2016 in Review: Some of the Happy Stuff

As I mentioned yesterday, a lot of people have taken to social media and are declaring 2016 to have been the worst year yet.  Sad celebrity deaths and unwelcome election outcomes seem to be the biggest problems.  Be that as it may, I can’t say that I’ve found the year to be an utter disappointment.  There’s been lots of good things that I’ve experienced on a personal level, and then another whole level of good things that I’ve experienced as a fan / media consumer.  As we close out 2016, let’s take a quick look back at some of the positives.

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Big Finish’s 10th Doctor Adventures

For years, Big Finish has been producing original Doctor Who audio dramas utilizing elements from the classic series.  Recently, their license extended to material that is from the revived show (2005 – present).  As a result, you can not purchase dramas featuring River Song, Winston Churchill as played by Ian McNiece, and even the War Doctor.  But the full potential of this enlarged sandbox came when they managed to get David Tennant and Catherine Tate involved in making brand new audio episodes of the series featuring the 10th Doctor and Donna – the best Doctor-Companion combination that the show had during the Russell T. Davies era.  The three episodes are all enjoyable, but the last, Death and the Queen, is a particular treat.

The Flash by Mark Waid

I just mentioned this when I wrote about Christmas presents, but Mark Waid’s run as writer on The Flash back in the 1990’s was the series that made Wally West as the Flash into my favorite superhero character.  For years, it’s seemed that every run of The Flash that came out later has been reprinted, often in multiple formats, but Waid’s was conspicuously absent.  Finally, that is no longer true.  Volume 1 came out in time for me to get it for Christmas, and Volume 2 is due mid next eyar.

Bonus:  John Ostrander’s Suicide Squad comic also debuted several volumes this year, including some classic stories like The Janus Directive and the team’s mission to Apokolips.

Tyler Hoechlin as Superman on Supergirl

This year, Supergirl has had some good elements and some bad ones.  Sometimes the show can be frustrating because there is so much potential that can get bogged down in awkward storytelling and distracting subplots.  But one of the things that undoubtedly worked was the debut of Tyler Hoechlin as Superman.  Unlike the current cinematic portrayal of last son of Krypton, Hoechlin’s Superman is full of hope and heroic optimism.  After two episodes, the guy has racked up more good will and appreciation than Henry Cavill’s dour Man of Steel has brought to us in two feature films.

Bonus:  John Wesley Shipp playing Jay Garrick this year on The Flash!  Perfect!

The Hunt for the Wilderpeople

So this isn’t about science fiction or superheroes, but then neither is this blog (entirely).  The Hunt for the Wilderpeople, the New Zealand stroke of genius by director Taika Waititi, was the brightest spot in my cinematic year.  This was film that was joyful and surprising while still being artful and touching.  #NoChildLeftBehind!

The Airport Scene in Captain America:  Civil War

Because, let’s face it, that whole movie was an excuse to have that airport scene, and even if the rest of the movie had been trash (which it wasn’t), the airport scene would have been worth the price of admission.  I mean, it’s ridiculously contrived, but who cares?  Spider-Man, Captain America, Iron Man, Ant-Man, Falcon, War Machine, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, Black Widow, Bucky, Vision and Black Panther all fought each other for about fifteen minutes, and everyone was awesome.  This is definitely not the grown-up world I could have guessed I’d be living in when I was a kid.

Bonus:  Meanwhile, on TV, we got to watch the Atom, Firestorm, Rip Hunter, Hawkgirl, and all sorts of DC heroes try to do the same thing.  There are superheroes all over the place, so some of them at least are bound to be good.

The Power of the Daleks

Back before BBC realized that people would pay big bucks to watch every episode of Doctor Who over and over again, they erased a whole bunch of episodes of the classic show in order to make room in their archives.  Many of these “lost” episodes have been recovered since then, but many more have not, including the second Doctor’s debut story, The Power of the Daleks, starring Patrick Troughton.  Recently, some ambitious animators took the existing soundtrack of all six episodes of that story and recreated it in cartoon form.  It’s pretty cool to finally be able to watch the few moments of the first ever new Doctor, even in animated form.  And probably the effects are better then they were originally.

Bonus:  The Return of Dr. Mysterio, this year’s Doctor Who Christmas special, and in fact the only new episode to air this year, was really good.

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Rogue One:  A Star Wars Story

There’s a lot of praise out there for this film, as well as a lot of complaints.  Some of those complaints are legit, some of them are missing the point:  the movie isn’t any good because it doesn’t have an opening crawl?  Whatever, it’s a lot of fun, it has an amazing climactic battle sequence, and it’s large number of cameos and easter egg references are either well integrated into the story or too brief to be a problem.  This is well done movie.

Bonus:  Star Trek Beyond, another follow-up to a J.J. Abrams-helmed revival of a classic sci-fi franchise was also pretty good.

Batman v. Superman:  Dawn of Justice

Actually, this film was pretty bad, but as long as I never watch the extended edition there remains the possibility that it is awesome.  But even if it’s not, it inspired one of the best How it Should Have Ended cartoons ever.  The “Super-Hero Cafe” sequence is particularly inspired.  “Maybe this was a bad idea, I vote reboots.”  “Don’t you dare!  I just got here!”

Worlds’ Finest

Grant Gustin and Melissa Benoist bring the Flash and Supergirl together in a interdimensional and inter-network crossover that aired close to when Batman v. Superman came out.  Whatever that movie lacked in upbeat superhero camaraderie, this episode made up for.  Off course, it’s got some of the apparently requisite stupid stuff that goes along with these TV shows (heroes failing to make good use of their powers, etc) but fun dialogue and good characterization more than made up for it.

Incredibles 2 Got One Year Closer

OK, I know that one is kind of lame.  I mean, everything in the future got one year closer, right?  But Incredibles 2 moved closer by even another year on top of that, because the release date changed from 2019 to 2018, because it was moving along faster than Toy Story 4.  With this one, I group in all my anticipation that was whetted this year for stuff in the future.  We had some cool trailers for the Wonder Woman movie and Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2Mystery Science Theatre 3000 went back into production after a really successful kickstarter campaign in 2015.  Doctor Who‘s 10th Season is approaching, and a new series of Sherlock starts airing in just a couple of days.

2016 has promised lots of fun stuff for 2017, to follow up on all the fun we’ve already had.  Let’s see how it all turns out.

 

 

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