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Confessions of a Comic Book Guy--Christmas at Ground Zero

Column by Steve Bennett

Published: 12/27/2012 01:50am
Confessions of a Comic Book Guy is a weekly column by Steve Bennett of Super-Fly Comics and Games in Yellow Springs, Ohio.  This week, Bennett shares his Christmas experience, including high frame rate Hobbit movie, Doctor Who, and the new TBS competition show.

Now that Christmas lasts six solid weeks (seriously, somebody in Congress really needs to sponsor a Defense of Thanksgiving Act if that poor orphan holiday has any chance of surviving the coming decade), it's a little disappointing to report that my own personal Christmas clocked in at just a little under 24 hours.  On the way to Christmas Eve dinner with friends I stopped by Super-Fly Comics & Games to pick up my comics and hang with the guys.  And on Christmas day, as unlikely as it seems in sleepy suburban Beavercreek, Ohio of all places, I managed to catch a showing of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey--in the 48 frames per second format.

Before I get to the film I first must give kudos to the theater's management who made the brilliant business decision of on Christmas Day having exactly one employee selling tickets to the approximately thirty-five people waiting in line.  Naturally the concession stand was fully staffed and while I know that's where a cinema makes the bulk of its profits it seems getting patrons to where they had access to it could have been a higher priority.  Thanks to Fandango (now there's a phrase I never thought I'd ever use in all seriousness) I managed to make my showing with ten minutes to spare.

Don't worry, I'm not going to review The Hobbit but I do have two things I'd like to say about the 48 fps format.  First, it's gorgeous and second, it's going to take some getting used to, though it's clear from some of the online reactions some people never will.  I found the difference between traditional film and whatever the hell we're going to end up calling this to be about the same as the difference between regular TV and HD TV.  I'm not sure whether this is the "future" of cinema, but since everyone continues to look for something, anything, to keep people seeing movies in theaters, I wouldn't be a bit surprised if it was.

I got home just in time to catch the last half of the 2012 Doctor Who Christmas special The Snowmen, but since a friend was recording it and I had promised we'd watch it together on New Year's Eve instead I caught a couple episodes of the K-9 marathon running on Syfy.  If you were unaware, back in 2010 The Doctor's faithful robot dog had his own half hour series in Australia, and apparently still bitter over having dropped Doctor Who just before it finally broke big in the States, Syfy acquired the rights.  Not only that, they decided to run the entire 26-episode series in a 13-hour marathon on the same day as BBC America's premiere of The Snowmen.

Which might have been effective counter programming if K-9 had been, you know, any good.  You could make the argument that a show made on the cheap for a tween audience wasn't exactly intended for a guy in his 50s, but you also say the same thing about the wonderful Doctor Who spin-off The Sarah Jane Adventures.  Along with clunky plots and Nickelodeon/ Disney Channel level performances K-9 regularly features some remarkably cheesy special effects, like alien turtles who appear to have been sculpted out of paper mache.  Well, that's not entirely fair, there is one good special effect: the producers have re-imagined our beloved "tin dog"  for a new century as a fairly effective floating CGI effect (even if they did make him look like a cross between a robot rabbit and a high-end running shoe).

Afterwards I finally got a chance to look at the comics I had bought on Christmas Eve and noticed the plastic bag they came in.  On one side it promoted DC's "New 52" and on the other TBS's upcoming "competition show" King of the Nerds starting January 17.  I could describe it myself but I instead I'll be lazy and just pull a couple paragraphs about it off of the TBS Website:

"Hosted by Robert Carradine and Curtis Armstrong, King of the Nerds is the ultimate nerd-off.  The series will follow eleven fierce competitors from across the nerd spectrum as they set out to win $100,000 and be crowned the greatest nerd of them all.  King of the Nerds will take the glory of geekdom to a whole new level as the eleven competitors live together in "Nerdvana." Each week, they must face challenges that will test their intellect, ingenuity, skills and pop culture prowess.  In each episode, the nerds will first compete as teams and then as individuals, facing challenges that range from live gaming to a dance-off to life-sized chess.  One competitor will be eliminated each week until one nerd stands alone as the ultimate champion of all things nerdy."

I can take The Big Bang Theory in stride but this, this bugs me, maybe because it's asking nerds to lose their amateur status or still worse, compete.  Nerds like what they like because they like it; they don't compete over who is the bigger fan, nerds don't compete, period.  We aren't housewives or hillbillies; we aren't the latest source of cheap amusement on basic cable.  We don't want your stinking carrots and you can stick your stupid sticks, or to quote The Doctor in the episode Survival (to prove my own nerd street cred), "If we fight like animals, we'll die like animals."

The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of ICv2.com.
 
 
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