Category Archives: Reviews

My thoughts on Television episodes and movies

To Infinity and Beyond! The Legacy of ‘Buzz Lightyear of Star Command’

The good news is, I will be attending Salt Lake Comic Con’s FanX event next week. I am planning perhaps my most intense cosplay ever for the occasion: I am going as Mira Nova from the TV show Buzz Lightyear of Star Command.  This will involve painting my face blue and wearing a wig, and I am currently working on sewing the dress (and like all of my sewing projects it’s consuming my life).  So far, it’s been a lot of hard work and a lot of time and money.  There are pieces of the project I bought as far back as October. Why am I doing this? Why am I cosplaying an obscure character from an obscure TV show in hopes that a few people at FanX will recognize me?

Because it’s worth it.  If you ever saw BLoSC back in the early 2000s and knew what a brilliant show it was, you would see.

Buzz facing off with his nemisis in “The Adventure Begins.” Via dvdizzy.com

The irony of all this is that I was never a huge fan of Toy Story, where Buzz Lightyear, the Little Green Men, and Emperor Zurg originated. But right after Toy Story 2 came out, Buzz Lightyear of Star Command premiered with a feature-length event, The Adventure Begins, starring Tim Allen.  Then the show came on ABC and Disney’s One Saturday Morning. I couldn’t tell you at what point I fell in love with the show or specifically why.  But the show’s female lead, Mira Nova, grabbed my attention quickly and kept it.  The humor was a big draw, too. Booster was okay but I really loved the zany robot XR. As for Buzz Lightyear himself, well, for me it was never about him.  At least at that age.

Buzz Lightyear of Star Command took place in a very engaging original world even while making riffs on Star Trek and other popular science fiction, but it was also never afraid to poke fun at itself.  Some of the episodes veer off towards the cheesy side, some are brilliant, some are better animation quality than others.  The show very rarely referred to its Toy Story origins, except for in the “Strange Invasion” and “Stranger Invasion” arc where it becomes the butt of a brilliant joke that I know better than to spoil here.

 

via dvdizzy.com

I’ll give you the scoop on the main cast, since you may not have seen the show. Buzz Lightyear himself in the show is a little less nuanced than the Toy Story version, a straight-up, stereotypical hero who is sometimes so caught up with himself that he isn’t aware that the ladies find him desirable. But he’s occasionally interesting to watch, as in when he saves the day in “Speed Trap.” 

Booster is a large alien who likes to eat food, and he also has a thirst to prove himself as a hero. There aren’t any moments that stick out for me except for “Plasma Boy,” where he falls in love with a girl but has to compete her boyfriend.

Via blosc wikia

XR the robot is the main comic relief, with his killer one-liners, smart attitude, and tendency to blow up in nearly every episode.  However, he gets to be a hero on multiple occasions, including in “Enemy Without a Face” when all of his flesh-and-blood friends start fighting each other.

via Disney wikia

Now, the meat: Mira Nova is a princess of an alien race known as the Tangeans that can “ghost” through solid objects.  In addition to her powers and beauty, however, she is a level-headed counterbalance to Buzz’s high-and-mighty act and the voice of reason for Booster and XR. Her best episode?  In “The Shape Stealer,” Star Command goes on a lockdown and Buzz is trapped outside with the nemesis.  No one else can get to him.  She puts her helmet on and ghosts through the armored security of the space station. Flawless.

via blosc.wikia

Mira isn’t overly sexualized on the show, but she’s comfortable with her femininity while kicking butt for a living. Maybe there’s some flirtation with Buzz at the beginning of the series but she saves the show by being the one woman who doesn’t want him. I think she’s mostly attached to Buzz because he’s her hero and her team leader. Mira does get a bounty hunter love interest in the episode “Star Crossed,” and he was okay, I wasn’t terribly attached to her relationship with him, but the episode itself was one of the best in the series. She is definitely a heroine for any young girl to look up to, and I can say that even though she would never make the official lineup she is my favorite Disney princess.

(Also, Mira was voiced by actress Nicole Sullivan, who also played Shego in Kim Possible.  I have asked repeatedly for Sullivan to come to Salt Lake and it hasn’t happened.  So if they won’t bring me Mira Nova, I’ll bring Mira Nova to them–aka that’s part of the reason I’m doing the cosplay.)

Buzz with his fellow ranger Ty Parsec. via Tumblr

While the central cast is the glue that holds the series together, Buzz Lightyear of Star Command offers a host of supporting and minor characters that are to die for.  Other heroes of the series include Commander Nebula, the head of Star Command; Buzz’s love interest biologist Osma Ferbana; the President of the Galactic Alliance, the adorable LGMs; and Cosmo the diner operator. The villains are delicious: there’s Zurg with his grubs and brainbots but also the malicious Gravitina, the sinister energy vampire NOS4A2 who delivered some of the most thrilling episodes of the series, the egotistical Torque, and Buzz’s traitorous old friend Warp Darkmatter, now in the employ of Zurg.  We even get a few characters in between, like the Star Command Psychiatrist, Mira’s father priggish father King Nova, and the scumbags on Tradeworld.  If you like the worlds of Star Wars or Guardians of the Galaxy you will love this show. 

My mother is a huge fan of BLoSC, and she says it’s not just a show for kids but there’s humor for the adults as well. Watch The Adventure Begins if you get the chance, but it’s only the tip of the iceberg.  If someone knows of a way to watch the show online (preferably for free) let me be the first to know, I may start looking myself, but Disney seriously needs to release the show in DVD/Blu-Ray so the fans aren’t as tempted to pirate it.  In the meantime, I am getting very, very close to finishing my Mira Nova cosplay, and I will have pictures for you.  Hope to see you at FanX!

50 Good Books: Where the Sidewalk Ends

It might surprise some of you to find out that I read more than just Fantasy and Science Fiction novels. I also read various blogs and of course comics, and occasionally, I will read something random like a collection of poetry. Shel Silverstein’s Where the Sidewalk Ends is a classic and should be read and enjoyed by everyone. His poems are quirky and fun and absolutely brilliant. Of course I would recommend this classic to anyone, along with his other titles like A Light in the Attic and Falling Up, and of course the ever wonderful The Giving Tree (which, because of the title, I always confuse with The Giver. They are two totally different books).

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Lucy Goes to Marvel Universe Live

Lucy heading to the show.

This is Lucy. If she looks excited in this picture, it’s because she is extremely excited. In this picture she is riding the train, heading downtown to see Marvel Universe Live, and she cannot wait. More than any of our other kids, Lucy has always marched to her own drummer. She decides what she likes and what she is into based on, well, what she likes. And she loves Thor. She is obsessed with Thor. He is by far her favorite super hero. She has a birthday coming up, and we had the opportunity to bring her to Marvel Universe Live, which is a large stunt show based on characters from Marvel Comics. We thought she would really enjoy it. And boy, did she.

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50 Good Books: Star Wars: Lords of the Sith

I am one that normally does not like the villains. I am not usually one that can cheer for the villains or see one of them as the main protagonist of the story. For that reason alone, I was unsure about wanting to read Star Wars: Lords of the Sith by Paul S. Kemp. I didn’t want to spend my time trying to get into a story where Darth Vader was the main protagonist. It just didn’t interest me. The more I thought about it, though, the more I was intrigued and found myself curious to learn more about Darth Vader.

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50 Good Books: The Shadow Rising (Wheel of Time, Book 4)

One thing that seems to be becoming more and more unpopular is reading. I was at a get together a while back. My wife and I were sitting at one table with my brother and his wife. The four of us are pretty avid readers (although I am not as much as I would like to be), and we overheard another table talking about how they hate reading. They laughed about how they would much rather just wait for the movie to come out, and if they don’t make a movie about a book, then the book probably wasn’t that great. The four of us just looked at each other with wide eyes. We all felt pretty strongly that the other table simply had it wrong.

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Jake’s List of 10 Movies for 2016

2016 is here, and that means we have a whole new year’s worth of movies to look forward to. 2015 was all about The Force Awakens. What will be the big hit for 2016? So far it looks like Captain America: Civil War may be the king of the year, but it has plenty of competition. This is my list of 10 movies I am looking forward to in the upcoming year. It’s not a comprehensive list, because there are a ton of really cool movies coming out this year. My list may not be the same as yours, but these are the 10 movies I am looking forward to. They are listed in order of when they are coming out.

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Star Wars: The Best is Yet to Come

WARNING: This essay includes an open discussion of spoilers. If you haven’t seen the movie and don’t want to be spoiled, don’t read this.

I have now seen The Force Awakens twice. I am relieved to say that this isn’t rebooted, dark and gritty Star Wars. This is Star Wars at its best. It’s the same feeling I get when watching the original trilogy AND the prequels. It’s fun, it’s fast, it’s exciting. There’s humor and warmth as well as stirring emotional scenes and deep moral lessons to contemplate. The action sequences are high-flying and thrilling. It flows with the rest of the saga like a river…but that’s still partly pending resolution of how we got from the happily-ever-after in Return of the Jedi to something-is-very-wrong-and-needs-to-be-set-right on Jakku.

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My Thoughts on Supergirl

firstlook-supergirl-hed-2015

This past Monday saw the premier of the latest DC television series, Supergirl. The series is brought to us by the same folks who brought us Arrow and The Flash, so expectations were pretty high. I was curious to see if the quality would be just as high as those two shows, or if this would be just a “girl version” of a superhero show. More on that later. It seems like the reception for the pilot has been pretty positive, which is a big deal. Make no mistake, she may wear the “S” ( I know, it’s not really an S) on her chest, but this was still a really big risk for DC. Historically speaking, female driven superhero titles have not been huge sellers. Partially, that’s because female superhero title haven’t been very good, historically speaking. Well, I have watched the pilot for Supergirl now, twice, and I have to say, I have a lot of hope that this series could rewrite history for the genre.

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Fun Halloween Films: Ghostbusters

I love Halloween time. It is one of my favorite times of year. Maybe it’s because it is in the Fall, or maybe it’s because of all the candy. The point is, I really enjoy it. Having kids, I have enjoyed it even more. It is a lot of fun planning costumes with them and seeing how excited they get to dress up and go trick or treating. Another thing I like about Halloween is watching the occasional “Halloween Film.” Like Christmas, there seems to be films that I watch only at this time of year. The only problem is, I can’t stand horror films. There are probably lots of reasons why I don’t like them, but maybe the most simple is that I just never got into them. They’re just not my jam (that’s right, I’m hip, so I can say things like “my jam”). So what movies do I like to curl up on the couch with that special someone and that special bowl of popcorn and watch during this time of year? This week, we will be giving you a list that you can turn into your very own Fun Halloween Movie Marathon.

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The Magician’s Apprentice- A Day Late Review

dw-s9-dr-where

BBC

It’s finally here- the new season of Doctor Who, and I for one was very excited about it. It almost feels like Christmas when my favorite shows start showing new episodes again, especially Doctor Who. There always seems to be so much anticipation and hype leading up to the new season, and this year was no exception.  A new season of Doctor Who also means a new round of “day late reviews” from me, starting with “The Magician’s Apprentice.” Now, to ensure that this post is absolutely spoiler free, BBC America has done something cool with this first episode- they put it up for free on YouTube. The whole episode, commercial free. Check it out:

If you haven’t watched the episode yet, please watch it now, or wait to read this post. You have been warned.

The episode starts with scenes from a war ravaged planet, with quite the mixture of technologies. Two men are seen trying to combat some propeller planes equipped with laser guns only using a bow and arrow. One of the men sees a child in the middle of this battle field and follows him to try to help. They get stuck in the middle of a hand mine field, and one of the hand mines takes the man, and the child is petrified as he stands in the middle, now all alone. The Doctor shows up at this point, and it looks like he is going to save the boy, even throwing his screwdriver to him, until the boy says his own name. We learn the boy is Davros. And it appears that the Doctor doesn’t save him, but abandons him, leaves him to die.

Next we see The Colony Sarff, servant of Davros, going from place to place looking for the Doctor. On the planet Karn, he delivers his message to the Sisterhood and says that Davros Remembers, Davros knows. Apparently, Davros remembered that it was the Doctor he came to save him, and then abandoned him. He is looking for revenge before he dies himself.

Back on Earth, Clara is teaching school when she notices that all the planes have stopped, they’re all frozen in the sky. Clara rushes to UNIT to help them figure out what is going on. She tries to reach the Doctor, but she can’t. They begin to try to work out how the planes all got frozen. That’s when they are contacted on “the Doctor channel,” a channel set up for the Doctor, a channel he never uses. They discover it’s Missy, and she has frozen all the planes to get their attention.

Clara meets with Missy, and discovers that the Doctor is in real danger, and needs their help. Clara looks for the Doctor and they try to figure out where and when the Doctor is. They find him throwing himself a party in some medieval town. This is where the Colony Sarff finds him, and brings him to meet with Davros. Clara and Missy insist on going with him, so he brings all three.

They arrive where Davros is, which looks like some kind of hospital floating in space. They are held in a chamber, until Davros sends for the Doctor. Missy and Clara, alone together in the cell figure out that they are on a planet, even though it looks like it is floating space. The Doctor faces off with Davros-possibly for the last time. Clara and Missy go exploring and discover that they are really on the planet Skaro. The episode then takes a Moffat like turn as both Clara and Missy are killed off by the Daleks.

The episode ends with the Doctor back on the same war-torn planet, now closer to the young Davros, saying he is there to save his friends. That’s when he pulls out a weapon, very un-Doctor like. It looks as though he will be killing the young Davros in order to save his friends, but I guess we will have to wait until next week to see what happens.

The Good: This was overall a very good episode. I enjoyed it from start to finish. I think we are seeing more of Capaldi’s vision of the Doctor, he seems to be getting more comfortable in the Doctor’s skin, and I like the mad man who is coming out as a result of it. It will be interesting to see how it all develops this season with this great opener and then with it being Clara’s last run.

Last season, at the very end, I was pretty harsh on Missy. I still feel like the gender change was a gimmick, and it still felt gimmicky to me at the time. That being said, Michelle Gomez shines in this episode as Missy. I was not excited when I heard she was going to be back, but I was glad she was back as the episode progressed. She has one of the better portrayals of the Master character in this episode. I am actually excited to see more Missy.

There were some great references to some Classic Who in this episode, and I love it when they tie New Who to Classic Who. I love the bit they play from the 4th Doctor talking about what he would do if he had the chance to face an enemy and prevent everything he knew that enemy would do. Tying that bit of dialogue to what they Doctor faced at the beginning of this episode was brilliant.

The Bad: The Doctor should never have a gun. It is one of the things that I like the most about the character. He solves his problems without using weapons, so I always struggle with it when he has one. I don’t think he will go through with it. I don’t think he will actually kill Davros. We’ve been down these sorts of roads before with Moffat, but in the end, the Doctor always comes through.

The Final Verdict: This was a very solid opener, and it made me even more excited for the upcoming season. I can’t wait to see where it goes this year and what will happen with all the characters on the show. This first story has me very excited, and I can’t wait to see the conclusion next week. I would give this premier a solid 4.5 out 5 stars.

What did you think of the episode? Was it one of your favorites, or did you just really not like it? Let us know in the comments below or share your thought with us on our Facebook page, or you can even tweet at us (is that how you say it?) @thegeekymormon, or if you really want, you can send us feedback at thegeekymormon@yahoo.com.