Episode #30 of the Close Encounters of the Nerd Kind podcast sees the team delve into seasons 1 and 2 of the revered Disney+ entry into the Star Wars universe, The Mandalorian. Released to universally rave reviews, we look at the why the side stories (The Mandalorian, Rogue One, Solo) are so much more coherent and generally more enjoyable than the main films; how much fan influence has there been on The Mandalorian or is this one creator's vision, and we ask the question if these types of shows are very much the future of these large franchises.
And joining Dan Collacott, Tee-J Sutherland and Imran Mirza on this week's excursion is long-time friend and broadcasting companion, Denis-Jose Francois. Harking back to our days on the Liberation Frequency podcast this reunion has been long overdue so we very much hope you enjoy the podcast as much as we did.
In the summer of 1991 two cartoon characters premiered on US TV channel Nickelodeon that would change the way we watch cartoons forever. Starring a near psychopathic chihuahua (Ren) and lovable yet dimwitted Manx cat (Ren), the chaotically weird duo became an integral part of must see 90s television. The Ren & Stimpy Show was the cartoon the cool kids watched, it was the show most parents wanted to ban. With strangely surreal adult themes, blatant homosexual undertones, wilful parody and deconstruction of American capitalism (especially aping the 'made to sell toys' cartoons of that era). Ren & Stimpy riffed on 1950s society, whole chunks of each episode were done in black and white, with nods to the slap stick comedy stylings of The Three Stooges and many more. It used the most wonderful back catalogue of movie sound FX and sonically comedy and gross out set pieces ever used. As well as having it's own zany and original score, gut churning close up stills, mind numbing repetition, brain worm quality songs, gross out story lines and characters that pushed every boundary and taboo to the very limit. Nickelodeon even had to heavily edit and cut episodes sent to them (often late) by its producers Spumco, in order to keep the cartoon 'family friendly' before eventually pulling the show from Spumco and its creator altogether for its second season.
It would later turn out that creator and original voice of both characters John Kricfalusi was a deeply troubled genius, with multiple unsavoury accusations surfacing about his private life and even that of one of his Spumco associates. Not to mention the later released (then swiftly cancelled) Adult version of the show, which finally stepped over every line and boundary the original series merely hinted at, ripping out subtext in place of bludgeoning the viewer to death with in your face gross out adult themes and soft porn in cartoon form.
Rich Roth and Dan Collacott sat down to discuss their love of the original cartoon, best moments and episodes and the controversial plans for a reboot. Whilst trying their level best to avoid discussing the cult of personality that is the shows incredible yet deeply flawed creator. Listen below.
Welcome to the first episode of our new three-part series which will see the Close Encounters team each select a piece of genre fiction and alter the ending to their own satisfaction. Dan is up first and his selection revolves around the revered sci-fi series, Battlestar Galactica. Don't be put off if you've never seen BSG as we provide a full introduction to the show's premise and its themes before discussing the ending as it played out and what Dan would change about it.
This week's episode serves as the third part of our shows where we pluck a comic book character and explore the numerous on-screen iterations of them over the years. This episode sees the team place Superman under our proverbial spotlight. We examine which actors and films were able to deliver our favourite versions of the character and perhaps address the broader question of why is there such a problem in delivering on a Superman movie?
Episode #5 of CE4K saw the team discuss Disney's throwing of their hat into the streaming arena with Disney+. During the discussion, the question is posed "Is app TV the future of television?" Thinking about it, the answer we imagine is a definitive 'yes', and while there are no doubt benefits to that, there are potentially a few downsides.
The positives though - no more waiting seven days for the next episode is clearly a good thing. The idea of being able to binge complete a complete series in one, albeit epic, session is absolute bliss. But the pacing of those catch-up conversations with friends and colleagues as you each discuss and dissect episodes one-by-one become non-existent. Now those conversations can become incredibly frustrating as you have to wait for others to catch up to where you are so you can finally have the unfiltered and unhindered conversation discussing the complete work. That latter point though is steeped in the type of nostalgia we've come to celebrate on this site.
Another perhaps daunting prospect of the app TV era is the sheer volume of services available. This was often described as "the golden era of television" when in actuality it's more like the "triple platinum era". Each TV app seems to lay claim to a new clutch of A-list, multi-million dollar production shows - who can genuinely, not only afford to subscribe to each of them, but make the time to watch this amount? (While the last question, regarding the time, was rhetorical, the fact that these services can also be streamed through laptops, tablets and mobiles certainly ensures we have all the time in the world.)
While these streaming services offer the ultimate it terms of comfort, convenience and limitless choice, there's something about about those proverbial water cooler moments as the experience of these shows was something to be shared collectively as opposed to becoming more solitary experiences.
Episode #5 of the Close Encounters of the 4th Kind podcast sees Tee-J, Imran and Dan discuss Disney's increasing dominance with the film and entertainment sectors - is it a problem for anyone? Does it impact negatively on cinema and the independent filmmaker? And how will the launch of Disney's new streaming site fit into an increasingly crowded market - is app TV the future?
Emanating from London, UK, and hosted by Dan Collacott, Tee-J Sutherland and Imran Mirza, our 4ever in Electric Dreams website and accompanying podcasts are designed to help us celebrate the things we loved growing up and the things that continue to excite and inspire us today.