Category Archives: Television

If Columbo Was Remade, What Would It Be Like?

I think it speaks volumes that Columbo remains one of the most popular shows from both the 70s and from the detective genre.  There’s just nothing else quite like it.  The style, the main character, the soundtrack, and of course, the reverse-whodunit story lines.  Whereas many tv shows older than 30 years may fall by the wayside, Columbo remains an oddly timeless piece despite its very dated setting.  You can sit back, watch an episode, and be enamored by this humble detective and his charismatic, murdering antagonist.  So in this age of reboots, remakes, and sequels, I’ve been asking myself the question: What would a Columbo remake be like?

Columbo’s simple and surprisingly still unique premise can be easily adopted to modern television.  A perpetrator murders their victim and Columbo has to figure out how they done it and how he will catch them.  Through a humble, often forgetful approach, the perpetrator will let down their guard and allow Columbo into their lives even to the point of helping him.  But through slip ups and confusion, they will spiral further and further into Columbo’s figurative trap where he nabs them.  It’s such a splendid show that it works very well despite the formula repeating (almost) every episode.

So I think the Columbo series would fit very well as a miniseries similar to Sherlock.  Instead of producing 22 or even 13 episodes, we can produce maybe 7 or 8 episodes that are about an hour and a half long.  An episode being more than an hour long will definitely help us connect to a new villain and give us time with them which is very valuable.

Additionally, Columbo has two persistent themes that continue from season to season that I think can be adopted very well for the 2020’s; cutting edge technology employed in the murder, and, more importantly, a lower class man outwitting upper class murderers.

That cutting edge technology I think has so much potential.  Sure, it would make our modern Columbo dated within 10 or 20 years of its time but so did the show from the 70’s!  Those ancient computers, subliminal messaging (which is debunked), and, weirdly, Robby the Robot are so humorous to watch nowadays.  Technology shouldn’t stop us here.  This can be anything from a newly developed app, to medical devices, drones, mechanical ingenuity (Battlebots anyone?), smartphones, self-driving cars, AI, virtual reality, and 3D printing.  And this is just off the top of my head!  The use of any of these for murdering people can be done with excellence.  I would love to see the use of that self-driving car, btw, I can totally imagine the murderer be like “Perhaps the car didn’t “see” the victim when it accidentally ran over it.”  Pick any of these and it’s bound to be a fun story.

Image result for columbo robby the robot

Love this episode (from “Mind Over Mayhem”) 

But I think the more important reoccurring story element is the lower class man outmaneuvering the egotistical upper class individual.  The original Columbo show always had hints and elements of this.  Columbo’s car is rusty and on the verge of a breakdown, he smokes cheap cigars and his trench-coat looks old and ragged.  Meanwhile, his antagonists’ homes are large and lavishing, they pursue expensive hobbies, they run large corporations or enterprises, they’re big-time actors, high ranking generals, scumbag politicians, notable doctors, and even a lauded matador.  They may be repelled by Columbo’s cigar or amused by his forgetful and humble mannerisms.  They see themselves as above him and are increasingly frustrated by his persistence and ingenuity.  This iconic symbolism definitely needs to continue in the new series.  Columbo can now go after Bezos or Zuckerberg-esque archetypes.  He can take down greedy bankers, careless oil tycoons, gluttonous Hollywood producers, and insufferable Pharm leaders.  It would be so satisfying to watch.

There should also be a few episodes with a sympathetic villain.  There are several Columbo episodes with likable villains like “Try and Catch Me” or “Bye Bye Sky High IQ Murder Case” and I think a modern audience would really connect to that.  I can real quickly list several murderers that can easily connect with the audience; an abused wife of a rich CEO, a veteran damaged by a corrupt officer, or a scientist whose funding has just been terminated.  Columbo was also not afraid to get political, as seen in “The Conspirators,” so it would be refreshing to see a take on maybe police brutality or immigration.  Again, the well for these villains is deep.

This segues into the big question, who would play Columbo?  The great Peter Falk, God rest his soul, had passed away in 2011, and left a noticeable void in our heart.  His death does make the show’s revival tricky as when you think of Columbo, you think of Peter Falk!  The man and the character are one and the same!

And to a point this is true, but here’s the thing.  Columbo was adopted from the play “Prescription: Murder.”  This play had gone on showings long before Peter Falk took on the role.  The play still continues to this there and there are other actors who’ve played Columbo since Peter Falk’s passing.  They may not have the exact same mannerisms but they still pull of their own interpretation of the character.  So the thought of someone else playing Columbo isn’t that surprising.

And if we really want to separate fans of the classic Columbo to our new one I think it would help to go off the beaten path and hire a female actor to play the lead role.

I want to emphasize that this is not “Mrs. Columbo;” this is “Lt. Columbo” who works in the police force.  After all, Columbo is just a last name and we were never confirmed what Peter Falk’s character’s first name is.  He always introduced himself as Lt. Columbo and everyone would refer to him as such.  This new Columbo would be the same.

I honestly think this can open a lot of cool and unexpected doors for our new female lead.  The most prominent of which is that underestimation that so many murderers have against Columbo.  A female lead would honestly benefit from this (which is an unfortunate truth about our society).  But can you imagine some douchey CEO who thinks he got away with the perfect murder and in walks this shabbily dressed lady who seems meek and polite?  He thinks he’s got this in the bag!  And then his whole world comes crashing down as she just brings him down, down, down, and down.  God I would pay to see that.

I think another thing that might strengthen our new Columbo would be making her Latina.  I can imagine her being the daughter of immigrants and growing up in a poor neighborhood.  In all the vague story recollections and character interactions we had with Falk’s Columbo, we are given the impression that this Italian man feels for his people and for the downtrodden.  He wants to make sure they are well and he understands their plight.  Our Latina Columbo could do this in spades; she can interact with folks who can help her solve the case (maids, drivers, construction workers, landscapers, and etc.).  Time and time again, Columbo has asked the help of the working class and the poor to help him and they oblige as his friendly and easy going nature really brings them to his side.  Latina Columbo can easily achieve this, especially if the series took place in California again.

Image result for columbo dog

And they should definitely bring back a dog…maybe a French Bulldog?  

I think one thing this new series should definitely not change is Columbo’s mysterious personal life.  I know it would be tempting to give her a backstory, and show her family, and give her goals and challenges but honestly?  We already have plenty of that in other shows.  The new Columbo show should really hold firm on her mysterious backstory.  Focus on the murderer, the episode’s protagonist, and learn from them why we should care for them and even secretly hope they get away.  The murderers are the actual driving force behind the story.

Who would play our new Columbo?  Honestly, I wouldn’t know who to pick as I don’t really have an eye for that.  Really, I think it should be a nobody, somebody that hasn’t big on any major television or movie roles.  I think that may make some Universal execs feel uncomfortable with that but remember that a lot of the guest stars in the original Columbo series were relatively famous.  They were really recognizable back then and some are still recognizable today like William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Leslie Nielsen, Janet Leigh, and Dick Van Dyke to name a few.  I think it would be really fun if we had the likes of Bryan Cranston, Emilia Clarke, or Kumail Nanjiani play as guest murderers.  The previous series had plenty of Oscar-winning stars guest star so it’s not a stretch to see that high level of fame for here too.

The potential for our new Columbo series would be amazing given our current circumstances.  I think modern audiences would love the character relationships, the ingenious murderous plots, and of course, Columbo herself.  What do you guys think?  Would you like to see another Columbo series?  Who do you think should play her (or him if you want)?  Let me know!

Oh and one more thing, regardless of gender, Columbo needs to have her Misses Columbo.  That’s gotta stay!

Greatest Moments in Battlebots History: Hazard vs. T-Minus

In the fifth, and what was then the last, season of Battlebots. A titan had fallen.

Hazard and T-Minus squared off in the Middleweight semi-finals. It was a fight worth remembering. It was a fight that any Battlebots fan should remember.   It was a fight where an unstoppable gladiator was slain.

Hazard is one of the winningest Battlebots of all time, his record outshines other Battlebot winners, even Biohazard and Ziggo. Hazard received the Giant Nut again and again. He vanquished his foes in glorious fashion and won his battles if not by cruel knockout than by decisive ruling. The crowd, and myself included, loved Hazard. His language was destruction and his life was victory. He won against virtually every robot type. The builders who went against him were clearly nervous before each battle, anticipating what kind of irreparable damage he will work upon them. Everyone in the Middleweight class feared him.

In a field where robots are preened for intimidation or absurdity, Hazard stands out for being so unassuming. A drab, gray color blankets this square robot and a simple metal bar rests atop him while four ordinary wheels carries him forward. And the only thing designating his front is an unembellished sheet of metal that hangs limply from two axles. This modest robot was king and his house creed was “actions speak louder than words.” His long spinning bar overlapped his ground-hugging body, which meant if you wanted to flip him, you would get a face full of steel first. Lightweight, Heavyweight, Superheavyweight. Every class had its winners and favorites but only in the Middleweight was Hazard.

It is this record that makes his loss against T-Minus amazing. For Hazard to finally fall is breathtaking. But not only that, the reasons why he fall still affect Battlebots to this day and will probably continue to do so this year for the second ABC season.

T-Minus, is like the younger…brother?…sister?…let’s call her sister…to Toro, a Super Heavyweight Battlebot. Their pneumatic flipping arms, whose power stems from CO2 cartridges, can toss their opponents skyward, incapacitating them once flipped. The big difference between the two is that T-Minus is in the Middleweight class, not the Super Heavyweight. As such, when T-Minus flips a robot, not only is it flipped but it is launched. The lighter robots aren’t as constrained to gravity as their heavier cousins and as such T-Minus could toss them to six feet in the air! T-Minus is so powerful that if T-Minus finds herself upside down, she can easily right herself up thanks to her arm (give or take a few tries). T-Minus, like her fated opponent, had a reputation of delivering KOs to many that challenge her. Yet, unlike Hazard, T-Minus did not win by carving, bashing, or mauling her opponent, but by simple incapacitation. One flip upside down or onto the hazards and her opponent was done.

Sometimes, that wasn’t enough; some Battlebots are just unflippable. No matter how many times T-Minus flipped her opponent, they wouldn’t stay down. But T-Minus didn’t care. If that happened, she became aggressive. Flip them, flip them, flip them again, onto the spikes, the screws, and the saws. She owned the fights. She was in command. She also knew, or I guess I should say her drivers knew, when to be cautious against a dangerous opponent; a skill that not many respect or have the patience for.

And in this case, if there was any robot destined to beat Hazard, it was her. Hazard is flippable; one flip onto his back and he is done. But fate wasn’t kind to T-Minus. T-Minus made her first debut in season 3 (in what I would argue was the best Battlebots season yet) and delivered one of the best battles that season, her fight against Sunshine Lollibot.

If you want to show anyone the true power of T-Minus, show them this video. Simply amazing. Her power, dominance, and playfulness are all neatly shown. That was T-Minus. She seemed like a dragon in a way, almost every launch she given was accompanied by a belch of smoke from her steaming body. Unfortunately, she lost in the quarterfinals to another Middleweight favorite and newcomer, T-wrex.  T-wrex continually fended her off and scored many consecutive hits which prevented T-Minus from doing any real damage to him.  A lucky hit by T-wrex disabled T-Minus’ radio communications causing her to be unresponsive and thus, counting her out.

Bad luck continued to follow her in season four. After KOing Ravager and Short Order Chef, T-Minus faced Heavy Metal Noise. I won’t lie, this fight was probably one of her worst ones. After a few blow exchanges, Heavy Metal Noise struck T-Minus’ fail-safe and she was incapacitated. If she had won the fight, she would’ve faced Hazard in the following round. It wasn’t until Season 5 that T-Minus got her shot of redemption. It doesn’t matter who she fought. What matters was that she won them handily and her opponent was Hazard.

For all my talk on T-Minus I only briefly mentioned Hazard. In all honesty, Hazard deserves an article all to himself and his accomplishments. He has fought many battles, some were close, many were not, and he had won them again and again. He was the Middleweight champion in season one, three, and four (he didn’t participate in two), and he had not lost a single battle yet. That’s impressive. There are so many wonderful battles he fought so I mean, take you pick!  Hazard vs. Little Drummer Boy, Sabotage,  Blade Runner.  Any one of these battles and more are great!  I like this one when he faced off against Misty the Wonderbot.

So when Hazard and T-Minus faced off, who would’ve guessed that Hazard was going to fall? This wasn’t like the almost predestined match between Biohazard and Son of Whyachi. This was the semi-finals for two veteran robots, one of whom had never been to the championship and neither of which had ever fought one another. Why should we care?

Well, we did, after we saw the short but decisive battle.

T-Minus won. After sparks flew in the air, T-Minus landed an imperfect blow to Hazard. The flip launched one of Hazard’s flaps upward, jamming it against Hazard’s very own weapon. T-Minus second blow would not missed. Hazard was flipped and the match was over. If T-Minus was any closer in delivering the former blow to Hazard, she could’ve been seriously injured and missed her chance. The imperfect flip saved her.

I think the biggest takeaway from this match is that no Battlebot is perfect. There will always be someone out there who can defeat you. And in this case, the only reason why T-Minus could triumph over Hazard was because she was low enough to the ground to get under him and strike at his weak spot. And how did she accomplish this? Through the ingenuity of her creators and their craftsmanship from behind the scenes.

I think one thing that doesn’t get enough appreciation in Battlebots, especially in the most recent season as of this writing, is how effective a simple change in the design of a Battlebot can have on a match. I’m not familiar with intricate rules, but I know that some modification of your robot is allowed between matches. This was how Alpha Raptor won its battles. Alpha Raptor’s crew modified and changed their robot to accommodate their opponents and it helped them win.

But there’s one other factor here and that’s luck. Luck was handed to T-Minus when Hazard’s own skirt disabled him. Hazard was defenseless and T-Minus did not let this opportunity slip by. Luck was always against T-Minus in the previous seasons but now it was luck that offered her the win. Luck and skill are why certain battles go the way they do in Battlebots. Trust me, I can attest to that. Trying to predict who will win in Battlebots is somewhat difficult.

I guess that’s why Battlebots can be so entertaining. Even when you are sure that a Battlebot will win, a T-Minus is thrown in the equation and we stumble. We live for T-Minus. For that one thing, or I guess I should say robot, that breaks tradition and rebuilds it into something even better.

The Monkey Talisman’s True Power

The Monkey Talisman, in Jackie Chan Adventures, is similar to last year’s Ram Talisman as it had a rather unique super power and did not get used often during the show’s run. However, unlike last year’s Ram Talisman, the Monkey Talisman was significantly more useful and it generated some genuinely funny or comedic moments.

First off, for those who forget, the Monkey Talisman has the power of Shapeshifting, or more correctly, to change the holder or target into whatever animal they think of. Many animals were used during the show’s run such a rabbit, walrus, elephant, giraffe, hippo, and even a chinchilla. The Monkey Talisman can also change the person back to their original form.

Unlike the Rabbit, Ox, Dragon, or Pig Talisman, the Monkey Talisman did not see much use during the show’s run and it’s a real shame too! One of the few times when the Monkey Talisman was not used during a Talisman episode was when the J Team busted in to the Hollowlands Penitentiary in Season 2. Jade turned Jackie into a chinchilla and carried him to another part of the prison.

As such, we don’t know the full extent of the Monkey Talisman’s power compared to the other Talismans. Rooster can make you, or something you’re looking at, fly, Pig can give you heat beam eyes, and Horse can heal you. But what about the Monkey Talisman? What are the true limits to its power?

The show keeps referring to the Monkey Talisman as “shapeshifting” but no one has used it to transform into an inanimate object. Even Haiku, the Noble monkey that was worthy of this power, only used it to transform into other animals. As such, we can assume that you can only transform into an animal with this power.

As for what kind of animal, that is entirely hard to say. In the first couple of seasons, the Monkey Talisman’s victims and users transformed only into vertebrates. But we later find out in Season 3 that invertebrates, such as Haiku’s cricket form, are also on the table. Given the huge phylogenetic diversity, it would not be unreasonable to assume that you can also transform into a starfish, a squid, or even a flat worm.

But what about jellyfish or sponges? Yes! I think you would be able to transform into these as well. I honestly think that the Monkey Talisman can transform anyone or anything into what we regard as animals. As such, the Porifera and Cnidarians could be included although I would certainly feel sorry for the poor bastard that got turned into a sponge. If the Horse Talisman can fix a sinking cruise ship and the Rat Talisman can bring an ancient Aztec deity to life, what’s stopping the Monkey Talisman from doing this as well?

It’s a shame, like I said before, that we didn’t get much of the Monkey Talisman in Jackie Chan Adventures. I’m sure that if Jackie let Jade have access to the talismans, she would have a lot of fun with the Monkey Talisman. And God, this show loved its puns so you can bet that Jade would say things like “being a fly on the wall” or “elephant never forgets” before transforming into that animal. You could even throw in ancient animals like dinosaurs as well.  A visit to the natural history museum could be livened up with some actual dinosaurs roaming the halls.  Also, we missed a golden opportunity for El Toro and Viper to transform into their respective animals, that would’ve been great (even better is if they got their counterpart)!

Happy Chinese New Year!

Battle for the Saturday Morning Cartoon Supreme Leader Channel

Saturday morning cartoons had been a staple for many people’s childhood.  Their prominence from the 60s up until last year is something that many people growing up in America remember.  And it’s easy to see why!  It’s Saturday morning, you are one of the few people up in your household, there’s no school going on and your favorite cartoons are on.  Just sit in front of the boob tube and boom, watch some awesome cartoons.

While doing research for this article (i.e., looking through Wikipedia), I read that Saturday morning cartoons began to decline in the 1990s and 2000s and finally ended in 2014.  Could have fooled me!  The cartoons I watched in the late 90s and early 2000s were great.  True, this wasn’t the era of the late 80s and early 90s where you had classics like He-Man, Tiny Toons, Transformers, and so forth, but we had our fair share of cartoons that we can be proud to say we watched.

And these great Saturday morning cartoons were not limited to just one channel.  They were spread out through the local channels and reaching those who did not have cable.  Now, cable channels are credited for the disappearance of Saturday morning cartoons but the ironic part is that I never really watched cartoons on either Nickelodeon or Cartoon Network.  Nickelodeon had cartoons on weekday nights while Cartoon Network went all in on Friday nights.  They were relatively tame on Saturday mornings.

As such, I turned to channels that I would otherwise not visit.  ABC, The WB, and Fox.  These three channels battled to be the Saturday Morning Cartoon Supreme Leader Channel.  They had a unique line up of cartoons that were enjoyable to watch.  Whether it be old reruns or new cartoons, they had the ammo to satisfy your cartoony desires.

But who was the best one??  Who was the Saturday Morning Cartoon Supreme Leader Channel????  Let’s take a look!

Now before I go on, I have to say that I’m only looking at cartoons that I watched during that period.  As such, this list is going to be very subjective.  You have been warned…

First up, let’s go ABC with their One Saturday Morning Block!  Ah yes, this block had the best opening (see below video).  That intro just made you get SO PUMPED UP.  I’M SUPER EXCITED.  I loved the hell out of that song and its animation.  One day, I got the bright idea to record the Saturday morning block and save it for a day when my parents wouldn’t intervene.  Sure enough, they invited some friends over one night for bridge and that’s when I whipped it out and played it.  Anyway, I would crank up the volume and listen to that song again and again and again (which probably irked my parents but whatever).  Hell, you still can’t help but jam to the music.  Even the snapshot above brings back nostalgia for me with its colorfully bouncy imagery.

So what do we have for our line up?  Well, the cartoons that I watched were Pepper Ann, Recess, and Disney’s Doug.  Other cartoons on the same channel that I watch if nothing else was on were Teacher’s Pet, Buzz Lightyear, and the Weekenders.  Okay, so want to hear something ironic?  I believe I read this on the Wikipedia page but many of the cartoons I just listed mainly take place in a school environment.  This is funny because the intro song (the one I just talked about) boasted how One Saturday Morning was “five hours of summer” and this is pretty funny considering we’re watching cartoons that take place in school…

Irony beside the point, Pepper Ann, Recess, and Disney’s Doug were considered pretty good in my book.  Even though these cartoons took place at school, the characters, humor, and animation made them unique enough that you didn’t really notice it.  Plus, they still had fun adventures (especially, ESPECIALLY Recess) even if they were at school.  They also kind of took on heavy issues, especially for Disney programs, ever noticed that??  Disney’s Doug had an episode of anorexia once and Pepper Ann had one on training bras.  I don’t recall Recess having a heavy episode though it did have those typical children moral tropes that you see.  Anyway, if you didn’t notice by now, Recess was my favorite so I’m calling that one as the best cartoon on ABC.

Next we have Fox which had Fox Kids.  Okay, so truth be told, Fox Kids was kind of weak in cartoons early on and didn’t really have anything good until we got to the tail end of the 90s.  Mighty Morphin Power Rangers was the only major thing it had going for a while…

…then came Fall 1999.

With it came two cartoons that I watched which were Monster Rancher but more importantly Digimon.  Digimon was what roped me into Fox Kids.  I didn’t discover Digimon, and by proxy Fox Kids, until Christmas 1999 when I was waiting for my family to unwrap presents.  As I waited patiently in the basement, I turned on the TV and discovered Digimon.  The episode that was on was the one where the kids were fighting Andromon.  That episode had me hooked and I watched every episode I could find from there on.

Power Rangers: Time Force later joined Fox Kids and it remains one of the few Power Rangers (much less live action) shows I watched.  I don’t know why I watched that one but I guess this show evolved from a “I guess I’ll watch it” to a “hey this isn’t too bad.”  Monster Rancher was nice but God help me if you ask me what it was about cause I don’t remember a damn thing (something with a boy and a wolf, a stone golem, and Mike from Monsters Inc??).  Rusty and Big Guy was also an interesting cartoon if I remember correctly, I should check it out again to see if it still holds up.  Beast Wars was also good but, surprisingly, I didn’t watch much of that show.  A lot of shows, in general, didn’t last very long, sometimes just a season, if that, mainly because they were just not that good or interesting.  Remember Angela Anaconda?  That was a weird show…

Fox Kids was pretty nice and you have to love those promo commercials.  Those commercials were so cheesily edited that you just have to adore it.  You also have to give a nod to those commercial break jokes/facts.  One fact started with “what food would never spoil?” after a few commercials the break would end and it answered “sugar never spoils unless you have water on it.”  And of course after I heard that I put water in my family’s sugar container to see what would happen…my parents weren’t probably thrilled with that…

Ending this trio channel battle we have The WB via Kids WB.  When you think of your typical Saturday morning cartoon lineup, Kids WB probably matches it the best.  You have superhero cartoons, Looney Toons-esque cartoons, celebrity cartoons, and anime.  These programs were also not subpar and had a nice level of quality to them (well…at least most of them did…).

Okay, so you have Animaniacs and Pinky and the Brain going off of the Looney Toons-styled cartoons.  You also have the New Adventures of Batman and Superman which was later followed by X-Men: Evolution, Static Shock, Batman Beyond, and the Xeta Project.  Of course, you also had Pokemon and Yugioh (which the latter came on as my interest in Saturday morning cartoons began to wane).  Perhaps the oddball of the bunch was Jackie Chan Adventures whose basis sounds so…weird…that you would think it was destined to fail but it defied our expectations and was actually good!

The Batman and Superman cartoons were so awesome.  I was actually more of a Superman fan when I was a kid so I liked watching his show more than Batman’s.  I remember Kids WB had a contest where you had to write in a letter saying which superhero “kicked more booty” and I recalled that my brother and I said Superman while my sister said Batman (fyi, I now think it’s Batman).  The string of superhero cartoons that followed were good but I liked the Batman and Superman cartoons better.

Pokemon was a definite show to watch but since Pokemon was shown on morning and afternoon weekdays, the pull for it wasn’t as strong as it could have been.  However, they would premiere special episodes (e.g., Indigo League Championship) only on Saturdays and that was a very good reason to watch them.  Yugioh’s more mature (I guess that’s the right word for it) anime appealed to my preteen persona so I would stick around to watch that show before I finally stopped watching cartoons.

I already wrote an article on Jackie Chan Adventures but I should at least give it a mention.  This show should have, by all rights, failed and I’m glad it didn’t.  The premise of the show sounds almost like a direct parody of other celebrity cartoons similar to Mike Tyson Mysteries.  But the show was great as it established a mystical world setting, humorous characters, and Jackie Chan-styled fights.  After the Batman and Superman show ended, I would go to Kids WB mainly for this show.  That’s how appealing it was.

Alright, so, in the end, which channel can claim to be the Saturday Morning Cartoon Supreme Leader Channel???  After carefully reviewing the three channels I’m giving it to Kids WB!  Unlike FoxKids, which mainly had Digimon, and One Saturday Morning, which had a rather narrow focus of show settings, Kids WB had a diverse selection of shows that appealed to a wide range of audiences.  These shows were great and the channel offered a variety of characters, settings, and animation styles that really made it hard to best.  And, let’s be honest here, Kids WB arsenal was Batman, Superman, Animaniacs, and Pokémon.  That’s entertainment gold.

So, what do you guys think?  I know I didn’t hit all of the cartoons for each block but there’s just way too many to list!  Which channel did you watch the most of while growing up and what were your favorite Saturday Morning cartoons?  I would love to hear your opinions!

How “Fringe” can Hint to the Future of “Steven Universe”

Two shows. One is a live-action, cult hit, drama-oriented show starring three protagonists and their adventures into the slightly strange along with the occasional drug trip. The second is an ongoing, animated show starring a boy, his three alien mentors, and their adventures in the fantastical along with the occasional song. These two shows, Fringe and Steven Universe, are so different from each other that making parallels or comparisons between the two would be difficult if not nonsensical.

Yet both of them have a strong focus on parenting and in particular, Fringe deals with fatherhood while Steven Universe concentrations on motherhood. I want to dive in to how both of these shows deal with their respective parent and discuss if the now ended Fringe can tell us the future of the still ongoing Steven Universe.

Let’s start with Fringe. Fringe’s attitude and theme towards fatherhood is at first quite subtle. Our main source is Peter and his dad Walter who are two of the three main protagonists of the show. Season One focused greatly on Peter and Walter amending their very rocky relationship which culminated to Peter finding a newfound love and respect for Walter. As the series progressed, new fatherly relationships are expanded on such as Astrid Figglesworth’s uneasy relationship with her dad and Olivia being abused by her step-father when she was a child. The big kicker though comes in the reveal that Peter is from an alternate universe and Walter kidnapped him when he was a child when his Peter died. This catalyzed most of the series’ events including one of the show’s main antagonists, Walternate, or the Walter from the alternate universe, and his quest to get his son back. Super trippy and balls awesome, yes, but it does highlight the lengths both Walters had to go through in order to save their son. Fatherhood was ratcheted up a notch in the final season (and this was when my roommate and I noticed its prevalence) when Peter went to great lengths to avenge his daughter’s death and September was willing to sacrifice his life for his son Michael. It was also the season where Walter sacrificed his life for his son Peter in a very bittersweet ending. This article does a great job summarizing Peter and Water’s relationship and I highly suggest you read it if you are a Fringe fan.

Steven Universe’s themes of motherhood are starkly more apparent than Fringe’s initial dip into fatherhood. First off, Steven basically has three moms and a dad that we only see every four episodes or so. Steven’s own mom also gave up her existence to bare her child and to symbolize her love for Steven’s dad, Greg. Season 2 has also been giving us a lot of great mom episodes involving Connie’s mom, Sadie’s mom, and, of all people, Onion’s mom. Already, we have seen themes of nurturing (Onion’s mom), protection (Connie’s mom), and encouragement (Sadie’s mom) that make up a big part of motherhood. I wouldn’t be surprised if we get more mom episodes in the future from other supporting characters along with a more detailed look at Steven’s mom, Rose Quartz, and her love for Greg.

Okay, so is there a connection between these two, vastly different shows’ approach towards parenthood? Well, there is but both of them handle it differently.   Boiling down plot elements to their purest form, we see a strong sense of sacrifice from both mothers and fathers. As mentioned before, the fathers in Fringe go to great lengths to avenge, protect, or preserve their offspring from harm no matter what the costs. In Steven Universe, Rose Quartz sacrificed her life to bare Steven while the Crystal Gems defend and protect Steven even if they are harmed during the process.

Now granted, Steven Universe is still an ongoing and continuously evolving show so we have yet to witness the full potential of it. This idea of sacrifice may play out more or there may be other themes of motherhood that would be touched on instead (like the aforementioned nurturing, encouragement, and protection). Nonetheless, Fringe could give us a clue into the future of Steven Universe, a future where things aren’t as rosy as they currently are.

As situations will likely become dire, we should expect the characters on Steven Universe to make tough decisions that would ultimately change the current standing of the show. This show is not afraid to challenge familiar tropes and the status quo. Other Cartoon Network shows, mainly Adventure Time and somewhat Regular Show, have done the same thing to their setting and characters and it’s not surprising that Steven Universe is already doing it despite its still young lifespan. Likewise, Fringe is similar in to Steven Universe due to its plot setup, its embracement of the untypical trope situations, and how every season is unique due to dire changes that happened at the end of the previous season. What I’m saying is that Steven Universe is changing and will continue to surprise us in ways we won’t expect, the days of status quo continuity, as seen in Powerpuff Girls, Dexter’s Laboratory, and Ed, Edd, and Eddy, are long and forgotten.

First off, if we were to be directly inspired by Fringe, there might be a global invasion of Homeworld Gems. If the Cluster, whatever that is, does not work out. Yellow Diamond may take it upon herself to call a massive invasion onto Earth, and establish a matriarchy on the planet. Steven’s home could be destroyed, his city would be forced into curfew, and Homeworld Soldiers would patrol the streets looking for him and the Crystal Gems. This happened in the final season of Fringe when the Observers took over the protagonists’ universe and basically established a fascist patriarchy. This comparison between the Observers and the Homeworld Gems is not farfetched as they are characterized by their mysterious nature, their power, and their preference towards one particular gender. Both forces were hinted at since near the beginning of their respective shows and we’re only given teases and glimpses into their world as their series continued. And now, it will only be a matter of time before the Homeworld Gems make their true, and world-shattering entrance.

As fan theories go, this one is kind of out there so if you were looking for something easier to swallow I present you with this. Fringe’s final season was intense with emotion, action, and payoff. Steven Universe will likely emulate this on both the positive and negative notes. If sacrifice does come into play in the show’s final moments, we will likely see some of our favorite characters pass away (and not just reborn) for the protection and preservation of Steven.

While Fatherhood, both in Fringe and in general, may be categorized by bravery, morality, and wisdom and Motherhood may be categorized by the aforementioned nurturing, protection, and encouragement, both are ultimately link in self-sacrifice. What lengths would any good Father or Mother go to in order to preserve their child? Fringe knows this and embraces this. Steven Universe will likely go the same path. Pearl loves Rose Quartz and her child Steven. Pearl has sacrificed herself so many times in order to protect Rose. Whose to say that she won’t do it again but this time, end her life permanently by doing so? What effect will this have on Steven’s psyche when that time comes?

Perhaps Steven will become hardened by his loss and take on the role of both a father and a mother figure to the rest of his family and friends. We saw a glimpse of this in the premiere of season 2 when he tried to shut Connie away from his troubles. He wants to protect those he love. If a true tragic loss were to occur, he may go more extreme than this and take on a role similar to Peter when his daughter died in the final Fringe season. If that were to occur, he’ll need Connie, similar to Peter’s significant other Olivia, to pull him back and embrace his true humanity, once again.

What ABC did right (and what they should improve) on Battlebots

The ABC Battlebots’ season may be over but the good news is that a new season has been renewed for the following year! ABC has done several major changes to the franchise while still keeping true to the series’ roots. Many of these changes were surprisingly for the better and should definitely be kept for next season. Let’s take a look at the good changes and what more could be done to push this robotic sport to new heights.

Image from battlebots.com

Things I want to see again in Season 2

Filler Time-One of the most critical cries I’ve been reading a lot of on Reddit is the amount of filler present in all six episodes. The general consensus is that there is too much filler and there should be more screen time on the battles. I disagree as the filler gives us a great look into the builders and their robot. One of ABC’s main focus points was how diverse the builders were whether it was their home state/country, their occupation/background, their age, and their gender. It gives us a real anyone-can-build-a-robot attitude. And in the later episodes, we got to explore the builder’s floor and look at what kind of damage the robot sustained and how the builders were planning to fix them. Very cool. The show’s creators even said they want to get more technical next season and not dumb down the material for the audience, I can definitely appreciate that.

Bracket Tournament-Battlebots has done brackets before but never to this degree of detail. At best, we would only see the quarter final and beyond match ups and that doesn’t happen very often. ABC’s bracket gives us a real March Madness-style gameplay and we can get hype for the following episodes and predict, such as yours truly, who would win and who would lose. I loved it.

Veterans and Newcomers-The show’s creators specifically stated they would like to expand the Battlebots pool and have more people participate along with more episodes. This season was great as not only did we get to see new robots of various types but we got to see veteran robots and veteran builders. Nightmare and Warhead, Team Whyachi and Team Dissector, these are veterans that people should fear. Let’s get more of both for next season!

Things that could be improve for Season 2

Image from abc.com

The Seeding-I have so many questions about the seeding. How was it determined? How were the pre-battle stats determined? Why were some robots ranked higher than others? I feel like this should be elaborated on greatly, especially the pre-battle stats. The announcers always looked at these stats before each match up and every time they do I’m left wondering how they were set up. The stats also seemed very…uneven such as when you have Witch Doctor’s weapon stat of a 91 compared to Tombstone’s 100. Hm, I dunno, I would like some elaboration on all of this.

The Wildcard-Wildcard was a great addition to the series as it brought back robots we liked but have fallen. This should be kept again next season as it can bring a great series of redemption battles like Witch Doctor and Overhaul. However, again, like the seeding, there should be some elaboration why some robots were selected and others weren’t. Many of us were surprised that Nightmare didn’t make the cut despite him being fully functional while the so-so Warhead got a pass.

The Battlebox-Screws were surprisingly effective at KOing opponents while the saws buzzed away at their normal speed. But the launch boards, or whatever the hell they are, were barely used and one time got one of the competitors stuck underneath them. Point is, get rid of them. Also, the Pulverizers, although awesome, didn’t seem to dent the robots. Add some weight to those suckers and they’ll be as threatening as they should be!

The Announcers-Eh, they were warming up to me near the end but they still seemed so stiff or fake. I generally believe they’re nice people but they seem kind of out of place. Truth be told, I want to see more of the Builder’s Arena interviewers as they seem dorkyly cool. But in the end, at least they’re not as annoying as the original CC hosts!

Judges’ Decision-In one of the few instances that ABC made a step back in, we didn’t get to see the final judges’ score for the three-minute battles. This was especially needed for that close Overhaul vs. Biteforce battle. How did the judge’s decide Biteforce won that battle? I really want to know!

Battlebot Diversity-Although it is ultimately the builders’ decision to decide what to build, I read that the showrunners picked which robots to showcase in this season of battlebots. This season can be summed up with horizontal spinners and clamp bots, we need to see more lift/launch bots, vertical spinners, full body spinners, rammers, and yes, even wedges. There’s a definite rock/paper/scissors aspect to Battlebots and we need to see that in action.

Things that really need to change for Season 2

SHOW ALL THE BATTLES-Seriously, this is in all caps how badly this needs to change. It was a super bummer that we didn’t get to see the qualifying battles for quite a few of these robots. Stinger, Hypershock, Overdrive, I really wanted to see their battles! Especially for Stinger! Granted, this is probably because they had limited episodes but why cut the Stinger fight?? That looked so good in the preview clips!

THE BOX IS LOCKED, THE LIGHTS ARE ON, IT’S ROBOT FIGHTING TIME-Enough said, bring this back.

Reaction to Battlebots Episode 6

ABC has delivered a satisfying conclusion to this season of Battlebots.  An awesome semi-final match, a close final match, and a surprise rumble match ended the season on a high note.  Let’s dig in and talk about these matches!

Bronco vs. Tombstone

Kenny Florian was right, if you want to beat Tombstone you have to be aggressive and Bronco was not aggressive.  True, lining up your shot at the corner made Tombstone come to Bronco but Tombstone was still spinning that ferocious blade of his at full speed.  Even if Bronco landed a good shot, he would have gotten hurt badly.  Still though, this fight was pretty good and seeing Tombstone get flipped around out there along with Bronco was great.  Even though I predicted Bronco winning the match, I find it funny how I still predicted that Bronco could lose by Tombstone peeling away his wheel armor and then disabling one of his wheels and that’s exactly what happened.  Tough luck for Bronco but hopefully he’ll be back for the next season!

Biteforce vs. Ghost Raptor

Ghost Raptor’s ingenuity finally couldn’t save him and I’m not surprise that he lost here.  GR was made to be a horizontal spinner, not a lift bot.  He did not have the traction needed to push Biteforce around like he could with Icewave.  I admire GR’s builders though in coming up with strategies in fighting off Biteforce but they were ultimately futile.  Biteforce got an easy win that gave him a moment of relaxation before going on to the final match.

Robot Rumble

I’m sad that there weren’t more robots involved in the match like Stinger, Plan X, or Icewave but I still appreciate this nice tussle between three formidable opponents.  I also like how none of them have fought each other yet in the ring so it gave us a fresh match with fighters we thought were long gone.  I have to say though, I found it both hilarious and sad how WD just ended up being pounded by the Pulverizer while her minibot was doing its damnest to flip her over, better luck next time there….But I’m happy that Nightmare got a good win and gave Overhaul a nice uppercut to his jaw, that was satisfying.

Tombstone vs. Biteforce

Be aggressive, be aggressive, be aggressive.  Sure, Biteforce may no longer be the clamp bot that it once was but you can’t argue with that strategy.  Charge, charge, charge.  You have to admit at first, I thought Biteforce got it but then it became a little close near the end when Biteforce struggled to move and Tombstone was pushing him around.  Regardless, Biteforce eked out a win against the most formidable bot in the entire competition and take home the giant nut.  Biteforce will go down in Battlebots history as the winner of Season 6, sharing the mantle with other Battlebot legends like Hazard, Biohazard, Ziggo, and Dissector.

 

Sorry for the short article but I’ll be back next week when I look back at this season of Battlebots, how was it, what could be improved upon, and more! (Spoiler alert, this season was awesome!)