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Nostalgia Review Video

Rewatch: Stargate Universe

Stargate Universe is the final series to follow Stargate SG-1 (read the Rewatch review here) and Stargate Atlantis (read the Rewatch review here). The series premiered in 2009 and ran for two seasons when it was canceled kind of on a cliffhanger, more on that later. The series is definitely a tone shift for the franchise. You’ll find overall that it’s darker and has more character-driven drama than SG-1 and Atlantis.

The show follows a set of occupants from the former Icarus Base who are forced to flee through the base’s Stargate to a mysterious address that the base’s obsessive lead scientist has dialed instead of Earth during the evacuation. The base was on the only planet Earth knew of at the time that could power dialing it, so in that scientist’s view, there was no reason to let it go to waste. Unfortunately, the planet explodes after they go through, leaving them no way to get back to Earth (or get supplies from Earth). They are now stranded several billion lightyears away on Destiny, an Ancient ship with an unknown mission and a predetermined course. They have no way home, they are lost in space, the ship is falling apart, they have no control over it, and they are the wrong people for the job.

That obsessive lead scientist I mentioned is Dr. Nicholas Rush, played by Robert Carlyle. He is exactly where he wants to be, unraveling the mysteries of the universe, and everyone else is just getting in his way. He frequently comes into conflict with the ranking military presence, Colonel Everett Young, played by Louis Ferreira. He’s a kind leader who cares for his people, but he wasn’t supposed to be the one commanding the expedition, and while Rush wants to forge forward to the mysteries of the universe, Young wants to get his people home. They’re balanced out by Ming-Na Wen as Camile Wrey, the ranking representative of the International Oversight Advisory. She often provides a bridge between leadership and the civilians onboard.

One real standout on the show is Eli Wallace, played by David Blue. Eli cracked the code for dialing the mysterious address, a task that Rush begrudgingly could never figure out, so he hid it inside a game that Eli, an unemployed college dropout, just happened to solve. Minutes later, he was visited by Rush and Lt. General Jack O’Neill, beamed up to the U.S.S. George Hammond, dropped off at Icarus Base (with his permission), finished the program to dial the mysterious address, and of course evacuated to Destiny. As the fresh newcomer to this entire experience, he is our analog throughout the series, and in case you ever forget, the only shirt he has says “You are here.” Eli constantly has to prove himself, a task he often excels at, despite being constantly out of his depth. He’s like a son to Young, an unwanted pupil to Rush, and a close friend to everyone on board. He doesn’t want to be there, no one wants to be there, but he’s going to make the most of it.

There are a few more characters of note. The entire science team is delightful, and it’s a lot of fun to watch them grow close (and grow a sense of humor) over the series. Besides Rush and Eli, there’s Peter Kelamis as Dr. Adam Brody, Patrick Gilmore as Dr. Dale Volker, and Jennifer Spence as Dr. Lisa Park. And, if you ever need a dose of realism, look no further than Jamil Walker Smith as Master Sergeant Ronald Greer and Mike Dopud as Varro. They are both no-nonsense military men who will do the right thing simply because they see no reason to do anything else, and they’ll tell anyone exactly what they need to hear at any time.

Yeah, I know, that’s a lot of characters, and this is a huge ensemble cast, so that’s not even half of it. What matters is, these are all the wrong people for the job. Some want to explore, some want to put every resource into going home, and at many times they clash. The bulk of the first season is devoted to figuring out how to work together, how Destiny works, why it randomly stops at system with active Stargates for only a few hours, and where it’s going in the first place. The characters drive the drama here. By the time we get to the second season, everyone knows their place and everyone works together, because they understand this is their life now. Almost sensing that, Destiny reveals her bridge, giving them full control over the ship (thought there is still no way to gate home, and the trip would still take far longer than a human lifespan). This all opens the series up to some more interesting developments.

As mentioned earlier, the show’s cancelation does leave it to end on a cliffhanger. Normally I don’t recommend shows that end on cliffhangers, but it’s by far the most gentle cliffhanger I’ve ever experienced. There is no peril, in fact they are escaping peril, and all we are left with is plenty of time for Eli to solve a problem that we all know he can solve. He even has enough time to look out the window and smile as we fade out. Most folks can easily imagine their own continuation of the series from that point, but if you absolutely must know what could have happened next, the show’s producer covered some of the possibilities.

Stargate Universe was the end of an era for a TV franchise that ran uninterrupted for 14 years from 1997 to 2011. The studio which owned the property switched gears and launched the incredibly low-budget and incredibly terrible Stargate Origins in 2018, which ignored all previous shows, and thankfully appears to have been canceled.

You can stream Stargate Universe for free on Amazon Video if you’re an Amazon Prime subscriber or buy the complete series on Apple TV for just $29.99. If you loved SG-1 and Atlantis, there’s no reason to not at least give it a try, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

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Video

An Impressive Anime Fan Production

By this point, you’re looking at the image above and saying “that’s not anime,” and I suppose you’re right, but this incredible short film is inspired by both the style and content of My Hero Academia, so it’s definitely a production by an anime fan at least.

UA:LA imagines what if MHA’s famous Tokyo setting was in Los Angeles. It’s the brain child of Hollywood action directory Christopher Clark Cowan (whose credits include Kingsman: The Golden Circle and Solo: A Star Wars Story), and Hollywood stuntman Gui DaSilva-Green (whose credits include Captain America: Civil War and Deadpool). I have seen live action anime fan films before, but this one blew my mind to the point that I can’t stop thinking about it a whole day after I saw it. My words can’t do it justice, so please just watch it.

If you’d like to know some of the behind the scenes details, check out Stuntmen React To Bad & Great Hollywood Stunts 7 from Corridor Digital. They also cover some of the other films that Cowan has worked on.

I hope you enjoyed all of that as much as I did! 🙂

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Nostalgia Photo

Back to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge

Yesterday, Sarah and I visited Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge again after first visiting a few months ago. This time, we were able to visit Oga’s Cantina a few times, and finally sample most of the drinks. It’s only been a few months sure, but it doesn’t look worn down at all, in fact it looks no different, probably due to the clever choice of basing it on an already worn down location.

If you stop by Oga’s Cantina, you’re going to want to try the Jet Juice and Dagobah Slug Slinger for sure. Earlier, I mentioned that Galaxy’s Edge has some of the best food in Disneyland, by far, but I forgot to leave some recommendations. Make sure that you stop by Ronto Roasters for a Ronto Wrap, and Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo for a Roasted Endorian Tip-Yip Salad.

Here are some photos from our return trip:

A quick note, some of these were touched up in Pixelmator Pro, which is on sale half-off until October 29!

For more photos and recommendations, see my first post on Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.

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Nostalgia Review Video

Rewatch: Mystery Science Theater 3000

There are two types of people in the world: those who love Mystery Science Theater 3000, and those who have never seen it. If you’re in that latter group, it’s time to change that.

MST3K was a TV series of bad films, featuring colorful commentary during the films to elevate and transform them into something far better. The series followed an unfortunate human, initially Joel Hodgson as Joel Robinson and later Michael J. Nelson as Mike Nelson, paired with two cranky robots, Crow T. Robot (voiced by Trace Beaulieu, then J. Elvis Weinstein, and finally Bill Corbett) and Tom Servo (voiced by J. Elvis Weinstein and later Kevin Murphy). The three are trapped on a research satellite where they are forced to watch bad films in order to find the one that will eventually drive them insane, you know, research. To break up the film, there are small low-budget interludes often featuring the characters discussing the film, their predicament, or doing something inspired by the film, and there are also interludes featuring their tormentors (a rotating cast of hilarious folks throughout the series).

The series premiered in 1988 on a low-budget local Minneapolis TV station, but quickly made the jump to Comedy Central and later Syfy. The series later saw a revival on Netflix, but since that started in 2017, I’m only focussing on the classic seasons here.

If you have never seen MST3K before, I strongly recommend starting with Space Mutiny. I think it features the best balance of a watchable film and great commentary.

If you need just one more to convince you, check out The Pumaman, which is just an odd film, so very odd.

MST3K has an impressive legacy, with many homages and spinoffs. If you somehow make it through all of the episodes, I recommend checking out RiffTrax next, or just check it out now anyway. It’s a still-active spinoff features Nelson, Corbett, and Murphy, and it’s just as great as MST3K.

Mystery Science Theater 3000 ran for an impressive 11 years. You can stream many episodes for free on Shout! Factory TV, and you can probably find the rest on YouTube (after all, many episodes of the series ended with “keep circulating the tapes”).

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Nostalgia Video

Power Rangers vs Super Sentai

AKA, what we missed out on in the United States.

I grew up loving the Power Rangers, but I had no clue what I was missing out on back then. I tried to rewatch some for my Rewatch series, but I just couldn’t get engaged anymore, so imagine my surprise when I found multiple Super Sentai series on Shout! Factory TV (a free ad-supported streaming service and app). Upon consuming several episodes, I became painfully aware of what we missed out on in the United States, and I’m hooked.

In short, Power Rangers takes the fight footage from Super Sentai and remixes it with overdubbed English dialogue and newly shot scenes featuring the English-speaking actors, often changing the plot dramatically. Rather than just getting a dubbed version of a great Japanese show, we got something very half-baked.

While scouring YouTube for some clips that I could use to make a comparison video, I was surprised to find exactly what I wanted, so let’s give them the ad revenue they deserve.

This clip shows a pivotal fight from Mighty Morphin Power Rangers between the Red Ranger and Green Ranger, followed at 4:08 by the Re-version of the fight featured obnoxious added visual effects (yes, this is official, and yes you should skip it for your sanity), followed at 8:30 by the same pivotal fight from Kyōryū Sentai Zyuranger between the TyrannoRanger and DragonRanger.

I want you to notice a few things. First, the unrelenting electric guitar. It’s cool at first, but I won’t blame you if you find it obnoxious by the end. And second, how choppy and uneven the action is.

Let me give an example on that last point. In all three John Wick films, there is one scene involving gunfire in The Continental Hotel. If you took those three scenes and lined them up back to back, you’d be forgiven for accepting a thin narrative that they all take place around the same time, but something would feel very off. That’s what’s happening here in Power Rangers. To compensate for footage lost due to visible actors from the Super Sentai shots, and recognizable Japanese locations, the American produces have chopped in scenes from other fights. To make matters worse, some action has been cut entirely to keep the episode under time. All of that results in an unevenly paced, and sometimes confusing, fight sequence.

Compare that the Super Sentai scene, and you’ve got something very different. First, the music is great. And second, without any footage being removed or added, the fight sequence is evenly paced and far more intense.

I hope this brief comparison got you hooked on Super Sentai too. If it did, you can stream several Super Sentai series for free on Shout! Factory TV, so find the Super Sentai counterpart to a Power Rangers series you used to love and start watching it today!

Update: For more on this subject, see Rewatch: Hyakujuu Sentai Gaoranger.