MUST WATCH: Gargoyles

 

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I’m sure I’m not alone when I sometimes look back at things that I loved as a kid and wonder if they hold up. Unfortunately many don’t. Some people look back at the X-Men Animated series or Spider-Man The Animated Series fondly, but there are only two show that I know of that are as good as you remember and hold up to this day: Batman The Animated Series and Gargoyles. We’ve talked and written about Batman The Animated Series A LOT  here at World’s Best Media, because it fucking rules. Probably the best animated series ever produced. But believe it or not, Gargoyles May be damn worthy second.

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Fan art of the characters from the show’s massive cult following

This show has enjoyed a cult following for years and I’ve always been a big fan. But what prompted me to write about the show, was the entire series recently became available on iTunes. When the show was released on DVD years ago, Disney never released the whole show. This was at least 10 -15 years ago and due to demand from the cult following of the show, the final season was finally given a barebones DVD release a year or two ago. I think Disney put the show on iTunes because they’re thinking of using the property in some way and this one way to gauge audience interest. They’ve been remaking a lot of their animated catalogue into live action films lately and the show certainly lends itself to live action adaptation. It would make a pretty cool franchise if they skew adult. Or they could be doing another animated show? Or it’s just an iTunes release. Still, I wouldn’t be surprised if we hear some talk from Disney about a movie or something. As I said, done the right way it would make very cool franchise. It’s dark, complex, thought provoking show with great characters and an excellent mythology.

 

Allow me to refresh your memory on this excellent TV show and then I’m going to tell you why it’s still so good and groundbreaking: On the series, Gargoyles , like the stone statues you see in castles and churches, are a noble and intelligent race of warrior beings that turn to stones by day (almost like hibernating in a cocoon) and come alive at night. Though they cant outright fly, they have strong claws and wings that allow them to glide if they get high enough. Though mostly feared by the humans who see them as monsters, their nature is to protect life. I always thought the really cool monologue that played over the opening credits explained it well: One thousand years ago. Superstition and the sword ruled. It was a time of darkness. It was a world of fear. It was the age of Gargoyles. Stone by day. Warriors by night. Betrayed by the humans we had sworn to protect. That gives you gist of it more or less.

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Castle Wyvern

Gargoyles begins in Scotland in 994 A.D Following a particular clan of Gargoyles that protect Castle Wyvern on the Scottish coast. Led by Goliath (voiced by Keith David) the story’s protagonist, the Gargoyles have an uneasy alliance with the humans they live alongside. In exchange for protection while they sleep during the day, vulnerable in stone form, the Gargoyles protect the castle from any attackers, including the that Vikings have begun to invade Scotland.

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Hakkon: The Viking leader

 

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Goliath makes Hakkon his bitch.

After one Viking attack is easily repelled by the Gargoyles, the humans (including the castle ruler, Princess Katherine) still look down on them as nothing but unnatural beasts. Princess Katherine’s chief adviser is The Magus, a young sorcerer who distrusts the Gargoyles. Demona (Marina Sirtis, Troia from Star Trek: The Next Generation), Goliath’s second in command and the human Captain of the castle guard (I don’t think he’s called anything but Captain) are disgusted at the way they were treated. After all, without the help of the Gargoyles, everyone in the castle would have been captured or killed by the Vikings. Goliath sees that it’s in the nature of humans to fear what they don’t understand and though bothered by it, shrugs the incident off.

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Princess Katherine
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The Magus

Demona is also Goliath’s lover (they don’t really have marriage) and though she loves him, her hatred for humans has festered over the years. Demona and The Captain strike a deal with the Vikings, attack during the day and sack they castle taking their spoils and killing whoever they want. When the Gargoyles wake up, the humans will be gone and they’ll have the castle all to themselves. But the plan goes tragically wrong. Demona tries to get Goliath to take the entire clan and hunt down the Vikings and their leader Hakon, in the woods. Goliath thinks a small sneak attack with his old mentor, the battle hardened gargoyle Hudson, is a better idea. Despite Demona’s protesting, almost the entire clan is left vulnerable when the Vikings attack the next morning. Far too late Goliath, backing him up, realizes something is very wrong, but the sun rises and they’re far away from the castle during the attack. Though The Captain tries to stop him, saying this wasn’t part of the plan, helpless in their stone form Hakkon and the Vikings slaughter the entire clan.

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The Captain
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Demona scaring the shit out of a Viking

The next night Goliath heads back to find the castle burning and his clan dead. Besides Goliath and Demona, only five other gargoyles from the clan survived. Three young, male Gargoyles, Brooklyn, Broadway, and Lexington, Bronx a different breed of gargoyle that’s more like a dog, and Hudson (The modern names are explained later in the film length first episode). Demona, ashamed and horrified at what she’s done, allows Goliath to believe she died in the massacre. The Vikings kidnaped the Princess, The Magus, and some of the villagers. Hakkon plans to ransom the Princess to her Uncle, The King. But Goliath is out for blood.

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Hakkon beginning to massacre the Gargoyles
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Goliath finding what’s left of his slaughtered Clan
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Holding the pieces of a dead Gargoyle, Goliath contemplates bloody vengeance

The Gargoyles find the Viking camp and Hakkon and The Captain run off with the Princess. While the other Gargoyles finish off the Vikings and save the villagers, Goliath goes after Hakkon. When he finds them near cliff overlooking the ocean, Goliath is horrified that The Captain, a man he believed to be his friend, betrayed him. A fight ensues and Hakkon and The Captain fall to their deaths, but even after all he’s been through Goliath saves the Princess from falling as well, robbing him from a more satisfying revenge.

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Hakkon and The Captain about fall to their deaths

Back at the Viking camp, the Vikings defeated and the villagers free, The Magus mistakenly believes that Princess Katherine was killed in the conflict between Goliath, Hakkon, and The Captain. In his grief, he casts a spell on the Gargoyles that turns them to stone permanently, day and night, seemingly forever. When Goliath returns with The Princess, The Magus sees that he’s made a horrifying mistake. The book that could reverse the spell was burned by the Vikings and the spell was designed so the Gargoyles would “Sleep until the castle rises above the clouds…

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Goliath is horrified to find his fellow Gargoyles stone at night

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After bringing each of his remaining stone Gargoyle friends back to the castle, Goliath does not want to live in a world where he is truly alone. He asks The Magus to cast his spell one more time and Goliath joins his surviving fiends in a never ending stone sleep. As for Demona, well you’ll just have to watch the show…

 

One Thousand Years Later…

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The Gargoyles still intact at Castle Wyvern
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David Xanatos sees Goliath in his stone sleep for the first time 

Castle Wyvern. Present Day. The Castle and everything inside (including the still intact stone Gargoyles) have been bought by American billionaire David Xanatos, voiced perfectly by Jonathan Frakes AKA Ryker from Star Trek: The Next Generation. In fact one of the best things about the show is the phenomenal voice work and the excellent talent they managed to attract. The people who wrote the show must have been big Star Trek: The Next Generation fans because a lot of actor from that series play characters on Gargoyles. In fact, this would be a great time to point out the incredible voice talent the show attracted. Well known voice performers, fantastic character, actors and few bigger names make up the cast that includes: Keith David, Jonathan Frakes, Marina Sirtis, Michael Dorn, Ed Asner, Brent Spiner, Matt Frewer, Bill Fagerbakke, Jonathan Rhys-Davies, Tim Curry, David Warner, Thomas F. Wilson, Kate Mulgrew, and Jim Belushi just to name a few. That’s a hell of a cast and that isn’t even all of the notable voice actors.

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Anyway, Xanatos is definitely one of the most interesting characters on the show. He’s kind of a mix of Lex Luthor, Tony Stark, and a little bit of Doctor Doom. He’s extremely intelligent, machiavellian, and charming. He’s the guy who’s 10 steps ahead of everybody else in the room. He may not be completely trustworthy , but he’s such a cool, likable character that you can’t help rooting for this guy a little bit, despite how shady he is. He’s one of the richest and most powerful men in the world. A self made man, who built one of the largest corporations in the world. With defense contracts, cutting edge robotics, genetics, and much more.

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Goliath is a Force to be reckoned with so Xanatos where’s Iron Man-like armor to fight him when he has to.

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He’s kinda, sorta the “villain”, but things aren’t that black-and-white. Which is another excellent thing about this show. It doesn’t talk down to its audience with characters that are clearly all good and clearly all evil. The entire cast includes well-rounded, interesting individuals with complex personalities and motivations. None of the characters are all good or all bad. This kind of moral complexity shows the maturity of the storytelling.

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Castle Wyvern atop Xanatos’ skyscraper above the clouds 

The New York City skyscraper that’s both his home and company headquarters is tallest building in the world. As part of an astronomically massive project, Xanatos has Castle Wyvern taken apart piece by piece and reassembled atop his New York skyscraper. Which just so happens to be high enough that it’s above the New York clouds. As the spell says the Gargoyles will “Sleep until the castle rises above the clouds…”

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You’re probably asking yourself exactly why he’s doing this. Why would he want to break the spell? What does he have to gain? He has multiple reasons that play out across the series, so I don’t want to say too much, but it’s not out of sheer curiosity. You’d have to be 100% certain that magic and all kinds of other crazy shit is real before even thinking about doing this. Let’s just say you don’t fly a castle from Scotland halfway across the world and rebuild it onto a skyscraper without a pretty fucking good reason.

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I should take this time to point out that a Scottish castle atop a cutting-edge New York skyscraper could be the coolest fucking headquarters of any villain or hero in all of fictIon. That’s some badass shit. Once the castle is completely reassembled back in New York, the Gargoyles are brought back to their posts on the castle towers and Xanatos waits for nightfall. He is not disappointed. The spell is broken and the Gargoyles awaken. Xanatos tries to explain what’s happened and how long it’s been, even though Goliath knows that by the very nature of his situation the world he’s woken up to will probably be a different one, nothing can compare prepare him in the other Gargoyles for seeing New York City below them instead of the Scottish coast. Adding to an already bad situation is the realization that people of the modern world have almost completely forgotten about magical and supernatural creatures. Xanatos tells them they’re the last of their kind, Gargoyles are essentially extinct except for Goliath and his Clan (fortunately, we find out later in the series, that may not be true).

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Shortly after the Gargoyles have awakened into this strange new world, we meet police detective Elisa Maza. Goliath and the other Gargoyles meet Elisa after some crazy shit goes down at the castle. After everything that went down a thousand years ago with The Captain, Goliath is reluctant to put his trust in any human again. But he knows he’ll need to trust someone in this modern world for his clan to survive and he’s smart enough to know he’s better off with Elisa than Xanatos. As the series unfolds, she becomes like family to the Gargoyles and develops a profound and deep bond with Goliath in particular.

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NYPD Det. Elisa Maza

Eventually when it’s clear that living in the castle with Xanatos isn’t safe, the move to a closed clock tower above the police station Elisa works out of (conivently the night shift). From their new home in the clock tower the Gargoyles view New York City as their new castle. It’s in a Gargoyle’s nature to protect and they intend to do just that in their new home. As time goes on, Elias’ part of the Clan for all intents and purposes. As the rest of Gargoyles begin to acclimate to life in 20th Century New York, we begin to get to know them a bit more.  Goliath was unusual  when it comes to Gargoyles, the humans of the Castle gave him a name, but typically Gargoyles don’t have names. In keeping with this new life, in this new world they live in the rest of the gargoyles all pick modern names. Like the 3 young Gargoyles: Brooklyn: a natural leader, Broadway: friendly and loving the different foods of the modern world, Lexington: who becomes fascinated with computers and electronics. As well as their experienced, but past his prime mentor Hudson, and their guard dog Bronx. I wanted to give a deeper exploration of the rest of Goliath’s clan, but if I take the time to describe each one this article would be way too long. So for now, at least you have the bare bones of who the rest of the Goliath’s clan consist of.

 

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Hudson
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Brooklyn
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Lexington 
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Broadway 
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Bronx

Probably the most important relationship on the show is between Goliath and Elisa. The show has a great ensemble of characters, like the other Gargoyles, villains, and allies, but Goliath and Elisa are the heart of the show. They’re kindred spirits. Their values are the same, but just like real people, they waver at times. I would be so easy for either of them, and all of the Gargoyles for that matter, to be consumed by the darkness and death that has been such a large part of their lives. Ultimately, they believe in fighting for justice in a world that they know is broken, but they continue the good fight every day (or night) anyway. They may seem different on the outside, but they’re both protectors at their core and the bond that grows between them goes beyond the physical. Also, Elisa is another great example of how this show was ahead of it’s time. She’s a smart, tough, interesting character. Even though she find herself constantly in situations where she’s fighting WAY out of her weight class, she’s never a damsel in distress. She’s also mixed race, her mother is African American and her father is Native American. Though her cultural heritage is touched upon in important ways several times in the show, her race doesn’t define her. We don’t have enough of these types of characters in our pop culture today, it’s even more impressive her character existed almost 25 years ago. I think the fact that she wasn’t just another stock white, cookie cutter, female protagonist isn’t only more compelling to watch, but it also informs her relationship with Goliath and the other Gargoyles. Hating someone just because of who and what they are is a big theme in the series. Racism and sexism are both very real problems in American today and it would have been much worse 25 years ago. From their very first meeting forward, the relationship between Goliath and Elisa deepens because they see so much of themselves in each other.

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Goliath and Elisa meet for the first time when he saves her from falling off the Castle
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But she’s no damsel in distress

What makes Goliath a hero isn’t that he fights bad guys. It’s the fact that he’s face genocide, betrayal, and loss on a scale that would be hard to imagine, but in spite of all that he still fights to do good, to protect. The darkness of the story is never swept under the rug. Goliath and the rest of his clan are forever haunted by the massacre at Castle Wyvern and it informs many of the choices Goliath makes throughout the series. This certainly isn’t the type of deep material you’d expect on the old Disney Afternoon. In a Season 2 episode, Xanatos comes to Goliath asking for help when Fox, a woman Xanatos is truly in love with, is in mortal danger. Goliath and Elisa consider are very reluctant to help because they know how untrustworthy Xanatos is, after all this could be some kind of con. But Goliath ultimately decides to help, saying “If Xanatos is telling the truth… If someone like him can love, perhaps there still is some hope for this world.”. That’s one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite episodes of the show. It tells you a lot about Goliath, how he sees the world, and his belief in the power of love and redemption.

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Gradually, Goliath and Elisa clearly fall in love with one another. Out of all the Gargoyles, he looks the most human. Almost like a muscular man, it reminds me of Hellboy and Liz Sherman. They may be different species, but anatomically I get this sense that Goliath and Elisa could have sex, but definitely not biological children. The fact that show goes there at all is another testament to the quality of this incredible story. By the end of the series, they move past their physical differences that they felt kept them from being together. Though it’s not explicitly spelled out for us, they share a moment together toward the end of the show that tells the audience that their relationship has fundamentally changed. They seem to acknowledge their love for each other and it’s strongly implied that moving forward they’re together as a couple.

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Goliath is just worried about the massive hard on he had while just wearing a loin cloth

Watching this show as a kid, I was blown away. It goes in so many interesting directions, incorporating mythology, folklore, sci-fi, and even Shakespeare to build a universe unlike anything else I’d seen before or since. So many of the things that I love today are concepts I was first introduced to by watching Gargoyles. If you do check out the show (and you should), I cant even begin to describe how the world and mythology of the show becomes so much bigger that what I’ve written about here. Any given episode could have the Gargoyles facing Cyborgs, Artificial Intelligences, Aliens, Hybrid monsters created through genetic engineering another episode could find them facing Odin and other pagan gods, The Loch Ness Monster, Dark Elves, and even King Arthur. It may sound crazy, but it all works in the best way. Probably my favorite creation of the show is the concept of “Oberon’s Children”, “The Third Race” of the planet after Gargoyles and Humans. They’re dangerous beings of pure magic that play an intricate part in the series.

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Puck, a trickster and one of “Oberon’s Children”
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The Weird Sisters from the play Macbeth, more of “Oberon’s Children” that manipulate people and events throughout the series

Much like Batman: The Animated Series, it’s hard to think of exactly who the audience for this show was. In fact, Gargoyles gets away with WAY more than any animated show I can think of that wasn’t explicitly made for adults. For example, the characters get the occasional minor swear in. In one of the first few episodes, when Xanatos is having the castle taken apart in Scotland, his assistant comments that it was difficult to find workers for this project because the locals believe the castle to be haunted. Xanatos replies “Pay a man enough and he’ll walk barefoot through Hell”, “that may not seem like particularly strong language, but even that is extremely unusual for a show like this.

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In this picture, The Loch Ness Monster, as well as a gallery below of some interesting friends and foes The Gargoyles and Elisa contend with on the show
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A Clan of Gargoyle’s found by Goliath and Elisa in the present day Amazon Rain Forrest. Gargoyles may not be as extinct as Goliath’s Clan believes…
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Goliath fighting an immortal Macbeth 
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King Arthur

The level of violence shown on screen is much higher than you would expect as well. Most cartoons never show anyone actually dying, but people get killed left and right on Gargoyles. Pretty brutally in fact. Full on medieval battles are shown. People get stabbed and shot. One guy has his face set on fire followed immediately with his head exploding. It’s not just the deaths that were brutal either. In one episode Demona maims a kid’s face with her claws just because he gets in her way. All of this adds up to a very unique and captivating show that is absolutely worth revisiting.

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Some of the various villains our heroes face in the show,

While the first season is a strong set up for things to come, it’s really the second season where the show becomes something incredible and the narrative becomes incredibly ambitious. Regardless, definitely give Gargoyles a try if you’re curious. If you liked it as a kid, it absolutely holds up and it’s very cheap on iTunes. As always, thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed this look back at Gargoyles!

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-Paul

Don’t forget to check out our Amazon Affiliate link below if you want pick up Gargoyle’s on DVD! (no Blu-Ray yet, sadly).

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Super Bowl Movie Trailers!!! (Updating)

Hey, everyone

If you’re like me one of the highlights of watching The Super Bowl is watching all the awesome new movie trailers. I’ll be updating this page as each new trailer comes out, so keep it here at World’s Best Media!

-Paul

UPDATE: The Cloverfield Paradox will be premiering on Netflix TONIGHT after the game! I love stuff like this. Great surprise.

UPDATE: I think Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom and Mission Impossible Fallout have been my favorite trailers so far.

UPDATE: After Solo I didn’t think we’d get another big trailer from Disney, but BOOM! Avengers: Infinity War! Not a lot to it, but I’ll take anything I can get when it comes to Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. 

FINAL THOUGHTS: So we put another Super Bowl behind us. Regardless of your thoughts on the game, I thought we got a really strong showing for movie trailers. Better than I expected in fact. I didn’t think we’d get a look at both Avengers: Infinity War and Solo, which was a pleasant surprise. Like I said before I think Jurassic World and Mission Impossible: Fallout were the real standouts. Plus, we get a Cloverfield movie literally right now as a little gift from the folks at Bad Robot. I really like this “Twilight Zone-Anthology” vibe of these Cloverfield movies. I know I’ll be watching that tonight, so look for a review in the near future. Tomorrow morning we’ll have part 2 of our look at the career of Steven Spielberg on the latest episode of “The World’s Best Podcast with Paul & Tim” so make sure you check that out too. Thanks for following along with me tonight everybody!

-Paul

 

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom 

 

Solo: A Star Wars Story

 

Mission Impossible: Fallout

The Cloverfield Paradox

A Quiet Place

 

Jack Ryan (New Amazon Prime series)

 

Westworld (Season 2 on HBO)

Avengers: Infinity War ( Avengers Fucking Assemble! Fuck. Yeah.)

 

Time Travel in the Show Travelers on Netflix

I want to tell you all about a show that I’ve literally heard no one talking about, but I don’t want to spoil it.  So please bare with me.

The Netflix show Travelers, has some of the most compelling time-travel I’ve seen in a long time.  The premise, is that people are coming back from some far off, terrible future, in hopes of fixing it.  In that regard it’s pretty standard, but everything else really stands out for me.

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The travelers have their consciousness placed in the heads of ordinary people in 2016-2017 (there have been 2 seasons so far), at the moments before they were going to die.  The point of this being, that they’re not killing someone to make room, they’re just borrowing what would otherwise be an empty shell.  Without getting too into spoiler territory, this process doesn’t always workout for them, and that creates a lot of the interesting aspects of the show.  (I really want to tell you, but if I do I’ll be doing you a disservice).

The plot about saving the future, really takes a back seat, to the stories of the characters, who have to adapt not only to a world that they don’t recognize, but to roles and relationships they are thrust into by means of their “host’s” previous life.  One thing I will tell you, is that these characters come from a future in which famine has ravaged their food supply, and so any time a new ‘Traveler’ is brought into the show, they really explore their relationship with food.  It might not sound that interesting, but food, both the experience of tasting, as well as all of the addictive nature of modern food and sugar, show how they aren’t ready for, or able to adjust while eating in front of non-travelers.  It’s a small weakness in their ‘act’ that they all have to perform.

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The show focuses on one team of ‘travelers,’ who work toward individual missions as they are assigned.  One of the things that I find really cool about the team, is that you have a leader, an engineer, a weapons expert, a medic, but also a historian, who has one of the coolest functions.  Essentially, the historian is in charge of remembering all the deaths and events in the area, so that they can go help new traveler’s transition, or look for differences that they may make in the time-line.  Philip, the historian, also has to face the idea that as they change the time-line he becomes less essential, and less helpful to their missions, which creates something of an existential crisis for him.

Ultimately, the characters learning that they can’t just travel back and accomplish their missions without lives interfering becomes the meat of the show.  Each character ends up with a particular set of challenges that were unforeseen from the future, and they have to adjust and keep going.

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I’m only a few episodes into season 2, but the show remains really interesting in this perfect fusion of character and device. What I would suggest to you, is that you watch the first episode, which I consider to be one of the best first episodes I’ve ever seen.  It had me instantly hooked and wanting more.  That being said, I can’t really tell you anything about why I was hooked from the start without spoiling it for you.  I hope you enjoy.

Also, as a side note, and a shameless plug, if you’re looking for time-travel fiction, check out my new time-travel blog, which I’ve been working on since October.

PODCAST: 2018 Movie Preview (Part 2)!

Hey, everybody!

It’s Paul here and I should have had this up yesterday, but better late than never! Here’s Part 2 of The World’s Best Podcast with Paul & Tim 2018 Movie Preview! Of course finishing out the episode with me until Tim makes his triumphant return, is super guest co-host Ryan McDonald! In Part 2 we start smack in the middle of the summer movie season and then finish out the rest of the year. It’s a great Episode and I hope you all enjoy it. Listen here or subscribe on iTunes:

https://www.spreaker.com/episode/13823508

 

 

TRAILER: Star Wars Rebels: The Final Season

Star Wars Rebels is a fantastic show. It’s added complex, compelling characters and stories to the Star Wars Mythology. As well as expanding and enriching existing Star Wars lore. It’s even pulled beloved characters from the “Expanded Universe” like Grand Admiral Thrawn out of “Legends” and back into Star Wars canon. But all great stories must have a closing chapter and I’m glad to see Star Wars Rebels go out on its own terms with a definitive ending. Check out the trailer for the final episodes here.

I highly recommend checking the show out on Blu-Ray. Below are the links for the Blu-Rays for first 3 seasons (the 4th and final season is still airing) on Amazon. If you use the link below a small percentage goes to keep World’s Best Media up and running. So we are HUGELY appreciative when you use our Amazon Affiliate links! Thanks!

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MUST WATCH: Black Lightning

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Cress Williams as Jefferson Pierce AKA Black Lightning

Black Lightening Series Premiere Review

Written by Paul Wright

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Black Lightning is the latest superhero drama from The CW, which has made DC superhero shows it’s bread and butter. Based on the DC Comic of the same name, Black Lightning follows Jefferson Pierce (played by Cress Williams), a former Olympic medalist and retired consumed superhero with electricity powers and who gave up the life of superhero/vigilante Black Lightning, to focus on his family. Today, Jefferson’s main focus is raising his 2 daughters with his estranged wife and helping his community in a different way as an award winning high school principal. His oldest daughter Anissa is a medical student who inherited here father’s desire to help her community by protesting against the violent local gang The 100. Meanwhile his youngest daughter Jennifer, a senior at Jefferson’s high school, is going through her rebellious teenage years. Which of course drives her father nuts.

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What makes this series stand out is that it tackles issues of race, violence, and the antagonistic relationship between the police and the communities they protect, head on. Before the opening title is even shown, our hero, Jefferson Pierce is driving home with his two daughters and is pulled over and harassed by the police solely because he’s black. The police don’t even offer an apology or explanation when they realize they have the wrong man. It’s ugly and feels all too real. Like thousands of other police stops around the country that are a razors edge away from becoming a tragedy. It’s an opening that grabs you and gets your attention without any superheroics.

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Black Lightning is a surprisingly intense series for a superhero show on The CW. Maybe it just feels that way because much of what happens in the story is so similar to what we see on the news everyday. Considering that the main character is a meta-human with electricity powers the show feels more grounded than any other superhero show on The CW.

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Goddamn, that’s a sexy man…

MILD SPOILERS
There’s a great scene where Jefferson has to come to the rescue of his daughter Jennifer, when she gets in some trouble with members of the very dangerous 100 gang at a local club. Despite being out of the game for awhile, Jefferson can still kick ass and take names. After he absolutely fucks up the bad guys in the club, which is pretty damn cool, the cops show up as Jefferson is leaving and immediately pull their tasers on him (I should note that Jefferson is in formal wear throughout this scene). After yelling some racially charged orders at him, the cops tase Jefferson, at which point he’s had enough. When the taser has no effect on him, he electrocutes the 2 cops (without killing them) and blows up their police car. It’s a very cathartic moment. Cress Williams, who plays Jefferson, conveys very well that this is probably something that has happened to the character before and this time he’s not going to take any shit.

END SPOILERS

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There’s a lot to like in this series. There’s even a little bit of a “Dark Knight Returns” vibe. An aging hero comes out of retirement to find his city worse off than ever and he’s forced to confront a particularly vicious gang. There are definitely some parallels there. Also, any big DC Comics fans could guess where some of the stories may go for certain characters.

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Black Lightning in the comics as a member of the Justice League. Umm.. he’s the black guy. Man, the JL needs some diversity!

Overall, Black Lightning was surprisingly good and a welcome addition to The CW’s DC Superhero line up. It’s not completely clear if this show takes place in the “Arrow-verse”, but we are told that other superheroes exist in other cities in this world. Unlike those other DC Superhero shows, Black Lightning seems to have something of a bit more substance to say, which is always welcome in the genre. The characters are likable, especially Cress Williams in the lead roll, the story is appropriately timely, and there are some excellent action sequences. Black Lightning is definitely a show to check out. Highly recommended.

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Another picture of Black Lightning from the DC Comics

Black Lightning airs Tuesday nights on The CW at 9PM!

Black Lightning: 8.8/10

Thanks for reading!
-Paul

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PODCASTS: Tim Reviews Netflix’s Mindhunter & Paul (Kind Of) Reviews SyFy’s The Magicians

 

Hey, everyone!

It’s Paul

I wish had posted these earlier, but this week on “The World’s Best Podcast with Paul & Tim”, Tim and I each separately recorded solo episodes reviewing two very different, but very cool shows. Tim reviewd the first season of Netflix’s Mindhunter. It’s a great review and a very funny podcast, so check it out below.  I intended to review SyFy’s excellent series The Magicians, which I do, but I also get off the rails a little bit and talk about pop culture news of the week. They’re both a lot of fun and we hope you enjoy them as much as we love making them. As always listen here or subscribe on iTunes. Also keep a look out for a special announcement because “The World’s Best Podcast with Paul & Tim” will soon be available on Spotify! Here are the episodes below:

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Tim’s Review of Netflix’s Mindhunter:

https://www.spreaker.com/episode/13744247

 

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Paul’s Review (kind of) of SyFy’s The Magicians:

https://www.spreaker.com/episode/13771425

 

PODCAST: The Best & Worst Of 2017 (Part 2)

Hey, everybody!

It’s Paul

This week on “The World’s Best Podcast with Paul & Tim”,  we present Part Two of our monumental episode looking back at the Best and Worst, Films , TV shows, Comics, and more of 2017!  In Part One we mostly talked about the best and worst TV shows we’d seen over the past year (with a little bit of talk about movies). In Part Two, we shift focus to our favorite and our most disappointing movies of 2017. Plus, towards the end of the episode  I cover some of the big comic book news of the year and list a few of my favorite graphic novels! So, definitely check it out. It’s a great episode. Listen here or subscribe on iTunes:

https://www.spreaker.com/episode/13683756

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What I Want to See: Doctor Who

As you’re probably aware, Christmas is coming, but what you might not be aware of is that every year on Christmas, Doctor Who releases a Christmas special.  These specials aren’t just goofy Christmas specials like many other franchises might create, but are part of the continuity of the series.  In this particular special, we will see the 12th Doctor, played by Peter Capaldi, regenerate into the 13th Doctor who will be played by Jodie Whitaker.

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Whitaker will play the first female Doctor in this show’s 54 year run.  There is some controversy over it, but there is also precedent with other Time Lords (the Doctor’s race) becoming Time Ladies upon regeneration.  It’s really not a big deal.  I promise.  Or at least it shouldn’t be.

The fact that it shouldn’t be a big deal, is actually what I want to see with this show.  If Whitaker follows the trend she’ll be on for about 3 seasons (other than the 9th Doctor Christopher Eccleston, all modern Doctors have had 3).  I’m hoping that while the writers are making the character female, and can introduce elements of the female experience, I hope they don’t change fundamentals of the show’s structure in order to pander.

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Doctor Who has romance in many of its storylines, but ultimately the Doctor him/herself is not inherently romantic or driven by these stories.  David Tennant’s tenth Doctor was in love with Rose, and with it came heartbreak and all of those things that romance comes with, but the Doctor stayed focused on saving the world.  Matt Smith’s Eleventh Doctor had something of a romance with River Song, (spoiler alert she’s his wife) but again, it was secondary to his main story of saving the world.

I will not mind them having flirtations, or even a genuine love story in the 13th Doctor’s story, but the character cannot be defined by any relationship.  There seems to be a tendency in fiction, and perhaps in non-fiction to define people by their relationships, and the Doctor whether he’s a he, or she’s a she, should not be defined by an individual relationship, but rather his or her love for life, and the living.  We get to see the Doctor over the last 10 seasons breaking down as severely over loss of friendship as loss of romantic love, and just as deeply at the loss off a species as that of the loss of a single life.  This is the Doctor’s strength as a character, and there isn’t anything inherently male or female about that (although if written well a female Doctor may shine brighter in this way).

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Lastly, sexuality.  The doctor has mostly been portrayed as heterosexual, but I would argue that this doesn’t seem like a very strict rule at all.  I don’t care, in the inevitable romances that will occur (hopefully in small doses) whether or not the character is engaged in straight or lesbian relationships, as long as it’s about character, and not sticking with continuity, or sending a message.  The companions are where sexual orientation seems to be best displayed, having had some of each, and the Doctor seems to be beyond that.  So I hope that will remain the case when it comes to the 13th Doctor.

 

Doctor Who: An Introduction to the Whoniverse

Doctor Who, is one of my favorite sci-fi shows, and I wanted to write a little about it now, in case there are any non-Who fan’s that might be interested in getting into it.  I think I may be the only one here at World’s Best Media who is a fan of the Doctor, and so I’ll be your guide to the Whoniverse.

First, I want to let you know a few things about Doctor Who.  The name of the show is a joke, the main character is only known by the name “the Doctor” which often prompts new characters to ask “Doctor Who.”  This will be important because if I refer to “Doctor Who,” I mean the show, and if I refer to “the Doctor” I mean the character.

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Doctor Who first aired November 23rd 1963, and continued until 1989 before being canceled.  There was then a 1996 reboot/continuation movie which failed, and finally a series reboot/continuation in 2005, which is currently still going on.

The Doctor is a time-traveling alien from the planet Gallifrey, and a race known as the Time-Lords.  When the show started, episodes in which they traveled to the past were largely educational teaching history, and when they would travel to the future they would teach about science and technology.  Eventually, the show became more or less, just entertainment.

When the first actor to play the Doctor (William Hartnell) became too ill to continue on the show, the producers had to come up with a way of replacing him, which wouldn’t cause too much disruption to the show itself.  Their idea, was that Time-Lords (not referred to as such until later) were able to ‘regenerate’ into a new body.  This over the last 54 years has allowed for multiple actors playing the Doctor to cross paths, and for the show to go through mini soft reboots of the character every time.  The Doctor isn’t entirely the same man, with the same quirks across multiple bodies, which has allowed for actors to play the character differently, and allows it to remain fresh.

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Now, my own knowledge of Doctor Who, mainly focuses on the series starting in 2005, although I have made a point of watching some episodes from each of the previous incarnations.  As of today, we’re on the 12th version of the Doctor (except for one that was retconned in known as The War Doctor), but on this year’s Christmas special we will get the 13th Doctor, and the first female to play the Doctor.  I’ll talk more about her in a “What I Want to See: Doctor Who” which I’m planning to be out sometime later this month.

Last think you should know about the plot and structure, is the TARDIS, which is the Doctor’s time-machine, space-ship, friend, and occasional lover.  It’s the blue police box that you see at Newbury Comics, or on Facebook.  It is essentially an all-powerful vehicle for the Doctor’s personal use.  Also, it’s bigger on the inside.

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Alright, so know you know the idea of the Doctor, and the tenure of the show, but what I want to talk about is the tone of the show.  The show is very much a serialized show, which follows story archs across episodes and seasons, but the tone is not necessarily.  The tone can vary from episode to episode, in a way that is similar to something more like an anthology.  Some episodes are whimsical and silly, like the works of Douglas Adams (Adams wrote The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, but also wrote for Doctor Who in the 80’s) or more serious and dramatic, showing off the Doctor’s emotional range, and then there are some very scary horror episodes.

I thought it might be helpful, if I recommended some episodes based on these different breakdowns, so you can get a sense not only of the character, but of the different tonal shifts.  It’s kind of a long list, but I’m covering about 10 years (you’re welcome for not trying to cover 54) worth of TV spanning 4 actors.

So here’s the list:

  • Rose- Season 1, episode 1. This episode serves to introduce a new generation to Doctor Who.  It is a little bit goofy, a little bit dramatic, fast paced, and kind of manages to fit so much of what Doctor Who is into an hour. It also starts us off with Christopher Eccleston who is the Ninth version of the Doctor, as well as introducing us to Rose, whom is his companion.  (The Doctor always has a companion, typically a young woman.)
  • Dalek- Season 1, episode 6. This introduces us to the Dalek, which is a race of armored aliens, which are arguably the quintessential Doctor Who villains.  In this episode we also get to see a combination of the Doctor’s wrath as well as the Doctor’s compassion.
  • Father’s Day- Season 1, episode 8. The reason I’m suggesting this one, is that it goes into 2 things that the show really has a great opportunity to do.  They get to tell intricate time-travel stories which are both using the time travel as a plot device, as well as using it as a genuine part of the story.  Also it’s a really touching story of the redemption of a character who wouldn’t have had one without time travel.
  • The Empty Child, The Doctor Dances- Season 1, Episodes 9 and 10. This is a two part story, and it is simultaneously in the top 5 scariest Doctor Who episodes, and a genuinely heart-warming story.  I can’t tell you too much about it without giving away too much, but if you want an idea of how creepy it is, imagine a young child in 1940’s England with a gasmask stuck on his face asking everyone “Are you my mummy?”  I cannot even do an impression of that voice without my wife getting mad at how creeped out she is!

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  • The Christmas Invasion- Season 2, Episode 0. This is the first episode with David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor, and while the plot is somewhat dumb in this episode, it’s a big tonal shift from the previous episodes, and it shows all of the range that David Tennant is going to have as the Doctor. Also it has one of my all-time favorite jokes in the show’s run.
  • Army of Ghosts, Doomsday- Season 2, Episode 12 and 13. Another two part story (Doctor Who loves 2 part stories), is perhaps best watched after having had seasons 1 and 2 fully ingested to appreciate, but there are a lot of memes that you’ll understand better after these episodes.
  • Human Nature and The Family of Blood- Season 3, Episode 8 and 9. This two parter is WWI era, and the Doctor thinks he is a human and not a time-lord.  It shows a huge moral conflict, and some of the more sinister human villains in the show’s run.  This leans on the dramatic/scary side of things.
  • Blink- Season 3, Episode 10. This is a very Doctor-lite episode, and is very much a stand-alone episode, with the only real piece that ever has relevance again being the villains it introduces.  If you’re looking for something scary with an interesting time-travel structure, this is the best episode to start with.  Many people have done lists of Doctor Who episodes, and this is routinely placed as the best single episode, or the best episode to show a non-Who fan to try to show them.  It’s undeniably great.

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  • The Doctor’s Daughter- Season 4, Episode 6. Some of the episodes on this list are cool in a way that can’t fully be explained, and the only thing that I can specifically point to in this episode is the Doctor’s monologue at the end, but it’s an episode on a future planet with a society of people being cloned rapidly, and killed rapidly in a war they don’t even understand.  Honestly, just a cool episode.
  • Silence in the Library and Forest of the Dead- Season 4, Episodes 8 and 9. This episode tells the story of 2 time-travelers, the Doctor, and River Song, who meet while heading in opposite directions via time travel.  I don’t want to tell too much about the structure, but at the time that I watched these episodes, this was the most innovative time-travel concept I had seen, and I think still may be.
  • Midnight- Season 4, episode 10. This is another stand-alone horror episode.  I have only watched it once, because whenever my wife and I rewatch the series, she makes me skip over this one, because it creeps her out too much (I think worse than the gasmasks).  It’s about an alien virus which takes over a human host on a resort planet’s ‘excursion’ to a diamond waterfall.  The whole episode basically takes place in a space version of a tour-bus, and if you’re not genuinely creeped out by it, you should get checked out.
  • The Stolen Earth and Journey’s End- Season 4, episode 12 and 13. It wraps up some story-lines, and it gives characters their moment to shine, and is a bigger deal than when Eccleston left (because he didn’t like doing the show).
  • The Eleventh Hour- Season 5, episode 1. This is your introduction to Matt Smith, the eleventh Doctor, the newest companion (Karen Gillan), and it’s a pretty cool episode.  It tends to land on the goofier end of things, with the new Doctor making lots of goofy jokes, and with a little more sexual humor (nothing too risqué) than most other episodes.  You may not fall in love with the 11th Doctor in this episode, but maybe you’ll fall in love with Amelia Pond.
  • Vincent and the Doctor- Season 5, Episode 10. Honestly, the ‘bad guy/monster’ in this episode isn’t the highlight, in fact 7 times out of 10 on Doctor Who the monster isn’t the highlight, but in this episode the Doctor and Amelia, meet Vincent Van Gogh, and their interactions with him are amazing examples of character work.

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  • The Pandorica Opens and The Big Bang- Season 5, episodes 12 and 13. These two episodes include appearances by nearly every alien race that the Doctor has faced, a really cool time travel structure (this might be the one that trumps the Silence in the Library and The Forest of the Dead), it has huge stakes and the Doctor delivers a kick-ass monologue.  These 2 episodes might be the highlight of Matt Smith as the Doctor.
  • All of Season 6. Matt Smith isn’t a bad doctor, but he comes immediately after arguably the best doctor, and so it takes a little while to fully get on the Matt Smith train.  The 2 part finale of season 5 gets us there, and then season 6 has an over-arching story that is the best season in the shows run.  I can’t really emphasize enough that this whole season is a gem.  You have the doctor thinking he’s a cowboy, you start off the season and end the season in roughly the same place, with something catastrophic happening, and the whole season fills in the blanks of how you get there.  There are guest appearances by Richard Nixon, and one of the creepiest new alien races that the Doctor has to face off against.  Sorry, can’t give you any specific episodes.  I will however, tell you to skip all of season 7 to make up for the abundance of episodes I’m throwing at you.
  • Time Heist- Season 8, episode 5. Does the title not sell you on it?  It’s a time-travel heist film in just an hour! It’s the first on my list featuring the twelfth Doctor, Peter Capaldi.  That’s all you’re getting.
  • Flatline- Season 8, episode 9. Honestly, just a really cool Twilight Zone style scifi episode, where the concept is the selling point.  Basically, due to dimensional breakdown (like 3D turning into 2D) the Doctor is trapped in his TARDIS, and his newest companion Clara, has to help him get out.
  • The Husbands of River Song- Season 9, episode 13. This ends up being a companion piece to The Silence in the Library and The Forest of the Dead, but I can’t tell you anymore, because of “Spoilers!”
  • Pilot- Season 10, episode 1. This is an episode which introduces us to another new companion, Bill (Pearl Mackie) and it might be the saddest episode, but character-wise it’s incredible.  Bill, a young lesbian woman living in a foster home as a young adult, is just about the saddest and loneliest character the show has.
  • Extremis- Season 10, episode 6. This has some amazing work by both Peter Capaldi and Pearl Mackie, as well as Matt Lucas who plays Nardole.  Matt Lucas as Nardole plays off as almost a perfect impression of the Doctor, but he’s almost always relegated to manning the TARDIS.  I suspect he was cast because he would make an excellent Doctor if it weren’t for all of the physical toll that the role entails (both Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi had to have knee surgery from all of the running.)

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With that, you’ll have an idea of what the show is.  I do recommend watching in its entirety, but if you’re just looking to get an idea and start off before Jodie Whitaker takes over the role, these are my suggestions.