'He doesn't like endings,' but ultimately Whovians don't mind
The TARDIS just got a little emptier.
October 4th, 2012
05:23 PM ET

'He doesn't like endings,' but ultimately Whovians don't mind

Spoiler alert: You watched Saturday night's "Doctor Who" mid-season finale, right? If you missed it, or are intending, one day, to Netflix the series and DON'T want any inkling of what happened in the episode, stop reading now. We don't divulge information that hasn't been already well-publicized. But we know even the faintest of spoilers can get you riled up like a Dalek on the trail of a sonic screwdriver. Read at your own risk.

Amy and Rory couldn't travel with The Doctor forever. Not that fans suspected they could - the Doctor's past includes many companions. But now we have to wait until the special Christmas episode, possibly beyond that, to see the next stop on the epic TARDIS hitchhike.

In Saturday’s “Doctor Who” mid-season finale, “change” and “endings” were as thick as the fog that attends the sneaky, predatory weeping angels. For a show about an alien who travels through time saving Earth and thwarting evil across the universe, the message got a bit heavy-handed at times. It was almost as if executive producer Steven Moffat was trying to prepare himself, the Doctor and the audience for the inevitable.

Even Matt Smith (the eleventh man to play the Doctor) was emphasizing that theme in an interview before last month's New York City season premiere screening.

“The show is about change,” he said. “Like Steven likes to say, it can never be predictable, it can never be cozy – It’s got to feel like it’s sort of marking new territory, I think, every season.”

But why belabor the point? This is a television show that for nearly 50 years has established the fact that the characters on the show are always coming and going - including the titular main character, the Doctor (who?) Even relatively new fans (and certainly, American fans fit that bill) of the show have gleaned that time travel is a limited engagement.

That started in 1966, when the show’s original Doctor, William Hartnell, needed to retire due to health issues. The show's producers devised a clever plan to transition to a new actor, Patrick Troughton, in the main character role.

The alien nature of the Doctor provided the fix: As a species known as a Time Lord, the Doctor can regenerate instead of dying in the traditional sense. Once regenerated, the Doctor is essentially a new person: he retains memories from his previous life but has a fresh personality.

This prevents a classic Dick York/Dick Sargent quandary where a new actor is installed and no one is supposed to notice the change. Even better, when an actor takes over the Doctor’s role, they aren’t trying to mimic their predecessor’s performance, which allows them to put a unique spin on the character all while adhering to the show’s canon.

"Doctor Who" fans, or “Whovians,” are unique among television show fandoms in that each fan can point to a favorite version of the Doctor without also having overwhelming disdain for any particular actor in the role. A popular T-shirt cheekily states, “You never forget your first Doctor,” and it’s spot-on; a Whovian’s fan identity is typically established with the first incarnation of the Time Lord (or his companion) they fall in love with. FULL POST

Why pop culture is stuck in the recycle bin: A conversation with remix provocateur Kirby Ferguson
Kirby Ferguson
September 19th, 2012
01:42 PM ET

Why pop culture is stuck in the recycle bin: A conversation with remix provocateur Kirby Ferguson

Editor's note: Rob Salkowitz is an author and business analyst specializing in the future of entertainment, media and technology. His latest book is "Comic-Con and the Business of Pop Culture" (McGraw-Hill, 2012). Follow him @robsalk.

"Star Wars." "Raiders of the Lost Ark." "Kill Bill." What do these canonical works of nerd-cinema have in common?

They’re rip-offs!

That is, they pay “homage” – through the wholesale appropriation of scenes, characters, plot structures and even shot-framing - to the objects of their directors’ obsessions. Still, they are all recognized as vastly influential, popular, and, yes, original works.

So maybe they’re not really rip-offs: they’re remixes.

This process of “innovation through imitation” is how most creativity functions, according to filmmaker, TED-talker and cultural provocateur Kirby Ferguson, maker of the wildly popular series of web videos “Everything is a Remix.” And, he points out, the artists and inventors who break through with new ideas that capture our imagination are frequently folks who have obsessed endlessly over the details of whatever genre, style or body of work that captured their fancy.

In other words, they’re nerds. And that’s what made them great. FULL POST

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Real pirates don't say 'Aaaaarrrrr'
"Captain Jack Sparrow," center and "Pirate Bob," right, rest with a crewmate after finding some treasure at the Tybee Island Pirate Festival.
September 19th, 2012
10:46 AM ET

Real pirates don't say 'Aaaaarrrrr'

Editor's note: Here's an oldie but a goodie that we published back in 2010. If you're wondering how to quickly broaden your pirate vocabulary, read on, scurvy dogs. But beware: you might want to venture further into this rum-fueled community.

Want to party with a guy who looks like Johnny Depp? How about carouse with "rock stars" from the 18th century who wear heavy eyeliner, speak the King's English and keep flasks of rum on them at all times?

If the rum runs out, one could always order a beer thusly: "Alesman, me cup be dry as an old woman's slipper!"

In celebration of "International Talk Like a Pirate Day," people all over the world will unleash their "inner buccaneer."

Why pirates? While pirate characters are charming rapscallions (like "Jack Sparrow" from "The Pirates of the Caribbean" movies), villainous but not too scary (like "Captain Hook" from "Peter Pan"), intelligent and even acrobatic (as Errol Flynn was in 1935's "Captain Blood"), the persona of a pirate offers fans even more.

"With pirates you have the carefreeness [sic] of the sea," said Wade Finch, a network administrator for Georgia Tech who cosplays as "Captain Jack Sparrow."

"Of course you have the killing and the pillaging and all that, but we don't celebrate that side of things. We celebrate the happy-go-lucky nature of things being free and the camaraderie of your fellow man like the crew aboard a ship," he said.

A thriving community of pirate fans has turned foul-mouthed, rum-fueled revelry into a lifestyle. FULL POST

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Filed under: Fandom
Dean Cain assists in heroic proposal
Dean Cain presides over the proposal as Ruby Rinekso asks Jennifer Haviland to marry him.
September 10th, 2012
10:06 AM ET

Dean Cain assists in heroic proposal

Dean Cain hasn’t played Superman for 15 years, but he’s still a hero for many fans.

Hundreds of people turned up last weekend at Atlanta's Dragon*Con to hear him reflect on his years in the 1990s hit “Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman.”

The actor, charming as ever, made the ATL geek fest especially unforgettable for Ruby Rinekso of New York, who was planning to propose to his girlfriend, Jennifer Haviland, at the convention.

FULL POST

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Filed under: Dragon*Con • Fandom
Tamamo no Mae
September 6th, 2012
05:21 PM ET

Costuming at Dragon*Con: It's like a sauna in here

Decked out in full Tamamo no Mae regalia, I drove from my home back to downtown Atlanta, Georgia, where Dragon*Con was being held. And I was already uncomfortable.

Not because - as I overheard in many conversations over the four days of Dragon*Con - costumers are often stressed and working down to the wire, sometimes finishing their grand creations in their hotel rooms while the con is happening. I'll cop to being a procrastinator, and having my costume done just in the nick of time. And yes, that was stressful.

No, I was uncomfortable because I was sitting on the bottom half of my 60-inch straight black haired wig, which was pulling the other half (and my neck) back into a very difficult position for driving a car. That turned out to be a constant issue as I met friends and strangers throughout the night. It's hard to sit down with hair that long, and it quickly dawned on me why Heian era women were always depicted either standing or kneeling.

I also had to bunch up my entire costume just to get into the car. My mobility was absolutely compromised in this cocoon of brocade and satin. I worried one of the costume's fox tails might get torn off when I finally extracted myself from the driver's seat.

Once into the muggy, mid-seventies Atlanta evening air, I knew right away: it's going to get worse. FULL POST

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Filed under: Dragon*Con • Fandom • Otaku
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