Archive for August, 2013

Top 10 list number 3

BIG SHOCKING DISCLAIMER: This list will actually not be ordered 1-10. This is because I tried for a long time to order it, but found out I simply could not do it. I love all of these shows a whole lot, trying to order them simply wasn’t working.

So instead I will present this list in alphabetical order

Top 10 favorite non-animated TV shows, in no particular order

BSG

Battlestar Galactica (re-imagined series)

Brilliant sci-fi series, amazingly well acted, with a sometimes convoluted but always interesting story, Battlestar Galactica made many of it’s actors (notably Katee Sackhoff and the always amazing Edward James Olmos) household names, at least among the sci-fi geek crowd, and proved to everyone that good sci-fi could exist. I loved the story, the epic space battles, and the characters. A great series all around, and if you like sci-fi at all, you should watch it.

Bones

Bones

Starring Angel and New Girl’s cuter sister, Bones is a Procedural based around a Forensic Anthropologist contracted by the FBI to investigate crimes surrounding murder victims too decomposed for normal forensics to work. Emily Deschanel’s Brennan is brilliant but socially awkward, while David Boreanez’s Booth is a streetwise cop with no idea of what his partner says half the time. The Drama here is compelling, but the characters and their interplay with each other is what makes this show great. Booth and Brennan take the Unresolved Sexual Tension trope and run with it, as do Jack Hodgins and Angela Montenegro. The science here isn’t always the best (mostly surrounding technology) but the show is still great fun to watch, especially as the characters develop and change based on their experiences.

Castle

Castle

Um, let’s see here. Nathan Fillion, and his usual amazing array of acting chops, gets paired up with the talented and HOT AS HELL Stana Katic in another odd-couple style police procedural? Okay, yes I admit I have a slight weakness for those, but COME ON these two are brilliant on screen together. The stories are always compelling, the writing is top notch, and the show has a ton of pop cultural references, including many to Fillion’s past work on Firefly. I love this show, and I can’t wait for the next season.

Doctor Who

Doctor Who

Oh you HAD to know everyone’s favorite Time Lord was going to show up here. I got into Doctor Who late in the game, not long before Tennant was to give up the role to Matt Smith, but I have been completely addicted since I decided to watch it that fateful day on Netflix. This show is brilliant, and it’s just as much due to the work of the performers and the writers as it is the sheer enjoyment of being part of the Doctor Who fandom. I’m personally a David Tennant fan, but I’ve enjoyed Matt Smith’s run in the role as well. I can’t wait to see the two of them team up in November. It’s going to be amazing. Peter Capaldi’s about to step into the TARDIS, and the more I read about him, the more I think it’s still a great time to be a Whovian.

Firefly

Firefly

Big shocker right? Everyone loves this show, and why not? Done by Joss Whedon, featuring an amazing cast, putting the western-scifi genre blend in the forefront of everyone’s mindset (soooo much of Starcraft 2’s Terran Campaign is built on this awesomeness), this show has done some amazing things despite Fox canceling it, something I’m sure they’re constantly kicking themselves for. They should be!  So what’s everyone’s favorite line? Mine’s the classic “One of you is gonna fall, and die, and I am NOT cleaning it up!”

Leverage

Leverage

This one was a bit of a sleeper hit on the TNT network. It featured a team of 5 thieves, each experts in their specialty, put together to execute a con on an entire corporation that supposedly stole their newest product from their client. Turns out the client is the thief, and they were scammed into committing the crime. The group bands together to not only take back the stolen plans, but ruin the man who deceived them all. They find they actually enjoyed helping their original victim, and so stay together to help the hard luck cases, the ones screwed over by rich corporations or individuals and have no power to fight back. It’s essentially an entire show of “Ocean’s 11”-style cons, and it’s brilliant. The acting is top notch, the show has some of the BEST written characters to ever grace a TV screen, and it’s just fun to watch. Highly recommend if you haven’t seen it. Ended far too soon after 5 seasons, but well worth your time.

mythbusters

Mythbusters

Because SCIENCE! Learning is always a good thing, and learning the facts, even when we supposedly just KNOW  the right answer, is something I feel everyone should shoot for. Mythbusters is all about that. They take different myths every week and prove them true or false. Many have claimed the show deviates too much from the pure scientific method, but at its core, the show encourages viewers to never take something for granted, always a good thing. It doesn’t hurt that more than half the time, the testing involves something going boom, right? Adam and Jamie are a couple of my heroes, and I thoroughly enjoy getting to watch them work.

NCIS

NCIS

I’ve been watching this show for years, and I love every second of it. It’s an obvious enough concept, take a police procedural from the perspective of a military police organization, (In this case, the Navy) but we all know what makes this show special: the strength of its characters and the writers/actors behind them. As the show has gone on, the storylines have gotten a bit more outlandish with every season, but you know what? I don’t really care. I could watch this show for years to come. I’m a bit sad that the lovely Cote de Pablo is departing, but I have faith that the show will endure being great.

Sherlock

Sherlock

Who knew that a show that has only been 6 episodes long (as of this writing) would be so utterly amazing? That’s right, 6. Two series of 3 hour and a half episodes each. As you can imagine, the show’s a modern day take on Sherlock Holmes, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. Yes, that’s right, Khan and Bilbo Baggins team up to solve cases. Any show starring those two is going to be fantastic, but the show backs it up with some incredible writing and the ability to draw you in and care about the characters in just 6 episodes. Seriously, you’ll be thinking “What, that’s it? Where’s the rest of it?” Doesn’t help that Series 2 ended on an awful cliffhanger either. Come on Series 3, hurry the heck up!!

STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE

Star Trek: DS9

That’s right. Screw you, haters! DS9 is the best Star Trek series made so far. Yeah that’s right. Better than TNG, and WAY better than the original series. Sure, I get that TOS paved the way for Star Trek and science fiction, but guess what? It’s gotten better since, way better, and while we should be thankful for it, we should never lie to ourselves that it was the best. Not even close. DS9 is amazing. It did the best job at examining modern day issues in a futuristic setting, it consistently had better characters and writing, and it featured an overarching plot about a war that gave us some awesome space battle scenes. Plus Avery Brooks’ Sisko is the only captain badass enough to punch Q in the face. You never saw him come back to bother the DS9 crew again, did you? Nope. Picard and Janeway had to deal with him multiple times. Sisko wasn’t taking that garbage.

All right, so there’s my list of Top Ten TV shows! Sorry I am way late with this….other things in life just kept getting in the way.

Glaring omission on the last post

So I’m driving with Karen, talkin’ about the game I was just playing before we left for dinner, and suddenly it hits me.

I have an absolutely GLARING omission from my top 10 characters list. Like, I don’t know what’s wrong with me for not thinking about her because she’s absolutely one of my most favorite characters in my recent gaming history.

The question is, where do I put her in the rankings, and who gets pushed down?

Well, after some due consideration, I’m going to put her at number 7, and push Kyle, Barrett, and Solid Snake down the list, shoving Gordon Freeman off.

The new spot holder at number 7 is….

tiny-tina

 

Ladies and Gentlemen, the worlds most deadly 13-year-old, TINY TINA!!

She’s without a doubt the best part of the already stellar Borderlands 2, and her DLC, Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep is LEGENDARY. She’s hilarious, infinitely quotable, and this despite having a truly tragic backstory and some heartbreaking character development. I hope she returns for another Borderlands game in the future, and in the meantime, I’m going to sit down for another session of Bunkers and Badasses with her as our GM.

So yeah, apologies for this really bad screw up on my part. Never should have happened. Tina deserves better!

So, to make it up, Tina, why don’t you go ahead and count down the next list?

“COUNTING DOWN! Ten….Nine…..*everything explodes*…….I got bored.” (skip to about 2:18)

 

Okay, so my top 10 TV shows should hopefully be up tomorrow.

Top 10 list 2: Videogame characters

Number the two! Counting down my top 10 favorite videogame characters! Again, inspired by my friend Josh’s own list.

I know many of you will find flaws in this, and believe me, I’m sure there are a number of characters I’m missing, but this is based entirely on games that I’ve played, which I’m sure is in need of some serious expanding!

Anyway, read on and enjoy!

 

 

Gordon_Freeman

10. Gordon Freeman, Half-Life Series

I’m going to let you guys in on a little secret: I absolutely HATE Silent Protagonists. Oh wait, you probably already know that about me. I heavily dislike games that feature a character with an established name, look, and storyline, yet never have him say anything. I know it’s supposed to get the player immersed in the character, but come on! It’s not us in this world, it’s the character you’ve created! If he never speaks then he’s barely half a character in the first place!

So why is Gordon Freeman on here? Because despite succumbing to this trope I hate, Gordon is awesome. He’s a theoretical physicist who works in a high tech facility, and when it comes under attack from interdimensional beings, he picks up a crowbar and fights back. When the military comes to cover up the whole incident, he takes them out first. And when presented with the opportunity to enter this otherworldly realm and stop the invasion, he leaps into the fray. In his second title, another group of beings has taken over the entire planet. What does Gordon do? Gets back up and proves that an entire army can’t stop him. The Half-Life franchise might have serious story gaps, but it’s incredibly fun anyway. I hope we find out the next chapter soon.

solid snake

9. Solid Snake, Metal Gear Solid series

On the flipside, we have Solid Snake. The ultimate soldier. While he was a playable character in the earlier Metal Gear games, it was the Metal Gear Solid series that truly put the character in the mainstream and reinvented him into the true badass we all know him as today. As you play through the first Metal Gear Solid, you learn much about Snake’s history and legacy, and what all makes him the badass soldier he is. I love playing as Snake throughout the many incredible challenges he faces, ranging from going toe-to-toe with some of the best soldiers in the world (and sometimes ones with powers beyond the world), to taking on walking tanks equipped with advanced weaponry on foot, tied up in a sometimes-convoluted-but-ultimately-epic story on the nature of war, nuclear weapons, genetics, and free will.

barret

8. Barret Wallace, Final Fantasy VII

“What?” you might say. “Not Cloud Strife?” HELL NO, SPIKEY! Cloud Strife is a whiny indecisive Mako-poisoned mess! Barret is the real hero of this game! Barret’s an everyman, a tough-as-nails coal miner who fights an evil megacorporation because they need to be stopped from killing the planet, and he’s got a daughter to fight for! They shot his arm off, so what does he do? Grafts a friggin’ GATLING GUN onto his arm! Sure, later on he realizes that he wasn’t really fighting to save the world, but for revenge for his murdered wife, but he moves past it, realizes that the world really is in danger from a much bigger threat, and he helps save the WORLD! SO SHU’UP JACKASS!!

Barret is awesome, and one of the best characters in any Final Fantasy game. He never ever left my party during my playthroughs except when I was actually trying to grind out levels for the other characters. During any part of the story though? Hell yes, he was right there fightin’ the good fight.

Kyle Katarn

7. Kyle Katarn, Star Wars: Dark Forces/Jedi Knight series

Kyle Katarn is the perfect example of a “faceless player character” coming into his own as a full-fledged Star Wars character complete with personality and character development. In Dark Forces, he was sort of a faceless agent for the New Republic, battling Imperial forces with only the many guns he carried on his body. In the next game? He’s a full on Jedi Knight in training. He’d battle more Dark Jedi and imperial Forces, having a crossover game with Mara Jade in the process, and ultimately relearn what it meant to be a Jedi in Jedi Outcast, and fall in love at the same time. In the more recent Star Wars books, he’s a Jedi Master, member of the Jedi Council, and considered one of the best lightsaber masters in the Order. Not bad at all. Jedi Outcast remains one of my favorite Star Wars games of all time, setting the standard for how lightsaber combat should ultimately feel.

James Raynor

6. James Raynor, Starcraft Series

“This is Jimmy?” “Sounds Fun”

Marshall James Raynor. Criminal. Lawman. Freedom Fighter. Fugitive. Revolutionary. Leader.

James Raynor is the Captain Malcolm Reynolds of the Starcraft universe. If Malcolm Reynolds commanded a massive heavily armed stolen warship, regularly drove a grenade-launching hoverbike, wore powered armor and carried a massive Sniper Rifle on the battlefield, and was looked to as the leader and hero of a resistance movement against the corrupt Emperor of the Terran Dominion.  Of course, if you asked him that, he’d downplay it all, saying he’s just a man fighting a good fight, trying to make the galaxy a better place. The best heroes are usually humble ones, and James Raynor? He’s one of the best heroes out there.

samandmax

5. Sam & Max, Sam & Max series

One parts Canine suit-wearing Sheamus. One parts hyperkinetic rabbity-thing. Shake well and serve. Sam & Max are the Freelance Police. They’ll solve cases too weird for the cops. Mostly because the two of them are pretty dang weird too. These guys are hilarious. Their games are filled with oddball moments, wacky humor, and some very well thought out puzzles to solve. I love quoting their games and cracking up every minute with these two, and I hope we see more from them for years to come.

megaman

4. Megaman, Megaman series

The Blue Bomber! Megaman has been fighting the evil Dr. Wily and his Robot Masters for years, back in the good ol-NES days and even a little into the Super NES days, and while we didn’t  see the original much for a long time (he was replaced by the darker-and-edgier X series, the slightly strange post-apocalyptic Legends Series, the program/internet focused Battle Network series, and the…Star Force? Whatever?) but with new games recently introduced via the Xbox Live Arcade, his popularity has enjoyed a recent resurgence. I’ve always dug Megaman for his never-give-up attitude and his adaptability. He can absorb the powers of his fallen foes, becoming a one-robot-arsenal, and prefers to assault the bad guys head-on, using superior firepower and agility to defeat foes. While he really hasn’t ever talked much, his games are just plain fun, and I’m always ready to hop back into the fray with him to take down Dr. Wily…again.

Lich King

3. The Lich King, Warcraft Series.

Sure, there are a lot of characters I could pick from in the Warcraft franchise, but for the past few years, the player designed characters have been the biggest focus of the story for World of Warcraft, while previous player heroes like Thrall have taken more of a secondary role or worse, become Mary Sue characters. But the Lich King? One the most feared villains in the entire story? Oh yeah, now we’re talking. He began as the good-intentioned paladin, Arthas Menethil. Son of King Terenas Menethil of Lordaeron, he could only watch as the undead plague ravaged his kingdom, turning it’s inhabitants to mindless zombies.  Desperate to save his people, he turned to the cursed runeblade Frostmourne to gain the power to save them…exactly as the undead’s master, the Lich King, had planned.  He would become a Death Knight in the Lich King’s service, destroying everything that he had previously loved, including his own father. Eventually, he would go to Northrend to free the Lich King from his prision, in the process, donning the fabled armor and merging with the evil being itself. A three way battle would rage inside the new being between Arthas the Death Knight, his former good self, and the original Lich King, a corrupted orc spirit named Ner’zhul. Ultimately Arthas would purge the latter two, becoming stronger than ever.

The Lich King would finally return in World of Warcraft, attacking the major cities to lure powerful adventurers to Northrend, pitting his deadly undead army and fearsome generals against them with the end goal of taking those who overcome every challenge he could throw at them and killing and raising them as the greatest undead fighting force the world had ever seen. But his plans failed, and the heroes, with the spirit of Arthas’ own father aiding them, would finally bring about the fall of the Lich King.

With his last breath, the Lich King would ask if it was finally over. We may never know what happened to Arthas. Was he truly the Lich King all along, or was he a prisioner of the true Lich King, but tragically, he died in darkness, remembered only for the thousands dead because of him.

Garrus

2. Garrus Vakarian, Mass Effect Series

Sure, the Mass Effect trilogy is Commander Shepard’s story. But much of Commander Shepard’s story is up to the player and can go in any number of directions. The game has a ton of fully fleshed out secondary characters, each with an awesome story, but Garrus is definitely my favorite. He’s a deadly sniper, a loyal friend and ally, and one of my favorite romance pairings with Shepard in the game.

Garrus is a Turian from the world of Palaven. Turians are very society-oriented, believing that the needs of their people should come above their own desires. Military service is mandatory, and their government is a well laid out heirarchy based on merit. Those who perform their duties with excellence rise up the ranks, those who do not stay where they are.  Garrus, like his father, was a C-Sec agent, a cop on the station known as the Citadel, the center of galactic politics and society. In the first game, regulations and rules prevent him from taking down the main villain, so he quits to join Shepard. In the second game, he follows Shepards example and recruits his own team to enforce justice and protect the helpless on the lawless space station Omega. The mercenary and gang leaders there manage to take out his whole team via betrayal, and when Shepard recruits him again, he’s being targeted by their entire merc army. The mercs deploy a gunship after them, and while they succeed in taking it down, Garrus takes a friggin’ rocket to the face. He’s up only a few hours after surgery, heavily scarred, but still wanting to be useful. In the third game, Garrus, the former failed C-sec officer and vigilante, is now one of the highest ranking Turians in the heirarchy, finally recognized for his work battling the Reapers. He’s instrumental in getting the Turian’s help on your side.

Garrus’ romance scenario, if you choose to pursue him as a female Shepard is one of the more adorable ones in the game, and he develops from a nervous wreck trying not to screw it up to a confident, charming partner that’s always there when you need him. Easily my favorite character in the franchise.

masterchief

1.  Master Chief Petty Officer John-117, Halo Series

The Master Chief. The last Spartan. To the Covenant, he’s known as the “demon”. Among the Forerunner Constructs that monitor the series’ eponymous Halos, he is called “Reclaimer”. But to most of humanity, he’s the biggest hero they’ve ever known, and yet at the same time, he’s a tragic character, a boy forced to grow up to become something almost unthinkable so that humanity can survive.

Master Chief initially might seem like he fits into the hated “Silent protagonist” trope, speaking only in cutscenes in the first Halo title, but as the series progressed, and was augmented by tie-in novels, his personality and history are expanded considerably, to the point where in the current Halo 4, he is much more vocal than ever before. His story is tragic, like all of his fellow Spartans, he was taken as a child and trained to become the ultimate soldier in the SPARTAN program. He was given experimental surgery and gene therapy to make him stronger, faster, and tougher than an ordinary human, as well as the finest, most advanced armor they could design. Why do all this? Because the Covenant, an alien armada with technology beyond human design at this point, threatened them with extermination. Humanity was desperate, and the SPARTAN program was a terrible price to pay, but it worked, especially with John.

The Master Chief saw humanity through the darkest days of the war, ultimately splintering the Covenant in half, and seemingly sacrificed himself to defeat their prophets and secure peace with the rebel half.  Unfortunately a new threat emerged in Halo 4, and the Chief is fighting once again. Where this story will take the Chief is not yet known, but we can be sure it’ll be a thrilling experience.

Like many characters on this list, SPARTAN-117 is an everyman. He’s humble, but when it’s time to take care of business, he gets in and delivers a whole lot of boom against a whole lot of foes. He’s saved humanity from extinction on several occasions against several threats, and it looks like he isn’t done yet. His chance at a normal life was long taken away from him, yet he never complains. He knows that he must fight so others can truly live, and accepts it. He’s a consummate hero, and that, more than any reason, marks him as my favorite character of all.

Top 10 List number the one

My best friend Josh has been wanting to start a blog for some time, primarily to host and share one of his favorite things to do, which is make lists of things he likes and rank them

So in an effort to get him to finally start up said blog (which you can read at jdhjanus.wordpress.com), I promised him that every top 10 list of his own that he posted, I would make one of my own regarding the same topic. Motivation for both of us, right?

Well, he posted his first list this morning, his Top 10 favorite Disney animated films. I’m not surprised he went this route first, the man’s an avid Disney fan, and he’s made it his mission in life to own every Disney animated film (or as he insists is the correct term, “full-length animated classic”). If I’m not mistaken, he’s only missing one.

At any rate, here is my own list. My top 10 favorite Disney animated films, taken from this list on Wikipedia.

fox&hound

10 –  The Fox and the Hound.

I owned this film on VHS when I was a kid, and I loved watching it. It was heartbreaking to see two friends transcend the idea that they shouldn’t be friends because everything in the world says they shouldn’t fall victim to said societal pressures and become bitter enemies. But in the end, true friendship won out, and while things were never the same as they used to be, their friendship was still intact. I love the idea of this film essentially saying “to heck with what societal pressures say, I’m doing what’s right” and the obvious parallels to racism or other sorts of discrimination.

beautyBeast

9. Beauty and the Beast

A lot of people would rank this film much higher than I did, and there are plenty of things to like about it, especially the animation, the characters, and some of the most classic musical numbers of all Disney’s catalog. Belle paved the way for a lot of girls to realize that reading and learning was an ideal to shoot for, and lets face it, Lumiere and Cogsworth are awesome. However, I’m just not as big a fan of the overall plot as I am other Disney Films. Still, it’s a top ten for me, easily.

mulan

8.  Mulan

I confess, I had never seen Mulan all the way through until relatively recently. It wasn’t that I was trying to avoid it, I just never had the opportunity. A few months back I saw Karen had recorded it on our DVR and commented that I’d never seen it.  She insisted we were watching it right then and there. It’s a spectacular film. Gorgeous animation, a story about overcoming gender roles and never giving up what you believe in, Eddie Murphy playing a comedic sidekick, and some of the best musical numbers in a Disney film.

herc

7.  Hercules

Okay, what’s not to love about this film?  The casting is spectacular (James Woods’ take on Hades remains my favorite Disney Villain ever), the narrative structure is awesome, and any kid who told you that Meg was awesome was LYING! Lovely and smartmouthed? Be still my heart.

aladdin

6. Aladdin

Oh man, what a great film. Robin Williams at the Genie alone catapults it to a whole different level on its own, but the whole package is amazing. Some of the most imaginative animation and story I’d ever seen to that point. It’s got an epic action story, great humor, and spawned some good sequels (which usually didn’t happen with Disney films, heh)

wreckitralph

5. Wreck-It Ralph

Oh man. SO MANY VIDEOGAME REFERENCES. I was in nerd heaven when I caught this film. It doesn’t hurt that it has a truly heartwarming and imaginative story and some fantastic animation to go along with it either. I love this film. It makes me want to hit up the nearest arcade again and go have a blast. I’m hoping there’s a sequel in the works, because this is a film that merits it, and there’s so many different worlds and stories they could tell.

Bolt

4. Bolt

I have a soft spot for adorable dogs. I have a fondness for superheroes. So what happens when you take the two and combine them together (or so the premise of the film will tell you)? YOU GET AWESOME THAT’S WHAT! Okay, so yeah, Bolt isn’t really a superhero dog, and the film is really a combination of a “Homeward Bound” story and Bolt discovering the difference between reality and fantasy and his place in the former, but you know what? It’s still awesome and adorable, and the ending is heartwarming. I love it.

treasure planet

3. Treasure Planet

I will never understand why this movie wasn’t more successful. IT’S PIRATE SCIENCE FICTION! It’s….wait for it….PI-SCI-FI! That’s a term. I’m trademarking it, every time you use it, you owe me a quarter. That genre’s the wave of the future, I say. But seriously, the premise of this film is fantastic. Let’s take Treasure Island and throw it in a Science Fiction setting! Let’s build this world using a retro science fiction style that still bears an unmistakable resemblance to the classic imagery of pirate ships, but IN SPACE! A truly epic and grandiose film that is severely underrated.

Emperors

2. The Emperor’s New Groove.

Okay, watch this film with a group of friends, and just TRY not to quote scenes from it for the next week every time you’re together. You can’t. It’s not possible. You know why? Because this film has some of the best. writing. ever. It has some of the best casting ever doing an amazing job with said writing. And it’s just non-stop funny. I love it!

And the number one Disney film for me is….

lion king

1. The Lion King.

This is the best complete package of a Disney movie. It has it all. Humor, amazing songs, a story that rings true no matter when you see it, amazing animation, a great cast (James Earl Jones? Heck yes), it’s a total package of awesome. There is not a single part of this film that I do not love.

That’s my top 10 list. I’m looking forward to the next list you come up with, Josh. Perhaps we can eventually start taking turns where one of us makes a list, then the other one replies with their version, and another top 10 for a different topic not long after? Who knows.

By the way, I say you do top 10 videogame characters next. Just a suggestion.

If you have any comments or think I’m smoking something over my rankings, just a-lemme-know!