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2012 Features

The Best TV Series of 2012 – With TV this season, it was the best of times, it was…you know the rest. While the crop of new shows in the 2012-13 season might be bland, that doesn’t mean that there’s not loads of great TV series out there, just not so much on network TV…with one exception that is. The best TV series this year is the same as it’s been the last three years; Community on NBC.

The Best Movie and TV Posters of 2012 – It took a bit of digging this year to compile my “best of” list. Usually, the problem is that I find so many posters that I have to cull quite a few good ones just to make this list a manageable size, but not this year. This year the challenge was just finding enough posters for the list. I found lots of posters I liked, but only a few I loved.

15 Years of Starship Troopers – I am convinced that when I first saw the movie Starship Troopers in a theater back in 1997 I was the only one there who actually liked it. I know the two friends I went to see it with didn’t care for it and it didn’t seem like the dozen or so other people in the theater with us were all that jazzed about Starship Troopers either. And I know I was the only person in the theater who liked it the second time I saw it a few days later since I was the only person in the theater.

Disaster Du Jour #3: The Swarm – The 1970s were a time chock full of real-life terrors; from communist world domination fears, to nuclear proliferation around the globe, oil embargoes, terrorism… And all these fears were translated into a golden age of disaster films throughout that decade. Back then there were disaster films about runaway planes, earthquakes and global ecological catastrophes to name a few. But one of the most bizarre of these disaster films has to be The Swarm (1978).

Mars Attacks, again – I can remember the first time I ever saw an original Mars Attacks trading card. It was the mid-1990s and I was at the Chicago Comic Con where a dealer was selling well-worn cards for $15 each. I’d seen photos of the cards in magazines before, but that was the first time I’d ever seen an actual card myself. I almost bought one of those cards but didn’t, which is too bad. The price of original Mars Attacks cards has only gone up over the years.

Revenge of Horror TV! – I have to admit that sometimes I'm a "glass half empty" kind'a guy. I let things like the current state of network TV get me down when instead I should be focusing on the positive, like some seriously great dramas that are about to premiere on cable; namely American Horror Story on FX and The Walking Dead on AMC.

Batman: The Animated Series Celebrates its 20th – In the early 1990s most cartoons were aimed at children, but there were also a few that crossed over and pushed boundaries like the hilarious and subversive Ren & Stimpy and those directed at adults like the head-scratching to awe-inspiring and everything in between Liquid Television on MTV. To this animated fray would enter Batman: TAS.

Fall 2012/13 TV Preview – I am a TV junkie. Most years I can’t wait for the cooler weather and slate of new network TV series each fall brings. There are usually six or seven new shows I’m interested in checking out and find myself spending the last few weeks of summer counting the days until the launch of the new TV season with giddy glee.

Except not this year.

Disaster Du Jour #2: Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) – There are some disaster movies that are obviously disaster movies like Earthquake and The Day After Tomorrow, but there are also some disaster movies that don’t seem like disaster movies but actually are like the movie Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011).

For Sale: My Collection of Image Comics – The 1990s were a very interesting time for those of us who collected comic books. Back then, comics weren’t nearly as mainstream as they are today. In fact, kids were the ones who were supposed to be buying the comics and any kid who kept purchasing them into their teens was looked upon with pity or downright scorn for doing so.

I was one of those pitied and teased teens who would hit the local drug stores and supermarkets each week looking for new comics. And, on the first Sunday of the month, would visit the local flea market hoping to load-up on older titles too.

In the early 1990s things seemed to be changing. Kids and certain teens were still buying comics, but adults in business suits started buying them too.

Disaster Du Jour #1: Earthquake (1974) – When I think of a stereotypical disaster movie a few things pop to mind; a cast of once bright stars but who’s stardom is on the wane, a possible disaster that’s top of mind and a certain way of storytelling where strands of seemingly independent stories come together during the disaster.

One of the early disaster films that would make this type of storytelling “stereotypical” is the movie Earthquake (1974).

The Secret Sci-Fi Trilogy? – When you watch as many genera movies as I do, you start to see certain patterns emerging. To be sure, most of these “patterns” are nothing more than the creator of one movie aping another, but sometimes I think these patterns point to something larger. Like perhaps a series of seemingly unrelated movies from the late 1980s might in face be interrelated.

I, for one, believe the movies They Live (1988), The Running Man and RoboCop (both 1987) might just be a secret trilogy of films I was the first to discover.

Before Watchmen: Not a completely terrible idea? – Recently, DC Entertainment began releasing a series of prequel comics to the 1980s series Watchmen, which is considered one of, if not the, greatest comic series of all time. Essentially, there are two schools of thought on this upcoming series; it’s not a bad idea and if handled correctly might even be good and it’s a horrible idea, especially since the writer of the original Watchmen series Alan Moore has publicly been against this new series, saying the idea of a prequel is “completely shameless” and “what I want is for this not to happen.”

While I have great respect for Moore, I can’t really agree with him. Moore is certainly responsible for the great bulk the Watchmen mythos, but he created this mythos by building on the works of previous creators, something that he apparently feels others should not be able to do when it comes to his work.

Falling Skies: The Best Show of the Summer – Movies about the end of civilization have been in vogue since at least the late 1990s. There have been movies about doom coming from the skies like with Deep Impact and Armageddon, viruses ravaging mankind like I Am Legend and Contagion but it seems like the most popular of the apocalyptic movies have been about alien invasions like The War of the Worlds and Independence Day. And while films like these can do a great job of depicting events leading up to the end of things, the limited scope of movies means that they tend to focus on the spectacle of things going “bang” during the apocalypse rather than having the time to deal with any in-depth story of what comes after.

Movies Have Always Sucked – Over the last few years there’s been a lot of talk that the overall quality of films has been slipping from previous decades. And this seems born out by looking at lists like the American Film Institute’s “100 Years…100 Movies” of the greatest films of the last century. With the likes of Citizen Kane, The Godfather and Casablanca on that list makes the recent top grossing releases of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, Transformers: Dark of the Moon and The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 look like relative trash in comparison.

A Thoroughly Modern Sherlock – It’s almost impossible to successfully update a beloved character/story to modern times and not end up upsetting someone. If those doing the updating go to far in changing things then the character/story will be practically unrecognizable, so why not just do something new rather than the update something old? But if they don’t go far enough and leave the character/story mostly as-is then why update in the first place?

The characters of the Sherlock Holmes series of stories have been updated a couple of different ways the last few years.

The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes – To say that the recent movies based on Marvel Entertainment characters has been extremely successful would not be an understatement. The Iron Man films have been very popular and profitable and last year saw the debut of two more hit Marvel movies with Thor and Captain America. And now this summer comes Marvel’s latest film that packages all these super heroes and more together into one film – The Avengers.

Tomorrow, When the War Began Book Series – The seven Tomorrow book series follows teen Ellie Linton and her six friends all just old enough to drive who decide to camp out in the outback one long weekend. At their camp they notice odd jets flying overhead but don’t think much of it. When they return home they find that what they’ve witnessed is the start of an invasion of Australia, that all of their friends and family have been put into internment camps and the town they live in just so happens to be located on the front lines of this new war.

The Walking Dead: Zombie Plot Device – I was, is and am a big proponent of the TV series The Walking Dead. I championed the show when it was first announced and couldn’t believe that one of my favorite writer/directors Frank Darabont was the one who was heading up the series. And, after the stunning first season of The Walking Dead I became even more fanatical about the show and counted the days until the start of the second.

Why would anyone want to be a part of The Hunger Games? – Early in 2011 I became hooked on The Hunger Games book trilogy. I’d heard of them sometime before but had written them off as yet another series of teen romance novels in the vein of the Twilight series. But the positive chatter about the books was intense and when a feature film version of The Hunger Games was announced I decided that I needed to at least check the books out and quickly fell in love with them.

John Carter of Mars aka Dotar Sojat of Barsoom – The turn of the 20th century must have been a wonderful time for those interested in the sky and astronomy. In 1910, Halley’s Comet made a particularly spectacular pass of the Earth, coming so close that the planet passed through the tail of the comet. In Arizona, astronomer Percival Lowell was nightly scanning the planet Mars where he had detected evidence of canals* on that planet and had already published a book on them in 1906 called Mars and its Canals.

Summer Movie Preview – I always find that the best way to beat the mid-winter blues is to think about the upcoming slate of Summer movies.

Zombies Freak Me Out! – Those who are longtime readers of Dangerous Universe will know of my affinity for the zombie genera. I’ve seen just about every English language zombie movie that has been made in the last 40+ years and own many of them on DVD. I also own volumes upon volumes of zombie comics, am an avid fan of the TV series The Walking Dead and watch new episodes of the series with glee. I’m not sure what it is about them that attracts me to the shambling dead so much, but whatever it is has had me hooked on the zombie genera since I was a boy.

Super-Deluxe Japanamation! – When I was growing up, most of the animated TV series and films I watched were pretty tame. While these cartoons did deal with a variety of subjects that appealed to pre-teen boys — be it outer space, super heroes, gigantic robots, etc. — the message of each was very simple; the good-guys always win, your heroes will never die and in the end everything will be alright.

The Best Movies of 2011 – Over the last few years there have been quite a few apocalyptic-themed films released. But I’d suggest that the only one of these films about the end of the world where the audience actively roots for mankind to lose is Rise of the Planet of the Apes.