You would think the media giants were reading this blog (or my mind) with the pop culture news coming out this week, tailor-made for those of us who grew up watching cartoons in the era of John Hughes movies and Balki Bartokomous.
Some time ago, I wrote about my disappointment when childhood favorite Inspector Gadget disappeared off of Netflix‘s streaming service.
Even more recently, I wrote a bit of a public rally for Disney to jump on the wave of nostalgia as my generation becomes parents with kids of their own, to revive such great animated shows as DuckTales or Darkwing Duck.
Well, this week, word came out that Disney IS in fact working on a revival of DuckTales.
“An all-new DuckTales series is coming to Disney XD in 2017! The Emmy Award-winning series from the late ‘80s/early ‘90s is absolutely treasured by our generation, and we are so excited that “every day they’re out there making DuckTales” again,” stated the announcement on Oh My Disney.
“DuckTales has a special place in Disney’s TV animation history, it drew its inspiration from Disney Legend Carl Barks’ comic books and through its storytelling and artistic showmanship, set an enduring standard for animated entertainment that connects with both kids and adults,” said Marc Buhaj, Senior Vice President, Programming and General Manager of Disney XD. “Our new series will bring that same energy and adventurous spirit to a new generation.”
The announcement went on to say that all the familiar faces would be there – Scrooge McDuck, Huey, Dewey, Louie, Launchpad McQuack, Donald Duck, Duckworth, Gyro Gearloose, Flintheart Glomgold, Magica DeSpell, Poe, Ma Beagle, the Beagle Boys, Mrs. Beakley, and Webbigail Vanderquack.
Not sure who is more excited – me or my son, who has taken quite a liking to some classic DuckTales I have at home. Who am I kidding. It’s me who’s more excited. I just hope he’ll watch them with me when 2017 rolls around.
There’s no word yet on the voice cast or format (traditional animation or CGI), but I would be lying if I didn’t say I had a selfish dream that at some point the mucky-mucks at Disney were wise enough to lock Alan Young in a soundbooth for a day to record every phrase and word known to man so it can be plugged into a computer and he can remain the voice of Scrooge McDuck for all time. 🙂 While we’re at it, let’s get June Foray (Magica DeSpell and Ma Beagle) to do the same thing.
Young is 95. Foray is 97. Now would certainly be the time.
Who else but Terence McGovern can voice Launchpad McQuack? I say get McGovern on the horn, pronto! (And maybe get him prepped for a Darkwing Duck revival while we’re at it. 🙂
Hamilton Camp (Fenton Crackshell and Gizmoduck) and Hal Smith (Gyro Gearloose and Flintheart Glomgold), are, sadly, no longer around. Side note – Hal Smith, who also voiced Owl in Winnie the Pooh, and Pooh himself at times, was once a DJ at a radio station in my hometown.
If that morning hadn’t blown up Twitter and Facebook, the additional news in the afternoon that very same day was likely to break the internet, as they say. Netflix announced that Inspector Gadget AND another childhood favorite, Danger Mouse, would be getting revived series via their streaming service.
The new Danger Mouse is slated to appear in Spring 2016 and Inspector Gadget much sooner, in March 2015.
The plot of the new Inspector Gadget show is said to revolve around the villainous Dr. Claw reactivating M.A.D., his global crime syndicate, and Inspector Gadget is tasked with coming out of retirement to stop him.
There is sadly no more Don Adams with us, but I’m hoping that someone did their due diligence and found someone who can like him for this new series. After all, Adams made that character what he is, and you really can’t ‘go in a different direction’ when the entire character’s existence has been formed from that performance.
So, as they say, what’s old is new again. The characters and adventures I grew up loving are back, and I really, really look forward watching them with my own little guy.
Needless to say, I’m excited. Very excited.
Since the little guy was born, our movie viewing has taken a nosedive. The last movie we saw in an actual theatre was Toy Story 3.
To be honest, if it weren’t for Netflix and our own DVD collection, we probably wouldn’t see anything.
But, with Meg and the monkey off at camp this week and me working, it was sort of like being a quasi-bachelor for a bit. Meg told me while they were away I should re-enact Risky Business. (Although she apparently meant dancing in the living room and not so much the Rebecca DeMornay-prostitute part. Who knew?)
My evenings have been spent not so much in that Tom Cruise/Old Time Rock and Roll mode, but more in a ‘take a deep breath, crash on the couch and veg out watching movies’ mode.
So, a few of the movies that I just don’t feel comfortable watching with the little guy around, and I figure Meg probably doesn’t want to see anyway, have all been on the menu this week. From Captain America to the Avengers, I’ve been having a geek-out film fest with me and the cats.
And I have loved them all. I admit that for being the comic book nerd that I am, my knowledge of the Marvel Comics universe is limited. I was a DC guy growing up. Despite that, I have no qualms saying that Marvel is so far ahead of the game when it comes to their live-action movie franchises than DC is right now.
Take Captain America for instance. Set against the backdrop of a propaganda, ‘ra-ra-America! Keep em’ Flying!’ backdrop of World War II, I enjoyed every single moment. I suspended disbelief completely and just sat back and had a terrific trip back in time to fictional 1940s America. I love the explanation of the Captain America persona and outfit as a propaganda piece for the war effort, until alter ego Steve Rogers takes it upon himself to be a real hero. And with a villain as improbable as the Red Skull as the main antagonist (I mean, come on, his head is just that – a red skull), there’s a lot that could have gone wrong. With Hugo Weaving in the villainous role, though, it just fired on all cylinders for me. I should’ve popped up a big bowl of popcorn for it, as it would have been appropriate for this big, explosive, fun piece of comic nostalgia.
As I say, I don’t have a vast knowledge of Cap or many Marvel properties, but I do know how popular he was throughout the war years, with plenty of adventures against the Nazis and the Red Skull. So, I thought it was handled wonderfully in the film when, instead of one adventure/brawl with the skull and that’s it, we instead, through montages, actually see adventure upon adventure of Cap as he takes on the Skull at various points in the war. It never slowed the film down, yet still gave you that sense that Cap was fighting well through the bulk of the war years, just like he did in the comics. And, they even kept things true to the comic history by having him frozen in ice so that he could re-appear in the modern super hero world, just like when creators wanted to bring Captain America back decades after his original run ended in the war years.
I’m so glad I watched Cap before The Avengers, too, as it was the perfect setup for the superhero team extravaganza. I haven’t yet watched Thor, but figured I could get the gist of The Avengers without it. Director Joss Whedon (whose creations of Buffy and Angel, yes, I used to watch week to week when they were on the air) had a pretty monumental task in front of him, as trying to put all these characters (Iron Man, Captain America, Black Widow, Hulk, Thor and Hawkeye) into one movie just, by any account, does not make sense. There is no logical way for it to work, but Whedon makes it work, again just going for pure fun that lets you leave all cynicism at the door because you’re having such a great time watching it.
As I say, Chris Evans surprised me as a wonderfully charming and inspiring Captain America in both films, but another pleasant surprise was Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner/Hulk. Wow, what a performance. His suppressive, introverted, socially awkward performance really made you feel for him as a man hiding a monster and trying his best to keep it in check. The man took what could easily be a one-dimensional comic character and made him real and interesting. Bravo, Mr. Ruffalo.
I enjoyed them both so much that now I can’t wait for the sequels…although I’m sure I’ll be waiting a lot longer for them to turn around on Netflix. 🙂 But when they do, I’ll be ready with a big bowl of popcorn and dorky superhero delight.
Even before we had the baby, Meg and I have been doing our best to see where we can cut back when it comes to expenses. We may not be disciplined enough to chuck all the expenses and go live in a tent somewhere, but here and there we’ve found some things that may seem a little quirky, but have helped cut down a little here and a little there in our overall expenses.
And believe me, now that we do have the baby, yet still have my massive student loan debt, every little bit helps.
Here’s a few of the things we’ve taken a crack at.
Like many other folks we know, we used to have the standard Digital Cable plan. The box, the DVR, hundreds of channels, the whole kit and kaboodle. However, one day, long before we were even expecting, we just looked at each other and realized how often we were finding things amid the plethora of channels, even if it wasn’t great, just for the sake of watching something. It was like paying for all those channels made you feel like you needed to be watching one of them. What we started realizing as we’d flip through the channels, was that there were numerous times where we’d find nothing to watch, even with that large a selection.
So, we decided to try the experiment of going down to basic cable and see how it went. It took a little getting used to and there’s still some shows Meg misses seeing (she loves those DIY and Cooking programs), but we’ve now been going a few years strong with just basic cable and it’s been great. We’ve discovered which shows we enjoy enough to look for when they’re on (versus DVR) and have really embraced the variety of programming on our local PBS station. (Sunday nights have never been the same for us since Sherlock and Downton Abbey)
When we decided to do away with the cable, we thought we would rely more on Netflix for entertainment. At that time, we had the one disc at a time plan, that also included streaming if you so chose. However, in time, Netflix made that two separate plans and began charging people for each. So, we made the conscious decision after seeing a number of discs sit around for weeks and weeks without viewing, to cut our losses in half, do away with the disc option and go solely streaming. Sure, your choices are different and you may not always find what you want, but we’ve discovered some very entertaining films, documentaries and television shows, both old and new, that we would never have had we had the ability to have ‘whatever we wanted.’
This one doesn’t really equate to a monthly bill, but while we’re on the subject of entertainment, I wanted to throw it in. We’ve had quite a few offers for a new television, whether it’s a friend or relative getting rid of some widescreen behemoth or relatives offering one as a Christmas present. While grateful, we’ve respectfully declined each time. We like our little 4×3 television set. It’s the same one I’ve had since college, and not only has it lasted like new over the more than a decade since I got it, we still have Meg’s (almost the same model) in the basement if this one ever goes.
Okay, so they’re not saving you a fortune, but every little bit helps, right? Some time ago, my wife and I realized how we were always (or fairly frequently) spending money on napkins at the grocery store. So, while at Target one day we decided to purchase a package of cloth napkins. We also used to use brown paper bags for our lunches. However, the purchase of a reusable cloth lunch bag has meant we haven’t had to buy any brown paper bags in years. It’s amazing how reusable these items have been, all with a simple run through the wash with the rest of our laundry when they start to get a little dirty.
There are few things satisfying as knowing that you did something with your own two hands. Since moving into our little starter home, I’ve had to learn to do a lot, mostly out of necessity. Whether it’s installing a new front door, renovating a bathroom, putting in floors, it all has been infinitely cheaper to purchase materials and devote the time and elbow grease needed to get the job done instead of hiring someone else to do it for us.
Your library card can be one of the most valuable pieces of plastic in the arsenal that is your wallet, and I highly suggest taking full advantage of it. It breaks my heart every time I hear about another library not doing well, and not just because I worked in one in college. I love libraries. The idea that a place filled with the knowledge of a civilization or civilizations stands, ready and accessible for anyone to come and partake, is just breathtaking to me. And as long as you follow the rules, it’s absolutely free. What an amazing thing. Whenever I come across a title that I’m interested in reading, I always check the library first. If I like it enough to read it multiple times, I’ll purchase a copy, but if it’s only getting one read, why spend the money? Libraries are a great place to gain some knowledge, test some literary waters, and save a pretty penny.
On the same topic of books, I find myself often looking at our bookshelves and realizing how many books we have that I either haven’t read yet or haven’t read in so long that it’s like new! It’s like going to a book store where a) it’s free and b) they carry your favorites.
I love eBay. Not so much the buying, although I do now and then, but I love having an auction at my fingertips to unload items that I realize have been sitting around our house since we got together and heck, in our individual apartments well before that, doing nothing but collecting dust. I’ve learned that we, as humans, have a weird ability to create sentiment toward EVERYTHING, even when it’s not warranted. There’s nothing wrong with having a connection to something, it’s just having a connection to everything where you stir up trouble. Assess what you have, what you need, what you really want, and what you’ve held on to ‘just because’ and you’ll find there’s a lot of ‘just because’ you will be just as happy without, and someone else will be quite happy to take off your hands for a price. And if you have books you can’t seem to unload, try something like paperbackswap.com, an online book club where you list books you’re willing to send out to those who want them in exchange for credits that you can then use for books you’re looking for.
This isn’t an end-all, be-all list, of course – just a few small ways that we’ve taken on in an ongoing effort to “trim the fat,” as they say. They may not be huge, but they help, and I feel like at the same time, I’m learning a little something through each one of these efforts.
I recently mentioned how, while home with the baby being sick, I spent some time watching cartoons on Netflix.
The two animated films I watched while the baby napped were Justice League: Doom and Superman vs the Elite, both part of the ongoing releases of animated movies across the DC Comic Universe from Bruce Timm and company.
They were both enjoyable, but for completely different reasons.
Justice League: Doom was standard superhero fare. A group of villains team up to best their foes and destroy the world. Always fun to see more obscure comic villains get animated, like Vandal Savage, Mirror Master, etc. On top of that, any time Kevin Conroy and Tim Daly (or George Newbern) voice Batman and Superman, respectively, just as they did since I was watching their respective animated series 20 years ago, it’s a good time.
However, the entire reason I’m writing this post is because of the second film of the two – Superman vs the Elite. In it, Superman meets a group of anti-heroes out of England who have tremendous powers, but not much of a moral compass. They like the hero gig, but find Superman outdated, and go from looking up to him to feeling that heroes need to take things where he won’t – namely to kill those criminals, villains, warlords, etc, instead of leaving them for justice departments to decide.
Initially, the public loves it. They eat it up, and agree that Superman just isn’t the hero for modern society. This new group, the Elite, become the idols of children, while the kid playing Superman on the playground is suddenly an outcast.
What happens very quickly, however, is that the Elite become more than just anti-heroes, more than just vigilantes, even. They become the watchers of society, telling them to be good, or be dead. Their choice. The choice isn’t just limited to super-villains and despots, though. Even the average pickpocket faces an executioner for their sinful deeds, no matter how misguided.
Naturally none of this sits well with Clark Kent, leading to an all out showdown with these young turks, and a display of what would happen if Superman really were to become the darker version society is clamoring for.
When the dust settles, it’s not the animation, not the action that makes this the draw that it was for me. It was the message.
This is why Superman is important; this is why his character remains relevant, even today.
Superman is the embodiment of all the good that we, as the human race, have contained within us. A man with unlimited power, who uses that power to not only help others, but to show others much needed compassion.
Clark Kent never takes it upon himself to tell us how to live our lives. No. Instead, he sets an example for us. He shows us that great power does not have to mean oppression, corruption, or rule. No wonder Lex Luthor can’t stand him. Lex feels power should be all those things.
No, Superman shows us that the world can be better; that we are the ones who have the ability to make it so. Instead of looking for the bad in others, he looks for the best in other people, believing all to be generally good people on some level.
He may be a captor, he may be a jailer, he may be an enforcer, but he is never a judge, a jury or an executioner. He is a symbol, of all we could be, of all the good we could do. If a man with all that power can avoid finding the worst, avoid being corrupt, avoid abusing that power, why can’t we, as mere mortals?
“They can be a great people, Kal-El, if they wish to be. They only lack the light to show the way. For this reason above all, their capacity for good, I have sent them you… my only son.”
Funny that it takes an alien from the planet Krypton to make us realize that.
If we all tried to be a little more like Superman, just think of what a world we could live in.
The great Inspector Gadget – hi-tech scourge of the underworld, has met his match, apparently. It was not at the hands of M.A.D. Agents like Presto Chango, Greenfinger, or even through the machinations of his arch enemy, Dr. Claw.
No, this time Inspector Gadget was finally done in by the villainous Netflix.
This past year I had relished the chance to relive a very vivid part of my childhood, courtesy of Netflix streaming the complete original series of Inspector Gadget. The complete series is not even available on DVD, yet here it was, readily available for my viewing pleasure at the click of a button.
The moment that simplistic, yet catchy theme song began and the voice of Don Adams hit the air, I was like a kid again, and I could not wait to sit down with my kid and enjoy the adventure.
I was around pre-school age or slightly younger when Gadget was originally on the air, and I remember how much a part of my daily routine he became. My naps were scheduled around him, and if I didn’t take those naps, you know for darn sure I wasn’t allowed to watch Gadget – something that little kid was not going to let happen.
I had the Inspector Gadget toy with extendable limbs, and a helicopter you could place in his hat. I used to run around the neighborhood with other kids, re-enacting the characters we watched on TV that afternoon. I was all over it.
So, imagine my disappointment when I say down with my son yesterday to introduce his open mind and imagination to the wild world of Gadget, Penny and Brain, only to find that Netflix has removed Inspector Gadget from its streaming. A quick search online revealed I was not the only one suddenly caught by surprise, with the series’ page on Netflix flooded with messages from like-minded viewers just wondering “wha’ happen?”
So, I picked up the phone and gave Netflix Customer Service a call. The gentleman I spoke with was great, and mentioned that he had just been watching the original series himself. A quick check and what he surmised is that Netflix’s contract with whomever holds the rights to the show likely expired. He said while that does mean it’s gone for now, it doesn’t mean it’s gone for good, and was nice enough to make a note and log the call as “wanting Inspector Gadget original series” returned to streaming, for what it’s worth.
Hey, cartoons are not what they used to be, so somebody’s got to make sure this next generation gets exposed to the “classics” of animation and preserve these animation greats. 🙂
And, just as Gadget says, “I’m always on duty.”