My friend Meg wrote me yesterday. “You know how sometimes daycare centers like to paint murals of Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, and while you can tell who they’re meant to be, they end being so off that they look demonic? Almost like they are actually acid-laced paper?”
I knew exactly what she meant. I specifically remember a mural in my home town of Mickey and Donald at my day care center. I was always disappointed that they weren’t inside as if the crude day care mural was actually painted by stoned entry-level Disney artists and that they were really giant map markers indicating where you could hang out with the live-action versions of the cartoon characters. The interesting thing is that drug-influenced children’s art knows no geographic boundary. I grew up in middle Georgia, she in Tennessee.
I only remember watching “Small Wonder” a few times as a kid at a friend’s house. And for the longest time, if someone ever brought it up, I’d always remember it being great. Well folks, my memories have lied. That show was terrible. You need only watch a few seconds of the above clip to realize that your memories have been lying to you too. The voice. Oh god, the voice, the laugh track, the canned reactions, the creepy… everything. I wonder if the actor who played the nerd in the bow tie has ever seen the True Companion robots as an adult? Do you think his younger self wondered if that particular episode would be prophetic? Maybe Vicki now works for True Companion. Maybe the grown, bow-tied nerd actor knows this. What a weird reunion show that would make.
My fondness of “Small Wonder” must have been due to the fact that it was a show about a robot. I always wanted a robot and my obsession with them was well known in elementary school. So well that my school-aged peers nicknamed me “beep-bop boy”. No joke. I’m sure that I wished that I was a cyborg too, but I’m banking that it was because of the influence of 1985′s D.A.R.Y.L. I remember that movie being great as well so, it probably sucked, but it starred Barret Oliver, the actor who played Bastian from The NeverEnding Story. What happened to that kid?
Yesterday I heard about the deaths of two people who shaped my limited experiences for the better as child. This may sound clichéd, but it’s completely true. The first was comedic actor Leslie Nielsen; the second was Empire Strikes Back director Irvin Kershner.
My first encounter with Leslie Nielsen was with Airplane! and The Naked Gun movies. The Naked Gun had its roots in the Police Squad! series which had only lasted six episodes. I remember watching those movies, along with Chuck Norris and Cynthia Rothrock videos with my dad. It was truly one of the best bonding experiences a young boy and his father could have outside of fishing and I was always a little apprehensive of taking catfish off of the hook in fear of getting my hands cut by the whiskers. Neilsen’s performances were slapstick mixed with subversive lines that were delivered like an expert magician, with misdirection. Even though the comedies he was in by today’s standards are innocent, I felt at the time like I was in on the adult humor and was member of a club whose only members were me, my dad, and no one else.
After a Friday night bachelor party that consisted of strip clubs, tattoos, and the longest walk on one of Atlanta’s most dangerous streets at 3 in the morning, I knew the next day would be for physical recovery. Luckily, I’m a planner. I had decided that Saturday would be dedicated to finally finishing what was left of Doctor Who. What was left was the David Tennant specials and even though I had been watching them out of order, I had held “The End of Time, Parts 1 & 2″ to watch last. I knew that this would be Tennant’s last episode and Matt Smith’s debut, my first Doctor.
My true, in depth introduction started with Season 5 at the behest of my friend Jason, and too my dismay I enjoyed it and was quickly hooked. I had been resistant years earlier after seeing pieces of an episode that aired on SyFy, then SciFi, that featured the 10th Doctor and some cheap-looking alien. At the time, Doctor Who preceded Battlestar Galactica, which I was adamant about. BSG was serious, had great looking dog-fights in space, and it was filmed documentary style. Documentary style, I mean “rapid zoom”, it could have only been more serious if Ken Burns had directed it. I didn’t have time for humor and terrible costumes in my science fiction. I wanted “realism.”