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Biff Bam Pop’s Alien Invasion – Londo & G’Kar

babylon 5

J. Michael Stracyznski’s Babylon 5 (1994 – 1998) was groundbreaking for a number of reasons – its unified five-year structure, its use of CGI, and Stracyznski’s use of internet forums to engage with fans during the run of the show among them. But what makes the show last nearly 20 years after it left the weekly broadcast schedule has to be the quality of the writing and the skill of its lead actors in bringing these memorable characters – and their relationships – to life. Read the rest of this entry

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Biff Bam Pop’s It’s All Connected – Just a Kid from Brooklyn: Captain America, American Memories of World War II, and the MCU, Part II

 

Splash page from The Ultimates #1, 2002. Script by Mark Millar, art by Bryan Hitch.

Splash page from The Ultimates #1, 2002. Script by Mark Millar, art by Bryan Hitch.

In the first part of this essay, I briefly sketched the construction of American memories of World War II that began slightly before the war and continue into the 21st century. In many ways the war has become a defining part of American identity, and the dominant, triumphal memory narrative we have created about it serves to elevate American participation in the war almost to the level of the sacred, and certainly to the realm of the simple black and white, good v. evil duality that is much more comforting than any messy and contradictory reality might be. The character of Steve Rogers/Captain America is one of the more perfect cultural artifacts to illustrate this process of memory construction, and the ways in which counter-memories, which challenge the dominant narrative, inevitably influence the national mythology.

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The Ten Percent: Cloud Atlas (2012)

Cloud Atlas (2012) promotional poster.

Cloud Atlas (2012) promotional poster.

“Ninety percent of everything is crud.” – Theodore Sturgeon

Hello and welcome back to “The Ten Percent,” a regular column here on Biff Bam Pop! where every other week K. Dale Koontz and I take a look at the inverse of Sturgeon’s Law; in other words, the ten percent of everything which is not crud. Sometimes it can be hard to remember that for each film or television show that gets people talking years after its premiere, there are hundreds of others that barely cleared the horizon before being (thankfully) shot down. The works that soar above the rest – well, those are the works that stand the test of time. It’s no surprise then that most of the works we’ve discussed here were produced at least ten years ago (Breaking Bad being a notable exception, because Breaking Bad). The passage of time sorts things out, and separates the merely momentarily popular from works that continue to speak to audiences across the years.

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The Ten Percent: Babylon 5 (1994 – 1998)

B5_Title

“Ninety percent of everything is crud.” – Theodore Sturgeon

Twenty years ago, J. Michael Straczynski’s epic, award winning series Babylon 5 first aired on broadcast television. The show marked an important shift in the way American TV series were designed, for instead of a typical episodic structure where the story returns to the status quo ante at the end of the hour and picks up the following week as if nothing had happened, Straczynski plotted Babylon 5 as a series of long story arcs, which were themselves contained within one narrative master-arc. The series follows the adventures of the human crew and multi-species diplomats aboard the space station Babylon 5. Set in a universe where humans are far from the oldest, most developed, or most powerful race, the five season arc is a kind of coming of age story of humanity as a whole. The people aboard Babylon 5, both human and alien, find themselves confronted with multiple dangers ranging from the galaxy-wide machinations of two truly ancient and powerful races; to the smaller scale, but no less deadly, intrigues of interstellar politics. Led by Commander Jeffery Sinclair (Michael O’Hare) and Captain John Sheridan (Bruce Boxleitner), the people aboard survive and overcome the myriad difficulties facing them and the universe by building new alliances, and most importantly, new communities, that link together previously disparate peoples. In the process, however, there are enough space battles, civil wars, and assassination attempts to keep the most hardened action-junky satisfied, and all of it part of a single, grand narrative.

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Titanic Teams – Gone But Not Forgotten Teams of the Marvel Universe

When you think super-teams in the Marvel Comics universe, the Avengers come to mind immediately, followed quickly by the Fantastic Four, the X-Men and half a dozen others. I’m going to delve a little deeper, and take a journey into the forgotten corners of the Marvel Universe. Here’s a look at some of the forgotten teams of the Marvel Universe.

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