will be coming out fairly soon. Still I am going with the wait and see approach. I am excited that something new is finally coming out, but always leery of the monstrosity that Hollywood could turn this into, alas we shall see.

     Well Shadow fans that is all the time I have this week. What do you, my loyal viewers think? inquiring minds want to know, well at least this one does. Who is your favorite He Man character? What did you think of the incarnations of the of the show, do you have a favorite? Did you like the New Adventures of He Man? I wont hold it against you if you did. What about the new movie? Are any of you excited to see a new movie hit the big screen and will it of course stand up to fan scrutiny? Can She Ra get into the He Man woman haters club? It does seem rather unheroic for He Man to not like women. Maybe the Little Rascals got it wrong. Well any who Shadow fans I will see you next time from the shadows. I have the Power!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Heroes in a half shell could just as easily mean mutant peanuts.

     Hello true believers and welcome to another installment of the Shadow Knows. I apologize for the lateness of the episode this week, but I had to attend the funeral of dear friends grandmother today. She was one heck of a spirited woman and will be missed. So Shadow fans onto my knowing part. What I know this week is not anything to far in the way out there land of my mind and involves no humor what-so-ever. I am asking you to find those you care about and let them know you love them. Life is far to short to let those unspoken words lay between you. I say to you pick them up and let them know they mean the world to you. This has been a public service announcement from the Shadow. Now let's get on with our regularly scheduled program. So onto How I Geek on with those great pop sensations (man that joke never gets old) Greg and the gang. On this weeks episode we will be talking music and what we think, thank, thunk about it. It will be the awesomesauce of legends. You really need to check it out and feel the jazz man, cuz I got the jazz man. I really love it when a plan comes together.

     So now like the Rabbit down his hole (and Alice who followed him) we are on to the topic of discussion for today kiddies. That heart warming topic would be the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. So let's buy us some pizza and dig in true believers. TMNT got its start in 1984 at a local comic convention held in Portsmouth New Hampshire. It was the genius baby child of Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird. These 2 guys literally came out of nowhere with this. With tax money and a small loan from Eastman's uncle they created this book intended to be a parody of Daredevil, New Mutants, Cerebus, and Frank Miller's Ronin all rolled into one. The book was released on newspaper type paper and was magazine sized. The turtles were an instant success and the newest icons of the world were born. The comic version of the TMNT's is much harsher and grittier then the turtles as they are seen on TV and movies. So be forewarned, if you seek these out for a read don't expect them to be the same goofy turtles you are used to. They are still very awesome books to read and I highly recommend them. The torch of the turtles has been passed through a few different comic publishers over the years until finally ending up in the hands of IDW. Man, it seems like this is where all the old greats go for a rebirthing as it were. I wonder how many more titles we will see in their hands in the years to come. I tell you it boggles the mind and my mind is not one to be boggled with. So any who on to the next.

    In 1987 Playmates toys approached Eastman and Laird on the possibility of franchising the turtles with a toy line and cartoon series. Of course these 2 guys are no idiots and a very popular toy and cartoon industry was born of this marriage (though the two really only consulted and did not have much to do with the creative writing of the series). From 87-97 TMNT filled our TV screens for 10 straight seasons until its cancellation. This is the series I remember the most when I think about my start with the turtles. I was just in Junior High school and being a geek collected the toys (every one I could get my hands on). I gave the bulk of them to my nieces who literally went into and out of a TMNT craze in less then a year. The figures found their way back to me in much more worse for wear condition. They still sit in a box in my basement to this day. Their conditions vary, but I would do it again in a heartbeat. Damn I love them little girls (who are way all grown up now, damn I feel old)! Any who, from 2003-2009 another turtle animated series would pop up on the 4kids network. This series worked hand-in-hand with Mirage studios (Laird and Eastman's publishing company) to make a more darker and edgier feeling series, but still not as violent as the comic series. This series to was a big hit and had an awesome series finale. The finale of the show featured the turtles bouncing through dimensions meeting various incarnations of themselves from the 87 series to the black and white comic versions. It was a blast to watch and a shame the show ended. But fear not true believers because in 2012 Viacom industries picked up the license and began airing on it's network, Nickelodeon a brand new turtle series. This series is pretty darn awesome and I love the way they put the stories together. This show to is edgier then the 87 series, and is quite well done IMHO. The biggest difference in this version and the others is April O'Neil is a teenager and not a reporter. At first I thought this would annoy me, but in fact it enhances this version of the story and have come to like it. Also as a caveat there is no Rocksteady or Beebop either and I do not miss them in the slightest... ugh! But if you were fans of those characters you will not find them on this show.  So I have to say, if you are a turtle fan and not watched... what are you waiting for watch it. If you don't like it I blame poor parenting on behalf of my parents for my mistake and you can throw tomatoes at them. So exit stage right.

     So we come now to the movies that starred music from M.C. Hammer and Vanilla Ice. Songs that were so over the top they are big named stars today in their own minds. From 90-93 we got three turtle films in rapid succession... boom, boom, boom. These movies were not very dark and more comedy based. Each one had their own merits, but I over-all preferred the cartoon to them. That is not to say I didn't like them per se'. I mean the Henson company did a beautiful job on the turtle suits and the effects were cool. I liked a lot of things about these movies, but still they are just kinda... meh. I can take them or leave them, but I let you decide for yourself. So go see them if you haven't. We don't see another turtle movie until the 2007 animated movie. Now this one I really liked. The story was excellent as was the animation. This is a well put together movie and I recommend it for your viewing eyes to take in and feel the ecstasy that comes with watching a movie that is all awesomeness. So yeah it is pleasure for your eye holes man. I wont spill out spoilers, like a tipped over glass of milk. But what I will say is that there is some ancient evil cross dimension stuff going on and it is coolness I tell you, pure coolness. Now I would like to also mention that there was a live action series on TV in the 90's. It only lasted a season and so I am guessing did not go well. I know they were airing it on the Hub if anyone is interested in seeing it. I never saw it and so can only say it exists. So now we come to Viacom's 2014 movie release of TMNT. I have to say after viewing a few trailers I have mixed emotions on this one. I know Michael Bay is in on this project, but (I know some of you will want to slap me for saying this) it takes more then a bunch of explosions to make a good movie. There have been some fundamentals that have been established over the years, (like many other franchises) that should not be tampered with. Like for one the origin story should be at least similar. Each turtle has their own personality as well and they to should stay true to form. The villains are very cool and need to stay true to form as well. Finally there is a certain kind of style the turtles have that needs to have screen presence and I really have no other way in my addled mind to explain it then that. So at this point I am of a mind to wait and see. I will go to theatres and watch it and then most likely come to you my adoring fans and report to you my opinion (such as it is) on the said turtle movie. I am so excited, and I just can't hide it. I'm about to lose control and I just might like it... oh yeah.

     So Shadow fans that is all the time I have this week. I have had a rough week so my mind is not all up into my business and stuff. It is amazing to me that these two guys made this franchise inspired by their image of a mutant ninja turtle. It is just like Walt Disney being inspired by a mouse. I don't think the turn of the previous century folks would be ready for Teenage Mutant Ninja Mice though. If Disney promoted this instead of Mickey Mouse they may have burned him at the stake for herecy. Now what a sizzling thought. So what do you think Shadow fans? Which animated series was your favorite? Do you have a favorite turtle? Did you like Rocksteady and Beebop? What do you think of this new movie, will it make it through fan scrutiny? Can you rock steady? Can you steady rock it all night long? Can you rock it till the break of dawn? It would be pretty cool if you can. So any who peeps I will see you next time from the shadows rockin my M.C. Hammer pants and humming Ninja Rap... go ninja, go ninja, go!

UPDATE: Tonight at the field, the Ninja Turtles is coming! You bring the handgrenades I'll bring the tank!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

If knowing is half the battle, what is the other half?

          Well look true believers it's another crazy Thursday and you get to share it with your old pal the Shadow. What pray tell does the Shadow know today? Whelp I dug down deep for this one. I have this one on good authority. So listen up you folks with allergies. Are you ready for it? Peanuts, contain peanuts! I know what a revelation! I just saved your life. I could see you reaching for that can of peanuts only to read my blog and discover that there were peanuts in there, and you with a peanut allergy. Well folks that is what I am here for, to help those who cannot help themselves. Perhaps I am a member of a highly trained, special mission force and then again perhaps not. I would tell you, but then I would have to kill you. Now on to How I Geeked, on, with your favorite pop stars Greg and the Gang. Our topic for your podcast entertainment will be a commentary on Maximum Overdrive. This is a really great movie and I think it could be fun. Just as long as we don't manage to muck it up. For those who don't know Maximum Overdrive is a story by Steven King, in which all machines come to life and want to kill humans. So if machines really freak you out now, then you should really check this movie out... good times, good times. So without further ado, "On with the show this is it!" - Bugs Bunny
      So what is the topic of discussion this day? Aww thanks for asking, I knew you appreciated my efforts into this out of control spiraling of my psyche. Any who, the topic of today is that Greatest American hero G.I. Joe. This is not to be confused with the Greatest American Hero airing from 81-83 and starring William Katt and Robert Culp. That could very well be a show for another day as it too was sha weet! G.I. Joe got it's start as a Hasbro product in 1964 (yes G.I. Joe is now 50 years old). Seeing that boys were not all that impressed with it's Barbie line (imagine that boys not wanting to play with girl toys how very weird) Hasbro decided to make a series of military based figures and with them coined the phrase action figure. This was an instant success and the line survived over a decade with other countries like the UK getting in on the band wagon by creating their own version known as Action Man. The 12 inch action figure would reign supreme for about 14 years and all was well until a little know movie called Star Wars hit theatres. Kenner Corporation released a 3 and 3/4 inch toy line and they were a huge success. The success was so great that by 1982 Hasbro decided to end it's 12 inch G.I. Joe line in it's current incarnation and revamp the property altogether. That is where we come to G.I. Joe as we know it today. This revamping as it were, spawned a very successful toy line, comic line, cartoon series, and later two and soon to be 3 big screen movies. To follow I will touch base with these aspects of this great franchise.     

     G.I. Joe the animated series ran from 1982-1994, with a 3 year break from 86-89. It got it's start as a 5 part mini series in 1982, and was an immediate hit amongst us youngsters of the day. I remember waiting impatiently for this mini series to air again and again. The first mini series is still my favorite of all the episodes. Quite frankly I still watch it every chance I get. In 1983 working off the success of the first mini series Hasbro in conjunction with Sunbow productions, (also responsible for the first mini series) created a second mini series entitled "The Revenge of Cobra." This to was a huge success and with the success of the other Hasbro franchise, the Transformers series Hasbro decided to make this to into a series of its own. A third five part mini series was used as a spring board to introduce this new series (the title of that was the Pyramid of Darkness). That first season was a huge success and was most popular amongst its viewership young and old alike. It must be mentioned that at this time of TV cartoons the toy companies made deals with the animation studios to target kids and sell toys. So it is with no surprise that the toys and figures went hand in hand. It just always surprises me that Hasbro went with such a horrible line of toys for Transformers, but made such awesome toys for the G.I. Joe franchise... alas I digress. With the end of the first season a second season was planned with another 5 part min series to kick it off and the introduction of several new characters, including the awesome Sgt. Slaughter. This season too was as popular as the previous and G.I. Joe became one of the most popular cartoon shows on television. This is where things get weird for the franchise. Sunbow was beginning to lose money from three bad movies they did connected to toy lines (Transformers, G.I. Joe, and My Little Pony for those who wish to know) and as a result cut all ties with Hasbro. As a result G.I. Joe was canceled waiting for another company to pick them up. Three years later G.I Joe was finally picked up by DIC the animation company responsible for M.A.S.K. the animated series. I do not understand why this, being one of the most popular shows on TV at the time took so long to be picked up. This seems asinine to me and greatly hurt the franchise in the end. DIC was in a decline at this time with poor writing and animation. So it is no surprise that the G.I. Joe we got was not the one we wanted. Almost all of the old cast was left out because they did not have available toys at the time and as I mentioned they were about selling toys not a show. This really did not help the series at all and with Sgt. Slaughter playing a bad guy in wrestling he too was removed from the series. So poor planning, poor judgment, bad animation, no original voice actors,and bad writing caused this show to hemorrhage into an early grave. I really wish that DIC would have picked up the awesome writing staff that Sunbow had or at the very least take a page out of the type of writers they used. Sunbow used prime time TV writers who really did a great job. This could have been way better, but instead was a dismal failure. I own these two season as they are considered original G.I. Joe, but I assure you they are not watched that often (damn it if I am not a completest). After the end of this series we get a few more serials over the years like Sigma Six and Renegades. Each one had it's own merit, but none ever really comparing to that original series. So what's next?

     Now just like Transformers G.I. Joe also had comic book series that was released along side the cartoon series and just like Transformers the two stories differed greatly. Before there was the Real American Hero G.I. Joe started as a comic series in Yank magazine in 1942. G.I. stood for government issue and Joe because at the time of the second world war the average person was named Joe. If you called out yo Joe in your unit chances were at least half of them would say, "What." This is where we get the term average Joe. This was a short run and eneded about the same time the war did. Ziff Davis, D.C. Comics, and Custom Comics each had their own versions of G.I. Joe and each taking place during the war issues at the time of publication. In 1982 Marvel are the next to take a stab at this franchise in parallel with the animated series and toy line. This series of comics was done much better then the Transformers series that was released at the same time and for the same reasons. This success was due to the very talented Larry Hama. Hama was also responsible for the file cards that you find on the reverse side of the action figures sold. In fact he originally created them so that he could have a guide for each character he was making. The studio loved them and they were added to the toy line. There were as I mentioned differences between the comic and animated series. One of the major differences is the romance between Snake Eyes and Scarlett. This does not appear in the animated series and as a matter of fact it seems more like Duke and Scarlett have a thing rather then her and Snake eyes. Also some characters like Stalker appear way more in the comic then the show and Ship Wreck who appears more in the show and less in the book. Finally with a whole no bullet rule at the animation studio Joe's used lasers and never got hurt in the show, but they used regular guns and often got hurt in the comic. Characters like Doc, Serpentor, and Quick Kick die in the comic, where as nobody dies in the animated series. I read this comic series as a kid and could not get enough of it. Unfortunately where I lived, growing up comics were few and far between to find and no store kept up with their stock very well when it came to the oddball series (isn't that right Oz?). This is a series that I am trying very hard to get a complete run and back issues are hard to come by these days. I hope to complete this as I do love Hama's writing. Over the years many other companies have picked up the license until like Transformers it has ended up in the hands of IDW. I have heard good things, but as with Transformers I haven't read them. One day I will pick a few up and report back, but alas not on this day or anytime soon. So now onto the next.

     So in 2009 Paramount Pictures released a live action G.I. Joe movie, The Rise of Cobra. Larry Hama himself was tapped as a consultant on the making of this movie and I believe is why this movie was as good as it was. Sunbow tried to release a G.I. Joe animated movie back in the 80's but it did not do very well due in part I believe to poor writing and execution. This to was the downfall of the ill-fated Transformers animated movie. It only seemed logical that here 25 years later at the time of the release that we get a live action movie. I for one am glad they did. It did not follow the original plots and concepts, but over all I feel that this was a fairly decent movie and if you are a G.I. Joe fan I do suggest it for you. Four years later in 2013 we got G.I. Joe Retaliation. I will start out by saying I liked the Rock in this movie. He did pretty well as Roadblock, even if he didn't do any rhyming. The rest of the Joes were ok as well, but only just ok. What I have trouble with is well everything else. This movie was actually pulled for a redo and they still failed the fans. No Destro, killed Duke and the other Joes, and well very weak plot points all added to the downward spiral that was this movie. I mean Killing Duke, really, really!? His character was important enough that they changed the ending of the animated movie to save his life instead of him dying in it. They really should have paid attention to this. I really wish that they would tap true fans when they make movies of preexisting franchises. It would save these execs an awful lot of pain when their movies don't work out. In a few years we will be getting another movie and I have to admit I am scared to see where they go next with it. We will see, but I am not expecting more then just flying monkey poo... ugh!

     Well Shadow fans once again this is it and I have run out of time. Join us next week where we see Larry Hama monkey stomp Paramount Picture execs in the head and crush them like grapes. So what do you think Shadow fans? Will they make better movies? Is Duke really dead? Will we see a return of Destro? Did you ever learn anything from knowing is half the battle? I did, I learned how to swim in the one that taught you how to tread water. I wish they still did this with modern cartoons. Maybe kids today wouldn't pull the crap they do. Then again maybe they would anyway... ahh such is life I suppose. Anyway tell me what you think and I will see you next time from the Shadows.

     UPDATE: It is with great pleasure that I can report of Larry Hamas returned to G.I. Joe awhile ago. IDW restarted the series and began it where Marvel's numbering ended. I have about sixty or so back issues to find, but find them I will. Larry Hama was the reason I read this series and I can't wait to dig into this series again... FIN

Thursday, July 3, 2014

 Happy anniversary to those transforming robots who're more then meets the eye.

     Well folks I welcome you back to another installment of the Shadow Knows. What pray tell does the Shadow know today you might ask. I heard someone ask. I know I did. Well my kernel of knowledge today is this. When you iron your cloths be sure to take them off first. Now I know what you are thinking (really I can read minds... well not really but maybe if I stare really hard I could). It would be sooo much easier to simply iron with your cloths on, but I have it on good authority that irons get really hot and you may get burned. Don't even get me started on the if you add steam side of things. I mean not only would it make your hair a mess, but it could cause horrible blisters and burns. Now who really wants that... ouch. So now on to and How I Geek with Greg and the gang. Hey that sounds like an 80's pop band doesn't it. And now coming on stage with their number one hit "Geekibration" it's Greg and the Gang. Now that would be a sight to see. So the topic of discussion in this weeks podcast is going to be geek news and geek pet peeves. Personally I hate it when my pet gets peeved. Nothing worse then when your flying monkeys get peeved at you (my geek pet). They fly around your house throwing poo... ugh. Any who Come join us Sunday for news and upset geek pets it should be a hoot and a bark.

     Now onto the topic of the week true believers and that will be the 30th anniversary of Transformers. I know, I know I did a show about Transformers a while back, but last weekend I caught the newest Michael Bay movie. So I thought I would do a more proper review of the franchise. I went into detail on the first origin story crafted for the comic and animated series. So I will not go into it here (check out my earlier blog post true believer). The Transformers franchise has been certainly one of the most successful in the history of franchises. With many toy lines, cartoons, video games, comics, and 4 movies (5 if you count the animated movie) the world has been flooded with many different takes on this awesome universe. So to follow I will discuss some of theses different genres with you good peoples.

     First up I will touch base with the generation one animated serials and talk a little on Transformers Prime. In 1984 we got the original series in a 3 part minis series. I remember when I first discovered this it was like when Odysseus first landed on the shore of his beloved homeland of Ithaca after years of trying to reach it. Yup it was like that. I made an instant connection that I still maintain today. Man those Sunbow guys really knew what they were doing. I think that one of the things that made this show so great was the fact that Sunbow employed writers from adult, primetime shows. They put things on a child friendly level, but did not insult our youthful intelligence as it were. This was a formula Sunbow repeated with G.I Joe as well and is why I believe it was also so successful. Seasons one and two were fantastically awesome. Season 3 in my humble opinion was weak, but not the worst and 4 of course was the worst, be it a very short season. I mean the whole premise of headmasters and targetmasters was so bad that it has yet to be repeated in any recreation that I am aware of. I cannot swear that the comics didn't do anything with this concept as I have not read any of the later stuff. The death of Optimus Prime in the cinematic movie was not a very good idea either. I remember as a kid watching his death in complete disbelief. Primes death and the death of almost every first season Autobot was a real blow to this franchise. As well as bad writing in the later seasons being responsible for it's decline and eventual cancelation. Shortly after the cancelation Transformers was picked up in Japan for 3 seasons. There are those who consider what happen in this 3 season run canon. I am not one of them, but there are those who do. In 1996 Mainframe Entertainment created a new series based on the future of the original series. I am not really going to talk to much on this series, even though it is considered canon. I found this series to be lacking in many different items such as good writing, good taste, and good anything. I tried to give it a chance, I really did. It was just so bad that I could not finish any episode I attempted to watch. I really wish they would have left well enough alone, but alas they didn't and this is the poo we got ugh. In 2010 we got the latest in the Transformers universe with the release of Transformers Prime. I really liked this show and was glad for the return of Peter Cullen as Optimus Prime. It ran for about three seasons on the Hub network and if you have not had a chance to watch it do so. It is still shown in reruns on Hub. In 2015 the Hub network is releasing the sequel series to Transformers Prime. They are calling it Transformers Robots in Disguise and has Bumblebee leading a new team to Earth several years after the end of Rise of the Predicons (the final TV movie for the Prime series). I really hope this sequel series does not become a colossal disappointment like Beast Wars. Only time and actual viewing can tell and I will most likely report on it after it has been on a bit. So any who let's go on to the next.

     Transformers not only impacted our world on the TV, but the comic book world in the same year by Marvel Comics. The origin stories in the two mediums are basically the same and that is where the similarities end. Shockwave is more power starved then Starscream ever was. Megatron disappears for about 15 issues and Prime is killed off very early in the series (way before the movie was ever released). The artists drew the transformers more like the toy line (blah), and the stories were not the best written. The G.I. Joe line was much, much better. All that aside for some crazy reason I liked this series. I really have no explanation as to why. To quote Whitney Houston, "I don't know why I just do." After Marvel dropped Transformers the license was picked up by Dreamwave Comics until it's collapse in 2004 when the torch was passed again to IDW. I have not read any of these stories and from what I have gathered reviews of these titles are mixed. The current incarnation IDW has been putting out has been popular. Even my friend Greg of How I Geek fame was a fan boy of the current series. He was that is until they killed off Rodimus Prime and now he wants to hunt down the writer and put his head in a bowling bag. Fun times I tell you, fun times. I wish I could give you more info Shadow fans, but alas that is all I know on this particular aspect of the Transformers universe. Perhaps one day I will get some back issues and report back on it and perhaps not who knows. Maybe they will make Transformers video games or something cool like that and some junk.

     Transformers in video games did you say or wait didn't I just say that? I get so confused with all these voices rolling around in my head. Any who from 85 to the present there have been several different video games based on the different genres that have come and gone over the years. But today I will only discuss The War for Cybertron and The Fall of Cybertron. In the War for Cybertron Megatron puts into action his master plan to conquer the planet. It is then up to the Autobots to stop him and save day. The game is pretty fast paced and the story telling is awesome. I played this game with my son and we beat it in about 2 days of off and on play. I have to say This game is sha' weet and if you have not played It, play it. In the Sequel Fall of Cybertron Megatron's master plan has gone awry and the planet is dying. The Autobots are now in survival mode. The plan is to escape the planet and find new resources. The Dinobots are introduced as is the legendary city Metroplex. This game ends with the Autobots and Decepticons  fighting aboard the Ark in a desperate struggle while falling through a wormhole. My son and I also beat this game in the same amount of time, but I will say to you it was the same amount of totally awesome fun. I am hoping the next games picks up on Earth 4 million years in the future. I have heard nothing yet on the next game or if there is even going to be another game. I hope there is  because they are both so very awesome! The story was just as well done in two as one. In both games you follow each aspect of the story as a different bot from their point of view. The transforming is well done and I love the weapons and upgrades. Overall I give this game 5 out of five stars. So I say nuff said on that and on to the next.

     Finally we have up on the soapbox the Michael Bay and Steven Spielberg movie franchise. With Bay's Explosions and Spielberg's affinity with aliens this was a match made in heaven... well at least at first. I went into the first movie a full blown skeptic. I knew nothing really of Michael Bay at the time and as for Spielberg he was not doing so hot with movies and was in a bit of a decline. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. Spielberg redeemed himself on this great blockbuster, but alas sometimes with sequels you don't always get movie gold. Each movie from 2 to 3 got progressively worse and 3 was a stinky pile of flying monkey poo. Megatron was treated as a punch line in a bad joke in 3. He is a character who plays second to none and it was an insult to the fans to portray him as they did. So it is with no surprise that I went into 4 with a huge amount of skepticism. Now I do not give out spoilers here on new movies, so no worries there. I will say that given with what story they had left to work with and there being not a lot of directions left for them to go without a reboot. I think they did a pretty good job. There are a couple of points that will make Greg want throw things and obscenities at the movie screen once he sees them. Now as for me I liked the movie overall. There are some minor points that I didn't like, and some fans may find them a big deal. The Dinobots are in this movie, but the predicons are not, so as for my statement on the last post I was half right. They did not get enough screen time though. There are also a lot of things they don't explain and I am assuming they are going to leave for the sequel that is definitely coming as the ending left it that way. Mark Wahlberg helped make this movie for me as well, and John Goodman as Hound did a far better job then I had first suspected. I think that this movie is far better then 3 and am looking more forward to 5 then I was 4. All I can say is go see it and decide for yourself. I just ask that you watch it with no biases and view it as something different to the mainstream universe. Well what are you waiting for? Go, go and see it for yourself and remember to view responsibly.

     Well Shadow fans that is all the time I have this week for the Shadow Knows. Tell me folks what you think. There are other incarnations of this show I did not mention are you fans of any of these shows. What about the future of the movies, do you think that we will continue to see improvement? If you were a Transformer who would you be? Is it true that you can't fit a square peg in a round hole? Can you fit a a Simon Pegg in a round hole? These are the hard hitting questions I ask for you my fine shadowy fans. Well I guess that is all my ravings for this week folks, so till next time I will see you from the shadows... and it will be more then meets the eye I tell ya.

     UPDATE: I have rediscovered that the headmaster thing was attempted again in the Transformers animated series before Prime titled The Animated Series. It too went over like a lead balloon with the fans, it was poorly handled and I liked that series. So there you have it, another headmaster attempt that went down in flames. I hope they finally get it that we don't want it... FIN