A year on this website wouldn’t be complete with a rundown of some of the games I managed to play in the preceding twelve months; almost none of which came out that year! Frankly unless it’s a big Nintendo release or something REALLY up my alley like a Hideo Kojima game, I rarely buy games when they come out and 2020 proved to be pretty anemic for big releases that caught my attention. Still, my backlog is enormous and it’s worth pointing out what games were really good (or really bad) even if they aren’t the freshest things out there. I mean heck, with Steam and online storefronts being what they are, who can even say what’s relevant anymore and what games can or cannot capture a bit of the spotlight? Probably not most of these games though as I tend to not have much in terms of “taste” but let’s see take a glimpse at what kept me entertained in the bad year to end all bad years!
Batman: Arkham Knight (PC)
Developed by Rocksteady Studios
My big purchase of the year was a brand spanking new graphics card for my very old and out of date system, and one of the games I got to kind of benchmark it was this. The Batman games to me are kind of like Dynasty Warriors in that I ignore pretty much everything going on around them when they’re released and will just pick and choose the ones I want to play years after everyone stopped caring. To its credit, whatever bugs plagued this game on release don’t SEEM to be there anymore as I had a very smooth experience, and while the narrative is eye rolling tripe the gameplay was interesting enough for me to stick with it for a while. What kind of sticks out about the Batman games is that they do go the extra mile to make things feel like a “Game” and not just an open world sandbox of repetitive action. Sure, you can while away the hours picking off random things if you really want to, but the story missions aren’t just concentrated arenas for the same open world gameplay. The last mission I played before I put it down for a while (I’ll try to get back to it at some point) was the blimp level, and the fact that they bothered to introduce this shifting angle mechanic to give it something distinctive was very much appreciated. If you liked the Batman games and aren’t burnt out by them just yet then this is more of the same with a next gen sheen to it (though I guess at this point it’s decided CURRENT if not LAST gen) and one of these a console generation seems to be the right amount.
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Halloween is the season of frights, monsters, cheap movies, and a hedonistic approach to eating candy, but while I do enjoy all of that stuff immensely, I’m feeling a bit mellower this time around and am not in the mood to get fully immersed in the seasonal excesses. Maybe it’s the never ending horror show of a year we’ve been having so far, or maybe it’s because I’m already seeing scary movies on a regular basis for review purposes, but the thrill of hunting down the most obscure and blood drenched VHS horror camp isn’t doing it much for me right. Not all is doom and gloom however for those that aren’t feeling the frightful mood as I’ve compiled a list of a few Halloween themed TV specials that you can easily chillax to that will hopefully get you back into the festive mood! Oh, and obviously Treehouse of Horror episodes are great choices for a list like this, but neither the prospect of narrowing them down or filling up the entire list with them seems like a worthwhile endeavor; especially considering how well known they are at this point. Anyway, let’s get started!!
3rd Rock from the Sun – Scaredy Dick (S3 E5)
Dick Solomon, the high commander of a team of aliens in human disguises trying to learn about humanity, is now faced with a new emotion that he’ll have to find a way to deal with; IRRATIONAL FEAR! To keep his job as a university professor he’ll need to take a physical, but for some reason he becomes extremely terrified whenever he goes into the doctor’s office. Not helping matters is that this problem JUST SO HAPPENS to crop up right around Halloween and since he can’t deal with his ACTUAL fears, he starts being afraid of everything around him; including what appears to be a ghost haunting the apartment.
This show is one of the best sitcoms ever made and while SOME of the episodes don’t hold up (the family reunion episode has some VERY off-putting and creepy moments), the ingenious premise that allows the phenomenal cast to explore all the messy facets of humanity feels like the benchmark of what sitcoms SHOULD be striving for. The Halloween episode is another great example of that as Dick Solomon who is played by John Lithgow is acting like a child with how fearful he becomes of everything which is hilarious to watch but also has a degree of poignancy to it with how our internalized fears and shortcomings can bleed into other aspects of our lives. This storyline also has the benefit of focusing on Harry Solomon who is played by French Stewart (another member of the alien crew) and the way that he and John Lithgow complement each other’s vaudevillian comedy chops. I’m not all that thrilled about the subplot with Sally and Tommy played by Kristen Johnston and Joseph Gordon-Levitt (the two remaining crew members) where they’re house sitting for a coworker of Dick’s (Dr Mary Albright played by Jane Curtain) which is… FUNNY I guess, but it feels a bit too lightweight when compared to what Dick and Harry are up to at the apartment; especially when we get to the reveal of what’s ACTUALLY been haunting them. Last time I checked the show is no longer on Netflix, but the box sets of these are INCREDIBLY cheap at this point and I’m pretty sure you can find the whole series for a measly twenty bucks, so do yourself a favor and watch ALL of the episodes, but make sure squeeze this in on the big night!
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One of my favorite shows of all time is Its Always Sunny in Philadelphia which I actually came into pretty damn late into its run. I was always aware of its existence, but I never really had a reason to sit down and watch it until around 2013 when I was stuck in bed for like two days due to a minor surgery I had and I needed something to watch to kill the time. In an effort to fix that problem, I booted up Netflix, saw that it had like eight seasons, and figured why not? To this day, I rarely go a week (and usually no more than a single day) without putting it on in the background of whatever it is I’m trying to do at the time which is more often than not writing stuff for the site (I’m watching Mac’s Banging the Waitress as I’m typing this… though less likely to be watching it while you’re reading this). Sadly though for fans of Sunny, the latest season ended on a rather bittersweet note as it may in fact have been the final appearance of Glenn Howerton’s Dennis Reynolds who is STRONGLY considering leaving the show, despite it getting renewed for at least two more seasons. Now as much as I’d hate to see him go, I don’t necessarily begrudge him for doing so considering they’ve already done twelve AMAZING seasons, and I hope he has all the success in the world with what he plans to do next which looks to be a show with Patton Oswalt where he plays a disgruntled and malicious high school teacher. So what does this mean for fans of Sunny? I have no idea! Maybe they’ll hold out for him on the off chance this new show fails (the thirteen season has already been pushed back a year), or maybe they’ll try to solider on without him; hoping the remaining four members of the crew can somehow manage the burden of his absence. For me though, this is a perfect chance to do some fun speculation on possible replacements for Howerton to either fill the void he left or to possibly even turn the show into an entirely new direction. That is why I have listed my top five BRILLIANT ideas of who they should get to be the new fifth member of the crew, though unfortunately Schmitty is not one of them. The ranking is mostly in terms of how much I want to see this person (or even persons) show up in the series, but I TRIED to keep the list as practical as possible. As amazing as it would be to get Nicolas Cage, Scarlett Johansson, or Denzel Washington to be fifth member of the crew, I doubt they’ll be picking up Rob McElhenney’s calls anytime soon.
5) Topher Grace
Probably not the first name that comes to mind when trying to fill in an enormous gap on one of the most ingeniously crafted shows of all time, but hear me out! We all know he played nerdy Eric Foreman for a decade and that he wasn’t all that great in Spider-Man 3, but his filmography since then has been, if not STERLING, at least interesting. He’s REALLY good at playing slimy characters like in Predators and American Ultra which is more or less a requirement for a show like It’s Always Sunny, but what really makes him seem like a perfect fit is that he naturally exudes a sense of weakness and apathy in his performances which I know doesn’t sound like a complement but fits perfectly with the ethos of the show. Everyone in that bar, except maybe Frank, has no direction in their life and is living in a perpetual state of denial about everything around them with Mac thinking he’s tough, Charlie thinking he’s quirky instead of a creep, and Dee failing to understand why she’s never achieved her goals (fear of rejection keeps her from making a whole hearted effort at anything). Look at his performance in the recent Opening Night where his level headed cynicism is clearly a mask for his own insecurities and how the wackiness of everyone backstage continues to push him further and further over the edge. Now imagine it was the crew that was pushing his buttons the whole time! The guy seems to be getting regular work in films just outside the mainstream (his most recent role was in a Netflix movie) so I doubt he’s looking to tie himself down to a TV show, but that kind of character coupled with the horror show that is the crew at Paddy’s Pub could make for an interesting dynamic.
Another year has passed which means it’s time for Doctor Scientist and I (along with Doctor Scientist’s girlfriend this time) to head back to Hampton VA and attend NekoCon 2016! And yes, if we do this again next year, than it will be called NekoCon with a Vengeance. With my schedule the way it is (work, website, sleep, repeat until death) I’m not one to get out much for anything other than seeing movie and making poor choices about my diet, so I really have been looking forward to going back to this convention since I got back from it last year. So how was it? Well considering that this is only my second convention ever, let’s just say that it’s still a work in progress for me to get the most out of my experience. I’m not a typically social person in the first place, so being surrounded by THAT many people is nerve racking to a certain degree which kinda limited how much fun I was having at the time; rather I was focusing a lot on having a full schedule so I would have lots to talk about here. I do have a notebook full of notes and a mountain full of things I bought, so there’s no doubt I got something out of it, but the in-between moments where I had an hour or two before the next event, I was struggling to do anything other than walk around the Vendor’s Hall decidedly not buying anything and not really talking to people either. Oh well. Live and learn I guess. I DID get more pictures this year than last, so that’s something at least!