Thursday, 19 July 2012

The Next Generation

Everyone who knows me knows I like Star Trek. I used to like it a lot more (in a weird fanboyish kind of way) but now I'm sort of settled into a calm enjoyment of the franchise. Either way there once was a time I didn't like Star Trek, and I think it may have been because of a show called Star Trek: The Next Generation.

When I was young my mother would watch reruns of the show on television (this is probably when it was first put into syndication, I remember because they were doing it to promote that dumb Generations movie). It was a very educated show but something clicked with me that meant I could never get into it on a weekly basis. It was cool but as a kid it just didn't have enough fun in it to keep me hooked. It soon fizzled into hate when I got into the preteen shithead phase and just thought it was boring and stupid. Dumb kid.

Then in high school I was given a bunch of magazines filled with Star Trek shit. Character bios, ship diagrams - and it worked. I, being a little sperglord at the time, fell in love. That's when I saw the original series, and that's what got me into the series. In fact I love the original series so much more.

Enough of my experiences, let's talk about Star Trek in the 1990s. Of course The Next Generation coasted from the '80s till about 2002 with half the series left and a string of shitty movies. Beyond that though were also Deep Space Nine (which is forever be my second favourite of the Treks) and Voyager (worst show ever lol).

The Borg two parter was what really got people into the show. I think it exploded over the summer between Part 1 and Part 2. You could find memorabilia everywhere, the shows were coming out on tape, and everyone was talking about it. It was like the time before the new one came out a few years ago. The Borg really mark the air of the '90s in Star Trek - their robotech appearance, which propelled toy sales with how cool and futuristic it looked, their stark contrast to everything else ever in Star Trek. They were the backbone of the series from their inception - the two parter made the show popular, the point of that ship on Deep Space Nine was to fight off Borg attacks, and Voyager even had a Borg crewmember. In fact they were so popular they had a movie based on them; albeit a shitty one. The Borg were the new Klingons - fearsome, popular, and evil.

The late '90s meant the death of Trek for a while unfortunately. The rise of the internet gave way for nerds to obsess over the most minute details of the series to anyone that would listen, which prompted the writers to gear the series more to them so as to curry their favour. When this happened the general public stopped caring about Star Trek and a few years later Nemesis was barely making its budget back and Voyager were being ended finally by the higher ups. Even Enterprise, a decent show in its own right, didn't really get a chance.

Bottom line, '90s Star Trek could be pretty good, but to quote Wayne's World "although in many way superior, it will never be as recognized as the original".

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

DK! Donkey Kong!

Here we go!

So they're finally here, performing for you
If you know the words, you can join in too
Put your hands together if you want to clap
And we'll take you through this funky rap! HUH!
DK! Donkey Kong!

That's quite a way to start an entry.

Everyone knows Donkey Kong. I mean everyone. Christ old people know about DOnkey Kong. It's no secret he's not from the '90s. But he was made in the '90s. That sound crazy?

Of course he would have remained a video game icon we'd all cherish if he stayed looking how he used to. But by now there'd be generations who didn't see him as anything other than "that old video game character", which obviously isn't the case. No, Donkey Kong had to change to retain his place as king of the video game jungle. And that happened.

See, until 1994 people stopped caring about Donkey Kong, or at least didn't see him as a character who'd be carrying on a legendary series the way Mario might (regardless of whether or not the games are good nowadays, Mario still is in them and they still sell a shitload of copies). Nintendo must have had a place to fill in Mario Kart though, because he was a character (still in the old leotard etc).

Then Donkey Kong came out on the Game Boy. This was, I believe, the first iteration of the simian with the monographed tie. He didn't have the cowlick - no, that would come later. After being in Mario Kart and on the Game Boy though he was ready for anything.

Rare came along and turned him into what he is today. Donkey Kong Country was born, and with it an entirely different design for Donkey Kong series games. He was fleshed out into a brand new character - no need for Mario except as an indirect reference in the intro. He was a brash, bold character whose game took advantage of the 3D "capabilities" of the SNES. It was an all new adventure, and it owned.

This bore witness to a series, which continues on to this day with brand new games and shit. Most importantly it spawned a television show in 1998 (for us Canadians) which is what I remember Donkey Kong for. Yeah - maybe the most famous video game character of all time and I remember him best for being from that monkey cartoon! Ironic!

As a footnote, I think he may have been part of the inspiration for my character Monocle Ape. No really! Gorillas in ties own!

Monday, 2 July 2012


What do you get when you combine robots with neon see-through plastic?

You get Poo-chi. Whether you remembered him or not, he was the best low-effort pet a parent could buy for their kid! This lovable mechanical dog sang songs, had a robo-bone you could give him, and came in four fashionable translucent neon colours - teal, hot pink, green, and pink. They could also sit down or stand up, and had red LEDs displaying their "emotion" for eyes. 

Shortly after they came out, McDonald's ran a promotion where you could get them in more colours in a Happy Meal. Just like Beanie Babies though they didn't have the same quality to them and were noticeably smaller (probably has to do with being a cheap plastic toy you get for free).

Poo-chi was superseded by the less popular Meow-chi (which actually was more effort than a real cat) and Dino-chi, despite dinosaurs being awesome. They also had Baby-chi, which was probably the most frightening thing ever.

Futurama captured the actuality of being a Poo-chi owner best: