READY TAYLOR ONE: With D. Bethel out for the week so Shakespeare can get paid, Andrew recruits friend-of-the-show, Taylor Katcher, to talk about the recent Steven Spielberg sci-fi film, Ready Player One.
WEEK IN GEEK: While still playing Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Andrew tries to participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) while D. gets excited by the Lovecraftian undertones found in Get Out.
WEEK IN GEEK: Andrew (starts at 1:38) hesitantly re-approaches (though actually, basically for the first time) Star Trek: Enterprise, while D. Bethel (16:13) has fun sacrificing folks in Kitfox Games’ The Shrouded Isle.
LUDIC CROSS-POLLINATION: (27:34) Gen Con, the long-running tabletop-focused convention, rolls out this weekend and leading up to it were a few announcements about new board games in an attempt to ride that wave of publicity. One of them is a brand new adventure board game based on the Fallout video game franchise. Lots of things like tv shows and movies are licensed for use within board games, but the kind of translation that can occur when adapting a game from one medium into a game in another proved a fascinating topic of conversation this week.
WEEK IN GEEK: In a fit of nostalgia, Andrew picks up The Sims 3 again (starts at 1:49) while Dan can’t get past a nit-pick to enjoy anything Netflix’s Castlevania has to offer (20:46).
SDCC 2017: [starts at 34:04] It was a big weekend for nerd culture as the San Diego Comic Con dropped a bunch of new trailers on the world. Dan and Andrew look at three trailers and how they seem to be pointing out the creative direction of their respective studios with Marvel’s Thor: Ragnarok, DC/Warner Bros.’ Justice League, and Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One.
For reference, here are the three trailers the discussion focuses on.
Despite suddenly getting sick this week, Andrew and Dan are bringing you quality audio content to help you usher in the weekend.
WEEK IN GEEK: Andrew branches out to watch the first season of Syfy’s The Magicians, based on the series of novels by Lev Grossman, while D. Bethel focuses up and gets emotional playing the latest game (and last game for Sony, at least) from Fumito Ueda, The Last Guardian.
WEEK IN GEEK: Andrew played DC Legends as well as Peter Molyneux’s new mobile game, The Trail while Dan got sentimental up reading Prophet: Earth War issue number 6, which finally wraps up the big Prophet reboot.
REMEMBER, REMEMBER: Though Dan and Andrew missed November 5th to properly discuss V for Vendetta, in the eyes of some Americans, the country did us a solid by possibly setting up a situation where that story could happen for real. They discuss V for Vendetta‘s relative applicability in terms of the comic, the films 2005 release, and 2016 America. Being an Alan Moore book and with the recent elections so near, politics are discussed but––with hope––done so through a critical lens and as it applies to nerdy stuff.
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For all intents and purposes, that was an episode recap.
-“Stayin’ in Black” by Wax Audio
-“The Girl from Ipanema” by Antonio Carlos Jobim
-“Rockin’ in the Free World” by Neil Young
News Blast: Lovecraft-Based TV Show In Development
A sneaky bit of news hit the internet recently when word got out that Legendary Entertainment was developing an anthology television show based on the works of cosmic horror writer, H. P. Lovecraft.
According to Bleeding Cool and Dread Central, not much is known as only a pilot script exists, to be used to shop around to networks at the moment. The pilot is written by Matthew Francis Wilson––who, based on my research, may have previously gone by M. Francis Wilson, is a newcomer to television writing and it is unknown whether he pitched the show or was hired to write it.
Aside from the Lovecraft brand itself, the producers of the series bring the most clout to the project. Lorenzo Di Bonaventura––who was the tip of the spear when it came to developing the Michael Bay-helmed Transformers series––and Dan McDermott––a screenwriter and producer who seems to have worked on mostly short-lived but interesting television shows.
Legendary Entertainment has made quite a mark as being a rather prominent producer of successful, if not critically consistent, genre films. Big hits for the relatively new studio––established in 2000––300, The Hangover, Inception, Pacific Rim, Man of Steel, Crimson Peak, WarCraft, Gareth Edward’s Godzilla, Jurassic World,Straight Outta Compton, and basically all Christopher Nolan movies since Batman Begins.
Their expansion into television is relatively new, but rather high profile with the Netflix exclusive, Love, having garnered a bit of attention on its initial release, as well as the SyFy adaptation of the beloved James S. A. Corey book series, The Expanse, which friends-of-the-show, Nerdhole, discussed in-depth recently, and Colony, created by LOST writer, Carlton Cuse, for USA Network. The latter two debuted this year and are renewed for second seasons.
So, while to some the credentials (or lack thereof) of those directly involved with this new series may seem troubling or make a fan circumspect, Legendary itself has a respectable track record on television even if they are rather new to the medium.
The show seems peculiar because, as sources described, it is unclear whether these will be adaptations of Lovecraft stories or new stories leaning on the Lovecraft stories. Bleeding Cool described the show as including “characters, locations and story-lines from sixteen of Lovecraft’s most popular tales” while Dread Central says the show will “feature characters, narratives, and locations from sixteen of the late American author’s titles.” Both sources cite that the show will specifically draw from “The Call of Cthulhu“, “The Dunwich Horror“, and “The Shadow Over Innsmouth.” Since H. P. Lovecraft had published over fifty stories in his lifetime and collaborated on almost another fifty with friends and as a ghost writer, there is no shortage of material to draw from.
While this is the first time a show has been explicitly based on Lovecraft’s work, the father of cosmic horror is no stranger to television. His stories have been adapted to varying degrees of faithfulness on horror anthology shows, with Rod Serling’s Night Gallery being the most prominent adapter. In most cases, Lovecraft’s work served as direct or indirect inspiration for stories and series. From the 1991 HBO noir movie, Cast a Deadly Spell to an episode of The Real Ghostbusters titled, “The Collect Call of Cthulhu”, Lovecraft’s creatures and themes have often served as a great starting point for new stories rather than go through the difficulty of adapting his somewhat anachronistic and often problematic work directly. Lovecraft himself even appeared in the season six episode of Supernatural, “Let It Bleed.”Adapting Lovecraft’s work until now has been a particular tough nut to crack. Most famously, Guillermo Del Toro tried for years to get his version of “At the Mountains of Madness” off the ground, only to have funding pulled out from under him for creative and monetary differences. The closest and, perhaps, most successful adaptations come in the form of the H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society’s (HPLHS) cinematic adaptations and their full cast audio drama adaptations of his stories.
The main aspect of Lovecraft that seems to clear the hurdle from page to screen are his monsters, which arguably hopscotches what his stories are actually about. While his creatures indeed played an integral part to many of his stories, they were rarely about the monsters, but rather the existential dread they represented.
Which type of Lovecraftian adaptation we’ll see on screen––either monster stories, pessimistic existential epistolary narratives, or something in between––remains to be seen. Either way, there hasn’t really been a Lovecraftian tv show or movie that has really appeased the devoted fan base as well as broke through to mainstream appreciation. With luck, this new series, if picked up by a network, can bring what so many people love about his stories and mythology to a new, broader audience.
As a writing teacher, the research-based portion of my scaffolding tends to always yield at least a few “Do video games contribute to youth violence?” proposals every semester. Honestly, it’s a tired debate but not because of the questions being asked, but for how little conversation actually happens. Lately, the pattern seems to be that when a new study is published that either states that games do or do not incite violent behavior in children, people then post those studies (or, let’s be honest, articles written about the studies) like flags planted in the ground and say, “The problem has been solved,” and walk away until the next one hits.
The point of view Brian Crecente presents in his article is not only unique, but important. What’s most important is not that he picks a side; instead, he actually problem poses the issue as a way to generate discourse and not simply promote the tribalistic partisan yelling that such topics tend to degrade into. To literally pull from my lecture notes, questions that start with a “do” or “is” can only yield yes or no answers, discouraging discussion and investigation. However, problem-posing questions––the classic Who What When Where Why and How questions––don’t do that. They beg for thoughts and ideas and points of view rather than declarative sound bytes. On big topics like this––especially when topics like gun control and mental health are forced into public interest by yet another shooting by a young person––such nuance and differing points of view should be more thoroughly explored rather than just drawing a line in the sand.
What’s also important in this article is that its author is not a single-adjective author the likes of which we normally hear on these issues. He writes as a father, but he is also clearly a gamer, a person who grew up with games––violent games, too, no doubt––and that informs his approach to the topic, which is a new voice in this conversation and one worth listening to, at least.
Superhero movies live and die on their sense of verisimilitude. As discussed when I talked to Elijah Kaine, the X-Men films succeeded at existing within the apparent paradox of being both faithful to the characters but also being incredibly divergent from the source material. The Marvel films (and Deadpool as well) have become renowned for being, probably, the most faithful comic book characters on screen so far, but even then there is a fair share of divergence. But when Man of Steel orBatman v Superman: Dawn of Justice land in theaters, they are derided for being too divergent from the source material. Then there are the ultra-devout interpretations like 300, Sin City, and Watchmen which are all over the place in terms of criticism and praise. This exposes the question embedded in all of our discussion of superhero cinema: “what makes a good comic book movie?” An entire Comic Con panel, I’m sure, could be dedicated to this question, but it’s one that Matt Singer surreptitiously addresses in his article as it relates to the ill-fated Green Lantern movie from 2011.
His basic argument is really interesting––is it damning to be, in a sense, too faithful to the source material?
Green Lantern is maybe the best proof to date that when it comes to superhero movies, faithful doesn’t equal excellent.
I’m sure this point is arguable, but I am not a Green Lantern scholar in any sense; however, it does help to focus the discussion around superhero movies––what does a faithful adaptation/movie look like and is it a movie we want to see?
I started reading Penny Arcade in 2002 or 2003. Since that time, it has evolved into the strangest of pop culture chimeras that evokes a sense of awe but has an underpinning of fear that, for some reason, it could all come crashing down at any moment. As a business, it felt like it expanded incredibly fast, but it withstood the current it helped create. They added more and more people to the fold, but the basic personality and attitude of the site persisted. The two creators went from being struggling, edgy voices of the generation to being––I assume––reasonably wealthy magnates of a new industry, but they seem rather unchanged by the developments. It could be argued that all of this growth and stability came from the direct management of the Penny Arcade business manager and president, Robert Khoo.
With Khoo announcing his exit from the company, it understandably has a lot of people worried. He was the master of the Penny Arcade Jenga tower, and, as he walks away from the puzzle, the worry is that it will, surely, crumble in on itself.
Matthew Loffhagen looks at what a post-Khoo Penny Arcade could look like, especially through the lens of PAX, as the keys of the kingdom are handed back to the original creators, Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins. Loffhagen focuses on a more legitimate worry than the knee-jerk reaction a lot of the internet provided (basically likening Khoo to an internet Jesus), and looks at the co-creators’ behaviors with fans and controversial statements and stances they’ve taken over the years and how that could impact not only the conventions but also the fans (the famous Dickwolves disaster comes to mind, among others). Drawing the line from one poorly-said statement to a massive PR catastrophe seems easy in this new administrative situation.
However, such thinking discounts Khoo himself. If we have learned anything in his decade-long+ tenure as the nerd mastermind, it’s that he knows what he’s doing. Watching everything from PA the Series to Strip Search, it’s clear that Khoo is a chess master, the Deep Blue of business, always three steps ahead of everyone around him. With that in mind, what becomes clear is that Khoo’s decision to leave was not rash; he left because he knew he could and Penny Arcadewould be fine without him. While Loffhagen’s very specific concerns are, indeed, valid, I think overall that Khoo is leaving Penny Arcade exactly where it needs to be, even if it isn’t as clear as we would hope.
Week in Geek: The guys felt the draw to local cinemas this week as Andrew saw Warcraft and Dan saw Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows and debate a bit about what movies trading on nostalgia and fandom should do versus what was done and, of course, come to no conclusions.
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For all intents and purposes, that was a shortcast recap.