Nerd Lunch SyFy Pitch Challenge #4: Power Ties

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PLee threw down the challenge and it was such an awesome challenge that we decided to extend it to a couple friends. Today and tomorrow we have guest posts by some guys who answered the challenge. First up, our old pal Cordy returns with a submission.


Power Ties: A comedy of heroic proportions

Power Ties takes place in a world not unlike our own but with one small difference: super-powered individuals exist. They are among us and, just like us, they have to work in order to get paid. That is, unless they are villains.  If you threw Fred Savage’s “Working”, Jeffrey DeRego’s “Union Dues” series of short stories and “Better Off Ted” into a blender, the resulting concoction would be “Power Ties".

Ties follows the often humorous exploits of the employees of the country’s second largest super hero firm.  Focusing mainly on the day-to-day trials and tribulations of the non-powered workers the show will depict not only the difficulties of working for a large company but also the utter inability of the heroes to interact with “normal” people.

Even though the heroes exist in the Power Ties world, they are not typically the main characters.  You will see them in every show and may even see their powers being displayed but their characters are not meant to steal the show.  They will act more as the foil to the unpowered peons of the company.  

Recurring themes:
The Human Resources department is constantly trying to teach the heroes to interact with the other workers on a more personal level by holding mandatory training sessions and meetings.  

The super heroes will constantly step in and try to “save” the other employees in non-crisis situations such as when the fax machine malfunctions or that bag of M&Ms just will not fall in the candy machine.

The company’s Janitorial and Maintenance department is constantly kept busy making repairs by the careless and super-strong heroes.  

Former villain masterminds who have been rehabilitated (for the most part) and work for the company. The villains could be confined to the office and not allowed out on field work while under probation. They would be notorious for going off on long, monologue-esque rants, explaining everything they have planned for their department in excruciating detail.

Commercial tag lines:
  • Have you ever tried calling in sick to the guy who is invulnerable?
  • Having your work done on time is still not quite good enough when you report to the fastest woman in the world.
  • Try having an intelligible discussion when your boss can see 15 seconds into the future.
Although I cannot really envision any particular actors for any of the roles “Power Ties” leaves an  room open for guest stars from every medium known to nerd-dom: comics, movies, television and the internet.  I would love to see Patrick Warburton make an appearance or two.  There could also be recurring guest spots for such notables as Stan Lee and Lou Ferrigno.  Also, since a majority of the scenes will take place inside the office “Power Ties” will be very cheap to film.


Follow Cordy on Twitter.

Nerd Lunch SyFy Pitch Challenge #3: Chinatown Brown and the Jade Warrior

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It's "Big Trouble in Little China" meets "Power Man and Iron Fist" meets "Kung Fu: The Legend Continues."

MMA superstar / B.A. 2.0 Quentin "Rampage" Jackson is Luther Brown, a tough-as-nails cop trained in the underground African-American streetfighting system called 52.

Sith Lord / toad struck by lightning / Real American Hero Ray Park is Jamie McAlister, Scotland-born, China-raised (long story) acolyte of the Jade Warriors, a secret society of rogue Shaolin sworn to oppose the Immortal Xan, a legendary evil mastermind in the Fu Manchu mold.

Together . . . they fight crime! They set up shop as private detectives in NYC's Chinatown (which looks a lot like British Columbia).

I always enjoy genre fiction where one or more of the characters don't quite understand what kind of a movie they're in. Jack Burton from "Big Trouble" is the classic example --- he thinks he's the hero in a Charles Bronson movie, when he's actually the sidekick in a Shaw Brothers kung fu movie. This show could have it both ways --- sometimes it's a mystical kung fu fantasy co-starring a guy from the Lower East Side with a baseball bat and a bad attitude, other times it's "Shaft: The Series" co-starring an enigmatic kung-fu warrior.

While I would want the Immortal Xan [Cary Tagawa in a recurring role] to be a genuine threat, I'd also like to see some humor as the extremely old-school "Yellow Menace" tries to adapt to the 21st century. Perhaps give him a slacker Gen Y son and go for a Dr. Evil / Scott Evil dynamic.

Nerd Lunch SyFy Pitch Challenge #2: Just Another Day

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Despite having a bit of advance warning on this challenge, I've still had the hardest time coming up with what I think is a good pitch. Those who know me may find this to be a bit "Mary Sue." Maybe it is. I don't care.

Scott Curtis is just a regular guy like you or me. The only difference is that the world he lives in is completely different than ours. He lives in a world that resembles the DC or Marvel Universes. In his world, anything can happen. Super heroes battling villains in the sky are just as common as thunderstorms. Alien invasions? He's lived through four. Mutants, robots, monsters...all that stuff is real. So how does a guy who works at a publishing house deal with living in that world?

That question is answered in "Just Another Day," the story of the common man in a not-so-common world.

Capitalizing on the popularity of "The Office," the heart of this story is about Scott and his co-workers. But instead of just dealing with schedules and clients, they still have to make deadline while still dealing with evil twins, time travel, and malfunctioning robot officemates. Just to give it that so-called needed romance angle, Scott also wrestles with Destiny, literally, as he tries to woo the affections of a female coworker.

The cast of characters would feature several normal people, but a few "uncommons" as well. There would be a robot on staff as well as a fantasy character like a dwarf. Each episode would feature a main storyline as well as a subplot or two. In some ways, this could be viewed as how regular people would handle being thrust into the situations you see on the Star Trek series. What would you do one day if your car somehow achieved sentience?

(Eventually, this show could lead into a spin-off concept that PLee and I have discussed before called Retcons, Inc. where regular people can hire a specialized company to go back in time and fix mistakes. In sort of a Fantasy Island sort of way, the fixes wouldn't necessarily be for the better.)

There wouldn't be a big need for lots of special effects. The big stuff could happen off screen. The stories on this show wouldn't be related to the "big heroes" of the universe, or only tangentially if they are.

Scott would need to be played by a 20ish guy who looks rather plain. Someone like a John Krasinski. If we're going for an established name, Sean Maher might be a good choice, but I'd want to focus on the next star here and cast a name for one of the other parts. I could make a whole list of actors I'd love to see show up on this show, but I'll not. That could be a whole other post, really.

Nerd Lunch SyFy Pitch Challenge #1: Terra Incognita

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"Terra Incognita" is a new reality adventure series on SyFy. Sort of. It's the real-life adventures of ex-Special Forces officer turned anthropologist Brendan Walker [Stargate: Atlantis's Joe Flannigan] as he travels to the world's last "unknown lands" and invariably gets into far more trouble than originally intended.

So the basic idea is Indiana Jones gets a Discovery Channel-style documentary series. Flannigan's on board because he does a passable Harrison Ford impression and looks a lot like Drake from the "Uncharted" game series. The whole thing is shot like a documentary --- a certain number of staged shots, and a lot of shaky-cam as things get crazy. The show can also make use of some of the mockumentary editing used in shows like "Arrested Development" and "The Office" --- the talking head cam, fake archival footage, etc.

All the sci-fi elements are either ambiguous or happen juuuust off-camera, but it's mostly the classic regional cryptids --- the Yeti, the Mothman, etc. Lurking in the background (literally in the background --- the viewers pick up on it before the characters) are pieces to a bigger puzzle . . . the Unified Field Theory of Weird, if you will. And over time, the adventure-of-the-week format feeds into this larger mythology. Something big. The Illuminati.

The promotional opportunities are endless. Walker could have a Twitter account. The website could have some real-time in-character Q&A (like that Old Spice guy). All of the ads for the show could play along with the idea that this is just an exceptionally awesome version of "Survivorman" and the characters themselves could make reference to the fact that they are on right after "Caprica" or whatnot.

Now what we really need is someone cool to play the cameraman/sound tech, who will be the only other regular character, and who I think will often be seen and not heard. Still thinking about that. We need a character actor type, maybe a twitchy tech support guy (Flinkman from "Alias" or Jonathan "Short Round" Ke Quan?), maybe an unflappable ex-war correspondent, but basically a little comic relief.

Guest stars will abound, however --- like Indy, Walker has an old buddy or old enemy wherever he goes.

Nerd Lunch SyFy Series Pitch Challenge

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I am laying down a challenge, Nerd Lunchers. For lo these many years, the Sci Fi Channel (k.n.a "SyFy") has brought us innovative programming like "Battlestar: Galactica" and "Farscape." But it has also brought us a certain brand of competent yet unspectacular show, liked pretty well by People Who Like That Sort of Thing and usually adored by some subset of the nerd community.

I'm talking "Stargate: S.G.1." "Eureka." "Warehouse 13." Hack work, you say? Perhaps. But the hacks involved know what we like, and they work pretty hard to deliver it. But lately, SyFy has been moving towards more reality-show fare. Help them, Nerd Lunch . . . you're their only hope.

So next week, the team from Nerd Lunch is going to pitch some shows and remind SyFy how it's done. I will suggest the following guidelines:

  • The show needs to be cheap. Not "Blair Witch Project" cheap, but don't go crazy. Preferably filmed in British Columbia, although I will also allow New Zealand. If you're going to have a bunch of effects, they will be crummy, like "Sanctuary" (I tried, Amanda Tapping, I really tried).
  • SyFy pays the bills for a lot of genre stars from yesteryear, so feel free to cast anyone who might take the gig. Especially Ben Browder (shown here kissing Michael Shanks, who also needs work). Assume that, say, Leonard Nimoy will probably not star in your show. Remember that a typical SyFy cast is Some Guy + Some Girl and featuring Hey, It's That Guy!, so feel free to just assume a couple of good-looking Canadian unknowns + Tony Todd.
  • These shows are for hardcore nerds with a little time on their hands. Inside jokes and continuity porn abound. We're talking Jewel Staite is on "Stargate: Atlantis" and eats a strawberry, and we all get the joke. And on the whole, these shows don't appear to take themselves too seriously.
Check back next week for as many pitches as we can throw at you.

My Atomic Picks

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As I mentioned yesterday, I had the opportunity to join The Atomic Geeks on their podcast this week. At the end of every episode, each member of the show gets to make an "Atomic Pick." I wanted to share my Atomic Picks with the fine readers of this blog.

If you're a follower of Nerd Lunch, then you might know that I am a huge fan of collecting action figures and in particular, the newer style G.I. Joe action figures. My Atomic Pick isn't for any figure in particular but instead for a cool online store called Marauder Gun-Runners at marauderinc.com. At this online store, they sell all kinds of weapons and gear made for the 3 and 3/4 inch scale lines, so your G.I. Joe and Star Wars. They've got all kinds of stuff: guns, knives, computers, comm gear, vests, fences, barrels, bunk beds, lockers, and on and on. They've got super-specialized stuff and I've been told that they will soon be carrying a Halligan tool which is a special firefighter piece of equipment that has a pick axe, hatchet and crow bar all on one unit. The prices are reasonable and the shipping is only $1.45 no matter how much your order or where it's going, including Canada.

Also, my wife surprised me last week with the purchase of the new Hostess snack cakes, a few of which have been thematically linked to DC super heroes. They've got Superman and Batman pictured on the packages of their staple products, Twinkies and Cupcakes, but they also have created "Flash Cakes," which are essentially a cream-filled chocolate cupcake with red and yellow icing, and the oddly named "GLOBalls" which are essentially Snowballs, but colored green. What's especially cool about this is that they don't seem to be connected to anything but the comics. This isn't promoting a movie or a cartoon so it's cool to see these characters showing up just 'cuz.

(Atomic) Geek for a Week

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DISCLAIMER: CT was on a podcast this week and drank root beer, didn't swear, and talked about teaching others morals using the Muppets. These are not typical qualities of this particular podcast. The Atomic Geeks is not for everyone. iTunes has given them an "explicit" tag and at times they do their best to earn it. Be warned.

  
While I hated Superman Returns, I guess I owe it a debt of gratitude.

I really can't remember who followed whom first, but shortly after joining Twitter, @nerdlunch and @theatomicgeeks began following each other. I was still trying to figure Twitter out (some would argue that I still am), and was becoming overwhelmed with the amount of content that filled my feed. But one day, a tweet came through that announced a Episode 25 of The Atomic Geeks podcast: "It's a Re-do -- Superman Returns." Intrigued at how this would go down, I downloaded the episode, listened, and instantly became a fan of what these guys were doing.

The Atomic Geeks are essentially a group of long-time geek buddies who have all those crazy conversations you have with your nerd/geek friends, but they record them and share them with the internet. When the Nerd Lunch trio wound up moving away from each other back in the mid 2000s, it created a hole that I haven't been able to fill since. It's what this blog is trying to do, but can never fully accomplish. I can't sit with my buddies over a sandwich weekly anymore and discuss the finer points of Wold Newton or the new Battlestar Galactica show. I can't blow an entire Saturday sitting around a table rolling dice and making jokes about how lame the rules are for grappling in D&D. Then along came The Atomic Geeks and suddenly, even though it wasn't completely interactive, I had something that began filling that need simply by listening to others do just that.

I have enjoyed getting to know the four (well, five counting their regular fill-in) Atomic Geeks through Twitter, Facebook, and their website. And not just them...the other fans who interact with them are also a hoot. In pre-recorded material, I've had the opportunity to appear on their podcast twice before. They've picked a topic based on my suggestion. A couple of them have made their "Atomic Picks" something I pointed out to them. I've been mentioned in several episodes. Clearly I'm a huge fan of these guys and what they do because each time I'm referenced on their show, I get as giddy as a school girl (whatever that means).

So imagine how I felt when I received an e-mail from one of the Atomic Geeks, Christian Nielsen, on August 11 asking me my availability to join them for an episode on September 20 since another Atomic Geek, Michael DiGiovanni, would be unavailable for that recording. I accepted right away and it has been 40 days of excitement and nervousness.

I had the opportunity to do a Skype test call with them a couple weeks back before they recorded one of their episodes. We were mainly doing it for technical reasons, but I quickly saw that it was good for me so I could get used to these guys responding when I talked to them. After 83+ episodes of just listening to them, interacting with them was a bit surreal.

As the day got closer, it was determined that Christian would be hosting the show (the four of them rotate through hosting duties) and wanted the next episode to be a part of their desert island series. He still didn't have a specific idea for what exactly he wanted to do with it. I asked if he was taking ideas and he was. So I offered this:
You crash on an island. After wandering around for days, you stumble upon a tribal civilization who crowns you their king.  You decide to mold these people into a "native geek" culture and must educate them in the ways of the geek. But you only brought five basic geek items with you. Which five items would be the most important to share with this new culture and become the foundation for their geek society for years to come?

And, much to my surprise, he went with it and made that the topic. So not only was I on the show, but it was a topic suggestion of mine as well. I spent several days thinking about what my five geek items would be and didn't even finalize my list until about 20 minutes before recording.

The recording began promptly at 8 on Monday evening and I had a great time participating. The show was posted late last night and despite the fact I tend to be my own worst critic, I think episode 84 turned out great.

For those that choose not to listen due to the disclaimer above, I plan to someday re-purpose my list for a future blog post. And tomorrow, I will post information about my "Atomic Picks."

Thanks again, Atomic Geeks. Keep on geekin' on!

Versatile Blogger Award

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This post is long overdue, but better late than never, right?

We were recently awarded the "Versatile Blogger Award" by Paxton Holley over at the Cavalcade of Awesome. Even though this is a very "chain letter type award," we get a kick out of being recognized because it's just nice to know that someone is reading the blog, let alone enjoys it enough to give us a shout out on their blog.
Jeeg, PLee, and I (CT) started this blog because we were having a lot of great e-mail conversations and we were looking for a way to document them. Secondary to that was the idea that others out there might enjoy reading what we'd have to say. Ultimately, I don't think Nerd Lunch is exactly what we envisioned it would be early on, but I'm proud of what we do here and I thank Paxton for recognizing us and I thank everyone else who visits this blog and reads our thoughts on nerd stuff and food.

The reason this post is overdue is because there are a set of rules that come with accepting and acknowledging this award. They are, as Paxton listed them, as follows:
1. Give thanks to the person who nominated you.
2. List 7 things about yourself
3. Give this award to 15 of your favorite bloggers
So, I've taken care of item #1, but just to be clear, Paxton, thanks so much.

Since there are three Nerd Lunchers, I'm going to try to make each of the facts about two or more of us.
  1. Jeeg and I met each other our freshman year in college. We were dorm room neighbors.
  2. PLee and I met at my first job out of college. We were both project coordinators at a standardized test development company.
  3. Jeeg and PLee met...well...there's some haziness about how it happened. It was either at a lunch that I coordinated, which would be fitting, or it was during a session of D&D that I was DMing.
  4. In a weird cyclical thing, Jeeg was the best man in my wedding, I attended PLee's wedding, and PLee was the Cha'DIch in Jeeg's wedding.
  5. We all lived within a few miles of each other briefly, but eventually we all left the Champaign, IL area. I am now in Tallahassee, FL. PLee is in the Mattoon, IL area. Jeeg is livin' life in style in the Chicago area.
  6. Jeeg briefly lived in Indiana and PLee and I took a road trip to see him. Along the way, we purchased a stuffed monkey at Toys R Us and named it Giuseppe.
  7. I make magazines. PLee lawyers. Jeeg builds robots.
Now, to pass along this award to fifteen deserving blogs. Really, the problem here was narrowing it down to just fifteen. There are so many great sites out there but here's who we'd like to recognize at this time. These are listed in no particular order.

1. The Atomic Geeks
2. Branded in the 80s
3. Total Fan Girl
4. By Odin's Beard
5. The Surfing Pizza
6. Cordy74
7. Twenty Sided
8. Gone and Forgotten
9. Plaid Stallions
10. Crymes Syndicate
11. Strange Kids Club
12. The Sexy Armpit
13. Battle Grip
14. Dork Dimension
15. Platypus Robot

And that's just 15. There are tons more blogs out there and if I didn't mention yours, I apologize. I interact with a lot of people on Twitter who have great blogs that I check out often. In fact, I implore you to respond here with a comment mentioning your blog if you have one. I'd love to know about it as I'm sure others would as well.

Again Paxton, thank you for the award and I hope everyone who reads this checks out all of the blogs listed above and any of the blogs that may yet be listed in the comments.

Time for a Change

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If you're here, but not for the first time, you may notice a slight bit of redecorating has happened here at this fine Nerd Lunch establishment. Thank you "Rounders" template for being with us the last few years. You've done a marvelous job, but it's time for something new. As we continue to expand content and make tweaks, we welcome any feedback.

I also want to thank Bill Wiist again for the art he drew that served as our little avatars on the side since the beginning. It's still located in the About the Nerds page. However, we have new, more toonier art thanks to artist Marc L. Thomas. He contributed the new art of the "Nerd Lunch Trio" and we all love it.

Hey, we just passed post #350 a couple posts back and we've been doing this blog for just over three years now. We didn't stop to make a big deal about either occasion. Maybe it's not really a big deal, but I'll make a big deal of it anyway. When Jeeg had the idea to convert our daily e-mailing into this blog, I thought it was brilliant. I love this place and the ability to interact with my nerd buddies and everyone else who stops by and comments. I love what we've built here and do have hopes and dreams to expand it further in the days ahead.

The blog is the root of what we do, but in the time since starting, social media has exploded in the form of Facebook and Twitter. I particularly enjoy all the great fun I've had on Twitter connecting with new folks around the world. The regular Nerd Lunch Twitter account has just passed 800 followers. I don't say that to brag. In fact, I find it a bit humbling to think that 800 people have chosen to allow what I say into their personal Twitter feed. If you follow @nerdlunch, thank you.

Jeeg is also on the Twitter and tweets once in a blue moon of Endor. You can follow @nerdlunchjeeg for all the wackiness that he delivers. PLee is not on the Twitter, but maybe someday we'll convince him to join. We have a Facebook page as well. Occasionally we'll post an extra goody there. Swing on by and "Like" us. And, we have a YouTube page, a  Tumblr page, and a Foodspotting page as well. Those aren't really going full swing yet, but they're there and some content is there already.

Oh, and we have a store on Printfection. Buy a shirt or something and show off how big a fan you are of this site and what we do here.

And one more thing... I have been invited to be on this week's Atomic Geeks podcast. Look for episode 84 coming this week!

Whew. All that writing made me hungry. Off to find lunch.

Futurama Retrospective and Season Whatever Review

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I was never a Simpsons guy. As a result, when it was announced that the creators of The Simpsons would be doing a new sci-fi comedy cartoon, my reaction was that of apathy. I didn't watch the show when it originally aired except on one occasion when I caught the last half of an episode and was confused enough to decide it wasn't for me. This decision in the face of Jeeg and PLee both professing their love of this show.

Then a former co-worker of mine loaned me the first season DVD set with the strong recommendation to watch it from the beginning. Well, not having much else to do at the time (I'm pretty sure this was pre-kids and certainly pre-grad school), I gave it a shot. Not having the experience with the Simpsons writing-style and comedic pacing, I had to get used to it, but by the end, I had warmed to the series.

Then came season two DVDs and then season three DVDs and by that point, I was hooked and it came alongside Red Dwarf as some of the best sci-fi comedy I have ever seen. Strong characterizations, wonderfully potent at times, and genius comedic set-ups and payoffs.

Then I got to the season four DVD set and a slight shift downward began to occur. From what I can know of the history (and perhaps Jeeg can better elaborate), FOX continued to mess with Futurama's air time and scheduling yet didn't cancel it for quite some time in spite of low ratings. Of course, who could watch the show when no one knew when it was on or if it would be on at all. Then FOX wanted them to wrap it up so the show could end. The season four set was just that. The episodes were focused more on explaining things and taking away the mystique of certain components that made the show great. Then it was canceled, never to be seen again. And while it was a step down in quality, at least we had resolution on some things.

But then it came back in the form of four direct-to-DVD movies. Movie #1 was excellent and a step up over season four. And perhaps, it should have ended there. But then they made three more and each one was only half as good as the one before it. By the fourth movie, I was having a hard time staying awake. But with that movie done, the series ended, never to be seen again.

But then it came back in the form of a 13-episode season (12 already aired and a 13th holiday-themed episode yet-to-air) from Comedy Central. While many were excited about its return, I was worried about more of a decline and would have been just as fine if it hadn't come back.

I had the opportunity to check out the 12 episodes that have aired. Overall, it was a pretty mediocre season. Three episodes stand out as really good, one that might have been as good as the season 2/3 episodes. The season started rocky with the need to pick up the series where the fourth movie left off and address that. Then, it was peppered with a mix of agendas and "current events" humor that seemed beneath Futurama.

Still, if you're a true fan, I recommend you check out all of them. If you only have a passing interest, I recommend only "The Late Philip J. Fry," "A Clockwork Origin," "The Prisoner of Benda" (which is just superb), and maybe "Lethal Inspection."

I haven't heard whether it's been picked up for another season. In spite of the up and down of this season, I would welcome another.
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