Small Screen Reboot

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The fad of remaking old TV series into movies will probably never be over. But recently, the idea to take old TV show properties and relaunching them as TV shows seems to be taking off.

Beginning with Battlestar Galactica and continuing most recently with Bionic Woman, news today has spread that Knight Rider may join them by seeing new life on the small screen.

I've always been more of a TV guy than a movie guy. I like to get to know characters and be able to revisit them several times. Of course, not every character works in the TV setting. For example, John McClane would not work on TV. (It will be interesting to see how well the Terminator world translates when The Sarah Conner Chronicles starts up.)

Anyway, looks like they've got a good director lined up to launch the show. And even though I don't look back on Knight Rider with the same nostalgia I do other things, I look forward to a reboot. Hopefully it can be as well-executed as Battlestar Galactica has been.

NextGen20

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"Thou art directed to go back to thine own solar system immediately!"

The year was 1987. I was a decade old but approaching my eleventh birthday. Sixth grade had just started. And so had one of the shows that became a staple in my life.

Star Trek: The Next Generation (NextGen) celebrated the 20th anniversary of the airing of its first episode, "Encounter at Farpoint" yesterday. Today, I celebrate the first anniversary of my watching it. Running for seven of my most formative years, NextGen remains one of my favorite television series ever produced.

I remember being frustrated with the show early on wishing that there were more phaser fights or space battles. The show was much more intellectual than most shows at the time and initially, shared many of Gene Roddenberry's humanistic viewpoints. I had my favorite moments though. For the first couple years, I watched the show on "tape delay." As it came on late Saturday night, I usually watched it Sunday afternoon. In fact, for the first three years or so, we taped the show and saved it. So I would rewatch those episodes over and over again. How many times did I watch a drunk Data play with the dominoesque computer chips in engineering? How many times did I watch the crew be taken over by their dreams as they reached the edge of existence thanks to the mysterious Traveler? How many times did Damon Bok use his Ferengi mind control device to trick Picard into attacking the Enterprise? How often was Riker almost seduced by the powers of the Q? How many times did I see the introduction of Lore, Minuet, and the Holodek? How many times did I watch Yar die? How many times did I watch the reintroduction of the Romulans or the true, yet never resolved, cliffhanger about the conspiracy at Starfleet?

The second season had a rough start as the writer's strike caused some weak scripts to make it through the gate at the beginning. But, despite having some of the weakest episodes, season two contained some particularly strong stories. "Measure of a Man" shines as probably the greatest of the season where Picard and Riker are pitted against each other into proving whether or not Data is sentient. "Matter of Honor" gives one of the greatest insights into Klingon culture by allowing us to watch Riker join the crew of a Klingon ship. While a weak episode, "Q Who?" brings back Q and introduces us to the Borg who would go on to be the most deadly new enemy in the NextGen era. The season ends weak with a clips episode, but is preceded by "Peak Performance" which once again pits Riker and Picard against one another, but this time in a friendly war game scenario. (This episode was actually one of the last episodes I ever watched since I missed it its first go around due to a power outage.)

I could go on, but by this time, Next Gen had hit its stride. It's easy to love "Sarek," "Yesterday's Enterprise," "Deja Q," "The Enemy," and "Best of Both Worlds." And certainly the show was a phenomenon by season four. To this day, the average person probably knows who Data is.

It's those first two years that I celebrate today though. My love for this show was there at the beginning. If you only like the pretty NextGen where Riker has a beard and the uniforms are snazzier, then I won't say you aren't a fan of this show. But if you love the early stuff, too...then I definitely agree that you are a true fan of this show.

And as I went from a sixth grader all the way through a senior in high school, I watched that show faithfully every week. And I'd say I miss it now, but I don't. I own them all on DVD.

Happy anniversary Star Trek: The Next Generation. You were my Star Trek.

Nerd gifts ala mode

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Everybody loves getting a good gift. Nerds, geeks, or poindexters are no different. But what makes a good nerd gift? That can be tough question to answer, especially for nerd loving parents or spouses that don't happen to be nerds themselves. Sure there are the old standbys like DVDs, video games, role playing books or accessories, and obscure European board games. However, there are also some unconventional choices that you may not have thought of, but are nerd approved.
  • The Presto Pizzazz pizza oven – Nerds aren't necessarily known for their culinary skills or interests, but they do love frozen pizza. The only thing better than cooking a delicious, piping hot pizza is cooking a delicious, piping hot without leaving the living room recliner or the basement session of Dungeons & Dragons.
  • Nerf NStrike Blasters or Buzzbee Air Blasters – Psychiatrists would probably chalk up many nerd activities to arrested development and engaging in foam dart gun battles is no exception. That being said, how many psychiatrists have had the thrill of wielding a foam shooting double barreled shotgun? For the exceptionally lazy nerds out there, PC controlled foam missile launchers or rocket launchers provide a less strenuous alternative to all the moving around and aiming and whatnot.
  • A Red Swingline stapler – Everyone needs a stapler and true nerds prefer the Swingline 747 in Rio Red, of course.
  • One of these?
  • On its own, an ice cream maker doesn't earn the same nerd respect as the Pizzazz. Ice cream does run in the same junk food circles as pizza, but homemade ice cream entails more time and effort than most nerds would care to undertake. But what if the ice cream maker comes from a renowned science fiction author? In my world that confers a special nerd status that would also apply to gifts like a juicer from Leonard Nimoy or a Hulk Hogan's Ultimate Grill from, well, Hulk Hogan.
    What other out of the ordinary gifts (other than pants, PLee) are on nerds' wishlists?

Signing the Cast: A-Team remake movie

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Let's say Hollywood called me one day and said, "CT, you can make one movie, whatever you want to do, we'll fund it." What do I say I want to do? Without hesitation, I answer, "I want to make The A-Team remake movie."

You see, I love The A-Team more than I probably should. Faceman explains it best in a second season episode that apart, they are just a bunch of social misfits, but together they're something special. That's certainly the case as they proved week after week for five years in the mid-80s. With Col. John "Hannibal" Smith in command, these soldiers of fortune helped the common man and showed that freedom is something to be lived, not squandered. Redundant plotlines and unrealistic action aside, this was a fun show that rarely got into anything too deep. But even in its simplicity, it could often times turn into something much more.

This remake is bound to happen one day, and odds are I'm going to want nothing to do with it. They'll probably make it a comedy. The show was funny, but it was not a comedy. Or maybe they will make it an action movie, but just grime it up. Whatever happens, the perfect A-Team movie exists in my head and that's very likely where it will stay. Except, I'll give you a glimpse of what I have in mind for The A-Team as far as who I think is the perfect cast. I'd be tempted to just let the pictures below speak for themselves, but I shall explain and defend my choices anyway.

Col. John "Hannibal" Smith : Mel Gibson
Gibson is and has been old enough now to play a seasoned character like Hannibal. But even as far back as Lethal Weapon 1, we can see the slightly crazy persona someone would need to play a role like Hannibal. Gibson can play the cool, collected leader, he likes cigars, and he can play a role that's based on formulating plans and executing them. All the while, when things go wrong, he can have a huge grin on his face.


Lt. Templeton "Faceman" Peck : Luke Wilson
My fellow Nerd Lunch contributors will probably disagree with this choice believing I have chosen the wrong brother. And for sometime now, my A-Team movie has had Owen Wilson mentally cast as Face. But, it's never felt completely right. And as I've recently rewatched all of The A-Team, I think Luke Wilson fits the slick pretty boy with a heart of gold much moreso than Owen Wilson does. Besides, between Starsky & Hutch and I, Spy, Owen Wilson has already been recast enough as old TV characters.


Capt. H. M. "Howling Mad" Murdock : Damian Young
This was another I recently recast in my mind. For the longest time I had Michael Ian Black in this role. I still reserve him as backup in case Damian Young drops out (but it's my dream so Young won't). I came across this actor recently while watching some old episodes of The Adventures of Pete & Pete. In it, Young plays Bus Driver Stu, a guy who's very easily pushed to the edge of sanity. In one episode, Stu is driving the kids for a field trip and in it, we see Stu go well off the deep end in a very comedic way. Combine that with a Dwight Schultz look and I think we have the perfect Howling Mad Murdock.


Sgt. Bosco "BA [Bad Attitude]" Baracus : Mighty Rasta (Lester Speight)

The thing about BA on the show is that so much of that character is Mr. T. So in trying to come up with someone who can play the new BA, one has to find an actor who can infuse his own personality into the role and yet still be BA. We don't need someone trying to do a Mr. T impression. No need for all the gold, a mohawk, and "I pity the fool" being thrown around. But the guy needs to have a presence and be someone who can still show off a bad attitude, and have a sense about how to make it funny, too. I can think of no better person to fill this role than Lester Speight, aka The Might Rasta. Best known for his performance as Terry Tate, Office Linebacker, Speight shows as much enthusiasm and attitude in those shorts as the Clubber Lang actor ever did on The A-Team.


That clears up the main cast, but there are several other regulars that need be cast.

Col. Roderick Decker : Clancy Brown
Appearance alone doesn't make this the perfect casting choice. Remember when Decker would have The A-Team surrounded and he'd pick up the megaphone and with that awesome deep voice, he'd yell, "Alright Smith, give it up! You're surrounded!" Well, imagine Clancy Brown doing that with his deep voice. That's just as awesome.


Amy "Triple A" Allen : Kristen Bell

Amy was a good character for most of the first season. She proved her worth and even Hannibal considered her part of The A-Team. But, somewhere near the end of the first season, she went from being "one of the guys" to the one who would roll her eyes at what the team was doing. Her catch phrase became, "oh you guys..." and in turning her into that character, her departure was a good thing for the show. Having someone like Amy can be a good thing, but she has to be on the jazz to some extent herself. She can't be doubting this team. So, I suggest someone like Kristen Bell who showed us in Veronica Mars that even she can have plans and can love them when they come together.


Frankie "Dishpan Man" Santana : Adam Rodriguez
I see no need for this character in my A-Team movie. Although one idea I had was to make Amy a documentary filmmaker instead of a newspaper reporter. And then Frankie could be her camera man. Should he need to be included in the first movie or any movie, I suggest Adam Rodriguez. He's got the look and it's not a difficult role to play.


Gen. Hunt Stockwell : Dirk Benedict
I wouldn't want to exclude any of the original cast members. Cameos would be needed for the three surviving cast members, but I can see one of them taking on this expanded role. Even as early as the first movie, a team like The A-Team wouldn't go unnoticed by members of secret organizations within the government. Why not drop in references to Stockwell and his group early on? It could be explored further in the sequels.


If I have a movie, if no else is good enough to play these parts, and if I can find them, then maybe, I've got my A-Team...

The Series Finale of my Series Finale Series

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I talked about some shows have poor series finales, but it's not the intent of the show's producers to end where they did.

I have begun to question the wisdom in season finale cliffhangers. I liked the approach that shows like Buffy and Veronica Mars took. Each season was like it's own 22-episode movie. Perhaps a slight dangling plotline or two, but, at the conclusion of the season, the big mystery is solved and the big bad is defeated. That approach, in this day of quick cancellations, would save fans so much heartache.

The longest summer ever might have been the summer between my eighth grade year and my freshman year of high school. Jean-Luc Picard had just been assimilated by the Borg, and Riker had given the command to fire the weapon that would destroy the ship. However, the three or four months of build-up, inevitably made the conclusion lackluster despite it being a pretty decent resolution. Ultimately, that's the problem with cliffhangers no matter if they get resolved or not, the build up is so much better than the payoff. Maybe these shows are better off ending the way they did.

Now and Again
Premise: This delightfully quirky sci-fi show was the story of a middle-aged man who "died," but before he completely died, his brain was transplanted into the body of a super-soldier. With this enhanced body, he would go on missions for the government. But it was a top secret project and he was to not contact anyone from his past. But he couldn't let go of his wife and kid.
Where things were when it ended: In the final episode, The Eggman (played by one of the "old Asian that guys," Kim Chan) is out for revenge. Lead character Michael makes a break for it while he has no tracking device implanted in him and heads to his old home and grabs his wife and child. The show ends with the lead characters on the run and Dr. Morris dead set on finding them.
CT's idea for what could have happened: I'm not too sure where it could have gone other than aping "The Fugitve" for at least a little while. It could have been Six Million Dollar Man meets The A-Team meets Promised Land.
Chances of it coming back: Series stars Eric Close and Dennis Haysbert both have shows on CBS that each do better than Now and Again ever did.

Red Dwarf
Premise: Dave Lister, the biggest slob, the last human left alive. Millions of years in the future, he's lost in space with a super computer, a cat creature, an android, and his annoying roommate who has been brought back to life as a hologram.
Where things were when it ended: A corrosive is destroying Red Dwarf. Rimmer heads to an alternate reality to find a solution that will destroy the corrosive, but is ultimately unsuccessful. He is knocked out and awakes to find Death standing there ready to take him away. Rimmer kicks Death where it hurts and runs off to find his crewmates while the ships is coming apart around him.
CT's idea for what could have happened: Whenever a season did end on a cliffhanger, they never really continued the story upon returning. It generally was recapped quickly and then a new story was brought to the forefront. That said, I have no idea what the outcome might have been.
Chances of it coming back: For years there's been talk of a movie, but that'll never materialize. I can see this one possibly getting one more spin around the galaxy, but I still think the odds are pretty slim.

Crusade
Premise: Earth had been attacked using Shadow germ warfare. The entire planet was sick and the Excalibur was sent on a mission to find a cure.
Where things were when it ended: Hard to say as the episode order is often debated, so it's hard to figure when it ended. Really, the major thing I wanted to know about was Captain Gideon's Apocalypse Box. Gideon won this shiny talking box in some sort of card game. It told Gideon to do things and we weren't sure yet whether it could be trusted.
CT's idea for what could have happened: Two or three unproduced scripts surfaced including the intended season finale where Gideon was shot at the end of the episode. I'm guessing the plague would have been taken care of within the next two seasons and the show would have become something even better.
Chances of it coming back: Crusade character Galen just appeared in Babylon 5: The Lost Tales. Unfortunately, there was no real report about what happened to the crew of the Excalibur. Beyond this, I doubt we'll see the conclusion in any satisfying way.

Quantum Leap
Premise: Scientist Sam Beckett leaps into the lives of various people throughout history attempting to make things better.
Where things were when it ended: I'm not sure whether this show ended as an intended cliffhanger or not. I've read different stories on the subject. There's a definite sense that more was on the horizon as Sam learned he was able to control his leaps and in the final leap, we see him leap into the living room of Al's first wife to tell her to wait for Al...something that Sam had not done three seasons prior when he first had the chance. When the show ends, we find out that Al is still married to Beth and that Sam never returned home. An ending that left much to be desired for many, I have since accepted it.
CT's idea for what could have happened: There was a hint that the leaps would become harder. Was that because the destinations would be harder because it's pretty tough to top some of the doozies he had. Personally, I think Sam would have stopped leaping into people and in doing so, he would no longer blend seamlessly into his surroundings. Also, by doing that, he would have lost immediate access, if not access altogether, to Al.
Chances of it coming back: There was talk of a reunion movie and relaunch of the series on the Sci-Fi network. The idea tossed around seemed to indicate that Sam's daughter would leap in an effort to look for her dad. I doubt this will happen now. And while it would be nice to see it return, I think it's better to leave well enough alone.

So, what are some shows that you watched that ended with those awful words...

TO BE CONTINUED...?
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