Podcast Episode 004: In Nerdly Memoriam, or, “Return to the Peninsula of Death”
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When a beloved series is laid to rest by its creators, never again to offer us the thrill and joy of new installments, its fans are often overcome with grief. Whether the series in question spanned a decade or only a few short seasons, they feel as if there wasn’t enough time to truly relish what it had to offer. Mourning these losses can be difficult and draining, for even as fans remember the good times they had watching, reading, or listening, they must acknowledge that the story has come to an end if they are truly to move on. In this very special episode of Rag-NERD-rok, Alex, Ryan, Ed, Meyer and Erik take a fond look back at some of their favorite series that have “passed beyond the veil,” so to speak, and pay them tribute in stirring eulogy. After this nerdly memorial service, Alex gives us a review of “The Rocketeer Adventures,” and Ed introduces the first episode of his new audio drama, “Dead of Winter.”
(Show notes after the break.)
I. Cold Opening (00:00:00)
Tiffany returns Zach’s phone call with an equally disturbing message of her own.
II. In Nerdly Memoriam – Intro (00:00:52)
Erik introduces the episode, and we begin the grieving (and griefing) processes.
III. Ryan’s Eulogy – “Battlestar Galactica” (2003-2009) (00:02:37)
Dearly beloved, we are gathered here to remember the 2003 reboot of “Battlestar Galactica,” a television series that, in its time, was without peer in the science fiction genre. Through four seasons, one miniseries and two made-for-TV movies, this show explored the aftereffects of an apocalyptic genocide and a mass exodus across the stars, constantly plumbing and challenging our notions of what it means to be human.
“Battlestar” painted a stark portrait of human nature, its creators rendering mankind’s promise along with its flaws. Throughout the series, its characters were at times tender and manipulative, selfish and brave, petty and resolved, but never for simple reasons. Though they were battling for survival, many were also quietly — or not so quietly — at war with one another, and with their own demons. They made decisions and had to live with the consequences; they survived adversity through sheer determination and often fought hard for the smallest victories. From the irredeemable monsters to the reluctant heroes, the characters affirmed that the will to fight is intrinsic to human nature, a necessary trait for those who would survive in difficult times, but also a double-edged sword that can just as easily lead to ruin.
Moreover, the creators challenged the very definition of humanity to which their characters clung at the outset. At first, the Cylons were seen as “walking toasters:” machines that were imitating human behavior and form with software and artificial flesh. During the first season, these notions were undermined by Boomer, whose struggle to understand what she truly was raised a number of troubling questions. Were her feelings for Chief Tyrol legitimate or were they affectations she assumed to maintain her cover? Were her fear and revulsion at the idea that she could be a Cylon the results of a contradictory program, or of a more human cognitive dissonance? Is there really a difference? These themes were echoed through Boomer’s double, Athena, and her relationship with Helo. By the end of Season Two, the audience started to get a sense of the war from the Cylon perspective, and though their society consisted entirely of copies based on the same seven blueprints, they, too, experienced conflict – with humanity, with each other, and with their own natures. This leitmotif culminated at the end of the third season and throughout the fourth, when five characters who previously believed themselves to be human were revealed to have been Cylons all along.
The creators of “Battlestar Galactica” also explored themes of faith and religious conflict. One of the many elements that divided the humans from the Cylons was the faith that each race professed: the Cylons worshiped one god, while the humans were polytheistic. But the series delved deeper into the spiritual than simply acknowledging this: a mysterious force that was never seen had a significant influence on events through its agents, Head Six and Head Baltar. Was this the one true god of the Cylons, or some other superhuman intelligence? The show never gave us a conclusive answer, but I would argue that this was one of its strongest points. Add to this the repeated assertion that history is cyclical, a cryptic sense of destiny, and a string
of prophetic dreams that trouble several characters — not to mention Starbuck, who is killed and resurrected with the location of Earth implanted in her subconscious — and you start to see how truly spiritual “Battlestar Galactica” became.
The creators of the show – and everyone involved in its production – left us an indelible legacy, one that will continue to be relevant as long as humans live and love, fight and die. “Battlestar Galactica” will live on, not just through its spin-offs, but in the hearts and minds of its many devoted fans.
So say we all.
IV. Erik’s Eulogy – “Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends” (2004 – 2009) (00:07:12)
Ladies. Gentlemen. Strange bird-like creatures. Friends, both imaginary and otherwise. We are gathered here today not to mourn the loss of a wonderful television show, but rather to celebrate the joy that it brought us all.
“Foster’s Home For Imaginary Friends” was born on Aug. 13, 2004. Its father, Craig McCracken, was already well-known for his other brainchild, “The Powerpuff Girls.” The program aired on Cartoon Network, and was instantly recognizable for its attractive, unique art style. The show was also worked on by Lauren Faust, McCracken’s wife, who is responsible for the fantastic new series, “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.”But that’s besides the point.
Foster’s Home saw Mac, a young boy, in his adventures with this best friend, a blue blob that he imagined up named, simply enough, Bloo. A typical episode would see Mac and Bloo getting involved in crazy situations at the titular home, a gigantic mansion where imaginary friends are gathered in order to be adopted by children unable to imagine up their own friends. Mac and Bloo were joined by their friends: Wilt, a lanky, friendly red creature who will do anything (ANYTHING) for his friends; Eduardo, a gigantic purple Spanish beast with the demeanor of a toddler; and Coco, a bird-airplane-palm tree creature who lays plastic eggs and can’t say anything other than her own name. Other notable characters in the home include Madame Foster, the elderly founder of Foster’s Home; Frankie, Madame Foster’s daughter and pretty much the caregiver at Foster’s, always stuck keeping the place in order; and Mr. Herriman, a large, distinguished rabbit who enforces the house rules. The house was also populated by many other background friends that would often get involved in their adventures.
The show was praised by critics for its unique art style, loveable cast, and overall quality. The show was nominated for a total of 17 Annie Awards (winning five), and also won six Emmy Awards.
“Foster’s Home” brought its fans many memorable moments. Who could forget the episode, “Dinner Is Swerved,” where the entirety of the house’s population was stuck waiting at the dinner table for Mac and Bloo, who had gotten themselves lost in the house? Or the episode, “World Wide Wabbit,” where the gang caught Mr. Herriman doing a silly dance for Madame Foster and published it on the Internet for the world to see?
The show was not only funny, but delightfully poignant. Each one of the main characters was endearing in their own way. Sure, Bloo was more than a bit of a jerk at times, but he still retained a certain charm that appealed to the show’s fans.
The series spanned 79 episodes, including 18 independent shorts, some specials and a 90-minute television movie. (That’s as many as
90 x 10 9 x 10.) The series finale aired on May 3, 2009. The show shall forever live on in the hearts of animation fans the world over.
V. Ed’s Eulogy – “Lost” (2004 – 2010) (00:12:05)
It’s been slightly more than a year since we lost this dear, confusing, mysterious and ultimately awesome friend. “Lost” ended it’s six-year run on May 23, 2010 with a finale some called a cop-out. Some say “Lost” left us with so many questions and a cliched, unsatisfying ending that caused a wave of nerdy blueballs round the world. To these people, I say nay! “Lost” ended like it lived: with intense action, amazing characterization, fantastic suspense and, of course, close-up shots of eyeballs.
“Lost” began its journey on Sept. 22, 2004. The show was so conceptually perfect, and had such an amazing cast, that ABC reportedly sunk somewhere between $10 and $14 million into the show’s two-hour pilot.
The studio saw characters that would enthrall us, seduce us, entertain us and ultimately demand our attention on a weekly basis. These characters were familiar, comfortable stereotypes in many ways. The imperfect leader. The laid back, chubby, comic relief. The smooth talking, down-home bad boy. But very quickly these recognizable people were revealed to be riddled with neuroses and flaws, making them so real to us. But the true brilliance of the storytelling can be seen through how these characters’ stories were revealed: not all at once, but in a slow, exciting trickle. When we first meet John Locke, he’s simply a middle-aged man with survival skills. But quickly, we learn he was confined to a wheelchair, raising one of the biggest questions of the show: how was Locke paralyzed? It’s in Season 3 that we finally found out, and the answer was incredible. As time went on, this middle-aged man with survival skills became a tragic anti-hero who was seduced by the power of the Island and became a symbol of the large, destructive force lurking in the jungle.
Yes, the plot was engaging, and the mysteries were a huge draw of the show. But to me, the show’s biggest strength was its characters. It was the characters and the actors who played them that made me care about the fact that there was a button you had to push every 108 minutes or the world would end.
That doesn’t mean that the freaking amazing plotline and atmosphere weren’t a huge part of the show’s success. Essentially, “Lost” told the story of a group of people whose fates were intertwined by the unexplained forces of dark and light located on the Island. Over time, many tried to harness the forces of the Island: the Dharma Initiative being the most notable. But these forces proved to be unexplainable by Dharma, the so-called “Others” and even the mysterious leader of the island, Jacob. This was the lynch-pin of the “the Lost finale failed” argument: there was no definitive, clear answer as to what the “light” under the Island was. To this I say, of course there wasn’t! “Lost” was a consistent battle between science and faith, and the show usually came down on the side of faith. How then can you expect a scientific answer to a mystical question? The end of “Lost” was the brilliant revelation that the mysterious happenings of the Island were beyond man’s comprehension.
Lost is the perfect example of a well-told story that paralleled human existence: it wasn’t perfect, but it was loved. It began with a bang, engaged us, made us feel myriad emotions and finished with the simple answer that there are no simple answers. I miss it terribly, but I can’t say I’m sad to see it go. It lived a full life, and left us before it had a chance to lose its vigor. It didn’t waste away like so many good shows, but died peacefully, on a beautiful island, with the closing of a single eye.
VI. Alex’s Eulogy – “Smallville” (2001 – 2011) (00:17:25)
Let us not shed tears for “Smallville,” for that is not what the show would want us to do. It had time to say goodbye, make amends and tie up loose strings – things that many shows all too often do not get the chance to do.
Smallville, you did so much for us. You taught us what it means to be human, what it means to have faith and above all else, what it means to be a hero.
Through Clark Kent, you presented us with an Everyman gifted with extraordinary powers. You took Superman – one of the most unrelatable characters in pop culture – and made him human. This was not the story of a super human fighting crime (although that did happen), it was the story of a boy struggling to come to terms with what he was, what he could do and his place in the world – something everyone can relate to.
It would have been easy to tell a story about Superman, and it has been done many times. But telling a story about Clark Kent was new and exciting.
We will miss the compelling dynamic that was created between Clark and Lex Luthor: two people who started out as friends and slowly became enemies. The mantle of “villain” was something that was carelessly thrust upon Lex. It was slowly built. He learned everything about being evil from his father, Lionel, who taught he what it really means to be a bastard. At first, Lex truly wanted to do good. And that made watching the show all the more painful, knowing what the inevitable outcome would be.
Lex’s life and cold upbringing was wonderfully contrasted in the early seasons with the warmth and love of Clark’s family. Jonathan and Martha Kent were the ideal picture of caring, loving parents. They did what was necessary for Clark, both in terms of raising him and protecting his secret. Jonathan even wound up inadvertently sacrificing his own life to save Clark at one point, damaging his own heart to get his son back. The saddest moment of the show, for me, was when Jonathan was killed off. He was my favorite character, and I think the show lost its heart when he died.
Jonathan was Clark’s moral compass. He was the one that Clark would look to whenever he was trying to figure out what to do, to decide how far he had to go to protect the world and, more importantly, the ones he loved. Jonathan’s spirit and love for his family gave the show vibrancy.
There were some annoying characters, but even they could not detract from the solid foundation that was built by the show’s creators, Alfred Gough and Miles Millar.
And although the show faltered, it stayed strong for most of its run. It was strong enough that when ratings started to falter in Season 8 and the network decided to move the show to the “Friday night death slot,” it persevered. In fact, ratings surprisingly did well enough in Season 9 to warrant the show being picked up for a tenth and final season.
Smallville, you went on a little too long, but you left us with many, many memories. The show took the simple premise of “Superman as a kid” and created something wholly unexpected and heartwarming, while at the same time exciting. The show was, in the end, the story of a human, not a super man.
VII. Meyer’s Eulogy – “Y: The Last Man” (2002 – 2008) (00:21:55)
“Y: The Last Man.” A story about a man, his monkey, and lots and lots of boobs. What wasn’t there to love?
Who cares if the mystery of why all the males in the world died was never fully explained? The mystery didn’t make the book – it was the characters who made it. It is the characters I will greatly miss.
Alas, Yorick, how I will miss your humor and your vast knowledge of pop culture. You were truly a underachieving slacker’s role model. You didn’t get as much sex as I would have thought the last man on Earth would get, so thank you for ruining that fantasy. However, you made up for the lack of sex with a vast amount of poop getting thrown at your face.
Thank you, Ampersand. Thank for your feces-flinging, plague-surviving skills .I shed a tear when Yorick feed you that poisoned grape to end your suffering. Yorick also put it best when, surrounded by a bunch clones of you, he said, “A hundred monkeys later and still they haven’t gotten him right.” You were a one-in-a-million, genetically mutated Capuchin.
Agent 355 – or as others call you, Three-Fifty – you are the epitome (ih-pit-uh-mee) of badass-ness. You wielded a collapsible baton with the skills of a ninja. You were given a very difficult task: keep the last man on Earth alive. And Yorick made the task much more difficult with his recklessness. Through your years together you fell for one another. You were soul mates. Then the minute you two confessed your love for each other, a crazy Israeli commando put a bullet in the middle of your head. I think everyone took that hard. But of course, Yorick was devastated for the rest of his life.
Then there’s Dr. Mann, the expert geneticist who tried cloned herself and later had to help raise a bunch of her own clones. To say you had daddy problems would be an understatement. And you had a cynical attitude towards love due to failed relationships. However, you finally found love in a one-eyed Australian demolitions expert/spy. By the end of the story, there was a lot of you to love.
Then you have other characters, like Yorick’s two Beths. One was a bitch and the other had a huge scar across her face. And Yorick’s daughter, Beth Jr., as well. What was with Yorick and the name Beth? Then there’s Hero, Yorick’s older, one-boobed sister, who went from crazy Amazon trying to kill Yorick to becoming his ex-girlfriend’s lover.
While on the subject, the Amazon’s were pretty cool and excellent antagonists. I already mentioned her, but Alter (the Isreali), while not an Amazon, was a one-woman killing machine and a person everyone loved to hate. And who couldn’t like Toyota? A mercenary ninja? Instant awesomeness.
Are we ever going to see the movie adaption? I don’t know. Do I want to see a movie adaption? Not really. I think something will be lost in the translation. “Y: The Last Man was” … is a fantastic comic. And I’m very sad to see it end. I love you and I will miss you, Y.
VIII. Alex’s Review of “Rocketeer Adventures” (00:30:08)
Check back later in the week for a full write-up of Alex’s review!
Here’s the video we talked about:
The Rocketeer 20th anniversary from John Banana on Vimeo.
– HOMMAGE TO DAVE STEVENS –
“rocketeer 20th anniversary” fanfilm
IX. Audio Drama: “Dead of Winter Episode 1: Prom Night” (00:38:48)
Written and Directed by Ed Cress
Based on a Fiasco developed by all the guys at Rag-NERD-rok
Ed Cress as the Mysterious Stranger
Bob Domingo as Neil Price
Jason Forella as Sheriff Barker
Allison Malinowski as Cassandra Donner
Ryan Mannix as the Prison Guard
Alice Muterspaw as Sarah Winter
Derek Muterspaw as Revernd Mike Winter
Mike Natale as Evan Hollister
Michael Newman as Arthur Webb
Tony Piccirrilo as Ralph Mccann
Special Thanks to:
Bill and Flora Mannix
Joann and John Sescila
Angela Cress-Wineland, Larry Wineland, domrodrig, soundmary, thatjeffcarterdredile, CGEffex, kineticturtle, ttiimm54, Benboncan, Petejd13, 7by7, shall555, sinatra314, rutgermuller, volivieri, sagetyrtle, redjim, strangely_gnarled, stinkorn_HC, Jake_Wiliams, tigersounds and RHumphries
“He’s a Devil in His Own Hometown”
Performed by Ed Cress
Music by Irving Berlin
Words by Irving Berlin and Grant Clark
Check back for Episode 2, “Before and After,” in a few weeks!
X. Outro (00:53:35)
Do you have a book, television, comic, or (other media) series that meant the world to you, but has since gone toes up? After listening to “Dead of Winter,” do you have a juicy theory about whodunnit? Do you simply need a friendly shoulder to cry on? Share your thoughts with us in the Comments section below! If you prefer, you can leave us a note on our Facebook page, tweet us @ragnerdrok, or email us.
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.
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