Kickin’ It Old School: 1988

kickin it old school logoWhen I first started blogging back in 2008, it was for the now-defunct Wizard website. Up to that point I wasn’t particularly interested in the format, but seeing some of the other staffers get into it made me think about what I could offer (if anything). I remember heading down to New York Comic Con with a bunch of the writers and editors and asked then-web guru Jim Gibbons about starting my own and he stopped me dead in my tracks with a simple question: what would it be about? I told him I’d think about it and before long I had my angle: Kicking It Old School, a series of posts about older comics, movies, TV shows and the like and why they’re still great. It’s a pretty common type of blog on the ol’ Internets, but Wizard wasn’t doing one at the time so I got the thumb’s up and started at it. When I realized the end was coming for me at the company — and wanted to break out and do my own thing blogging-wise — I copied all those old posts and they can now be read under the KIOS category here on UM.

In a lot of ways, I’ve continued that theme over the years with UM, but I figured it would be fun to jump back into those waters for a full week here on the site by focusing every post this week on media that came out in a particular year. This time around it’s 1988 and I’ve got a lot of fun posts planned that fall into the usual headings of Ad It Up, Toy Commercial Tuesday, Trade Post, Halloween Scene, Friday Fisticuffs and maybe a few others.

Here’s a little photo hodge podge of images to give you an idea of what’s to come!

Why go to all this trouble? First off, I love a good theme. Second, I find that something like this helps focus me when it comes to reading and watching. It’s also fun to start with one particular piece (in this case the first volume of Mike Grell’s Green Arrow ongoing) and then figure out what else I can write about from that same year. It’s also interesting seeing different themes that cross over from comics to movies to music in a particular year. I won’t be doing this all the time, but I hope you guys enjoy the week of posts which begins later today with the return of Ad It Up and one of the greatest comics of all time, which just so happens to have been released in ’88.

Charles in Charge

2009-04-03
3:02:48 am

So, after getting Xbox Live I went through and added a TON of movies and TV shows to my list, everything from classic movies that I have or haven’t seen to TV shows I fondly remember or have always wanted to check out. One of those shows was Charles in Charge. After doing some digging online and through my memory, I remembered there being two families, the original Pembrokes and the latter day Powells. Apparently, the show didn’t get picked up after the first season, there was a two year gap and then it started up in syndication. I remembered both families from childhood (the first season which had the Pembrokes was from 1984-1985, the Powells from 1987-1990). So I figured what the heck, let’s check it out.

And you know what? I freaking LOVE the first season of Charles in Charge. It’s got boatloads of heart, it’s funny and, though sometimes corny, the performances are great. You really get the feeling that Charles and the Pembrokes really get along. All in all, it feels real. Well, mid-80s sitcom real. And Scott Baio (who plays Charles) is really freaking charming.

The basic idea is that Charles is a freshman in college who takes care of the Pembroke children (Douglas, Lila and Jason) in exchange for room and board in New Jersey. There isn’t really an overarching, season-long storyarc, which is fine, but each episode the basic format of Charles trying to live his life while juggling the Pembroke childrens’ problems, his own problems and his friends Buddy and Gwendolyn.

Now, while the Powells may be the more well-known family (as it includes a pre-Baywatch Nicole Eggert), but, as I sit here watching the first episode of the second season, I can’t help but like the Pembrokes better. Sure, it might just be bias, but I just find the Pembroke children and parents (the dad is played by James Widdoes who was Hoover in Animal House) more convincing.

This is rambling, definitely, and I kind of wish I would have made notes as I went along watching the episodes. A few highlights include a young Meg Ryan showing up a couple of times, Charles helping the teenage Lila deal with growing up (surprisingly honest, though also kind of hokey) and Douglas the nerdy Pembroke boy being a big time nerd in the 80s.

Normally this is where I’d tell you to do yourself a favor and check out Charles in Charge’s first season on Netflix (and I do), but I’ve also got to throw in a few thoughts on the first episode of the second season. Charles comes back from the summer trip he left for at the end of the first season. He comes into the Pembroke house to find different people living there. Mrs. Pembroke (though it’s not the same actress, blarg) informs Charles that Widdoes’ Stan Pembroke got transferred to Seattle and they moved (all of this took place in two weeks in the show’s time, but two years in real time, so everyone who was actually on the first season looks different). Jason, the youngest Pembroke is there as well and definitely looks more grown up. It’s actually a pretty sad moment when they leave and then Charles has to decide if he’s going to stay with this new family that the Pembrokes sublet their house to or move into an apartment with Buddy. We get to know the three Powell kids a little, there’s a boy who doesn’t do much, Nicole Eggert who’s pretty much a vapid, popular jerk and then Sarah who is a sensitive book lover who’s verging on maturity with no real direction. Her and Charles spend some time together and Charles decides to stay. Oh yeah, their mom is married to a guy in the miliitary and her dad lives with them, the grandpa isn’t too fond of Charles right off the bat. We’ll see where it goes from here, but season’s 2-5 (only up to 3 is on DVD so far) have a lot to live up to, as watching the first season has been one of the more enjoyable shows I’ve watched this year.

My Top 5 TV Shows Right Now

2009-03-13
8:35:13 pm

When the new season began I said a few words about the shows I’d been watching. Well, now the season’s been on it’s merry way for a while now and I figured I’d lay out my top five shows right now. They’re in no particular order except #1, but they’re rocking my world right now.

5. How I Met Your Mother

4. Big Bang Theory

3. 30 Rock

2. Real World

1. LOST

Unfortunately, HIMYM and BBT weren’t new for a while, which has been a huge bummer as we don’t really watch anything else on Mondays. I still really enjoy both shows and can’t wait to see where the further new episodes take me. After watching the first season of 30 Rock all the way through I gained an all new appreciation for 30 Rock and they haven’t been disappointing this year (though it is interesting to see how the dynamics have shifted by now). I don’t think I laugh harder at anything more than 30 Rock. The Real World: Brooklyn has been surprising this year. I think the producers thought that, by combining a transgender woman, a gay guy, a Mormon, a girl who used to date girls but now dates guys, an Iraq War veteran, a girl who’s kinda engaged, a body builder and a hip hop dancer they’d have LOADS of conflict. Instead, we’re treated to the most thought provoking, yet still fun season since Las Vegas (SO MANY pranks!). And finally, Lost. I freaking love this show. I’ve actually found that Lost gives me something to really look forward to (my new catchphrase of late has been “Life is better with Lost”). I was close to devastated when I walked into work Wednesday morning and Justin told me it wasn’t new this week. If you’re not watching you should be and if you don’t like it, you’re crazy.

Four Movies I Dug

2009-02-21
5:28:59 am

It may come as a bit of surprise, but my movie intake has almost trickled to a crawl lately. The movies in this post have been vied over a period of almost months. I’ve been a lot more tired lately and haven’t been staying up as late, but I’m still watching for you, my faithful readers (also because I’m half-addicted to movies, I think). So, here we go:

 

NICK AND NORAH’S INFINITE PLAYLIST (2008)

I didn’t LOVE Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, but I liked it about as much as I thought I would. I’m a sucker for told-in-one-night movies like Can’t Hardly Wait and the like. Plus, this one stars Michael Cera and Kat Dennings who is crush-worthy in my book (don’t tell Em). The basic story isn’t all that mindblowing, it’s your basic “two people who are dating other people meet each other, fall for each other, have a few difficulties, but SPOILER get together in the end” flick, but what’s fun for me is in the details. Aside from the solid performances and guest spots by the likes of Andy Samberg, Seth Meyers, Jay Baruchel, I like the New York club setting and the smaller details like Nora’s dad SPOILER owning Electric Ladyland studios. I have no idea if the club/band life the movie puts forward is accurate, but I think the idea of following a mystery band around town to be really cool, though familiar (I can’t quite put my finger on why/where from). I also had music geeksplosions when they went to Electric Ladyland. And, I gotta say, I was surprised that this movie, which is based on a book that I haven’t, but now want to, read not only had a sex scene but also a number of gay characters (oh, and the creepiest stripperish dance scene involving an actual girl that I can remember). I guess teen movies have changed a bit and I think it’s pretty cool.

THE HOUSE BUNNY (2008)

I can’t exactly say The House Bunny surprised me, because, well, I kind of thought I would like it. You’ve got Anna Faris starring in a Fred Wolf (SNL, DIRTY WORK!!!) directed movie that mixes Playboy and sororities on a college campus in which the main point of the flick is to turn nerdy sorority girls (including Kat Dennings, Rumor Willis and Emma Stone) into hot chicks. I’d say that’s a pretty killer combination. And, as far as I’m concerned, it lived up to my expectations. Oh, plus it had Colin Hanks who I haven’t seen in anything but Orange County, but I liked that flick and he’s good in this too. Really, if the above description doesn’t tickle your fancy, you won’t dig this movie. If it does, dive on in and have a good time. I wouldn’t rank it in my top five comedies or anything, but it’s still worth a watch.

ALIEN RAIDERS (2008)

Alien Raiders is one of those movies that makes its way into the Wizard building and somehow found it’s way to my hands, probably because everyone knows I’m the horror guy in the offices. Anyway, I knew nothing about this movie and had absolutely no expectations (in fact, I can’t even remember why I watched this instead of something else like, say, Triloquist, which is in my “to be watched” pile). So, I was pleasantly surprised by this mix of Thing and The Mist (basically, “who’s the alien in a grocery store”). I was surprised with how in to this movie I got (I even put a comic down to watch it). For a much better review than I could give, check out my favorite blog on the web Horror Movie a Day. Also check out the comment section for what will be a now reduntant comment, plus a comment from the screenwriter!

DISTRICT B-13 (2004)

Compared to the rest of these flicks, B-13 here is an oldie, but it’s still a goody. Man, I had a great time watching B-13. It’s directed by the guy who just did Taken which I hear is pretty rad and want to check out. Anyway, the story is set in the near future, something about a ghetto in France where undesirables live. The intricacies of the plot escape me at the moment, but there’s an undercover cop and a crook working together to both get a bomb back and save one of the guys’ sister. The story itself isn’t the cool part though, I was a fan of the action scenes, many of which involved my personal favorite YouTube search of free running (or parkour if you’re nasty, or French). I caught this on Netflix’s amazing instant watch and can’t recommend it more to action fans. Seriously, go check it out NOW.

Okay, hope you enjoyed these brief movie reviews. Look for more trade and movie reviews soon!

New York Comic Con

2009-02-12
12:08:19 am

So, as I’m sure you’re aware, this past weekend was the enormous New York Comic Con. I’ve actually gone every year and the show gets better and better, though, that’s pretty easy considering how poorly laid out it was the first year.

I mostly walked around and talked to my various ToyFare contacts, but I also got a chance to flip through some boxes of cheap trades ($5, 50% off and best of all, buy 1 get 2 free!!!). So, keep an eye out for a bunch of trade reviews in the coming days and weeks (including a four trade Black Panther retrospective).

Aside from that, I was too much of a wuss to talk to any artists and get sketches in my Green Lantern themed sketchbook (as of now, it’s got one sketch, though it is a pretty cool Koi Pham Guy Gardner). So, if any artists are reading this and want to contribute, let me know 🙂

Last but not least Justin Aclin, the big man at ToyFare, lead a slew of us in a Twisted ToyFare Theatre panel that turned out to be a lot of fun. So, thanks to anyone who came out for that and anyone who wished me a happy birthday on Friday (my 26th).

And, seriously, if you’re an artist and want to draw some rad Green Lanterns, drop me a line!

13.5 Quick Movie Reviews

2009-01-17
5:32:32 am

Hey gang, sorry again about my complete lack of posts lately, things have been crazy. I have been keeping myself busy with movies though, so here are 13 short reviews about some flicks I’ve seen lately, plus one movie I didn’t watch.

SIX STRING SAMURAI (1998)

I really liked this post apocalyptic-like road trip movie with a samurai Buddy Holly. The howler-monkey kid got annoying fast, but the action and snappy dialogue kept things moving along at quite a clip. Much better than I thought it would be.

OUR MAN FLINT (1966)

Flint’s a swinging secret agent int he 60s more worried about having a good time than stopping an international incident (at first at least). Great, campy 60s spy fun, that both pokes fun at but also sets itself up in the same universe as James Bond. A lot of fun, can’t wait to check out the sequel.

THE MAJORETTES (1986)

I don’t actually remember too much about this movie other than it involved some maniac hunting down and killing high school cheerleaders. It’s a way lower budget movie and apparently very little of the money went to snag actors who can, you know, act. Skip this one unless you’re a horror completist or you’re looking to cross another movie off in your copy of Creature Feature (like me).

DAY OF THE DEAD (2008)

I was actually pretty impressed with this remake-in-name-mostly of Romero’s Day of the Dead. I’m not a huge fan of the original or anything, but I wasn’t expecting much out of this flick and was surprised. The story moves along the same speeds as the fast Zack Snyder/28 Days Later-like zombies, but my favorite part is seeing actual people I recognize like Mena Suvari, Nick Cannon and Ving Rhames killing and becoming zombies. When was the last time you saw a non genre actor semi-famous person in a horror movie after they became famous? Hopefully it’s a trend that will continue. I’m actually kind of surprised that they didn’t release this movie in theaters. Oh well, a pretty good zombie movie all said and done, though not a classic.

THE SHADOW (1994)

In my opinion, it’s hard to go wrong when you populate a movie about a pulp hero with actors like Alec Baldwin, Peter Boyle, Tim Curry, Ian McKellen, James Hong and Jonathan Winters and luckily The Shadow held up my opinions. I’m not all that familiar with pulp heroes, especially the Shadow, but I like the idea of him having a network of people all over the city (usually people he has saved) who help him out. There’s all kinds of cool stuff like secret labs and ancient forces of good and evil. Oh and for 30 Rock fans, I highly encourage you to think of these as the early days of Jack Donaghy.

LAST MAN STANDING (1996)

A pretty cool story about a gangster-era hitman (Willis) holing up in a ghost town populated by two rival gangs, gets slowed down with a little too much back and forth back stabbing. I definitely don’t remember all the details about this one, but I’m a Willis fan. Michael Imperioli plays pretty much the same role he always does and Walken stars as Willis’ main competition and they fight which is cool. Can you imagine Walken fighting now? Aside from a dance fight I mean. Oh, also Walter Hill of Warriors fame directed LMS, so it’s gotta be pretty good, right?

FOXY BROWN (1974)

So far my experience with blaxploitation films as been hit or miss, but luckily Foxy is enough of a hit. In the plus column, Pam Grier cuts quite the figure, plus she kicks ass. I also like the idea of a group of inner city dwellers taking the law into their own hands and creating their own kind of police force. I’m not a big fan of the sexual assault stuff, but I guess that’s all part of the exploitation riff. Too bad Foxy and Shaft never got together. That would have been a great flick.

LEATHERHEADS (2008)

I’m not sure if I’ve professed my heterosexual man love for George Clooney on the blog before, but I’m a big fan. I think we’d get along smashingly. I do know that I’ve talked about how much I like the American Office, so you probably know I’m a John Krasinski fan. So, Leatherheads was a good flick in my book. It doesn’t make my top 10 sports movies of all time (well, maybe, I’d have to come up with that list actually), but it’s fun and it offered up a look at a period in professional football that I am completely unfamiliar with, so that was cool. Of course, it’s a comedy, so I’m not sure how accurate it was, but who cares? Like I said it was fun. Has similar story elements to League of the their Own (which probably would make my top 10 because I’m a huge softy). Not groundbreaking by any means, but worth a watch.

JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH (2008)

I liked Leatherheads more than Journey, but it’s not a terrible movie (even if it is very predictable). The special effects bounce back and forth between boderline okay, pretty good and not so great, but the effort is there. I really wish I would have been able to see this bad boy in 3D. I missed out on the phenomenon in the 80s and have gotten a taste for it by watching Superman Returns (ugh) and Nightmare Before Christmas in lame separate the background from the foreground 3D. I can’t freaking wait to see My Bloody Valentine 3D!!!

KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE (1988)

Holy crap I loved this movie. Rickey got me a subscription to a horror movie mag called Horror Hound that’s not expertly edited, but still offers up tons and tons of horror goodness. One such bit of goodness was a whole feature on Klowns. The movie is just so much freaking over the bigtop fun. I really can’t believe that a studio made this movie. Please, do yourself a favor and check it out. Also of interest on the DVD is the Chiodo brothers’ home movies from when they were making monster movies as kids. Pretty impressive stuff for pre-teens with a 16mm camera.

VAMPIRE EFFECT (2003)

The combination of Hong Kong action and vampires drew me to this flick pretty quickly on Netflix. Heck, it’s even got Jackie Chan in a roll that’s more than him just walking on and being called Jackie (which he is). As with a lot of movies like this that I’ve seen, the special effects and fight scenes are sick, but the story itself is nothing new. I did really like the cool retractable whip/sword weapons they used. I think I designed something very similar what I was younger.

LICENSE TO DRIVE (1988)

If you thought Corey Haim could have been a little bit smoother, though still pretty spazzy in Lost Boys and Corey Fledman from the Burbs could use a little mellowing out, then License to Drive is the perfect 2 Coreys vehicle for you (puns!). Haim fails his driving test, but still tells a young (though still 18 by my math) Heather Graham that he can pick her up. It’s basically like an episode of a sitcom, but stretched to 90 minutes and definitely edgier than your average Saved By The Bell. Good stuff. Next up from the Coreys? Dream a Little Dream (which I have absolutely no knowledge of).

LEGEND (1985)

Legend is one of those movies that I don’t remember at all, but have since come to find that it’s kind of a big deal (to some people). I knew that Tim Curry was in it, but had no idea Tom Cruise was. I thought it might be kind of a funny movie, but when I saw Tom prancing around the forest or whatever I clicked this badboy off and deleted it from my queue. I am no fan of fantasy movies.

JOHNNY BE GOOD (1988)

I’m becoming a pretty big fan of Netflix’s recommendations. I started watching Johnny after digging License and wasn’t disappointed. It’s got an older and more confident Anthony Michael Hall and a completely goofy Robert Downey Jr.. There’s a good deal of goofiness to this movie, which focuses on Hall as a football star getting courted by and visiting different colleges that want him. Downey plays his wacky best friend, but what struck me about the movie is how real it can be at times. Hall and Downey sell their characters like they’re up for an award. Oh, it’s also got Uma Thurman as Hall’s girlfriend and Jennifer Tilly has a quick role. If you’re an 80s movie fan, or just curious to see what Downey might have been like back in the late 80s give Johnny a look.

AUGUST RUSH (2007)

Sometimes you’ve got to add a movie for your lady to the ol’ queue. I was pleasantly surprised with August Rush, not because the story is all the unique (you’ve seen the broad strokes before plenty of times), but because of it’s view of music. The way they show the young boy experiencing music in everyday life, what it means to him and how he’s eventually able to play it in his own unorthodox way really struck me. If you’ve got to watch a chick flick with your girl and you’re a music fan, this is a good choice. Also, Keri Russell is in it and looking good.

KING OF KONG (2007)

If you haven’t seen this documentary about the surprisingly competitive world of classic arcade high score competitions, please stop reading and watch it right now. This one makes it into my top 10 movies of 2007 (should a list ever actually exist). First off, it shows off a world I’ve never seen, which you know I love. Also, that world is full of deceit, greed, cowardice, heroics, villainy, triumph and defeat. The way the story is put together feels like a really well scripted feature film, though the events and the ups and downs are completely real. If you’ve ever liked anything I’ve written about on here, watch this movie.

SUPERMAN/DOOMSDAY (2007)

Seeing as how The Death and Return of Superman is the story that got me collecting comics in the first place (and how deeply and utterly I bought into the idea that any of the four subsequent people could be the real Superman), I was very excited when I heard a few years ago that DC/WB was going to make an animated movie about that very event, I was psyched. I figured it probably wouldn’t have EVERYthing that made the comic so cool (Superman turning back to save a family instead of finishing Doomsday off, that very 90s JLA facing off against Doomsday, an eyes-swollen-shut Guy Gardner asking his teammate to aim his fist at Doomsday so he could blast it, not to mention the four other “Supermen”), but that it could offer up a cool new look on the idea. And it’s definitely a different look. I would have preferred them either go straight with the established look and continuity of the Bruce Timm/Paul Dini-verse or have a drastically different art direction on the project as little things like Superman’s cheek lines become distracting. I was also distracted by the different voices for these characters that I recognize from a specific other incarnation that looked very similar but sound completely different. Even at 77 minutes it felt kind of slow, but the fight scenes are pretty great (though they don’t hold a candle to JLU). I still hold on to my dream of one day seeing an epic, animated incarnation of the Death and Return of Superman though. A boy can dream, right?