The wait is almost over. I sit on the couch with my Chihuahua, Rocco, in my lap, wearing my granny shawl and Batman sweats. My boyfriend, Scott, is to my right, hootin' and hollerin'; it's the one time of year he acts like a caveman! It's Super Bowl Sunday! Or, as I like to call it: "The Lady Gaga Concert with Fun Commercials." Yay!
Barbara Hale, the last remaining main cast member from the classic 1950s-60s Perry Mason television show passed away on January 26, 2017, at the age of 94. Perry Mason has nearly always been a part of my life. As a little kid, it creeped me out because of the murders and the iconic theme song. As I got older, I found I liked the courtroom stuff. And Barbara Hale's Della. I really liked Della.
Greetings, Fanbase Press readers!
The staff of Fanbase Press and I would like to wish our favorite blonde vampire slayer, Buffy Summers, a Happy 36th Birthday! Even though her birthdays tend to end in disaster (i.e., boyfriend loses his soul, loss of super powers, etc.), we thought it was only appropriate to be there for the Chosen One on her special day and to help her blow out the candles . . . or decapitate demons - whatever it takes! Happy Birthday, Ms. Summers, and thanks for saving the world . . . a lot!
It just seems like yesterday when 2016 lay stretched before us like a two-lane highway, leading off to a vanishing point on the horizon to an unknown future. Anything was possible; it was just waiting for us to drive down the road and take in the experience. Here are some highlights – a mix of news, events, and lots of popular culture – that I remembered this year.
In a year of some mind-bogglingly good television series, few find a way to bring a common trope into new territory. In simplest terms, Dirk Gently is a detective show, as the name might imply. But anyone familiar with the source material would know that this is no ordinary detective. Based on the series of novels by the incredible Douglas Adams, the series brings the titular Dirk Gently to Seattle to solve the mysterious death of a wealthy industrialist named Patrick Spring, and with the case comes one of the most interesting and absolutely ridiculous shows on television.
We love genre mashups. Like Joss Whedon’s Firefly (a western about pirates in outer space), Stranger Things successfully mixes popular genres, becoming an '80s sci-fi kids' adventure/thriller that’s not really meant for a youth audience. When The Goonies meets The X-Files and lasts for 10 hours binged in one weekend, you get an entertaining and engaging series.
The ‘80s revival that has been steadily gaining momentum in the pop culture arena since the mid-2000s (post-Grand Theft Auto: Vice City) reached a new and impressive zenith in 2016, no doubt capstoned by the critical success of the Netflix original series, Stranger Things. This television show (which will be explored in a different retrospective at Fanbase Press) encapsulated all the trademark hallmarks of the decade: Cold War fears, slasher-horror elements, youth-centric stories, period piece music and nods to vintage advertisements, hair styles, and fashion. The show was a perfect example of homage-as-genre, a type of cinema pioneered by Tarantino in the '90s with Pulp Fiction. Other directors and producers attempted to mimic the homage-as-genre style to mixed results. This scenario has plagued the '80s resurgence as well, as the failure of the live-action version of Jem and the Holograms in 2015 illustrates; however, it is the true artisans and crafts folk, the ones who lived in the era and have come of age (late Gen-Xers and Millennials) that truly see the value and potential of the decade, and have been successfully mining it. Stranger Things may be the most prominent example for 2016, but beneath it a whole '80s world flourishes across different medias.
Comics have a way of redefining themselves in order to keep up with the changing tide of time itself. Heroes who first came into existence when the clutch was the standard in automotive instrumentation still exist during a time when fax machines are considered out-of-date technology. Villains who are known for using the latest chemical compositions and radiological yields suddenly find themselves being outshined by a teen who can hack into the DoD’s mainframe. But the one thing that has never changed with comics, even though the companies themselves have, is that they love to bring about events and changes that attempt to attract readers.
Many tributes have been pouring out over Facebook and other social media. I understand why. First, 2016 has taken a lot from us. Not that every year doesn’t do its fair share of reaping, but this year’s “in memoriam” looms larger than most, I suspect because those of us who are Gen X (the original fanboys and fangirls, thank you) are seeing our childhood literally pass away. We are used to seeing the elderly pass, those whose achievements we have collectively filed in “the past.” But this year seemed to take those still very much present who also shaped our lives. George Michael, Prince, David Bowie, and Glenn Frey - whether or not you cared for their music, they were the soundtrack of childhood and early youth. Nancy Reagan, first lady for most of the eighties, passed away, as did Gene Wilder - the only Willy Wonka for a certain age set - Florence Henderson (C’mon - Mrs. Brady?), and even Kenny Baker - R2-D2 himself. Alan Rickman hit many of us hard - raise a glass to Professor Snape, one of the bravest fictional characters I have ever read. And now, to lose Carrie Fisher right at year’s end seems wrong, somehow - just cruel.