Star Wars: Only Sith Deal in Absolutes

My feelings on Star Wars are often complicated. So much of my love for the series is tied up in what we don’t strictly have any longer in canon. Like the rest of us, I started with this series in the films but I did so in the early 90s. This was at a time before the remastered editions in 1995, before the special editions in 1997. Star Wars was something that I watched on television, typically about once a year around Thanksgiving. They were shown in marathons and I remember them being hosted by Billy Dee Williams.

All that is to say that Star Wars was one of those films that I appreciated in the same kind of way you enjoy holiday films. As I got older and the films became more available, they came to mean different things to me. When I was very young, I enjoyed them because they were just cool! Laser swords! Blaster pistols!

I was eight when the THX editions were released, and this is where I really got my connection to the series. I saved every penny I could find to scrape together the $30 it cost to buy the box set. Here, it began to mean something different to me. Instead of just being entranced by the spectacle of it, I enjoyed the story: a young man achieves a destiny he never knew about growing up, fulfilling the same kind of dream that many have at that age.

As a teenager and adult, I still enjoy the films but, again, in a different way. They’re fun and served as a wonderful base from which to build a deep setting with so much potential that was capitalized on by authors like Timothy Zahn and Mike Stackpole.  All that having been said, I have developed some nit-picky things over time about it that I will soundly admit are very particular. Twenty years of MST3K will do that to a guy.

There is one issue I have with the films, though, that I think is truly legitimate.

So, coming to the theme that all of us are pursuing in the time up to the release of The Force Awakens, what do I hope for in the new films?

Star Wars, especially the original trilogy, watches like an anti-Imperial piece of propaganda. Everything in those films is portrayed in black and white, all good or all evil and the only in-between is really Han in the first film and he still manages to overcome his mercenary nature and become a permanent fixture of the good side.

What I want is nuance.

The lower down the scale of power someone is, the closer to their communities they will be. Leadership of the Empire is oppressive and evil, but the employees of the Empire are people. There were accountants and cooks and maintenance workers on the Death Star who likely had no idea that there was a plan to fire on Alderaan. In a setting where the market is at least partially a command economy, the best work that many people will be able to hope for is with the government. People are what make up the parts of the Empire that civilians are going to interact with every day, and individual people will be good or bad. It can’t have been all evil or the Alliance to Restore the Republic would have been made up of more than a handful of worlds.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; The Empire was an oppressive regime, but it kept the lights on, the economy was stable, and trade was safe from pirates. Some people have to have been content with it. The universe as we knew it in the prequel films was one that showed us a setting where things worked, but honestly, not well. The Republic was trapped in gridlock, the will of the government was carried out by a non-governmental, quasi-religious order based on a group of people with a genetic quirk and no civilian oversight. At some point, I will have a whole rant about the ridiculously poor management and rule of the Old Republic, but now isn’t the time for that. The important thing here is that any organization that is looking to restore the Republic exactly as it was is looking through the rosiest of tinted glasses.

We’re going into a whole new series here. The expanded universe may have been relegated to a wholly separate canon, but instead of seeing it as a loss, we should look at it as an opportunity for more shades of gray in the primary continuity, where we have heroes that are more torn over their actions and have to question the methods or motivations of their leaders.

Nuance, subtlety, depth. That’s what I hope for. Star Wars has been a film series meant for younger demographics, not solely, but it’s always been a focus. I want a more adult series. Not to say that I don’t want there to also be films that are fairly lighthearted like what we have had before, but Disney is making more than just numbered films and I hope that they take advantage of it. They’ve proven that they can have a variety of tones across a single setting with the Marvel Cinematic Universe; now, I just want that applied here, also.  At the risk of being accused of advocating for gritty, grim-dark realism, some entries could use some grime.

I got into Star Wars as a child, but I grew up. I just want to see Star Wars do the same.

2013 League of Legends World Championship Commentary

leagueoflegendsworldchampionship2013I’m sure that if you’ve been following the blog for a while, you may have heard me on the podcast once or twice. When I’ve been on, you’ve probably heard me say one of the geekiest things you have ever heard anyone say: I watch e-sports.

Let me be clear about this, I don’t watch just any e-sport; I watch the League of Legends Championship Series. If you don’t know what this game is, if you don’t care what it is, that’s fine. As I’m writing this, the world championships for the series are currently being played. Teams from all over the world–North America, Europe, Korea, China, Southeast Asia and one team of challengers that made it in from Lithuania–have been playing for a month in Los Angeles leading up to last night. Starting at about midnight EST, 9pm PST, October 4, 2013, the champion picks began, and I watched the game between the finalists get ready to start–SK Telecom T1 from Korea, which came in as a third seed and Club Royal from China.

Again, if you don’t care, that’s fine, but let me tell you why I think you should. Continue reading

Words. Just WORDS!

I don’t know how this escaped us for this long.
Now, in further research you’ll find that, disappointingly, it’s a ‘social rpg’ for iOS and Android. Starting to sound more like a Facebook game than a real game. On the other hand, it will be our first opportunity as fans to interact with the world that we’ve come to love so very much. Now, here’s my real question, why couldn’t some BIG name company pick up this IP and do something with it? Don’t you think that BioWare would have done a knockout job of this?

Doctor Who 50th anniversary, One Potential Doctor Lighter

ecclestonOn the tail of last week’s statement concerning Billie Piper and David Tennant signing on for the big 50th anniversary of Doctor Who this year, we can now confirm that the only other Doctor of the recent series will not be returning. The BBC announced today that, after speaking with Steven Moffat several times concerning the plans regarding the big show, Christopher Eccleston will not be returning to the mantle of the longest running TV, Sci-Fi protagonist.

Personally, I’m disappointed, but not surprised. Eccleston was ‘my’ Doctor. I picked up on Who in the last year of Tennant’s run, but started with Eccleston. At first I really preferred Tennant, but as I got further and further both through Tennant’s run and then into Smith’s, I’ve come to realize that Eccleston is likely my favorite actor to portray the most famous time traveler this side of Emmet Brown. After seeing how goofy, frankly, the tenth Doctor could get, the seriousness of the role and the drama that Eccleston brought to it really helped me to appreciate the series and its range. I could always believe Tennant’s elation and his sorrow but not quite ever his anger. Eccleston had real rage, and, to be honest, he was often not terribly pleasant. In a way, that’s something that I’ve missed since his departure.

No matter how you feel about Christopher Eccleston, I think most of us can agree that we’ll be a bit worse off for not having his foil against the much brighter personalities of Smith and Tennant. That leaves us with the possibilities of the other surviving Doctors that are of… how shall we say, appropriate age. I hate to say it, but Tom and Colin Baker are both a bit old, at 79 and 69 respectively. Peter Davison is distinctly possibile, and I might venture likely, considering he’s Tennant’s father in law. Sylvester McCoy is also possible, considering his recent high profile role in the Hobbit. Paul McGann is possible, but I really wouldn’t bet on him. He’s the only Doctor with less connection to the series than Eccleston and he’s had a very similar attitude.

If you have an opinion about this or any of the older companions you might like to see come back in the big anniversary this year, tell us in the comments, or tweet it to us at @Tosche_Station.

Fare thee well, Mr. Timm

bruce_timm_by_dkdelicious-d3ezn9nDC Animated Producer, director, art director, writer, occasional voice actor and all around awesome guy Bruce Timm steps down.  And as long as everybody else is doing it, I call bullshit too.

If you’re even close to my age, when you think about DC comics, you can’t help but think about some of the incredible animated programs that have been created over the course of the last twenty-one years.  To most of us, we know that his work more or less started with Batman: The Animated Series, which eventually became The Adventures of Batman and Robin.  In truth, a quick look at Timm’s IMDB page will show you he actually started working with DC animated characters as far back as 1981 on The Kid Super Power Hour with Shazam!

Continue reading

A Memoir of Light

The Wheel of Time.  I know, with that one title, some of you are completely uninterested in this post now.  Please, bear with me, this is not what you think.  After I finished A Memory of Light this week, I was thinking about the story and how I would write a review of this book.  I was trying to consider how much I could talk about it.  I was concerned about spoiling elements of past books.  I was worried about the overall length of the book.

Mostly, though, I worried that I am not up to the task of writing this review.  I am not a book critic, I play one on the internet.  I write about genre fiction contained in a fairly narrow field.  This book is something that you could easily label as being literature.  Emily would jump on me about that statement.  Really, all books should be considered some form of literature, even if you don’t think it adds anything to the culture.  To me, though, this is a book that talks about a lot, and one of the things that this book in particular added to the series’ themes, the human condition.

That’s as much as I’m going to say about the plot of this, the last book of the Wheel of Time.

What I am going to talk about is my experience with this series.

Continue reading

Further Adventures into Independent Comics

Last week, Bria put up a post regarding independent comic books.  For those of us who are tired of the gimmicks and the ploys that the major publishers use to draw in readers but who still want that classic superhero feel, we still have options.  Bria hit on some of them already, like the perennial favorite, Watchmen.  I’m going to hit on some of the others that I consider to be my personal favorites.

Continue reading

NSFW Penny-Arcade Comic

For those of you that don’t read the phenomenal webcomic Penny Arcade three days a week, like I do, here’s today’s comic.  It’s below the jump for language purposes, so if you’re at work or with your kids, give it a pass for now.  Otherwise, have a good chuckle.

Continue reading

Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter: Novel Review

Here I come again with another post that has nothing to with Star Wars. For that matter, this post has nothing to do with Science Fiction, either. Really, this post is about a geeky book. You’ve heard of it and if you’re curious like I was, you might appreciate having a review of it.
Up front, I’d like to reiterate that this is a review of the book, not the movie. I have not seen the film and I’m likely to wait it out until the DVD hits. Either that or see the Asylum’s version, Abraham Lincoln Versus Zombies. Because, come on, if Honest Abe is going to fight one brand of the undead, why not take all comers?

Continue reading