New Radio Free Caemlyn Episode: Doctor Who Series 10 is Strange

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In which I summarize my thoughts on Moffat’s version of Doctor Who and why has last series is surprisingly good.

Background loops include Super Mario 64 Dire Dire Docks, Poppin’ Planks and Aquarius from Donkey Kong Country, and loops from Lou Reed’s Street Hassle, Cranberries Dream to Me, and Don’t Close Your Eyes by some artist I can’t remember.

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MST3K Returns! (A Non-Spoilery Review of 11.01)

Today, the 9th of April, 2017, saw the advance online screening of Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode 11.01 for the Kickstarter backers. I was sure to be awake at 3am local time so I could start watching it the moment the stream launched.

I backed the MST3K Kickstarter at a sufficient level to allow me digital downloads of the entire season once available. Recent updates from Joel have revealed that I can start streaming the new season on Tuesday.

Anyway, my thoughts on 11.01, while giving away as little as possible (because this episode works best when you don’t have anything given away).

In the months leading up to this, I wondered if they would explain the hiatus in any way within the narrative. I also wondered if they would explain how our new main character, Jonah Heston, ends up on the Satellite of Love and as the subject of these experiments. Joel Robinson was already there at the start of the show (in both versions of the narrative (Joel Hodgson as a lone survivor on the Satellite of Love and Joel Robinson as a guy not-too-different from you or me who is shot up into space because his bosses didn’t like him) and Mike Nelson just ended up there after Joel’s last episode (his arrival on the SoL implied but never explicitly shown on-screen other than what was used in the title sequence). Turns out this episode’s intro handles all of this quite deftly, combining an “origin story” with the title sequence, setting the stage for this new season nicely. (The only nitpick I could possibly have is that the Satellite of Love is back and the bots are on board. How did that happen? Did Kinga build a new SoL? Did she kidnap the bots away from Mike (and steal Gypsy back from wherever she was)? I should really just relax)

With backstory out of the way, we’re tossed right into the first experiment. It’s a bit jarring to see an HD print of a movie used but, hey, technology marches on and it fits with modern-day broadcast resolutions (a thing I neither care about or keep up with (4k 8k or whatever doesn’t really mean anything to me)).

Riffs were fast and frequent, but sometimes they flew by so fast that I wasn’t able to catch everything. This is kind of par for the course, especially with the Mike-era of the show. This episode introduces some really neat visual effects for the silhouettes, especially for Servo. Even Gypsy visits the theater a couple of times. Riffs involved references both old and new fans of the show will get. This, the real meat of the show, felt true to form and convinced me that MST3K is really and truly back.

Host segments are back, although they all feel a bit rushed. There’s a single gag and the segment is over, ended all-too-quickly by movie sign. There was a really great song in this episode which had a great segue into movie sign, though. It’s just…after rewatching a lot of Mike-era episodes, the host segments in this first episode felt like an afterthought (which isn’t to say they weren’t entertaining, they were).

The door sequence has been nicely updated, with tons of visual easter eggs to sift through. There’s even a replacement Crow head hidden in the last section before the theater.

Felicia Day and Patton Oswalt join the cast as the new Mads. There’s not much to say about the characters at this point as they were only barely in the episode (they were in the title sequence and the segment just before end credits, but that was about it). I like the idea of the characters, but it’ll take some more episodes to get a better feel for them.

Something I’ve seen a lot of people complain about is the blatant use of “Mystery Science Theater 3000” as a name within the lexicon of the show itself. The name is referenced several times by main characters, and the moon logo is even seen within the world of the show itself. Is this a problem? I don’t think it is. Going back to the Joel era, you’ve got numerous mentions by Dr. Clayton Forrester to his “Mystery Science Theater” or “Mystery Science Theater 3000” project. KTMA episodes have Joel “Hodgson” referencing the theater as “Mystery Science Theater”. It’s been years since I’ve seen the movie, but I think Dr. Forrester again mentions MST3K by name as his project in the movie’s intro. Usage of the name died off in the Mike-era, though, and I don’t think Pearl Forrester ever used that name. So, is having Kinga referencing MST3K by name a problem? It really is not, and helps to tie the show back to its earliest seasons.

The show will air on Netflix, and being there the show will not have advert breaks. The original show was built around advert breaks, with host segments leading to those. In a recent interview, Joel Hodgson said he was including those segues again not just to hold true to the show’s history but also because he found that relic of TV show evolution to be fascinating. These new episodes retain those cutaways to advert breaks and do so in a really neat way. There are references to the original show in these interstitials as well.

The sets hold true to the show’s original spirit of kitbashing, or taking stuff from various models and kits and throwing them together. To me, though, the SoL bridge feels a bit empty. They’ve a lot of screen-space, but there’s little going on in the background when compared to Joel- or Mike-era SoL sets. Maybe this is a minor complaint, because it all looks good on screen, it just doesn’t have a lot of personality.

Overall, the show looks great and has the sense of humor and fun of the original, which is what I wanted. Jonah fits right in as test subject, and is already establishing a different connection to the bots than Joel or Mike had. Joel was their creator. Mike was their big brother. Jonah is trying to fit in and the bots are already resigned to this guy going away and being replaced.

I enjoyed the first episode. Bring on the remaining 13 episodes and many seasons more!

Phone Losers of America Videos I Sponsored

This post is just a way for me to list all the videos from the Phone Losers of America YouTube channel that I have “sponsored” or “produced” via its Patreon.

🌵Pizza Delivery Problems

🌵Rich People Recycling Problems

🌵Getting Info From a License Plate

🌵Hotel Guest Prank Call – Yet Even More Excessive Water Use

🌵Home Security Prank Call – Peace of Mind

🌵FedEx Prank Call – Marijuana Smell

🌵Bank Customers – Identity Thief

Will post more as I find them on that channel.

Thoughts on The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

I tried to think of a witty title regarding the upcoming Wii U/NX Zelda game, but gave up. Was going to use “Fresh Air, With Rand al’Thor”, but whatever.

I’ve been a fan of The Legend of Zelda since I was old enough to play video games. It was the late ’80s and my parents had just gotten an NES. I played the hell out of Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda. I also spent a lot of time with games like Top Gun (never was that good at landing that damn plane!), Chip & Dale: Rescue Rangers (loved the two-player co-op on that), Ultima: Exodus, Dragon Warrior, Golf, Kirby’s Adventure, and PinBot among many others.

I loved the open-world nature of the original Zelda. Hell, I even loved the sidescrolling dungeon design of Zelda II. (Although, for a reason I wouldn’t discover until just recently, the towns freaked me out (turns out my mom had discovered wrong-warping in towns decades before it was discovered and exploited by speedrunners and shown off at GDQ events, and it was the glitching out of towns that scared me as a kid)) To me, a true Zelda game allowed you the freedom to explore its vast world with little to no restrictions. To be fair, the first Zelda had some restrictions to explorations by requiring certain items (such as the raft or stepladder) to access certain ares, but most of the world was accessible from the start if you were daring enough.

A lot of Zelda games have turned out to be more linear. The Oracle games are decidedly linear, forcing you to beat the dungeons in a certain order (there is no real freedom of exploration in either Holodrum or Labrynna). Even Link’s Awakening is mostly linear. Ocarina of Time returned some nonlinearity to its gameplay, but you still can’t access the Temples until you’ve cleared the first three dungeons and collected the three spiritual stones and the Master Sword. Majora’s Mask offered a lot more freedom to the player. I’ve only played Skyward Sword once but I remember it being very linear. Twilight Princess bogged the player down with story, always holding a tantalizing glimpse of the larger world just out of the player’s reach. There was a lot to do in regards to story, and you never had much of a chance to just go and roam the world until late in the game. You didn’t even get an item to summon Epona until near the end of the game. Let’s not even get to the DS games

Much as I like stories in my Zelda games, they often just served as a barrier to the exploration I wanted. I just wanted to set out, no major backstory to sit through.

And here comes Breath of the Wild. Everything about this game makes me excited, but mainly the absolute freedom the game offers. Past Zelda games have limited players on how puzzles are solved and how dungeons are tackled. No actual dungeons have been shown yet, just the shrines. Aonuma has hinted that the dungeons are quite different from the shrines.

There’s a small bit of story to set you on your way, with Link waking up in the Shrine of Resurrection. However, once you leave the Shrine, you can go any direction you want. The only restriction at this point seems to be that you have to get the paraglider from the old man, which allows you to safely escape from the Great Plateau. From there, we don’t currently know what to expect.

I’ve not played any of the Dark Souls games, but I keep seeing people reference those games with how BotW plays. I like how you can ambush enemies, steal their weapons, distract enemies. There’s just so much to this game that the demos we’ve seen so far are clearly just scratching the surface.

I’ve loved the Zelda games over the decades, but BotW looks like a full realization of what Miyamoto originally intended with the first game.

Twitter Printer Adventure

In the early years of Twitter, there were a lot of experiments like this, where someone would connect a printer to the Internet and somehow set it up so that it printed tweets containing either a certain username or character string (the letter generally being what became known as a “hashtag”).

My friend Daily and I would find these, and start spamming messages to be printed. Usually these printers would also be shown on a live video stream, so you could see your messages as they were being printed out. These were fun to watch, but I could it was a relic of a time when Twitter was not as popular as it is now, or as frequently used.

These screenshots are from a printer that was set up on 16 November, 2011. Daily and I would send messages and watch as they were printed. I brought in my Twitter alternate account, IvanButtons, for additional comments. Lots of screenshots ahead, so I’m putting them behind a cut tag. Probably not necessary in today’s Internet, but I’m still doing it.

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Collecting Amiibo

Amiibo was an odd direction for Nintendo to choose. Sure, we had Skylander figures for that franchise, but Nintendo was going to adopt that idea for the then-upcoming Super Smash Bros. games. For a while, it seemed the idea would be limited to Smash Bros., but after yesterday’s Nintendo Direct, it’s clear that Nintendo is leveraging this idea for far more than just Smash Bros.. We have Amiibo already for Mario Party 10, and upcoming Amiibo for Splatoon and Yoshi’s Wooly World, as well as Amiibo cards for Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer. Suffice it to say that, while I still don’t think this Amiibo idea has any lasting potential beyond the Wii U and New 3DS, Nintendo will probably try to keep with this for as long as possible.

Anyway, that doesn’t mean I’ve not been collecting Amiibo. This post is mainly just to list all the Amiibo that I have.

As of this writing, I have 14 Amiibo (13 Smash Bros. and 1 Super Mario). I have: Sonic, Mario, Zelda, Mega Man, Link, Toon Link, Sheik, Pit, Kirby, Yoshi, Pikachu, Samus, Fox, and Toad. I could easily get Luigi, Bowser, and Peach.

As far as actually using the Amiibo, I’ve used most of them at least once in Smash Bros (those that are compatible). I’ve leveled the Link Amiibo up to 50.