Jul 052011

As nerds, we’ve all been there before. We find ourselves engrossed in something — be it a television series, film franchise or comic book storyline — and it is fantastic! We enjoy every second of it, waiting with baited breath for the next installment. This joy, however, is short-lived. Maybe the network assigns a new executive producer to the project, someone with “exciting new ideas” about where the series should go. Maybe a writer comes on board who feels the need to raze the world his predecessors have so carefully created to the ground, so that he, in his infinite genius, can rebuild it by his own design. Whatever the cause, these awesome series turned into the ultimate disappointments, mere shadows of what they once were. In this episode, we tackle several of our favorite awesome disappointments, along with a brood of mind-controlling lava worms. So join the Rag-NERD-rok crew for a blitz expedition deep into the catacombs of good stories gone bad, where creative hijacking, network interference, and sometimes just plain hubris take the most excellently told tales and drive them face first into the ground!

(Show Notes after the break.)

Cold Opening (00:00:00)

Zach has some very disturbing information for his ex-girlfriend, Tiffany.

Introduction (00:01:05)

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Feature Segment: Awesome Disappointments (00:02:20)

During this segment, we give ourselves five minutes to discuss what went wrong with each of our favorite series and franchises, but only five minutes! Once time runs out, we have to break off whatever discussion we were having and move on to the next topic, even if one of us was in the middle of a sentence.

Here’s a list of what we covered, along with the start time of each discussion:

‘Terminator’ Franchise (00:05:37)

‘Heroes’ TV Series (00:10:51)

‘Sliders’ TV Series (00:16:06)

‘Batman‘ Film Series (00:22:25)

‘Star Wars’ Film Series (00:27:45)

‘Star Trek’ Franchise (00:33:37)

Marvel’s ‘Ultimate’ Universe (00:39:04)

‘Twin Peaks’ TV Series (00:44:33)

Share your thoughts with us! If you would like to contribute to any of the discussions we started and then had to cruelly cut short, feel free to leave a comment here on the site. Alternatively, you can comment on our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ragnerdrok, or Tweet us @ragnerdrok. As you can probably tell if you listened to the show, we are eager to share our opinions on what went wrong with these wonderful series, so if you leave us comments with your own insights and observations, we’ll do our best to respond.

A Message From Our Sponsor – Patriot’s Way Insurance (00:51:03)

Patriot’s Way Insurance — Offering you complete protection from superhuman brawls since 1876!

Download the MP3 of this word from our sponsor here: Patriot’s Way Commercial

Meyer’s Comic Book News – Marvel’s ‘Ultimate’ Series Reboot (00:53:34)

Check back later in the week for a full write-up of Meyer’s coverage!

Erik’s Board Game Review of ‘7 Wonders,’ by Asmodee (01:12:30)

Check back later in the week for a full write-up of Erik’s review!

Sign-off / Outro (01:30:34)

All hail our new lava worm overlords! They command you to check out The Game Table at 167 E. Jericho Turnpike in Mineola, NY! You can find them on the web at www.gamerterrain.com, and email them at thegametable@yahoo.com. They stock some pretty awesome games, they have lots of awesome weekly events, and they coordinate a lot of community get-togethers through Meetup.com. They were also kind enough to help us spread the word about the Rag-NERD-rok, which pleased our new magmatic masters.

Featured Music:

Interlude #1: Apollo Wakes (Shatterfreak) / CC BY-NC-SA 3.0
Patriot’s Way Commercial: 1909 – Spring Song / http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Victor_Herbert_Orchestra/ / Public Domain Mark 1.0
Interlude #2: Splurge (Scrambled Mache) / CC BY-NC-SA 3.0
Sign-off / Outro: Red Alert (Remus) / CC BY-NC-SA 3.0


Creative Commons License
Rag-NERD-rok Podcast by Alex Costello, Edward Cress, Erik Dickash, Ryan Mannix and Billy Meyer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available by contacting info@ragnerdrok.com.

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  • Chris C.

    In general, kudos to the points made in this episode. I do tend to lean towards Ed in terms of his defense of Val Kilmer in Batman: Forever too. I’m not a diehard Batman comics guy, but I always enjoyed that film and its depictions (of course a large portion of that enjoyment is nostalgia related).

    Also, no complaints about the X-Men film franchise? They literally ripped my heart out, shit on it, scooped it back up and then ran it over several times with X-3 and X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Thankfully my heart has been reconstituted and sewn up by X-Men: First Class.

    I definitely want to hear some more of your thoughts on the topics considering that damn timer cut you off too often.

    Good job again guys, keep ’em coming.

    • TheEdCress

      Thanks Chris. We will keep ’em coming!

      And believe me, the timer was super frustrating for us. But the topic was so broad we need to be wrangled or the episode would have been several hours long.

      We had talked about bringing in X-men, and Spiderman, but we couldn’t talk about everything. If I’m not mistaken, we felt like in reference to comic book movies, “Batman” did a better job of demonstrating the death (and rebooting) of a franchise than “X-Men” and “Spiderman”. I think it’s probably because the Marvel comics movie franchise seems to be it’s own entity, with it’s ups and downs (Eric Bana “Hulk”, “Spiderman 3”, “X-Men 3”), but it’s still alive and going strong with “Thor”, and Cap and the much anticipated Avengers movie. However, when it comes to DC comics, until recently with “Green Lantern”, we have Batman films and Superman films and that’s it.

      You wanna hear more of my thoughts? Well here we go:

      Heroes…for real…from Season 3 on I felt that the writers were waving odd plotlines at us that we hated, and then abandoning them and waving even worse plotlines at us. Instead of committing to a story, for better or worse, things changed radically from week to week so it was impossible to find something concrete to hang on to, and therefore there was no reason to care an iota for any of the characters or their dilemmas. Not to mention they started bringing in new characters and then killing them off so quick we never had a chance to connect with them. Not to mention the multiple incarnations of Ali Larter.

      Sliders…it started sucking, but was still watchable. Then John Rhys-Davies left the show. Nuff’ said.

      Star Wars…there’s just so much to say. But I think Meyer put it best when he blamed it on the difference between Lucas’ status now and his status when he made the first three movies. But there’s also the cast. When you go from Mark Hamil as the fresh faced hero to Hayden Christiansen it’s unavoidable that you’re gonna be disappointed. And I just have to say this. Anakin Skywalker built C-3PO? NO SIR! I CALL SHENANIGANS!

      Star Trek…what I was ABOUT to say before that damn buzzer went off was that more than 30 years ago, when STar Trek first came out, people looked to film and TV for escapism as oppose to now when we seem to be trending toward realism. I think Star Trek ran it’s course in a world that was looking to escape into a Utopian future and unsuccessfully tried to move toward realism with Enterprise, though not forcefully enough. They sort of went for a new generation of Star Trek, while still towing the line for fans of the classic. They ended up pleasing no one. JJ Abrams took the franchise, made it timely, and while alienating many fans, breathed new life into the franchise.

      Other than that…I got to say most of what I wanted to say.

  • Derek

    Man, great show. I was actually interjecting a few times then realized that you couldn’t hear me. πŸ™‚

    A few points:

    Heroes: I agree that the writer’s strike helped to kill the series. It never recovered.

    Sliders: The biggest problem was that they took the comic relief character of Rembrant and made him the action heroish leader. I guess that was because he stayed for the entire run, but it just didn’t work.

    Batman: I disagree…the new Batman movies are NOT F-ing awesome. Now, I’m not saying the 90’s ones are much better, but I have NOT enjoyed the Nolan Batman movies much at all. Batman Begins bored me to tears many times…which saddened me…. and don’t get me started on Dark Knight.

    Star Wars: It’s contrived to call Episode 4,5,&6 a space western. Sure, there were elements, Han primarily and all the desert worlds, but the original trilogy is so much more than a western. It’s a morality play as well as the fact that there are religious and faith elements …and these help it to ascend to new level. The films are an amalgam of styles.

    Star Trek: The sad thing for me. Next Gen got a nod from the past with the Bones appearance in it’s first episode. DS9 got it’s start with a Picard cameo. What did Voyager get? QUARK. πŸ™‚

    Ultimate Marvel: As a youth who grew up on comics and became quite the continuity nerd…the Ultimate universe bothers my inner child on a base level. There are SO many great stories in the past, I don’t see the point of restarting/rebooting things and erasing the past. This is the same problem I have with film remakes…but that’s another story for another day.

    Twin Peaks: I just love the fact that you guys are discussing a show you were WAY too young to watch in its original airing. πŸ™‚

    Loved Patriot Way! Keep up the good work!!

    • TheEdCress

      Glad you enjoyed Patriots Way Derek. That means a lot coming from you.

      And Derek, I’m not sure I am entirely comfortable coming out and saying it…but I agree with you about the Nolan Batman films. I don’t hate them…but I’m not a fan. I like the one’s from the nineties a lot better because they don’t take themselves seriously. I feel like the Nolan films are these dark, gritty crime dramas…about a man who dresses up like a bat and lives in a cave. It’s not a story that lends itself to serious brooding drama, in my opinion. I’d rather laugh while being terrified by the Joker than to just be uncomfortable and terrified. Though I will say that Aaron Eckhart was a fantastic Two-Face.

      As for Star Wars being a Western, I don’t think it’s all that contrived. Sure it’s a morality play and there are religious and faith elements, but can’t it be all of the above? I think George Lucas’ statement that Star Wars is a Space Western is him basically saying that it is indeed and amalgam of styles, but for him, the overall story and atmosphere John Wayne movie in outer space. Actually, Star Wars is a lot like “True Grit.” A unique country bumpkin learns that his father was killed by a man in black and vows revenge. In order to do this he enlists the help of the imperfect, rogue-ish criminal with a heart of gold. If that doesn’t sound like a western I don’t know what does.

  • I think that Sliders fell apart long before Rembrandt became the moody action hero of the series. Granted, it was a weird and totally unfortunate role-reversal for him, but the show was pretty much a pale, reanimated corpse of what it originally was by the time the producers foisted that travesty upon us. Here are some of my thoughts about Sliders that I didn’t have time to share on the show:

    1.) Tracy Tormé originally intended the show to be a device for satire and social critique in the same vein as Star Trek: alternate realities (or, in the case of Trek, other planets) could be used as a setting for examining unwholesome aspects of human nature and society without making any damning accusations against real people or institutions. If you look at the episodes that he wrote in the first season (“Summer of Love,” “The King is Back” and, of course, the pilot), you’ll see what I mean. They’re hilarious takes on what our would would be like if a-the counterculture movement of the 1960s occurred 30 years later, b-Rembrandt’s singing career had been so successful as to put him on par with Elvis, and c-the Communists won the Cold War and turned America into an oppressed satellite state. The communist rap video from the pilot illustrates the type of humor that I think Tormé wanted to run throughout the series. I’m not saying that the show was meant to be a comedy, but the people behind the scenes definitely lost sight of the lighter tone they established in Season 1. Season 2 continued it a bit, but by the time they got midway through Season 3, Sliders was taking itself way too seriously.

    2.) Jerry O’Connell became an executive producer and hired his brother, Charlie. I’m not bashing Charlie O’Connell–I didn’t think he was as bad as some people say–but by hiring him, they had to contrive a huge revamp of the series’ plot to bring in Quinn’s brother, which completely derailed it. They meant for that to be a big reveal, a twist, but for those of us who were loyal fans since the beginning, the revelation that Quinn was actually from a parallel world and was placed with his parents at birth to protect him from the Kromagg invasion was a huge “WTF, mate?” moment. Colin Mallory was an okay character, and Charlie O’Connell did an okay job of playing him, but the whole Quinn and Colin finding their home world so that the Sliders could beat the Kromaggs plotline was a big pile of rancid suck.

    3.) While we’re on the subject of the Kromaggs, I feel I should elaborate on what I said in the show. Tracy Tormé did indeed create them so that the series could have a recurring villain, but they were grossly misused by the writers and showrunners in Season 4, who shoved them down our throats week after week. They were intended to be unbeatable foes, enemies that surfaced only occasionally to play mind games with Quinn, Wade, Remmy, and Arturo, not the omnipresent baddies that they turned into. If you look at “Invasion,” the episode in which they first appear, I think you’ll see what I mean. The Season 4 Kromaggs weren’t nearly as menacing or as cool as the ones that Tormé originally conceived, and they shouldn’t have become such a big part of the show’s metaplot. Finally, and perhaps most importantly,

    4.) The network was never behind it. An entry on TV Tropes and Idioms that I came across while doing research for things to complain about in this episode said that Fox execs perceived the show as having a liberal bent, and took steps throughout Seasons 2 and 3 to correct this, which resulted in the incoherent mountain of cliches and movie ripoffs that was late Season 3. They took a novel idea for a show with interesting characters and tried to make it into a cool action show, which is why John Rhys-Davies jumped ship. The network pushed aside the show’s original creators and their vision of what they wanted Sliders to be and made it into “Party of Five” travels the multiverse. I don’t know whether to blame groupthink or Rupert Murdoch or what, but the show was a planned train wreck almost from the start, which is an incredible damn shame. It had so much potential.

  • Will W.

    Guys, that was awesome. I enjoyed that a lot, especially since we will never know what Ryan’s thoughts will be on Midichlorians. Or Ed’s thoughts on Star Trek. Keep it going guys. I look forward to doing another Unadulterated Will Session.

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