Tagged: Space

REVIEW: Prometheus

Ridley Scott rarely repeats himself, avoiding formulaic sequels, useless prequels, and remakes. Instead, the stylist conjures up new works and attempts to be thought-provoking time after time. You might have bought into the hype that this year’s Prometheus is an out and out set up to his Alien, but you’d be wrong. While tangentially connected to the first successful science fiction/horror film hybrid, this film is a pure science fiction film owing plenty to Stanley Kubrick.

The movie, now out on disc from 20th Century Home Entertainment, is an ambitious production with a strong cast, surrounded by amazing visuals. While we laughed at how weak the story and characterizations were in James Cameron’s Avatar, here, we are merely disappointed the story isn’t a match for the visual virtuosity on display. While far from Scott’s best, he deserves credit for trying something different and challenging his audience.

Scott sets his story in 2093, optimistically thinking we will be regularly working in space and ready to traverse the distant reaches of the galaxy. Scientists Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) find a map as part of a 30,000-year-old cave painting on the Isle of Skye, confirming there is sentient life elsewhere in the universe. Dubbed The Engineers, they seemingly beckon mankind to find them. The audience has already met them in an opening sequence that suggests they arrived on Earth with some goo that ignited the spark of life (and was also seen as the mummified Space Jockey way back in 1979). To discover the answer, deep-pocketed Peter Weyland (Guy Pierce) funds the construction of The Prometheus, which is thusly launched, its crew in hibernation en route to moon LV-223 and the evidence of intelligent life.

Heading up the crew is Mereditch Vickers (Charlize Theron) alongside the ship’s captain Janek (Idris Elba) with android David (Michael Fassbender), geologist Fifield (Sean Harris), and biologist Millburn (Rafe Spall). One trick he does reuse from Alien is that before long, things go horribly awry. The story has gaping, starship-sized plot holes and the grand themes – where do we come from? — do nothing to mask them. It would have been nice if the crew had more depth of character or interacted in more interesting ways.

Fassbender has the toughest job, making his eight generation android different than the others seen in earlier films making up the Alien universe. Theron is strong with her work but Rapace gives us the more interesting, nuanced performance.

Scott shot this for big screen 3-D, framing things to pop just so, and dazzle us with detail. Thankfully, that all transfers pretty nicely to the home screen and 2-D. The transfer is pretty spectacular both audio and visual.

The Combo Pack offers you the film on Blu-ray, DVD, and Ultraviolet (a larger Combo Pack with 3-D Blu-ray is also an option, with a fourth disc containing an amazing three-and-half-hour documentary by Charles de Lauzirika). The special features provided on the standard Blu-ray begins with Scott’s audio commentary, supplemented with one from co-writers John Spaihts and Damon Lindelof.

There are thirty-seven minutes of Deleted, Extended & Alternate Scenes which you can on their own or with audio commentary by editor Pietro Scalia and VFX supervisor Richard Stammers. These are all interesting to watch, several of which would have made the film stronger. The Peter Weyland Files (18:57) are culled from the Internet.

SPACE JUMP!

Felix Baumgartner just seconds before the jump.

The Red Bull Stratos Space Jump aired live on The Discovery Channel and across the internet today. Although this isn’t pulp fiction, the brave man who performed the jump is the true definition of a pulp hero, brave and possibly just a little crazy.

All Pulp congratulates Felix Baumgartner on making history.

New Who Review: “The Angels Take Manhattan”

The Fall of the Ponds.  The Last Page.  The Great Weeping.  You knew it was coming, The Grand Moff Steven made it clear.  Who died, who lived, and who will have a LOT of explaining to do to the parents.  Spoilers abound, even more than usual, so here we go…

THE ANGELS TAKE MANHATTAN
by Steven Moffat
Directed by Nick Hurran

The episode jumps between 1938 and 2012 Manhattan – in 1938, detective Sam Garner is asked to investigate a mysterious apartment house “where the angels live”, only to meet…himself, years older.  In modern day, The Doctor is visiting Central Park with Amy and Rory, when Rory is sent backwards by a weeping angel, into the arms of his daughter River Song.  How do you fight an enemy that can suddenly make you go decades into the past?  Perhaps the answer in some cases is: you can’t.

The story bears more than a few parallels to the original Angels story, Blink, as it should. In both cases, The Doctor’s actions are linked, even dictated, by a set of notes (here concealed in a book) provided before he begins, but written afterwards by one of the parties involved.

GUEST STAR REPORT

Mike McShane (Grayle), an American actor and comedian, was one of the regulars on the original British version of Whose Line Is It Anyway? He played Friar Tuck in Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves, the hypnotherapist in Office Space, and (sigh) Professor Keenbean in Richie Rich.  He’s also one of a small numbers of actors who got to play another “Doctor” – he provided the voice for recurring and ubiquitous scientist Cid in Final Fantasy X and its sequel, X-2.

MONSTER REPORT The Weeping Angels made their first appearance only a few years back, in Steven Moffat’s spectacular and Hugo-winning episode Blink.  They’re described by the Doctor as “The only psychopaths in the universe to kill you nicely”.  Their preferred method of taking their prey is to send them back in time.  They feed on the potential energy of the life the victims were supposed to live in the present.  The victim arrives back in time with no real idea how they got there – some may go mad, some may injure themselves, but many simply adapt and live out the remainder of their days there in the past.  They are functionally indestructible – when they are seen by anyone, they “Quantum-lock”, or transform into stone. They move impossibly fast when they can, hence The Doctor’s advice, “Don’t blink”.  In their second appearance in The Time of Angels / Flesh and Stone, the Angels were in a very weakened state, and could not (or chose not to) use their standard attack, sticking to simple acts of violence as they slowly drained power from the crashed spaceship the Byzantium.  Here, they’re at full strength again.  They also have the power to replicate themselves – it’s explained that any image of a Weeping Angel itself becomes a Weeping Angel (likely because of Quantum), in this episode, it’s suggested they can infect or take over other statues, such as ones in a fountain or park, or even big honkin’ ones out in the harbor.

Something I’ve mentioned before: There’s a short story from 1984 called “Bones” by P.C. Hodgell that features a race of creatures called Vhors, skeletal ratlike creatures who, like the Angels, can only move when they’re not being observed. Surely a case of parallel evolution, but a pointed lesson in how there’s only so many truly original ideas, and how it’s all based on how you use the ideas and tropes we’ve been recycling since Og the caveman first set in stone (literally) the tale of a young boy who was destined to bring down a great kingdom run by an evil monarch.

The Statue of Liberty has had more than a few appearances in science fiction.  It was previously animated by Mood Slime and Jackie Wilson in Ghostbusters 2. It was fitted with a honkin’ huge  Neuralyzer in Men In Black 2. And of course it was seen as a twisted broken wreck at the end of Planet of the Apes.

BACKGROUND BITS AND BOBS – Trivia and production details

DARKER AND DARKER – It took me a while to realize the image in the logo this week’s opening credits was the crown of the Statue of Liberty.  Also, note that the color is all but gone from the TARDIS’ trip through the time vortex, and the electrical distortions have increased greatly.  Does it represent the immediate trouble of the trip to 1938, or a continuing change to the vortex?

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION – This episode was filmed in Manhattan, where it was followed around by hundreds of fans who spread the news of filming location via social media, which meant the crowds grew exponentially over the day.  In a recent interview (modesty forbids mentioning the writer), they discussed the excitement of filming in NYC, and the zeal and courtesy of the fans.  And one of the wonderful things about the city is there are plenty of buildings that would not look out of place in 1938, allowing for lots of sites to film.

YOU’RE MUCH TOO NICE TO BE A GRUBBY DETECTIVE ALL YOUR LIFE – There’s a lot of references to detective fiction and film noir in this episode.  Mike McShane plays Mr. Grayle – the Grayle family was featured in Raymond Chandler’s Farewell My Lovely, which was adapted twice to film, once as Murder My Sweet, and again under its original title. Detective “Sam Garner” is clearly in the style of classic dicks Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe, the latter of which was once played by…James Garner. “Melody Malone”, while also mirroring “Marlowe”, reminds one of Michael J. Malone, hero of Craig Rice’s (a female author – Craig was her middle name, Georgina her first), one adapted to film with the postcard-ready title Having Wonderful Crime.  Mike McShane is clearly playing a character in the Sydney Greenstreet “Fat Man” style.

I READ THE NEWS TODAY, OH BOY – I can write off  “The New York Record” as not being allowed to use the masthead of a more…Timesy…paper.  But “Detroit Lions win Superbowl”?  For one thing, does that mean this episode takes place in February?  Or just that the British have no idea when the Superbowl takes place?  Or what teams are worth a damn?

ROLLS ROYCE? – The plaque The Doctor does a quick recce in seems to be from the engine of a Supermarine Spitfire, last seen (flying in space, yet) in Victory of the Daleks. There’s two explanations for that.  One is by  the implication of its jury-rigged appearance that the TARDIS has had many, many post-showroom upgrades with whatever parts could be found, hence its patchwork appearance.  But a concept that was to be mentioned in Neil Gaiman’s story The Doctor’s Wife is that a TARDIS’ Chameleon Circuit affects the interior of the ship as well as the outside.  The Doctor and Idris look out on a junkyard, and once she reminds him of the fact, he realizes he’s not looking at junk, but the disguised remnants of various TARDISes.  So he isn’t building a console from a hairdryer and coat hangers, but from highly technical components that LOOK like a hairdryer and coat hangers.

“Vortex Manipulator – less bulky than a TARDIS…a motorbike through traffic” River’s had the device since the events of The Pandorica Opens, when she bought it off the corpulent blue-skinned trader Dorium.  The Vortex Manipulator is standard equipment for the time agency, and one is almost always on the wrist of the rakishly charming Captain Jack Harkness.  The Doctor describes using it as “slightly addictive”, but odds are River can handle it.

“Once we know it’s coming, it’s written in stone” – The rules for the immutability of time are…rather mutable. The Doctor rather makes a habit of changing things he knows will happen, though in fairness, they don’t always go well, such as the crushed temporal reality of The Wedding of River Song.

“Are you an archaeologist as well as a detective?” Indeed she is – her Doctorate is is Archaeology, mainly so she can go about searching for events related to The Doctor.

“Oh, I know how they work” / “And it’s Professor Song Now” These two quotes allow us to place where this adventure happens in River’s timeline.  It’s after the events of Angels / Stone, and even a bit later in her life after that, as she’s earned her Professorship. She was surprised to hear she would become a Professor in the Angels adventure, but she’d she gained it in her “first/last” adventure, Silence in the Library. So this is interesting, in that it’s the first of her appearances that have happened “out of order”. To date, each of her appearances have been happening in reverse order – the first time we meet her, she’s known The Doctor for years, and it’s her last adventure, as she “dies”.  Each adventure after that, she’s come from a point further back in her time line.  She knew about “the crash of the Byzantium” in Silence in the Library, but during the crash (in Angels/Stone), she didn’t know she’d be a professor. Similarly, she mentions that she’ll see The Doctor again “When The Pandorica Opens“, another event that had yet to occur to him, and so on.  Basically, we’ve been following a specific story arc for River – now that it’s done and her big secret is revealed, it’s okay to pick and choose her time of appearances again.

“Oh I was pardoned ages ago…turns out the person I killed never existed in the first place” More evidence of The Doctor doing all he can to fade away, continuing the job that Oswin started for him in Asylum of the Daleks.  He didn’t show up in Solomon’s database in Dinosaurs on a Spaceship either.  Of course, there’s a faction who suggests that he’s not the one doing it, and that someone else is assisting him, possibly even without his knowledge…

“He’s been moved in space, but not in time” – This is a change from the stated abilities of the Angels – until now, they’ve been only able to displace in time. If they could do both, why didn’t Rory appear in front of Winter Quay when he first arrived, since that was their intended target?  Perhaps they can only do one or the other, so they get their targets back to when they need them, then worry about the where?  There’s also the possibility of a scene missing where he simply escaped from the basement and went looking for help, which would rather make more sense.

“That was a stupid waste of regeneration energy” It’s only paying back a favor – River, conceived in the TARDIS and possessing Time Lord DNA, could regenerate, and has, at least twice.  She gave up all the rest of her regenerations to restore The Doctor to life and health in Let’s Kill Hitler.  Likely that’s not a trick he could perform with any other person, which deftly explains why he’s never done it before.  Unless you count giving the fuel cells of the TARDIS a jump start by giving it about ten years of his life in Rise of the Cybermen.

“I can’t ever take the TARDIS back there, the timelines are too scrambled” – Lucky all the times he’s already been there have already happened, then.  Christmas of 1938 is when the events of The Doctor, The Widow, and the Wardrobe take place.  It’s also when they landed in Hitler’s meeting room in Let’s Kill Hitler.

“I will never be able to see you again” I don’t see why.  They spend many decades in Manhattan (presuming they don’t go traveling), and the time distortion is only centered around 1938, so there’s no reason he can’t pop by a year or two later, or even decades later.  Besides, River is already making plans to go see them, to drop off the book she’s now got to go write.

The seeming finality of the separation may be be partly based on the wishes of Karen Gillan.  In the aforementioned interview, she said,  “I’ve always said that when I go, I want it to be for good. Because I want that final scene to have that same impact, maybe ten years on. I want people to be able to revisit it and still have the same emotion. That’s really important for me, so for that reason, I think I’m going to rule out any returns.” However, when I quietly complimented her on her ability to lie, she replied, “I learned it from the best!”

I expect at the very least we’ll see a rasher of fanfic of Amy and Rory’s life in New York, the evils they fought and the lives they saved.  We already know (based on River’s plan) that Amy will be involved in publishing in the years after her re-arrival in this pre-war period and beyond. So clearly they CAN be contacted. One can only assume they’ll use their foreknowledge of history to make a few successful investments to keep themselves off the streets as well.

Let’s do a bit of math.  Amy was born in 1989, so when she met The Doctor (for the second time) in 2008, she was about 19. Last week, she surmises it’s been ten years of her personal timeline, so she’s now 29. 74 years pass between being popped back to 1938 and seeing their gravestone in 2012, where she’s listed as having died at 87. So unless she REALLY lied about her age, she and Rory are not only dead here, but died at least a couple of years, maybe decades back.  Also, it’s not made clear, but it’s implied that Amy and Rory do not necessarily die at the same time – she’s five years older than him, and her name appears under his.

“This is the story of Amelia Pond, and this is how it ends” Back in her first episode, young Amelia Pond is sitting waiting for The Doctor to return – he doesn’t, not to another fourteen years, but she hears the wheezing engines of the TARDIS in the sky, so at least she know she hadn’t dreamt it.  A nice callback to that first episode, and a good end to the story.

BIG BAD REPORT / CLEVER THEORY DEPARTMENT

tellmeimwrong-267x450-7430785“You think you’ll just come back to life again?” “When DON’T I?” There’s been two recurring themes to Amy and Rory’s life with The Doctor – death (usually of Rory) and waiting.  Amy waited 14 years for The Doctor to return in The Eleventh Hour.  Rory guarded the Pandorica for millennia between that and The Big Bang.  And in The Girl Who Waited, Amy was lost for decades in a parallel timeline, and her opinion of The Doctor…somewhat soured.  Rory’s made a habit of dying, something that’s become a bit of a running joke with both the show and the fans.  So it’s quite fitting that in this episode, both themes are referenced. The Old Rory of 1938 is clearly overjoyed to see his Amy again, quite the difference between her reaction to him in The Girl Who Waited. In both cases, the timelines vanished, with only the memories remaining.

Similarly, Rory dies.  A lot.  Sometimes winked entirely out of existence, sometimes just long enough for be revived after drowning, but it gets to the point where here, he’s betting on his past performance to guarantee future results.

“Does the bulb on top need changing?” “I just changed it” He did too, in Pond Life. But it’s another appearance of a recurring theme that a few folks have mentioned – flickering and dead lightbulbs.  They flickered whenever a Dalek Puppet activated in Asylum of the Daleks, Brian was trying to help with one in Dinosaurs on a Spaceship, they flickered and sparked all over the place in A Town Called Mercy,  power went out a couple times in The Power of Three, and they kept going out all over the place in this episode.  Just a common symptom of teleportation or alien power use, or a further suggestion of something else?

NEXT TIME ON DOCTOR WHO – Always a fun and tantalizing question to ask when the next episode isn’t for several months; in this case, Christmas.  We know a few things for sure:

Jenna-Louse Coleman will make her premiere as The Doctor’s new Companion. Though after her surprise appearance as Oswin Oswald in Asylum of the Daleks, all expectations are off.  It has been rumored, based on overheard lines during location shoots, that her character’s name is Clara. Steven Moffat has said in interviews that one of the things interesting about her is where The Doctor meets her. Now, that could mean any number of things – it could refer to the fact that they “met” in Asylum, but I had a Clever Theory of my own back when I heard that.  The most surprising place for The Doctor to meet someone would be in the TARDIS itself.

In this interview on the BBC YouTube channel, a young person asks about why/how Jenna (as Oswin) appears in Asylum.  The Moff’s answer is telling and maddening – “All of that will be explained in the future … that’s the question I want you asking”. So clearly he does have something insidious planned.  He also was adamant that her character was “as yet un-named”, blockading the overheard dialogue.

Richard E. Grant and Tom Ward makes guest appearances in the episode.  Richard Grant has played The Doctor TWICE before – once in the oft-referenced Comic Relief special, and once in the animated episode Scream of the Shalka.

Vastra and Jenny (Neve Macintosh and Catrin Stewart) will be back from A Good Man Goes to War, but so will Strax (Dan Starkey), the Sontaran sentenced to serve as a nurse.  One wonders if this adventure will take place before or after the events of Good Man.

We’ll see you again then.  If you’ve got any requests for Doctor Who articles to keep my busy till then, do let me know.

Win a Copy of Family Guy Vol. 10!

family-guy-season-10-300x300-6298247Family Guy’s tenth season saw the family travel through time and space, from revisiting the very first episode to crossing the Atlantic Ocean. They met famous folk like Ryan Reynolds and Robin Williams and had the usual assortment of antics.

Family Guy Season 10, containing all 14 episodes, is coming out on DVD and thanks to our friends at 20th Century Home Entertainment, we have three copies to give away.

You must live in the United States or Canada to be eligible to participate. To enter to win, tell us which era or location the family should visit this coming season – no repeats. We want your best ideas no later than 11:59 p.m., Monday, September 24. Prize winners will be selected on the 25th and prizes will be shipped directly from 20th Century Home Entertainment. The decision of ComicMix’s judges will be final.

Twentieth anniversary Power Rangers series revealed: Power Rangers Megaforce

The folks at JEFusion.com shared footage from this year’s Power Morphicon of Saban Entertainment’s promo reel for next year’s Power Rangers series. Their seventeenth series, Power Rangers Megaforce, will be based on the thirty-fourth of Toei Company’s Super Sentai series, Tensou Sentai Goseiger.

Starting with the original Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers in 1993, based on Kyōryū Sentai Zyuranger, Saban has been producing series using costumes, props and action footage from the Japanese originals.  The series have remained a perennial hit in the States, as the original series has done in Japan for the past thirty-six years.

It’s not the first time the name has appeared in entertainment either.  One of the original sentai series had “mega” in the title; Denji Sentai Megaranger, which was used to create 1998’s Power Rangers in Space. Action film fans may remember the Hal Needham directed MegaForce, starring Barry Bostwick and Persis Khambatta.  More important to the toy manufacturer side of the process, MegaForce was a line of military adventure vehicles from Kenner in 1998.  It’s assumed the trademarks for those series have already lapsed, otherwise Saban might have to pull a “Metro” and change the name (as Microsoft has been forced to for its new Windows 8 interface).

In addition to using footage from Goseiger, the new series will also be using footage from the sentai feature film, Gokaiger Goseiger Super Sentai 199 Hero Great Battle.  This was the film release for the NEXT Sentai series, Kaizoku Sentail Gokaiger, which featured a massive battle where all 35 of the sentai teams to date united to fight a massive alien threat.  However, since Megaforce is the anniversary series in America, the reunion footage will be used there.  Footage of the battles in the promo reel included shots of all past sentai teams, including series that were never used for American series, much to the delight of the audience.  Saban said there’s no confirmation if those non-MMPR heroes will appear in the final series.  They had asked Toei to film sequences featuring only Zyuranger forward – it’s unknown how much of the all-heroes footage will be used in the final product.

The promo reel was well received by fans at the convention, especially footage from the 199 hero great battle.  Saban has been experiencing a resurgence of popularity of the series.  After several series produced in association with other companies including Disney, the current series, Power Rangers Samurai, is the first they’ve produced on their own since 2001.  Saban has brought the Internet into their marketing in a big way- their website and Facebook page appeal to both new and long-time fans of the series.  They’ve also released DVD sets for the previous series, including a 40-DVD set from Time-Life of the first 7 series.

Power Rangers Samurai is currently running on Nickelodeon.

Jerry Nelson: 1934-2012

This is a Muppet News Flash: Puppeteer Jerry Nelson, the man behind Sesame Street muppet Count von Count, died yesterday at age 78. Nelson, a cast member of the show for over 40 years, also brought to life the characters Herry Monster, Fat Blue, Sherlock Hemlock and the Amazing Mumford.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HfDNgzKlSfQ[/youtube]

Nelson’s first job with the Muppets was The Jimmy Dean Show in 1965 as Rowlf the Dog’s right hand man, literally. After learning that the Muppets were used on Sesame Street, he rejoined Henson and Oz as a puppeteer, beginning in the second season. He received a number of his major characters early in the show’s run, including the Sherlock Holmes parody Sherlock Hemlock, a hapless magician named The Amazing Mumford, and the overly strong but sensitive Herry Monster (1970–2012). His most famous character is the arithmomaniac vampire Count von Count, which he voiced until his death. He was also the first puppeteer to perform Mr. Snuffleupagus. Jerry Nelson also made a cameo appearance as the giant in the “Sesame Street News” story of Jack and the Beanstalk.

Nelson also performed many characters on The Muppet Show, including Sgt. Floyd Pepper (the bassist of the Electric Mayhem band), Pigs in Space star Dr. Julius Strangepork, the boomerang fish-throwing Lew Zealand, Kermit the Frog’s nephew Robin the Frog, Gonzo’s girlfriend Camilla the Chicken, and the Phantom of the Muppet Show, Uncle Deadly. On Fraggle Rock he performed Gobo Fraggle, Pa Gorg and Marjory the Trash Heap.

Nelson has also performed character voices in Sesame Street cartoons and Private Public from Sheep in the Big City.

He reprised the role of the announcer in [[[The Muppets]]]. His final performance as the said announcer was part of the Jim Henson’s Musical World concert at Carnegie Hall.

Our condolences to his family, friends and fans.

 

REVIEW: Whatever Happened to the World of Tomorrow?

Whatever Happened to the World of Tomorrow?
By Brian Fies
208 pages, $14.95, Abrams ComicArts

The future never turns out like people predict. Nostradamus was wrong. Authors, philosophers, painters, and clergy have all been wrong about what the world of tomorrow will turn out to be. Depending upon when you were born and where you were raised, the future is either shockingly surprising or deeply disappointing. Brian Fies’ Whatever Happened to the World of Tomorrow? falls into the latter category.

The 2009 book is now out in softcover and a personal essay on what the world has become since the 1939 World’s Fair, which also parallels the development of geek culture since, after all, that was the first place Superman made a personal appearance as his popularity was just beginning to soar. The sky was the limit, it seemed, and the World’s Fair promised peace and prosperity at a time that war was already being fought in Europe and Asia. The fair seemed to be willing to war to stay away from our shores.

The promise of space adventures, which first appeared monthly in the pulp magazines, took off at this same period thanks to adventure serials in newspapers, radio exploits doled out in fifteen minute installments and then fifteen chapter serials shot on a shoestring but told at a such a breakneck pace you just had to come back next week to learn what happened next. At the same time, war shook America out of the Depression doldrums and forced manufacturing, technology, and science to stay one step ahead of the Axis powers.

Whatever Happened to the World of Tomorrow?, the long-awaited follow-up to Mom’s Cancer, is a unique graphic novel that tells the story of a young boy and his relationship with his father.

Spanning the period from the 1939 New York World’s Fair to the last Apollo space mission in 1975, it is told through the eyes of a boy as he grows up in an era that was optimistic and ambitious, fueled by industry, engines, electricity, rockets, and the atom bomb. An insightful look at relationships and the promise of the future, award-winning author Brian Fies presents his story in a way that only comics and graphic novels can.

Interspersed with the comic book adventures of Commander Cap Crater (created by Fies to mirror the styles of the comics and the time periods he is depicting), and mixing art and historical photographs, this groundbreaking graphic novel is a lively trip through a half century of technological evolution. It is also a perceptive look at the changing moods of our nation-and the enduring promise of the future.

Fies, best known for his award winning Mom’s Cancer, followed up with this look back at the promises of the past and the failure of the future to deliver. The story stretches from the World’s Fair to the final Apollo mission in 1975 and is told entirely from the point of view of Pop and Buddy and thanks to the miracle of comic book storytelling, the two age incredibly slowly while the world moves ahead in real time. It’s a conceit, using them as metaphors not actual characters, that doesn’t entirely work despite an Author’s Note up front, but it’s at worst a minor annoyance.

Interestingly, the book also tells the story of American society by showing the mindset as world events changed around us, going from the anything is possible 1940s to the disillusioned 1960s. Also reflective of this evolution are a series of faux comics featuring Commander Cap Crater and the Cosmic Kid. Imitating the styles of the 1940-1970s, these stories also show how comic books have grown ever more sophisticated in reaction to the changing readership. Fies does a terrific job matching the bad color registration and subtly adjusts the paper yellowing to reflect the ages as well as the ever more complex indicias.

The book also nicely integrates actual photography from space or of the fair along with images taken from the great futurist artist Chesley Bonestell. The storytelling, artwork, layout, pacing, and color are terrific and does a nice job taking us era to era even as our main characters oh so slowly grow and age. Dad remains representative of an American society whose time has passed and maintains his conservative stance which ultimately causes conflict with Buddy, who yearns for the future to be here now.

It’s the 1960s when everything changes as the Russians reach space before the Americans and it has become clear that the promises of the 1930s will not be kept. There’s a sense of anger and loss at this realization which also makes the 1970s a sad period when there’s little to believe in.

Still, Fies offers up an optimistic ending, pointing out the current technology boom of the last 10-15 years has once more awakened the endless possibilities offered in the years ahead. We may not be getting jet packs and interplanetary travel any time soon, but we are reminded there is a lot to look forward to.

The Point Radio: Damon Lindelof Rises To PROMETHEUS

From Marvel’s Ultimate Universe to LOST and now to the farthest corner of space, Damon Lindelof never turns away from a writing challenge. He shares what it’s like to help construct Ridley Scott‘s much anticipated PROMETHEUS and brings along Charlize Theron to preview her role that was literally created for her. Of course, there’s plenty of AVENGERS news and even more joy in the comic stores when it comes to April sales.

The Point Radio is on the air right now – 24 hours a day of pop culture fun for FREE. GO HERE and LISTEN FREE on any computer or mobile device– and please check us out on Facebook right here & toss us a “like” or follow us on Twitter @ThePointRadio.

Martha Thomases…

Martha Thomases…

… will resume her column soon. This is her space, so we won’t be running a fill-in. We wish Martha and Arthur well during this difficult time.

 

The Jetsons Season 2 Volume 2

jetsonss2v2-300x429-5449892Warner Archive has been doing an excellent job dipping into the vaults and finding films and television shows for all ages, producing them on-demand for the seriously interested fan. What seems baffling, though, is the time between some of their releases. Take The Jetsons, no, not the 1962 gem but the 1980s revival. Warner released season one from this Saturday morning show a while back and then offered up the first 21 episodes from season two in June 2009. Finally, The Jetsons Season 2, Volume 2 has been released, in time for the holiday season.

Originally, this futuristic situation comedy was modeled at the popular Jackie Gleason series The Honeymooners but found its own voice as the space age family of the future lived a life most families dreamed of: push button cooking, self-folding cars, machines to dress you and help with makeup. It was all far from perfect as we used to see during the end credits as the treadmill George Jetson used to walk Astro went haywire.

Despite a single season of prime time, the original show went on to syndication nirvana, appearing weekdays during the afternoons or weekends as part of the Saturday morning lineup throughout the 1960s and 1970s. The revival was purely kid stuff as you can tell from the more juvenile plotting and more outrageous situations the family found itself in. In addition, young Elroy befriended Orbitty, a fuzzy alien as a sidekick – a seemingly mandatory Hanna-Barbera touch and since they already had a dog, an alien was the next best addition. Also joining the extended supporting cast was Mr. Spacely’s brother Orwell whose inventions propelled more than a few plots.

The stories found in these two discs all have their moments of slapstick and warm humor along with moral lessons they all learn, although George seems to be the one most in need of help. We also get heavy doses of stories lifted from other works such as “Elroy in Wonderland” and “The Swiss Family Jetson” which kick off the set and “A Jetson Christmas Carol” which closes out the season. They also parody the popular ABC series Fantasy Island with “Fantasy Planet” although it just made me miss Ricardo Montalban. In “Jetson’s Millions”, George wins a lottery and suddenly is part of the same class as the Spacely’s and an unflattering rivalry ensues.

The characters are true to form with George lazy as ever, Jane occasionally giving in to her wild side with disastrous results, boycrazy Judy, and prototypical good boy Elroy. We see their fortunes rise and fall, success coupled with failure and an enduring optimism that keeps you coming back for more. The family housekeeping robot Rosie is nowhere near seen often enough.

The synthesizer sounds added to the score somewhat date the episodes along with the topical references which viewers today may find puzzling. The computer animation also makes things look a bit different than the original cel animated style. As you would expect, transfers from 1980s material are pretty clean but not perfect. The sound is fine and overall, it’s nice to have these for your home, even if they are inferior to the original series.