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How to bring Matt Smith back to ‘Doctor Who’

In the past week there have been many news stories about how Matt Smith regrets leaving Doctor Who. He played the Eleventh Doctor from 2010-2014 and was replaced by Peter Capaldi in “The Time of the Doctor.”

Steven Moffat, the current show runner, commented he would love to have Matt back in the show. With Moffat leaving after the next series and the rumored exit of Capaldi, a new Doctor will be needed.

I was asked this week if I wanted Matt Smith back on the show.

My answer was “No.”

Part of this comes from feeling jilted by the last number of series, starting with the last two during Smith’s run.

But then I started thinking how they could actually bring him back, and the solution is simple. He cannot be the Eleventh Doctor. This may seem self-explanatory, but casting him again makes the temptation great to let him play the role as he did in the past. That is why my answer was at first no. Fans, and even writers, would expect him to be the Eleventh Doctor.

Not only would this bring the show backwards, but also undercuts perhaps one of the greatest, and saddest, revelations of the modern series. In “The End of the Time” the Tenth Doctor, played by David Tennant, finally describes what regenerating is for him:

“I can still die. If I’m killed before regeneration then I’m dead. Even then. Even if I change, it feels like dying. Everything I am dies. Some new man goes sauntering away. And I’m dead.”

Through the regenerations the Doctor retains memories, but the personalities die, and there is no going backward. To so do would betray the emotional destruction of Ten’s death.

But “The Day of the Doctor” presents the idea the Doctor may “revisit” faces later in his life. We have seen with the regeneration into the Twelfth Doctor there is some level of control, most likely subconscious, during the regeneration process. Even the Master’s regeneration into Missy seems to have been an intentional choice.

If there is this level of control, then the Thirteenth, or some other future Doctor, could have Matt Smith’s face again. The key part is he needs a completely new personality. There can be some nods to the Eleventh Doctor, but they would need to move away from bow ties and fish sticks with custard.

If this does happen, it would be best to wait a few more doctors. Plus, future show runner Chris Chibnall has his own ideas for the series and may not be looking to cast Matt Smith again.

Why I am giving up on ‘The Flash’

[Season Two finale spoilers]

I no longer want to watch The Flash after tonight’s finale. This is not to point blame on the episode, but on what has consistently been a season of missteps and Barry acting like a spoiled child who refuses to listen to others.

When The Flash first premiered I was hooked. Here was a superhero trying to learn his powers while facing an enemy who also sought to teach him. Harrison Wells/Eobard Thawne were Season One and Tom Cavanagh delivered in each episode. This was one of the few cases were my knowledge of comic books betrayed me, for I was convinced Eddie was the Reverse-Flash.

Then Season Two started, and The Flash ran out of ideas. The storyline is exactly the same as Season One. A mystery speedster shows up, who wants Barry to get faster so his speed can be harnessed. This speedster also happens to be someone hiding in plain sight and building trust with the team. I would have bailed a lot sooner if not for the return of Harrison Wells, who seems to be the only voice of reason. Joe can have his moments, but Wells is the one who attempts to ground the characters.

But let’s focus on Barry, the real reason the show went off track. Barry cannot act on logic, only emotion and ego. These traits betray his identity as a hero. Because he is the Flash he believes he is always right. He will not take the time to slow down and think about his decisions and refuses to listen to advice from others. He did not hesitate to hand his speed over to Zoom and decides to monologue (fatal flaw of many super-villains) when he finally has Zoom trapped. He is also trigger happy on the time-travel button, though he knows there can be negative consequences. So far he has been lucky with what changes, but his luck may have run out.

In “The Runaway Dinosaur” we see Barry come to terms with his mother’s death but the finale undo’s any character growth and again reverts Barry to a spoiled child, who will sacrifice the universe for his mother. Many of us may agree with the choice Barry made, but heroes know you cannot save everyone.

In the comics, when Barry saves his mother we are introduced to Flashpoint, a universe on the brink of destruction. This Barry Allen normally acted selflessly, and in a moment of weakness decided to allow himself one win and in doing so destroyed everything. He seldom time traveled and did not fully understand the ramifications his actions would cause. To fix the timeline he had to assure his mother was killed, a decision not many could make. The television Barry always acts selfishly, so saving his mother, especially after his talk with the Speed Force(who is apparently god), is the act of spoiled child who should know better. In Season One he made the tough choice by allowing her to die, which makes this choice now shocking. He still has a family who loves him and can finally be together with Iris, but unless he has the perfect life he won’t be happy.

I respect when shows give us characters we can relate to, who fail and get back up, who make mistakes and learn from them. Barry never learns. This inability to learn makes him more a villain than a hero.

Maybe going Flashpoint in Season Three will fix things, because he will finally see the extreme negative consequences of his actions and learn to be the hero his comic counterpart is.

Review: Batman v Superman

[Minor Spoilers]

It has been a week since I saw BvS, enough time to clear my thoughts and be objective about this film. After seeing negative review after negative review I am actually shocked I was in a theater preview night.

BvS suffers from following the Nolan trilogy, and takes itself to seriously. This tone works for Batman, but Superman should have been treated differently. Yes, he can be a serious character but also a symbol of hope and the opposite of Batman. Giving these characters the same dark tone makes their title fight less meaningful. Man of Steel established Superman kills and takes drastic measures to save Earth, the same as BvS’s Batman. He does not care for Batman’s violent methods, but his opening scene shows him ramming(?) a man through a stonewall, something a human would not likely survive.

Without a greater distinction between the characters, their fight is forced, since the title demands there be a fight, and without proper motivation. Even its conclusion is quite frankly stupid. What frustrates me is they were setting it up for the confrontation to be very meaningful and justifiable. The scene of Metropolis being destroyed through Bruce Wayne’s eyes let the audience understand the human fear of these supermen and the fear that they cannot be stopped. As the film continues this point falls apart as character upon character are introduced and we are bombarded by a series of short scenes not fully developed.

Here I admit I let my knowledge of the comics get the better a little, but Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor was incomprehensible most of the time, spewing poetry and metaphors that seemed to have no place. He was not Lex Luthor, but some failed blending of the Joker, Riddler, and probably many other DC villains. This is not a villain to fear. How I wish Kevin Spacey or Clancy Brown could have reprised their roles from Superman Returns or Superman: The Animated Series respectively. Even the creation of Doomsday was unsatisfying.

Perhaps what bothered me the most is how Martha Kent and Lois Lane were only in the movie to fulfill the role of damsel in distress, which Lois plays on three separate occasions. Probably of equal annoyance were the four dream sequences, of which one was a prophetic dream. We get these characters have issues, but they do not need to be explored through dreams.

The list of problems goes on but would divulge too many spoilers for those fortunate enough not to see this movie.

I might be slightly unfair though, because there were some good elements to this movie, making the bad all the more frustrating. Ben Affleck and Jeremy Irons were great in their scenes together. I will admit I was one of the people who groaned when Affleck was first cast, but he may well be the best part of the movie. His Batman is experienced and getting old and you can understand his issues with Superman. Irons’ Alfred also more closely follows the modern comics and is more a partner than a butler. I want to see this solo movie, as long as Zack Snyder is not anywhere near it. The Wonder Woman movie should also be promising. Gal Gadot did not have many lines, but she can kick butt and was the best fighter against Doomsday.

Hopefully the future movies will offer more character development and better storytelling, but with Justice League scheduled before most of the solo films this seems unlikely. The DC universe needs a Kevin Feige and a unified vision. Right now they are playing catch-up and are thinking one movie at a time and not about the entire universe.

Anime Take Two

Anime and manga are intertwined. The majority of anime are based on manga, and original anime are often turned into manga.

Japan has a different comic environment than the United States. Manga is ingrained in the culture, with all ages consuming. The popularity of manga led to popularity of anime, opposite of how the popularity of the two forms grew in America. It is sometimes hard to fully understand this relationship for American cartoon shows, while based on comics, hardly follow them. They use the same characters and general story arcs, but try developing their own identity.

Anime tends to be based directly on the source manga. Some changes are made in personalities or minor story points, as in Death Note, but otherwise try to be faithful. Try is the optimal word, because turning a manga into anime faces complications. Anime adaptations normally start when the manga is being published, to capitalize on popularity. Filler episodes or filler seasons are used, allowing the mangaka (writer/artist) time to develop story arcs.

Bleach and Naruto are known for having whole seasons of original content. Dragon Ball Z has fights lasting ten episodes while in the manga they are one or two chapters. These are special cases, with the anime being popular enough to sustain themselves through countless fillers. Others were not so lucky. Full Metal Alchemist and Hellsing both initially followed the manga, but created haphazard endings when the anime caught up with the manga. Soul Eater and Pandora Hearts had to throw together endings when the series were prematurely cancelled. These endings make almost no sense and ruin good anime.

The manga stories work. They contain the mangaka’s vision and present tight-knit stories requiring no changes. In recent years, anime makers realized how great the source material is, giving many series a second take. The 291 episodes of Dragon Ball Z were edited down to 159 episodes in Dragon Ball Z Kai, removing all filler episodes and elongated fights.

Hellsing was remade as Hellsing Ultimate, a series of OVA’s directly mirroring the manga. The same happened when Full Metal Alchemist got its second series Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood. This series does suffer in the beginning for episodes were rushed. They are in the first anime, and producers did not want to repeat. The result is episodes a little hard to watch, with the rest of the anime being the best I have seen. Recently the remake of Sailor Moon, Sailor Moon Crystal, finished airing, with each episode a direct translation of one manga chapter.

Not all animes are remade. Inuyasha was put on hiatus for three years, allowing the manga to finish. The result was The Final Act, the best arc in the anime. Bleach is currently on hiatus, waiting for the final arc of the manga to conclude before beginning production. One of the more interesting cases is Black Butler. Episodes in season one sporadically follow the manga, while the rest and season two are original. Instead of remaking, the original stories were ignored, with Book of Circus using flashbacks to reference the preceeding manga story arcs. The latest story arc, Book of Murder, was released as two feature-length films instead of the traditional series.

The manga stories do not need changing, and make better anime series. I wonder what they will remake next.

#SixSeasonsAndaMovie

“Show’s going to last three weeks!”

“Six seasons and a movie!” 

* * * * *

Fans turned a 20 second clip from Community into a rally cry. #SixSeasonsAndaMovie is the only social media campaign I participated in, and one I sought out as a fan. The campaign is unique since fans started it and was later picked up by other organizations.

The point is simple, save Community from being cancelled, which was a risk every season. The end of season five was where it was called upon the most, for the odds of renewal were the worst, though the show was doing better in ratings than many others renewed by NBC.

Most of the battle was fought on Twitter, with fans voicing their opinions and demonstrating the cult audience the series had. Facebook became another battle ground, with the formation of many groups and petitions being made. Cast members were also encouraging fans to tweet every day to show their support. Sony, the company behind Community, adopted the campaign when they started the bid for renewal. The internet was flooded with official posters parodying movies, and creating more fan involvement.

The campaign is a failure and a success. NBC did not renew Community, but Yahoo picked it up for season six. The power of fans and social media was demonstrated in saving a television series. The amazing thing is the campaign constantly evolves. While Community may have run its course, fans on Twitter are using #SixSeasonsAndaMovie for other television shows in jeopardy of cancellation. Even online dictionaries associate the hashtag with any show on the verge of cancellation with a cult like following.

Community recently wrapped its sixth season, leading to another change in the campaign. The final episode ends with #andamovie. The six seasons are complete, now the movie remains. So far the odds are good, with show creators feeling they owe fans the movie. If one looks doubtful, I’m sure fans will take to social media again.

Never underestimate nerds and geeks. Cult followings are powerful, with social media giving fans power to voice their opinions.

Spider-Man vs. Spider-Man

I went with a more traditional infographic, mainly because I wanted to see how these two series compared in sales. I chose September because it was the first month tracking sales of Ultimate Spider-Man. It is also one of the few months where both series were published throughout the time frame, with limited ‘landmark’ issues. There were spikes in sales for Ultimate Spider-Man in 2006 because of issue 100, and 2011 for the introduction of Miles Morales. The Amazing Spider-Man saw spikes in 2006 and 2007 for the Civil War and One More Day storylines.

Infographic