Korra: Why You and Your Kids Should Be Watching

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Image By Nickelodeon

There are many reasons to enjoy The Legend of Korra. It’s full of action: stunning martial arts, elemental power fights, speeding car chases, airship rides, and flying bison. There’s comedy in every episode: Bolin’s silly and frightening romance with Eska, one-liner brilliance from Varrick, and various cute animal antics. There’s romance too. The plot keeps moving and moving. The characters grow and change. And the world itself is artistically creative and engaging.

But there are other, very important reasons to watch The Legend of Korra, and I will give you a brief description of some characters to prove the first one:

1. A trainee who will never let a friend down, but is quick to fight and lacks patience.
2. A ruler who keeps order with cruelty, and steals from the people.
3. A stylish and good-looking engineer who likes fast cars and planes.
4. A thoughtful child who struggles with Dad to take on responsibility.
5. A captain of the police force who doesn’t crack a smile, but is clever and self-sacrificing.

These characters may not be anything you haven’t seen in a show, but in this case they are all female and in the same show- sometimes even the same episode! Gasp!

Like its predecessor, Avatar: The Last Airbender, the female population is represented in an equal and diverse way—the way it should be in every story. I wrote a post awhile back called “Great Heroines for Boys“: “Why should you encourage your son to read books with heroines? That’s easy. You want your son to grow up knowing that a strong female for a friend, wife, or boss is normal and good.”

Korra is the lead character in the show, but she is far from the only interesting girl and woman to watch. When first watching, you may think it is female heavy in its speaking and side characters, but don’t be fooled! We have been trained to see mostly males on screen, even though our real world is half and half. When seeing something in entertainment that is closer to reality, it seems odd. That’s a good reason to watch Korra with your kids. Make seeing women and girls as part of the “normal” storytelling world. Regardless if they are good, bad, speaking, or in the background—just make us be there!

Are there awesome boys and men? Absolutely! The cast is full of great male heroes, villains, and some that play both sides too.

Besides being diverse with gender roles, I have never seen a show that has strong characters of so many different ages—this is truly a family show where everyone can see themselves in a cool role. There are children to kick ass, teens that kick ass, mid-lifers that kick-ass, and a couple of grannies that made me laugh. When Lin Beifong had a big scene at the end of Season One, I found my new hero—and she was an older woman with gray hair. In season three we meet her sister (with curly gray hair!).

Working through relationships is a huge part of the plot lines between siblings, friends, children and parents, and romantic interests; even the spiritual essence of GOOD and EVIL had a relationship to balance out. One of the overall plot arcs is a romance with Mako, the angsty, fire bending teen boy. Within the first two seasons (or books), Mako alternately is dating the main character Korra, and/or Asami. They all make mistakes, and by the third season Mako isn’t dating anyone. Asami and Korra become friends, and it’s an important relationship for both of them. And although it’s awkward with Mako for awhile, eventually the need to work together overshadows everything else, and he is able to be friends with his exes. Rarely do series show the normal ups and downs of dating, such as how time is needed to heal, and how to handle it all in a mature way.

I recommend The Legend of Korra because it proves that bringing quality and equality to cartoons only adds to the fun and entertainment. We need more shows like this!

Thanks, Freddie Wong!

Image By Rocket Jump
Image By Rocket Jump

To the producers and writers of Video Game High School Season Two:

YAAAAAAAAY!!!!!! You did it! You are part of the Web Entertainment Revolution. You have a high quality filmed, action-romatic-comedy, with developing characters, in a unique fictional universe, only available on the internet.

Awhile back I sent A Plea To Freddie Wong to take a great concept, well-produced show, and take it to a better level of plot and characters. With season two of Video Game High School, there is the time (thirty minute episodes) and the writing to do just that. I’ve watched up to episode four, and have been completely entertained. The series manages to blend multiple surrealistic game worlds with the everyday life of teenagers in a very cool high school.

There was a Kickstarter for this second season that went completely over their goal, and you all have put the funds to good use. The settings, costumes, and action-sequences are great. It must be so much fun because the actors get to be in multiple places in every episode. No boring sets here.

With the very first, I was giggling. The office scene with the Benji Dolly, Ellary Porterfield, and Freddie Wong discussing homework was hilarious. 

Keep it up! I hope everyone tunes in to watch your Video Game High School Season Two.

Peace and games,

Rebecca Angel

 

ThinkGeek Is Cooler Than Jayne’s Hat

Jayne's Hat
Image Courtesy ThinkGeek

By now, if you’re a Firefly fan,  you’ve probably heard the outrage heard across the ‘verse. The story goes something like this. The Firefly character Jayne Cobb’s silly orange hat, lovingly knitted by his mother, has become an iconic symbol of the cancelled-too-soon series. People have knitted their own hats for years. You see them on college campuses. You see them at comic conventions. People love their Jayne hats, and when you see one, you give a nod to your fellow Browncoat. Occasionally people put their hand-knit caps up on Etsy or other sites to sell them to other fans. No mass production. Just a few fans making pizza money.

ThinkGeek, one of my very favoritest sites of all time, decided that since there was a lot of demand and very little actual product, maybe they should do something about that. They worked with an officially licensed producer to get an officially licensed Jayne’s Hat in their store. It’s not an exclusive item to ThinkGeek, but ThinkGeek had a hand in designing the perfect silly orange hat for fans. It’s suitable for both head warmth and finding all the cool people who recognize it. Shiny!

One problem. Now that it’s an instant money-making item, Fox has started issuing cease and desist letters to those little Etsy shops that have been selling the product for years. Etsy chose the path of most butt coverage and has been reportedly shutting down stores, not just issuing warnings or delisting the offending items. Stores that sold non-hat related Firefly fan merchandise have also been reportedly shuttered – just in case.

Yes, it completely sucks to have your Etsy store shut down for an activity you thought was  fine for years and years, but the truth is that those stores were making money off of someone else’s intellectual property, no matter how rich they weren’t getting in the process.  

It was always a legally gray area, and as soon as you call it “Jayne’s Hat” or mention the series from whence it came, you’re riding on the coattails of a show you didn’t make. Sure, Fox makes everyone mad for having cancelled the show in the first place, but it was their show to cancel, and it’s their show to license even after it was cancelled. Yes, the optics of closing down mom and pop stores is bad, but if they don’t defend their license, even against the small stores, they could lose the ability to defend it against the big ones. Update: an actual IP lawyer explains how a lowly hat can become a trademarked item.

The way I see it, this whole Jayne’s Hat issue actually has a silver lining for Firefly fans. How, you say? You know what you get when you take a cancelled science fiction show with a loyal fan base that likes to spend a lot of money on licensed products? Maybe you get Star Trek the Motion Picture. Maybe you get the eventual resurrection and re-imagining of your universe into a vast series of books, comic books, cartoons, TV shows, games, rides, products, and movies. Yes, it could happen. Some of it already has. Spend your money on licensed products, kiddies. It’s a story that is too pretty to die.

Furthermore, ThinkGeek has taken a lot of unfair flak over something that totally wasn’t their fault. They had nothing to do with Etsy stores being shut down. They just wanted a cool hat, and they played by the rules to get one legitimately — just like they did when they made the coolest Tauntaun sleeping bag, ever after overwhelming fan demand. I want to see them bring more super cool, super creative fan products to the market. It would be the best targeted weight loss plan ever (if the target of all that weight loss was my wallet.)

After all the kerfluffle over the hats, ThinkGeek has issued the following statement:

Browncoats, we hear your concerns about the cease and desist on Etsy Jayne Hat sellers!

 

We weren’t involved in that process, but we have reached out to FOX and we’ve heard what you’ve had to say. As a result, we’ve decided to donate the profits from all Jayne Hat sales on our site to Can’t Stop the Serenity, a Browncoat charity dear to ThinkGeek’s heart that raises funds and awareness in support of Equality Now. We’ll continue making that donation until we run out of stock.

We hope the Hero of Canton himself would approve.

Honestly, they didn’t have to do this, but it does make them big damn heroes. Speaking of ThinkGeek charity and big damn heroes, be sure to pick up a Neurodiversity shirt from ThinkGeek to go with your hat. It’s not Firefly, but the profits from the shirts sold in April will go to the Autistic Self Advocacy Network.

Ben 10: Omniverse — Pure Awesomeness

Ben 10  Image: Copyright Cartoon Network
Ben 10: Omniverse / Image: Copyright Cartoon Network

Ben 10 kicks back into gear today with Ben 10: Omniverse. In this latest series, Ben 10: Omniverse hits the ground running with a new omnitrix and a new partner. Gwen and Kevin take a backseat in this series as the writers move towards focusing more attention on Ben and his life rather than his partners.

With a name like Omniverse, you can bet we will see flashbacks to the other series to help them all tie into what is happening today. I’ve already checked out the previous series’ from my local library to catch up on everything that is going on. That’s just me though. If your new to Ben 10, this series has been written so that you don’t have to know what’s happened in the past to understand it.

The first episode is full of action, excitement and humor as Ben tries to be a hero while dealing with some major changes in his life. His new omnitrix looks more like an actual watch and is really cool because it lets Ben uses every single alien he’s ever been through the previous three series! Of course, it’s still new and he has some kinks to work out.

Ben's new partner, Rook Blonko  Image: Copyright Cartoon Network
Ben’s new partner, Rook Blonko / Image: Copyright Cartoon Network

Since Gwen and Kevin won’t be around as much, Ben also has to get used to having a new partner. Fresh out of training, Rook Blonko looks at Ben as more of a commanding officer than a partner. He also has this annoying habit of following the book to the letter. It will be interesting to see how long that mentality lasts. They both have a lot to learn about each other and I’m sure we will get to see their partnership grow.

I’m really interested to see how Ben gets a handle on the changes in his life as well as take out the bad guys he can see, and the one hunting him that he can’t.

Ben 10: Omniverse premiers today on Cartoon Network. Check your local TV guide for times.

After Game Of Thrones: Which Fantasy Books Would You Like To See on TV ?

HBO's Game of Thrones official poster

So, Game of Thrones‘ pilot found a great audience, received positive reviews (at least most of them) and is already renewed for a second season.

That’s great news. But now, there’s perhaps room for other fantasy series on TV.

I mean great series like HBO’s, with good actors, good production and, well, a good budget, too. Many fantasy series are better suited to TV series than to movies. Basically, they need time to explore the universe, deepen characters, and develop the plot, which has often worldwide issues. But they also need money. Cheap dragons would look ridiculous. It seems they can now find it: TV series have become masterworks, involving great directors, great actors and often more inventiveness than movies.

So here’s the next question: which fantasy (books) series would be fit for TV? Which ones would you like to see?

Some of them have already been adapted into movies (with various success), such as Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials, C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia or Howard’s Conan. Lloyd Alexander’s Chronicles of Prydain got a Disney movie in 1985, The Black Cauldron, which was fun for children, but I think they deserve a second try. Anyway, I’ll exclude these from my list.

My own pick would be:

1. Zelazny’s Chronicles of Amber
Pro: I’m a big fan! More seriously: great characters, strong and deep, with a lead character you follow throughout the series; a plot involving politics, magic, family rivalries, romance and some epic battles; secrets gradually unfolded… All ingredients for a good series.
Cons: Very diverse settings, from our own Earth to the magical “First City” of Amber that’s supposed to be the origin and model of all worlds. Quite a challenge. Filming Shadow-walking (the way characters travel through parallel worlds) would probably be challenging, too.

2. Weis & Hickman’s Dragonlance
Pro: Great characters one would really love to see on screen (even if I suppose Raistlin would steal the show), epic setting, battles, romance, inner conflicts, comic reliefs. Actually it could have been written for TV!
Cons: OK, that’s not great literature. I completely agree. But it wasn’t meant to be. And I’m not sure great literature and great TV series are always made of the same stuff. Oh, and the dragons have to be really, really good if one want the audience to buy it.

3. Eddings’ Belgariad
Pro: Again, great characters offering great opportunities for actors (who would steal the show? Belgarath? Polgara? Silk?) with a classical quest storyline and a young hero uncovering his powers and secrets, perfect for an audience to identify with. Fewer fantasy creatures, less incredible places, which would make it easier to film, I suppose.
Cons: Again, not great literature. And the plot is very, very classical. Anyway I think it would work.

4. Jack Vance’s Lyonesse
Pro : More original, more faery-like than the previous ones. Interesting atmospheres, sometimes melancholic, sometimes funny, that could appeal to a wide audience.
Cons: Its flaws come from its qualities: that would be hard to find the right tone, the right atmosphere. There’s not a single lead character, but A Game of Thrones doesn’t have one either. Neither has Dragonlance. Also, it’s shorter than the other series; that would probably do for a mini-series.

But there are many other possibilities, such as:

  • Fritz Leiber’s Lankhmar. I haven’t read it, but it features two wonderful lead characters and the supernatural part is not too spectacular, so that would probably turn well on TV screen.
  • Robin Hobb’s Farseer Trilogy. I’m not a big fan, but that could be better as TV series than as books. Plus, as she wrote many books in the same universe, one would have stuff for many seasons !
  • Jordan’s Wheel of Time. I know, that’s a big favorite. Readers suggest more than 40 different casts for its characters on Casting Game. And that seems to have been written for TV, actually. So why didn’t I put it on my list? Firstly, because it’s unfinished, which is a big problem since there are so many loose ends. Secondly (and you’ll hate me) because I really dislike it. I read it all, years ago. It could have been good. Some characters show real potential, especially female ones. But the books have no rhythm at all (nothing happens for hundreds of pages), no dramatic tension, so I cannot imagine it as TV series (especially compared to A Game of Thrones).

What would be your choices? Which fantasy series would you really like to see on TV?