Archive for September, 2010

Gird your loins. AWESOME-tober-fest is coming.

Posted in Halloween, holiday with tags , , , on September 29, 2010 by Paxton

Awesometoberfest banner

Well, well, well. It’s that time of year. Friday is October 1st. You know what that means? Yes, it’s
AWESOME-tober-fest time. For those that don’t know, AWESOME-tober-fest is this blog’s month long celebration of Halloween. There will be at least 1 post every weekday until Halloween.

AWESOME-tober-fest has been going on since 2007.  You can check out all of my AWESOME-tober-fest articles by clicking the above banner. There’s lots of content, so have at it.

The last few years I’ve joined Shawn Robare, John Rozum and company for the Countdown to Halloween:

Franky_banner

Countdown to Halloween is a collection of hundreds of blogs that have come together to celebrate Halloween. There are thousands of posts going on all through October, so it’s fun to go to Countdown and see what other people are doing.

Anyway, I started doing overall themes for AWESOME-tober-fest in 2008.  Last year I did Frankenstein as my overall theme.  This year, it’s werewolves.  Werewolves are my favorite monster so I’m extra excited to get to this year’s content.  Each week in October will have a subtheme.  On Friday, I’ll look at crazy werewolf movie posters.  Then the week of Oct 6, I’ll look at werewolves in comic books.  The week of Oct 11 will be werewolf novels.  Oct 18 will review werewolf TV shows and the final week of AWESOME-tober-fest will review a bunch of werewolf movies including the original Universal Studios films.  It should be a blast, so come check back here every day in October.

Also, check out the blog Countdown to Halloween for more Halloween-y, bloggy AWESOMEness.

The Flash TV Special comic book

Posted in comic books, pop culture, The Flash, TV shows with tags , , , on September 22, 2010 by Paxton

Monday was the 20th anniversary of the premiere of CBS’ The Flash TV series which lasted only one season in 1990. Today, I will take a look at the DC Comic The Flash TV Special #1 which was a promotional comic tie-in to the TV series.

The Flash TV Special #1

This comic was released towards the end of The Flash’s first season.  It was intended to pump up interest in the show during its hiatus.  It contained two brand new Flash stories set within the TV show universe as well as a behind the scenes section detailing how the TV show was made.

The first story in this special issue was written by the great John Byrne. Byrne wrote The X-Men’s Dark Phoenix Saga and Days of Future Past as well as the 1986 reboot of Superman after Crisis on Infinite Earths. The story is titled The Quick and the Dead and it has very dynamic art by Javier Saltares.

The Quick and the Dead Flash TV Special page 7

In the story, Central City is stalked by a “ghost” who is killing former STAR Labs scientists and Tina is next. The Flash must figure out how to defeat something that he can’t touch and is twice as strong as he is. It’s a pretty good story and something typical you’d see in Season 1 of the show. It literally could have been a script that Byrne either wrote for the show or just re-worked an existing, unused show’s script. And Javier’s artwork is great. You can tell he took his style from the TV show. The Flash suit is directly off the screen with the red boots and stylized cowl. However, for some reason, they didn’t draw Barry Allen to look like John Wesley Shipp. They made him the traditional blonde, like in the comics, but since this is based on the show, it’s weird to see.  Here are some panels of the oddly blonde Barry Allen.

Flash TV Special Barry Allen

See? Looks nothing like Shipp from the show.  Despite this, the story is light and fun and, like I said, totally feels like an episode of the TV series.

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The Flash ran onto TV screens 20 years ago today

Posted in comic books, nostalgia, The Flash, TV shows with tags , , , , , on September 20, 2010 by Paxton

The Flash 2 hour premiere

20 years ago today, on September 20, 1990, CBS aired the two hour series premiere of The Flash. The show originally ran on Thursday nights in a very competitive time slot, 8pm. The show starred John Wesley Shipp, best known as Dawson’s dad on Dawson’s Creek, as Barry Allen, police scientist turned super speedster. Also starring was Corbin Bernsen’s wife, Amanda Pays, as Tina McGee.

John Wesley Shipp as The Flash

This new super hero show was directly inspired by the 1989 Batman movie. The same guy that designed the Bat suit for Burton also developed Flash’s suit. Danny Elfman composed the opening music which sounds very similar to his orchestral Batman score. The stories were also similar to Burton’s Batman, at least for the first half of Season 1. Many of those plots involved gangsters, drug dealers and evil corporations, a staple of the first two Burton Batman movies.  Also, at the time, thanks to the speedster effects, this was the most expensive show on TV to produce.  It cost over $1 million an episode, which is why it was so easy for CBS to pull the plug after poor first season ratings.

I first heard about this show (pre-Internet Age, 1988 or 1989) on a trip to Six Flags Over Atlanta.  Warner Brothers/DC owns the park so they were showing a quick 5 minute trailer on monitors all over the park.  I was so excited because I had no idea they were even planning it and Flash is my favorite comic book character.  So I was completely stoked by the time September, 1990 rolled around.

The Flash would get a prime spot, like most hot new shows, in TV Guide’s Fall Preview. Here is The Flash’s entry in the 1990 Fall Preview issue (you can click it to make it bigger).

TV Guide 1990 Fall Preview The Flash in TV Guide

Other shows to appear in that issue? Beverly Hills 90210, Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Law and Order and Cop Rock.  Maybe Shawn over at Branded in the 80s will do one of his TV Guide Fall Preview posts about this issue (hint, hint, Shawn).

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Were You An Activision Gamer? Part IV

Posted in 80s, Activision, Atari, pop culture, video games with tags , , , , on September 10, 2010 by Paxton

Cavalcade Arcade

Here it is, the final part of this look back at the Activision Master Gamer program from the early 80s. Did you miss the other parts of this article? Here they are: Part I, Part II, Part III.

Here is the final group of badges that I’m going to cover.

Medal of MeritCross of ExcellenceStar of HonorRobot Tank box
Activision Robot Tank Master Badges – With a totally badass name and very cool box art, Robot Tank is Activision’s version of Atari’s classic tank game Battlezone.  The Master Badges were awarded based on “enemy kills”.  The Medal of Merit on the left was given for 48 kills.  The Cross of Excellence was given for 60 kills.  The Star of Honor on the right was given for 72 kills.

Activision Decathlon Badges Decathlon box
Activision Decathlon Badges -Activision’s Decathlon had the trademark fast paced Activision gameplay and cool game mechanics that were later used in games like Track & Field.  For instance, you moved the joystick from right to left as fast as you can to run and used the red button to jump or throw.  You competed in 10 events including the 100 meter dash, hurdles, long jump and shot put.  If you scored 8,600 points you earned the bronze patch on the left.  If you scored 9,000 points you earned the silver patch and if you scored over 10,000 points you earned the gold badge on the right.

Chopper Commandos badge Chopper Command box
Activision Chopper Commandos Master Badge – Chopper Command was another favorite of mine. It played very similar to Atari’s port of Defender. Except instead of space and aliens, you flew a helicopter and defended trucks and soldiers from enemy planes and bombers. Despite its similarity to Defender, it was much, much harder. If you could score over 10,000 points you would be inducted into the Chopper Commandos.  And believe me, that is not an easy task.

River Raiders badge River Raid box
Activision River Raiders Master Badge –  River Raid was a classic game for the Atari.  I. LOVED. THIS. GAME.  You flew your F-14 fighter over the ominously named River of No Return and blew up enemy planes and tankers.  You have to watch out for your fuel levels as well as the sides of the river because they can both cause you to crash.  If you could score 15,000 or more points you could join the River Raiders.  Like Pitfall!, River Raid received an overlooked sequel called, not surprisingly, River Raid II.  However, there was no Master Badge offered for the sequel.

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Were you an Activision Master Gamer? Part III

Posted in 80s, Activision, Atari, pop culture, video games with tags , , , , , on September 9, 2010 by Paxton

Cavalcade Arcade

Here we are, Part III of this look back at the Activision Master Gamer program from the early 80s. Did you miss the first two parts of this article? Check out Part I here and Part II here.

Now that’s out of the way, let’s look at five more of the Activision Master Gamer badges.

Explorers Club badge Pitfall box
Activision Explorer’s Club Master Badge – This badge was for the ever popular game, Pitfall!  Everyone knows how Pitfall! is played, so in order to earn this badge you had to score 20,000 points.  Many people don’t realize that Pitfall received a sequel.  And it was also a part of the Activision Master Program.  The sequel is…

Cliffhangers badge Pitfall II box
Activision Cliff Hangers Master Badge – Pitfall II: The Lost Caverns.  This sequel upped the quality of the graphics, music and game play.  As Pitfall Harry, you roam a large collection of caverns collecting gold as you search for your niece, a diamond and a cat named Quickclaw.  You got unlimited lives, but when you were killed you were sent back to the last checkpoint you crossed (while losing points).  However, since this was released towards the end of the Atari’s dominance, it became lost in the shuffle.  If you could score 99,000 points in this game, you earned the Activision Cliff Hangers Badge.

Frostbite badge Frostbite box
Frostbite Bailey’s Arctic Architects Master Badge – For the game Frostbite. I never actually played this game, but I think it was one of Activision’s best sellers.  Frostbite plays very similar to Freeway or Frogger.  You play as Frostbite Bailey.  You jump across a frozen river changing ice blocks from white to blue.  With each color change, you add blocks to your igloo.  If you could score over 40,000 points, you could send away to become an Arctic Architect.

Crackpots badge Crackpots box
Activision Crackpots Master Badge – For the game Crackpots. As Potsy the gardener, you must protect your apartment building from mutant bugs by dropping flower pots on them. If too many bugs enter through the windows, you will lose. To achieve this badge you had to score at least 75,000 points.

Tennis badge Tennis box
Tennis Master Badge – For the game Tennis. I loved this game. It was hard, but a lot of fun.  If you could win a set against the computer (which is a lot tougher than you’d think) you were eligible to receive this badge.

So there are your next five.  Come back tomorrow and I’ll finish this these badges off with 5 or 6 more.

UPDATE – See Part IV of this article here