Hatcher’s Junk Drawer #5: Randomized

No real column this week to speak of… I’ve sat down several different times to try and write something and it’s just kind of fizzled out. Lots of starts with no finishes.

So here they all are, in no particular order or arrangement. Over at the old stand Chad Nevett used to do a thing called “Random Thoughts” and I guess that’s what this is. Just bits and pieces, this and that. Pulling the lever to see what comes up.

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Mortality… Julie and I have realized that we are now at an age where a week does not go by without losing someone we valued, someone who was a childhood hero or a role model or just a person we admired from afar. I used to wonder why my parents took it so hard when Elvis Presley and Groucho Marx died a few days apart, back in 1977. But losing Richard Anderson, Jerry Pournelle, Len Wein, Harry Dean Stanton, Frank Vincent, and Basil Gogos all in the same two weeks… I get it now, I think.

I didn’t know any of those people personally; of that list, we’d only met Len Wein a couple of times at shows. But we felt connected to them, their work was a part of our lives. When peope like that pass on, it feels like you lost part of your cultural identity somehow. Yes, even when the work is still there– and it is, thanks to our on-demand, everything-available pop culture landscape we live in now.

So, granted, it’s not like we really lost anything if we didn’t know them personally and the work’s there. Certainly the twinge we feel when they go is nothing compared to the pain of the people who actually did know them, the loved ones that were hanging in there with them through the final illness, or whatever. Against that, I feel absurd even talking about it. But… even for us folks who only knew them from afar, it was nice to know they were out there somewhere living their lives. Realizing that’s no longer true, and that I’m at the age where this feeling of loss is only going to ramp up from now on, is a sad and sobering thought. It’s a weekly event for Julie and me now, where one says to the other “Did you hear that ________ died?”

I don’t know where I’m going with this, except that it’s coming home to me how important it is with the people you care about to do the things you were going to do and say the things you need to say, because it’s just too easy to get sucked into the day-to-day minutiae of getting through the work week so you keep putting it off… and then your chance is gone.

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Baskervilles In Edmonds…. That’s Edmonds, Washington, about an hour’s drive north of where Julie and I live. We made the excursion last week to see the opening weekend of the Driftwood Players’ production of Baskerville.

The one bright spot in the last couple of weeks of relentless bad news was getting to go see our friend Kris Hambrick in this terrific show. We were delighted to discover during Outdoor Trek that Kris is as big a Holmes nerd as Julie and me, and she was very excited about getting cast in this. So of course we had to go.

As it happens, The Hound of the Baskervilles is tied with Bram Stoker’s Dracula as the story I have the most versions of around here.

Starting with the Educator Classics juvenile edition of the original novel, the Rathbone version, the Marvel Preview comics, the Hammer Films version, the Jeremy Brett, the modern Sherlock version with Benedict Cumberbatch… suffice it to say that Julie and I are experts, and we both loved this play. Go see it if you can. It’s hilarious but still Holmes, and Kris did a wonderful job of anchoring the story and keeping it Sherlockian enough for old-school purists like us.

One more weekend to see it, if you are anywhere close. Information on tickets and showtimes is here.

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Podcasts…. I Forgot to mention this earlier but there are new episodes of Radio Vs. the Martians up for your listening pleasure.

One episode covers the cinema of Keanu Reaves, and the other is a catch-all ‘fun size’ episode. Here and here.

And I found this podcast episode interesting as well.

We are big fans of Star Trek Continues in this household so it was interesting to hear from some of the people involved with it. If you enjoy the show, it’s worth your time.

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Déjà Vu…. Speaking of Star Trek, I noticed fans had worked themselves into a fury– yeah, I know, what else is new?– over the new Seth MacFarlane show, The Orville.

Basically, that it was so blatantly plagiarized from Star Trek that it was practically fanfic, or something like that.

Well, okay, but so was Galaxy Quest, wasn’t it? After all, the jokes in that movie really don’t work without the awareness of the real-life underpinnings of that story with Star Trek and its fandom. There are people who say that Galaxy Quest is actually the best Star Trek movie to date, and it’s hard to argue with them.

Or how about Quark, another TV parody that skewered a lot of Trek cliches?

Most people don’t know about it because it was on thirty-something years ago and only lasted a few weeks, but it’s basically the same idea as The Orville; a bumbling space captain and his quirky crew of misfits blunder across the galaxy.

If you want to beat up on The Orville, it ought to be about the fact that it should be funnier and less misogynistic (we ached for poor Adrianne Palicki, who is, yet again, being saddled with a lot of “bitches be crazy” material. Hated it in Friday Night Lights, hated it in SHIELD, hate it here. She is so much better than that, and deserves better.)

Nevertheless, we found The Orville to be surprisingly earnest and good-natured for something from MacFarlane. We’re willing to give it a chance. Another week or two, anyway. It certainly doesn’t deserve all the rage it’s getting. It’s still not as good as Quark was, though. That’s on DVD if you’re curious.

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That’s all I’ve got, this time out. Back next week with something cool.

8 Comments

  1. Edo Bosnar

    Oh, yeah, Quark. I am such an unabashed, unashamed fan of that show. Loved it since I first watched it when it was actually airing on TV (together with my older brother, when I was probably too young for it). When I acquired the DVD version some years back, I was a bit worried that it wouldn’t be as good as I remembered, but I wasn’t disappointed; it’s campy and oh-so-70s but the humor still holds up well for the most part.

    Since you brought up Baskerville, I have to say as someone who’s only read the Holmes novels recently, I think that one’s the best by a such a long shot. If anyone asks me (which they probably shouldn’t, since I’m not a real Holmes guy), I’d go so far as to say it’s probably the only one you need to read. Yep, I even found Sign of the Four a bit flat – any number of the individual case stories are much better reads.

  2. M-Wolverine

    And Bobby The Brain Heenan just passed too….

    Speaking of Bob(bies), what was the problem with Bobbi in SHIELD? I thought she was pretty cool, and a loss when they tried to spin her off. If anyone was the problem with was her annoying cliche’ ex. That and the fact they decided to marry off Hawkeye for no real purpose/gain in the movies.

    Though that take isn’t really a surprise from MacFarlane. He’s not exactly high brow, which is ok, but there isn’t usually enough wit to make up for it. Everything he’s done has been overrated since it started becoming rated. When he was getting cancelled regularly with Family Guy he was probably a bit underrated and it wasn’t so bad. Once it became spinoffs creating the exact same show it showed how thin it was. And after South Park skewered the show it’s hard to take it seriously even as comedy.

    But his main problem is he’s a guy who does funny voices. He’s not a star. Seth MacFarlane has got to stop trying to make Seth MacFarlane happen. No one wants to see him in anything. Especially not the Oscars.

    But no, the fact that it’s too much like Star Trek is a dumb reason to complain. It’s a parody, it’s supposed to be like it. Now the fact that Family Guy was better when it was the Simpsons, now that’s a reason to complain.

    1. Jeff Nettleton

      Aw, hell…….
      I stopped going to Wrestling Classics because it was getting too juvenile; so I haven’t kept up. Heenan was, bar none, the best manager in pro wrestling. A manager is a character actor; his job is to “get over” his wrestler, usually someone who is good in the ring, or has a good look, but can’t deliver a memorable promo. Bobby could and did; some of the best ever. He was also one of the best “bumpers” in the business. He flew around the ring, as babyfaces (the heroes) got a comeback on him, for all of his dastardly deeds. The man could rile a crowd like no one. Fans knew it wasn’t real; but, Bobby could really get under their skin, especially in the 70s, when it was still presented on a more realistic scale. He worked for the Indianapolis promotion and for Verne gagne, in Minnesota, and worked Chicago (which was co-promoted, at that point, by both groups) quite a bit and one night, some fan who took things a little too realistically, took a shot at Heenan. Thankfully, no one was hit; but, that was how good he was. In later years, he spent more time making it comical and was a brilliant color commentator. His acceptance speech, at the WWE Hall of Fame induction, was a thing of improvised brilliance, delivered while recovering from throat cancer surgery. The cancer eventually took his jaw and his voice, the thing he used best. Still, he had that fire and twinkle in his eyes, when he would attend fan-fests, miming things and mugging for cameras. Heenan was one of the last of a rare breed of performers, from that theatrical world.

    2. Le Messor

      “If anyone was the problem with was her annoying cliché ex.”
      … but for me, that was one of the best / most subtle nods to comics in the entire MCU.
      His name is Hunter, and Bobbi’s original superhero identity was Huntress. (Which isn’t well known these days.)

  3. I’m gonna quibble a bit about the differences between the various Star Trek satires/parodies, homages….

    Galaxy Quest was fundamentally different from Quark; I haven’t yet seen Orville (I hate Seth Macfarlane, he’s a backpfeifengesicht; he combines the Martin Shkrelli smirk with the dignity and class of Howard Stern), but from the reviews, it is also different from both its predecessors in basic ways.

    Galaxy Quest is a roman a clef; it’s basically a Trek-based story with all the names changed. The original script featured the original cast of Star Trek as themselves, hauled off by aliens to be their TV characters. Many of the convention scenes and bits of dialog are taken verbatim from actual stories the actors told over the years. It’s not really a parody or satire in the way that Quark and Orville are, because the central conceit is that the cast are actors from a TV show having to live their roles.

    Quark was a satire. They used the tropes and cliches of the action/sci-fi genre to humorous effect. This is different from a parody. A parody would be more like MAD’s “Star Blecch,” where there is a direct parallel between the characters and plot points.

    From the reviews I’ve seen, Orville is more accurately homage (though I hear it’s really just thinly-disguised fanfic). Not funny enough to be satire, not pointed enough for parody, and too obviously derivative of its source material to really stand on its own as anything but a slightly more comedic knock-off. I could be wrong about that, but I don’t intend to find out.

    I’m just really defending against the muddying of terms. Satire, parody and homage are not the same thing.

  4. Jeff Nettleton

    Loved Quark, for its brief shining moment. I still remember waking up, while suffering from the flu, and seeing that it was on and watching it with my brother, laughing my head off, once I could comprehend what was going on (I was seriously out of it and it took 10 minutes to figure out what I was watching, let alone what was happening). If Quark hadn’t been science fiction, I suspect it would have been given a longer try. The networks of the era seemed to pull the plug on sci-fi pretty quickly. Mel Brooks’ When Things Were Rotten even got 13 weeks.

    You know, looking at the play photos, I’d really like to see someone do a big budget Sherlock Holmes with a female cast. Period or modern setting.

  5. Le Messor

    “it’s not like we really lost anything if we didn’t know them personally and the work’s there.”

    The novelisation of The Abyss makes the point that the problem isn’t that their work has suddenly vanished, but the potential for new work from them has.

    “We made the excursion last week to see the opening weekend of the Driftwood Players’ production of Baskerville.”
    In an airport the other day, I saw a new novel called Moriarty. I thought of you immediately.
    (I know nothing about it beyond that it’s about Holmes’s Moriarty; I read the blurb, which also said who the cops were in it, but I’ve forgotten that.)

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