I have long been searching for footage of Video Power, a 90s game show focused on video games and the people who play them. All I could recall about the show was haunting images of little kids in kinky velcro suits, so it was somewhat difficult to Google without breaking the law. This morning I finally remembered the title and was able to dig up this YouTube clip. There’s a lot packed in there, but I’d like to call out a few items:
1. Everyone had ADHD in the 90s. You can easily tell the medicated (the contestants) from the unmedicated (the hosts). I was kind of worried that the guy in the powder blue blazer was going to talk so fast that he caught fire. Maybe we were just really, really excited about video games in 1991?
2. Pre-teens were kept in cages. Most visible at the 24 second mark. Again, something I remembered about the show but was afraid to Google.
3. Kids were really bad at shopping sprees. So you’re covered in velcro… and everything around you has a velcro backing on it… and you manage to walk away with five games? And one of them is Batman?! Here was my fantasy strategy when I was eight years old: knock over all the isle kiosks, then just roll around on the floor. I remember screaming at the TV when contestants would just grab three copies of Bayou Billy and that’s it.
4. Poor dude won a Neo Geo. He was probably pretty pumped until he went to Toys R Us the next morning and realized his parents would have to mortgage their house in order to afford a game for it.
5. “Write to me and tell me In five words or more why you should be a contestant.” I don’t think I’ve ever seen a minimum on things like this. I’m not really sure how this could be expressed in less than five words. “I am good at video games.” That’s six words right there. I wonder if these kids took the five word minimum to heart and grew up to write the brand of long, nerdy blog entries that are dismissed with tl;dr.
I miss niche shows like this, and game shows in general. Do game shows exist anymore, outside of Jeopardy and the Price is Right? Or have they all evolved into “reality challenges” like Survivor and Flavor of Love? At least Game Center CX is keeping the dream alive.
Okay… fuck it. John Wesley Shipp is the Flash. No one else. I am in love with this series.
I’m up to disc five of six. It started off slow… poor stories, poor acting, and poor everything all around. But I’ve come to love it. Mirror Master, Captain Cold, The Trickster… they nailed that shit. And John Wesley Shipp plays the Flash so well. He’s kind, unsure of himself, and so goddamn handsome. In the same way that I always hear Kevin Conroy’s voice when I think of Batman, I’ll hear John Wesley Shipp’s when I think of the Flash. And the costume is perfect, goddammit.scalar quantity
The Flash live action series has redeemed itself. I watched episode thirteen, “The Trickster,” last night and greatly enjoyed it. Why? Because it had the goddamn Trickster in it!
The Trickster has always been a weird sort of supervillian. I mean, he’s sort of lame: his super power is MPD and a terrible sense of humor. Exactly like a certain (more memorable) Batman villian. But there’s also a lot of badass stories about him. The only reason to read all 52 issues of the 2007 Countdown series is for the Trickster/Piper storyline, which is absolutely phenomenal.
So how do you make the Trickster a good mainstream villian? You get Mark Hamill to play him, of course. Hamill did the voice of the Joker on Batman: The Animated Series, and here he more or less takes that voice and gives it a body. It’s amazing to watch. I thought Heath Ledger did a good job as the Joker in The Dark Knight, but Mark Hamill’s Trickster blows that out of the water. As he’s screaming “But I loved you!” and being dragged away by police at the end of the episode, I get serious chills. He plays the sadistic, unapproachable villian perfectly.
I’ve been watching the Flash live action series. It’s not so great.
It’s also not so terrible. I’m actually surprised by how watchable it is. I mean, the lead actor plays the Flash pretty well. The cinematography is very competent. Where it falls flat is in the stories. They are so goddamn boring. I’ve watched seven episodes so far and each one seemed like a rejected Law & Order 4 Kidz script. Shouldn’t the Flash be, like, fighting a giant gorilla instead of doing a drug bust? It’s the frickin’ Flash, not Watchmen. Leave the gritty stuff out of there and write something engaging.
Three points that I stress over…
1. It is always dark in Central City. Which is funny, because it was almost always the middle of the day in classic Flash comics. The Central City on display here is more or less a duplicate of Gotham from Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman movie.
2. References to the source material or very obvious and forced. “Meet me at Garrick Street.” “What? Garrick Street?” “Yes, Jay… Garrick Street.”
3. Iris is nowhere to be found past the initial episode. She’s a teenage artist in the pilot, then she suddenly runs away to France. Shameful. There are two rock solid comic book couples in my mind: Lois & Clark, and Barry & Iris.