Wednesday, August 26, 2015

*Cue the whistling* The Andy Griffith Show!

I was flipping through Netflix the other day as I usually am when I'm bored and in between video game sessions, when I came across a childhood favorite: The Andy Griffith Show. After explaining to my wife what it was since she hadn't seen it, we watched the pilot episode and found ourselves laughing harder than we had at anything made in the last 10 years in a while.

Plot wise there's barely anything to describe: We follow the adventures of a small town Southern sheriff as he polices Mayberry, the ideal American suburb, and the wacky characters he interacts with on a daily basis. That's it, seriously, if you haven't watched this show that's the main concept. There was no big drama, no wacky mismatch of lifestyles like the Munsters or the usual 50's  style dig at show-business like I Love Lucy, it was just a show about a small town.

I realized as I went back to the Netflix menu that the show seemed so out of place next to my usual viewing habits. The Andy Griffith Show just isn't like BoJack Horseman, Family Guy, Supernatural, or that one weird alien show I turned on the day I wanted to take a nap and wanted some noise in the background. Here we have a show made 60+ years ago, has no sexual innuendo and the closest thing to violence is when the deputy's gun goes off accidentally, and yet it's better written than most anything else on TV.


I have a theory: As TV evolved more complex storylines and deeper characters were demanded. This demand just kept growing and growing until we reached the point where if you miss one episode of any given show you may as well just give up because without that one piece of context you're going to be lost for the rest of the season. I feel the same concept happened with violence and sexual content, to where we have simultaneously reached a point where most shows have to have one character like Quagmire who's entire purpose in life is to be as inappropriate as possible.

Funnily enough, the Andy Griffith Show reminds me a lot of one modern show, The Walking Dead, mostly because both main characters are soft spoken Southern police officers, but also because for the most part the plots are about how different people get along, albeit one in a far more extreme circumstance (I wonder what Aunt Bea would do during a zombie apocalypse? Probably make them fried chicken...). Why can't we have more shows like that? More shows where it's just about a place and how the people in it interact, but without the sex and violence that give even a jaded childless adult the urge to cover the nearest minor's eyes?

In the end I'm probably part of the real problem. Several paragraphs ago I admitted to having the same trash TV I'm now railing against prominently on my "Recently Watched By Joe" Netflix list, with a long list stacking up behind that. The networks will duplicate what sells, and if that's cartoons made by Seth McFarland

or zombie apocalypse slaughterfests it's because we watch them.

Meh, enough complaining, I'm turning on Andy.


What's your favorite classic TV show?

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Guest Post: Doctor Who Companions by Spencer Ficiur

Guest Blogger Spencer is back talking about Doctor Who.

 SPOILER ALERT: Up to and including "The Time of the Doctor" (2013 Christmas special)

Having seen all of the modern Doctor Who (9th Doctor onward) and bits and pieces of the classic series, I have a lot of respect for the original series (yes, the special effects suck, but for the 60s, 70s, and 80s it's pretty good). I love the little nods to the classic series as well (like the 11th Doctor having the Seal of Rassilon in "The Time of the Doctor" after having taken it from the Master in the Death Zone as the 3rd Doctor in "The Five Doctors"). I loved seeing Sarah Jane Smith in the 10th Doctor era, linking old Who and new Who together. In fact I'd love to see more of that, old companions returning. So here are my top 7 Classic Companions I would like to see again (Note: I've only included companions that it would be viable to see again, which would exclude most companions whose actor is deceased).

1. My number one choice is Romana. In the 4th Doctor era we saw two different versions of the Time Lady Romana. A third Romana and another known as Trey (some people believe this is the same incarnation) appeared in prose and audio adventures of the 8th Doctor. Especially with the expected return of Gallifrey in the next few years, we could easily see a new regeneration of Romana, perhaps a return of the 2nd Romana before her regeneration into the 3rd Romana, who the 8th Doctor meets.

2.    I would love to see more of K-9. The mechanical dog appeared alongside the 4th Doctor in the classic series, later returning alongside Sarah Jane Smith in "School Reunion" and appearing regularly in the Sarah Jane Adventures. In my opinion, this could also be a good opportunity to have Luke, Sarah Jane's son from her spinoff, return and tie up any loose ends from the spinoff, since the show abruptly ended as a result of the death of Elizabeth Sladen.

3.    Having recently watched a few episodes of the 7th Doctor with Ace, I would love to see Sophie Allred reprise her role as the sassy, explosive-loving woman that she was (only older now). In addition to simply enjoying her personality, I think this would be a great way to tie up some loose ends from the last episode of the classic series "Survival" and the 7th Doctor's return in the TV movie. Somewhere along the way Ace left the Doctor and I'd be interested to learn why. Russell T. Davies stated that Ace would have appeared in the Sarah Jane Adventures, but due to the unfortunate death of Elizabeth Sladen, that didnt happen.

4.    Seeing as the actor is still alive, I would love to see Ian Chesterton return. Ian traveled with the 1st Doctor and was, in a way, the original hero of the story, since the Doctor didn't get into a lot of physical action. It was referenced (if you were paying attention) in the 50th anniversary special "The Day of the Doctor" that he still works at Coal Hill. However, I might think it better to set an episode with him in the future, seeing as Sarah Jane references a rumor in "The Death of the Doctor" that as of 2010 Ian and Barbara hadn't aged since the 1960s.

5.    Similar to Romana, I would like to see the return of Susan Foreman, the Doctor's granddaughter, who traveled alongside the 1st Doctor and her teachers. We last saw her in "The Five Doctors" (though I believe she appeared in some audio works). If the Doctor truly believed his whole family to be dead, prior to saving Gallifrey in "The Day of the Doctor" I think it could be possible for Susan to return when Gallifrey returns.

6.  Though arguably not part of the classic series, I would love to see more of Dr. Grace Holloway, from the 8th Doctor's TV movie.  
      The TV movie has a bad reputation, but I enjoyed it. Taking into account that Grace apparently had some other adventures with the 8th Doctor in the comics, I think featuring Grace would add some depth to the 8th Doctor that I wish we had.

  7.    Admittedly I haven't seen many classic episodes of her, but I would love to see more of Jo Grant (married name Jo Jones). She worked with the 3rd Doctor and later reappeared at his supposed funeral in "The Death of the Doctor" of the Sarah Jane Adventures. It was revealed that she has traveled the world and that she has a family of her own (including grandchildren). I think it would be cool to see Jo interact with the 12th Doctor, who reminds me a lot of the 3rd Doctor.

There you have it. Those are my seven returns that I wish Moffat would make happen. Which classic companions would you like to (realistically) make a return? Why?

Monday, August 17, 2015

Obsession: DC Deck Building Game

Sorry it's been a while since I've posted. Summer is just that busy time of the year that sucks all my time up in a vortex. But we're nearing the end of that and Salt Lake Comic Con is only about a month away. What is also almost a month away is Doctor Who Series 9. Let's not forget October when Arrow Season 4 and The Flash Season 2 will begin. (And yes, I am excited for League of Legends starting mid-season). Supergirl will also be starting this fall, but I'm more excited for The Muppets' return to TV. And then there's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Gotham for those who are fans of them. Let's be honest, it's a great time for Geek TV.

On to the real post, though.

Thanks to Joe, I'm addicted to the DC Deck Building Game. Thanks to my bank account, I do not own this game. So all I can go off of is the few times I've played against Joe. But honestly, I can't get enough of this game at the moment.

Now Joe has the original game. And most of the expansions (I'm guessing, because the box he carries them all in is almost out of room.) Because of that, we've seen a bunch of random stuff pop up in the game...speaking of, let me tell you what's in it.

First, you have a hero you play as/with, I'm never quite sure. It's possible to have a villain actually depending on the expansion/set/what-have-you. And they give you a power. (Unless it's Green Arrow, I never could figure out what to do with him other than say "yay, I'm Green Arrow...")

After that you have your starter cards and try to buy other cards (similarly to Dominion). With the right combination of cards, you can defeat the villains. Woohoo. And when all the villains are defeated, game over. Most points on the cards you have wins.

Of course, there's weakness cards that deduct from your points. And it's even more awesome when Joe gives you 20 weaknesses because he has the right card for it along with a card that copies it. I'm not bitter...whatever.

In that game, Joe and I were playing with the additional Arrow expansion (not to be confused with the Green Arrow hero I was playing with.) I gotta say, the Arrow expansion added some nice dynamics to it. Except Laurel, I wasn't happy with a card concerning her, just like her place on Team Arrow. Of course, defeating Malcolm Merlyn (meaning I've "bought" the card and it goes into my deck) was the highlight of the game. Because...well...Captain Jack Harkness.

So on a scale of Fantastic 4 movies to Doctor Who, this hits my obsession level of Batman, which is appropriate since we are discussing a DC game whose base is the Justice League of America. This is a great game that mixes strategy and luck, which I always like. Now to convince my wife I need to buy them all...hmm...

Alien abductions are involuntary, but probings are scheduled.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Gamescon SLC 2015: So Many Cool Things, So Little Time!

So I went to Gamescon in Salt Lake City last weekend. Sadly, the week was so busy, I was only able to go on Saturday. Let me tell you, 4 hours is not nearly enough to experience everything the Con had to offer! Let me share with you a brief overview of some of the things I did and experienced. I've decided to do two different posts on the Con: one about everything in general, and one about the Utah Indie Games Guild (I spent a lot of time with them).

So, I walked into the convention center with my usually feeling of dread I feel toward conventions. Perhaps memories of ComicCon being over capacity last year were tainting my feelings toward this convention. It was already Saturday afternoon, and there was only a few people waiting to buy tickets. 

After some questions, I went to the VIG/Press pass booth and picked up my press pass. The man at the booth took my name and said to me "You know the rules, right?". Honestly, I felt the pit of my stomach drop out. He then said "You're supposed to have fun!". I'm surprised I didn't laugh with relief. He did mention a few places where I could and couldn't take pictures. Still feeling nervous, I decided to wonder around outside of the main hall for awhile.

Insert anxiety selfie here!
I glanced into one of the rooms and saw some people playing some sort of MOBA game (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena). After awhile, I realized it looked a lot like Defense of the Ancients. There were even commentators speaking about what was going on! I didn't realize that DotA was still a thing! I got a little bored so I wondered a bit more.

That's when I saw him. Jon Bailey. He's the epic voice behind Honest Game Trailers and Honest Trailers. I'm a really big fan of his, so I only looked at him from way across the giant lobby area. I'm really sad that shyness overtook me. I heard his voice a number of times during the convention. That was the only time I saw him.

Jon Bailey is awesome!
Next I stepped into the convention hall, and immediately saw the Utah Indie Games Guild. I was immediately intrigued. I had only recently heard about them from another Mormon Geeks author, Stephen. I didn't talk with them immediately, but instead decided just to walk through and look at what they had to offer. There were loads and loads of really cool indie games. I'll save my adventures with them for a second blog post!

I wondered the convention hall and saw lots of interesting things. There was a showing from XBox and Playstation 4. There were multiple consoles set up for people to play Mortal Combat X and other fighting games. There was even a Guitar Hero 4 game set up (they wouldn't let us take pictures or videos near there). I saw some booths with various computer accessories and graphics cards. Other booths sold geeky T-shirts, clothing that would go well with fantasy cos-plays, weapons, beautiful artwork, and even some that sold food. None of the food seemed all that geeky/nerdy though. There were tables dedicated to games of Dungeons and Dragons, Yu-Gi-Oh, and countless other games I didn't recognize.

I noticed that there was a Hearthstone tournament going on. Hearthstone is an online trading card game published by Blizzard Entertainment. They also had a Heroes of the Storm tournament going on! I didn't investigate too closely into that.

As a fun aside, I saw a co-worker of mine sitting down and playing with a game at the Utah Indie Games Guild. I lurked until I saw he was done. He looked at me, but didn't act like he recognized me. After wondering near him for awhile, he finally came up to me and said hello. That's when he told me I probably knew his twin. I laughed quite a bit about that. I never realized the guy had a twin! 

Shortly afterward, a woman pointed at my shirt, laughed a bit and said "I love your shirt!" I'm wasn't quite sure how to take it, but I smiled and said "Thanks!"

Some people fighting with fake weapons!
Did I mention all the awesome cosplays I saw? 

  • I saw a Lord Zed dressed up as the red power ranger (confusing that one).
  • I warily eyed someone in a hockey mask with some kind of bloody blade. The fact the guy was 3 times my size made me super nervous.
  • I saw 4 people with sims' diamonds above their heads. Two were green, one was yellow, one was red. I nearly ran up to the person in red and said "This person needs food, Stat!"
  • There was a guy dressed up as Axel from Kingdom Hearts, complete with Axel's weapons
  • I saw someone who had painted their skin purple and was wearing an Ursala costume!
  • There was also an Ariel that was being pulled around in a cart.
Traditional convention soft pretzel!
Well, I didn't exactly see the Ariel cosplay being pulled around in the cart. Near the end of my visit to the convention, I went into the VIG/Press pass lounge. I was just about to ask the guy at the front desk what was going on when I was distracted by something on the table. There was a giant lizard there. I blinked at it totally confused. I thought it was a bearded dragon but someone from Creature Encounters came up and said it was a Tegu to someone else. It was an incredibly laid back lizard. It spent most of the time walking back and forth on the table and flicking out it's tongue. Creatures Encounters also had a few different boa constrictors there, slinking along different people. I actually held one of the snakes for awhile (and got some pictures with it). They also had some tarantulas they were letting people hold. I was terrified at first, but after awhile, they started to look cute. I didn't hold a tarantula.

Excuse me sir, there's a big lizard on your table
It's tongue tickled!

Stay tuned next week for some of the fun indie games I saw at the convention!