Tuesday, October 20, 2015

It’ll be Great on TV Too, Part 2! Four Disney Animated Television Series Based on Animated Movies

                For a while, Disney animated TV series were as plentiful as the big screen animated movies.  Some of them, like Bonkers or Gummi Bears, were wholly original properties.  But at the same time, Disney wasn’t above adapting movies into TV shows, hoping to match the success of the animated movie.  Here are four examples of Disney animated TV shows based on Disney Animated movies.
                The Aladdin TV series was based on the wildly successful Aladdin movie, with Robin Williams as the Genie.  The show is set after Aladdin is engaged to Jasmine at the end of the movie, but before he is married to her.  Joining them is the Genie (of course), Abu Aladdin’s monkey, the mute Flying Carpet, Iago, the sarcastic parrot who was Jafar’s assistant in Aladdin but at end of the direct-to-video Return of Jafar, at a critical moment had a change of heart and helped the heroes defeat Jafar.  The heroes battle creatures and sorcerers who threaten the kingdom of Agrabah.  The show lasted for three seasons and eighty-six episodes.
                The Little Mermaid TV series was based on The Little Mermaid animated movie, which was considered the first movie in “the Disney Renaissance” period of hit after hit.  The TV series was set before the events of the movie, where it ends with Ariel becoming a human and marrying Prince Eric.  Ariel is still a mermaid, along with her sea friends Flounder, a tropical reef fish, Sebastian, the Jamaican crab, the king’s assistant, King Triton, Ariel’s father who sometimes doesn’t understand her daughter, Ursula, the sea witch who also antagonized the heroes in the first movie, and her six sisters.  Ariel is a teenage mermaid trying to find her place in the kingdom while also protecting it from those who might harm it.  The show lasted for three short seasons and thirty-one episodes.
                The Lion King’s Timon and Pumbaa was based on one of the highest grossing animated movies of all time, The Lion King.  In the Lion King, Simba meets the meerkat Timon and the warthog Pumbaa after running away from home after his father dies.  The two goofy animals become Simba’s friends and later help him at the end of the movie.  The TV series is set after the movie and follows Timon and Pumbaa across various crazy adventures in Africa and other places around the world, with much of the cast from the Lion King, including Simba, making appearances.  Unlike the other animated series on this list, all of the episodes were composed of two segments, making for shorter befitting the series more comedic nature.  The show lasted three seasons and eighty-five episodes, or one hundred and seventy-one segments.
                Hercules was based on the popular animated movie Hercules.  Hercules is set in between the movie, taking inspiration from Hercules as a clumsy teenager who doesn’t know his own strength.  Joining him are Philoctetes, the grumbling satyr trainer, Pegasus, Hercules’ winged horse, as well as his two best friends, Icarus and Cassandra.  Like the film, the animated series goes for comedy over historical accuracy, freely including characters from different time periods. The series lasted two seasons and sixty-five episodes.

                While these TV series usually dipped in quality versus the original animated movie, for young fans of the show, it must have been great to have more stories of Aladdin, Ariel, Timon and Pumbaa, and Hercules.  (Bonus: You can also catch a fifth series on this list, Lilo and Stitch, with renamed title It'll be Great on TV, Too, Part 1!)

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Does Roland Emmerich want to Destroy the World?

                Before the superhero movies became the big tentpole movies of the summer (along with sequals, don’t forget about them), there was a wave in the late 1990s and early 2000s of destruction movies.  These featured expensive special effects of buildings and cities being destoryed in the most epic way possible.  Leading the charge is director Roland Emmerich, who seems to find a way to destory the world each time.  His “destory the world” trilogy are some of the highest grossing of the genre.  So let’s take a look at each of them.
                The first and most well known of the three is Independence Day.  Featuring a large cast, the story focused on large alien ships, fifteen miles wide, coming down to earth on July 2nd and placing themselves at major city centers throughout the world, including in the US, Los Angeles, New York and Washington, D.C.  The aliens do nothing at first, but after night falls, direct energy weapons from each of the ships destroy a major landmark and then go outward, obliterating everything in its path.  On July 3rd, the F-18s try and fail to attack the alien destroyer, but one of the ships crash-lands and the pilot takes alien to Area 51, which was where the president fled after the attack on DC.  Nuclear attacks were initially unsuccessful due to an impenetrable force field.  An MIT graduate devises a computer virus with an alien ship captured 1947 near Roswell, NM.  They use the ship sneak in to the mother ship in space and plant the virus, which destroys the force field and finally the armies on Earth are able to attack and defeat the aliens. 
                The next movie on the list is The Day After Tomorrow.  After observing the polar ice caps melting, a paleoclimatologist determines that North Atlantic Currents will be disrupted.  Soon enough, a huge storm in the northern hemisphere splits off into three hurricane-like super storms.  Much of the action of the movie occurs in Manhattan, where flooding gives way to lighting storms and eventually all of the water freezing, with the son of the paleoclimatologist caught at the New York Public Library.  The father eventually finds his son buried in underneath the snow in the library.  The president is caught up in the super storm and dies, which means that the vice president is sworn in and he orders search and rescue teams to find survivors in New York.  The movie ends with astronauts looking down on earth and the destruction that the storms have caused.
                The final movie in the trilogy is 2012.  The story of 2012 focuses (mostly) on a science fiction writer and his family, as they flee natural world destruction.  Scientists learn that polar shifts and other cataclysmic events will occur in 2012 (which yes references the Mayan calendar), but know that there will not be enough time to save everyone, so the world leaders construct arks in secret.  Once 2012 hits, the writer and his children vacationing in Yellowstone learn about the impending destruction and return for the writer’s ex-wife and her current boyfriend.  They find a private plane and escape just before mega thrust earthquakes destroy LA.  They then fly to Las Vegas and meet up with other survivors, who join them on a larger plane to China.  In China, they learn about the arks and sneak on board one to ensure their survival.  The boyfriend dies and the writer and his ex-wife rekindle their relationship. 

All three movies have epic destruction of worlds against ordinary people who do extraordinary things when they are placed in these impossible scenarios.  They are also proof (or at least a very loud hint) that Roland Emmerich wants to destroy the world…at least cinematically.  Check out these movies for Emmerich’s incredible scenes of city and world destruction.  

Friday, October 9, 2015

The Future of TV renewal has arrived: Three TV Series Renewed by the Internet

                It happens many times: a show has been on the air for a while and has amassed a cult following.  These people are passionate about the show and watch it religiously.  However, there are not enough casual viewers, who just turn in every now and then, to warrant a renewal.  So the show is cancelled.  That used to be the end of it. 
                Not anymore: with the rise of television being distributed across several different platforms on the internet, it was finally possible for cult shows to be renewed.  These shows below had their fans before they were cancelled on the broadcast and cable networks, and the internet platforms hoped their fans would follow them for an additional season of their show. 
                The series “The Killing” premiered in 2011 on the AMC network, and followed Sarah Linden and her partner Stephen Holder on homicide cases in Seattle, Washington.  Unlike many other series, the show only focused on one case throughout the season, giving a much more serialized storyline.  In fact, the viewers were angry when the first season ended not on resolving the mystery but in cliffhanger.  Ratings tumbled in the second season (though the second season did wrap up the first season’s mystery), so the show was cancelled, but then a deal with the Production Company and Netflix enabled AMC to give it one more season.  Then AMC cancelled it again…but then Netflix stepped in and gave a six episode conclusion to the third season and the series as a whole. 
                Community premiered on NBC in 2009.  The show was on the outset a cult show: ratings were never that high, but fans embraced the show as it went all out to parody or satirize other TV shows or movies, as well as the show’s call for “Six Seasons and a Movie.”  The central concept was about a lawyer (Joel McHale) who is discovered to have fabricated his bachelor’s degree, and has to go back to community college to try and get his actual degree.  He decides to start a study group for his Spanish class, and is joined by a group of individual as messed up as he is, but in completely different ways.  After three regular seasons, Dan Harmon the creator was fired from the show and the shortened fourth season premiered, which did alright in the ratings but were not well received from the fans.  The fifth season brought Dan Harmon back but the ratings kept falling, and it was cancelled.  Finally, Yahoo, in order to bring more recognition to its production company Yahoo Screen, brought back Community for its sixth season, which debuted in 2015.  No word on the movie yet, though…
                The Mindy Project premiered on Fox in 2012.  The show focused on Dr. Mindy Lahiri, played by Mindy Kaling, who is an OB/GYN at a small medical practice in New York City.  She has many quirky coworkers and has frequent romantic complications.  The show featured a large recurring cast and many guest stars. The show ran for three seasons on Fox network before being cancelled.  But then Hulu stepped up and renewed The Mindy Project for a 26 episode fourth season.  Hulu had acquired the online rights for the show before it was cancelled, and was a top rated show on the platform, so Hulu was excited to give it another season.

                The future of TV renewal has arrived.  Instead of a show mourned for being cancelled too soon, , the show will be picked up by Internet Platforms excited to continue a show fans love so much.  Check out these show being given new life online.  

Thursday, October 1, 2015

It'll be Great On TV, Too, Part 1! Three TV Series Continuations of Movies

                For many movies, they are produced once, people enjoy them, and that’s the end.  A few lucky ones will be so successful that they will enjoy sequels.  But still others will enjoy the rare gift of being continued in a TV series.  Many times the show is adapted to the screen and it’s an adaptation of the same characters and situations, just in a television format (for example: M*A*S*H).  But every once in a while, there are TV series that continue the storyline of the original movie, and this list details three of them.
                Stargate SG-1 was set one year after the original movie.  The movie Stargate was released in 1994 and was a modern-day story about the discovery of a portal (a “stargate”) that could transport people instantly to another portal across the universe to another planet.  A military team is sent to explore the other side of the portal.  In this case, the team discovers that across the universe was a planet populated by a people who may have been the original ancient Egyptians…only in this case, the god Ra was real.  The movie was a box office hit but many criticized the film for its overreliance on special effects.  The TV series premiered in 1997 and reveals that there was a race of aliens named the Goa’uld, who are a parasitic race of aliens that look like snakes.  These Goa’uld pose as rulers for ancient Earth mythologies, including the Egyptian mythology seen in the first film.  Much of the storyline of the first eight seasons had the Stargate crew, along with other alien races battling against the Goa’uld.  The show ultimately lasted 10 full seasons and two office Spin-Off series, Stargate: Universe and Stargate: Atlantis. 
                Indiana Jones in the 1980s was one of the most successful and influential movie series of all time, revolutionizing action movies with its hair-breath escapes and action sequences.  During the production of Indian Jones and the Last Crusade, George Lucas came up with the entire back-story, over 70 episode ideas, of Indiana Jones, from the early 1900s to the late 1930s when the original movies were set.  He was able to sell the concept of the show to ABC and in 1992 the show premiered and instead of proceeding chronologically from Indiana Jones as a young boy to him as a young adult, it flip flopped between boy and young adult, bringing up two separate timelines, bookended by an old Indiana Jones in his 90s introducing the story.  The show in its shorted first season was a huge ratings success, but floundered in the second season and was cancelled, with a high production cost also to blame.  Between 1994 and 1996, the Family Channel produced four TV movies continuing the story of Young Indiana Jones.  When the show was rereleased on DVD, all the episodes were rearranged chronologically from 1908 to 1920, giving a much more streamlined look at Young Indy’s life.
                While there are actually many animated series spinoffs of animated movies, I will focus on Lilo and Stitch as the example, which was a box office success in 2002.  It focused on wild alien experiment 626 (Stitch) who disguises himself as a dog in a Hawaiian family’s home and befriends a young girl (Lilo). The direct-to-DVD movie Stitch! The Movie followed in 2003 to set up the animated series, focusing on finding the other 625 experiments and finding homes for the creatures, along the way battling the alien antagonists from the first movie.  The show lasted 2 seasons and 65 episodes.

                Check out these continuations of TV series, especially if you like the original movies.  While not always in the same quality as the originals, they are nevertheless interesting stories featuring your favorite characters and are worth a look.