What did one Imagination Connoisseur learn about storytelling from his “career” as a Dungeon Master? Learn about this important lesson and more as we present even letters from fans.

Feeling the power of the Super Sentai.

Hey Rob,

Ive been watching you all over youtube for years now. I am always interested in what you have to say and the way you look at movies.

Super Sentai

I was wondering if you were familiar with Super Sentai? It’s the show that was adapted into Power Rangers.

I have been a power rangers fan my entire life and last year, while staying in San Diego for 3 months for work, I decided to try a season of Super Sentai. I looked up lists of the best seasons and started with Chojin Sentai Jetman and it was amazing.

This show was everything I loved about Power Rangers but treated so seriously. It’s apparantly one of the darker and more mature seasons of the franchise and they are not kidding.

Its the 90s and Tokyo is suddenly invaded by the Vyram. The Vyram are Raiders who travel to different dimensions and take them over killing everyone. The military has a program for the Jetman. Super soldiers who are shot with Birdonic Waves Giving them special abilities and the power to turn into the Jetman.

Our Red Ranger, Ryu, is given his powers and seconds later the Vyram start their first attack and in the process their station is destroyed and the rest of the Birdonic Waves are shot throughout Tokyo hitting four individuals. Ryu now has to find these four people so they can work together to defeat the Vyram.

I won’t keep running on with the plot, but I just wanted to recommend this show to you. I feel like you would see the big picture in these shows.

I know this is a very weird letter with many spelling errors, but I just felt like you would get what I was trying to say.
-Rodolfo T.

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The storytelling lessons learned from playing an RPG.

Hi Rob,

Little homework for you today.

When you have a few minutes, I want you to google: Matt Coville Dune. He’s got a couple good short videos talking about the book. I think your venn diagrams overlap a bit.

Managing RPGs (role-playing games) like Dungeons & Dragons hones your storytelling skills.

Matt appeared on my radar because of his running the game series, where he tries to convince people to play RPGs and to be the Game Master. From that, he’s launched a couple successful Kickstarters.

I really liked playing Dungeons and Dragons as a teenager. I’m glad the game is enjoying a renaissance.

When I was young I just wanted my RPG character to hit things. It was satisfying. Now I can see these rules as a helpful guide in storytelling. It should be obvious, but a single character shouldn’t be good at everything. On the A-Team, Face, Murdock and B.A. Baracus all have different attributes and skills.

Playing or running RPGs can also teach basic plotting, from introducing a goal to obstacles that inevitably get in the way. I know there’s more to writing a screenplay than that, but it can help develop some consistent logic within a world.

You’ve mentioned playing D&D in your younger days. Post pandemic, you should give it another try.

All the best.
-Collin L.

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Watching Miami Vice through the eyes of a Gen X-er.

Hi Rob,

James Wallace here. First, I wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed the 600th episode of Robservations. Watching that episode put me in a good mood! I’m writing this letter in response to the letter on January 20th with regard to Miami Vice.

Miami Vice’s way-to-cool undercover cops, Sonny Crocket and Rico Tubbs.

Here’s the thing: I kind of agreed with that letter but I wanted to put what Miami Vice was in context of the zeitgeist of its time – due to I was around when the show was on television. Miami Vice was a cool show back in 1984 when it was released.

At that time, there was Hill Street Blues – a critics darling and Emmy Award winning show and Miami Vice that stood out from the procedural cop shows. When Miami Vice was on Friday nights on NBC – people stayed home to watch it. Guys got their hair styled like Don Johnson’s James Sonny Crockett. Guys wanted to also dress up like Ricardo Tubbs.

Hell, the more I think about it – this show probably kind of influenced Lethal Weapon with the two cops being of different ethnicities and background. And in an odd way Lethal Weapon probably influenced Don Johnson’s Season 4 and 5 hair style with the mullet haircut.

The show launched a lot of careers: actor and director wise – Rob Cohen – he directed and subsequently started The Fast and The Furious franchise. Dick Wolf was the show runner for Miami Vice and probably made decisions that led to its decline – he took over and ran Seasons 3 to the end.

Yes, Michael Mann is the credited producer, but he left to go make Manhunter, Crime Story – which that was another cool show staring the great Dennis Farina – a former Chicago detective who was in Thief and portrayed the great bad guy Lombard on Miami Vice.

A character who gave Crockett conflicting emotions when he had to protect him in the Season 1 finale, Lombard would appear again in Season 5 in an episode where the character redeemed himself. Crime Story was one of the first cop shows to feature a continuous storyline. That series also featured actors that would go on to great success.

Then Mann went on to make L.A. Takedown – which if you didn’t know (I know you know Rob), but those in the Post Geek Singularity might not know that the film Heat was actually a remake of said TV film.

Anyways, a lot of cooks in the kitchen for Miami Vice – hence the change in style with Season 3, like the Bible there is B.C. and A.D. so with Miami Vice there is before the explosion of the Daytona and after the explosion of the Daytona… so “B.E.D.” and “A.E.D”.

You could sense the change in the show or before the spikey hair and after the spikey hair – that Crockett donned for Season 3. Season 3 was the season the show changed the dynamic of the “ensemble” the season that found Zito played by John Diehl leaving the show in Episode 12 (the writer of the letter said it was Season 4) you re-watch the episodes now and that’s when it is clear the paradigm shift started.

In some ways the show became darker and lighter at the same time in other episodes the tone was all over the place, but the fifth season was when the show tried to course correct from Season 4, but ultimately started to go downhill. I guess NBC’s passion for the show left when Jan Hammer wasn’t scoring the show anymore.

At the time it seemed like NBC didn’t care for the show anymore – in fact the last four episodes aired were out of story order. One episode featuring Pam Greer aired in 1990 – 6 months after Miami Vice officially ended. Plus a back door pilot aired for the first time weeks after the series chronology ended – which when viewers watched the episodes that followed the final dreadful episode: Freefall (the title kind of sums up the last couple of seasons) – viewers were probably confused due to Crockett and Tubs quitting a few weeks prior.

I guess Dick Wolf was in a rush to kill Miami Vice so he could go make Nasty Boys (remember that show) before he matured and went into Law & Order phase. That was kind of the end of what started off as an idea supposedly written on a piece of paper by Brandon Tartikoff to the credited co-creator Anthony Yerkovich – “MTV cops” which unfortunately today’s generation would mistake that for reality TV – due to MTV isn’t really the music television of the early 80’s.

However, a few years later that did happen on Fox – a reality show with cops. God, I sound old – I’m not old – I just sound old!

Looking back – Miami Vice was extremely influential in television and society due to the clothing and visual style, music, editing, content – a very influential show that would’ve been better served if it had 10 episode seasons rather than 22.

There were some great episodes with The Golden Triangle, Evan, Smuggler’s Blues, Calderone’s Return – just a cool show! But yes – it went downhill which is a shame. Back when I was in college in 2001 – the show was shown on Spike TV and it was a great time to introduce the series to friends. A couple years later the series was released on DVD and I introduced the show to other friends who loved it – the first season that is. Second season was great too!

A few years later, while working on House, I discovered our First Assistant Director worked on Miami Vice as a Production Assistant and he told me all sorts of stories. For example – keen observers of the show will notice that Tubbs carries a shotgun – this was due to Phillip Michael Thomas couldn’t hold a pistol right – so they gave him a shotgun. Also when Don Johnson cut his hair for the music video Heartbeat which resulted in Crockett’s new look that it was a huge deal behind the scenes.

Said First AD also told me a story of working on 21 Jump Street when the show was shooting in Florida for an episode and that Johnny Depp would purposefully mess up his hair before a take. The back story for this: Fox Network wanted him to keep his hair a certain way – to the point that they sent an executive to set to monitor. Apparently, the hair department would style Depp’s hair and then right before they called “action” he would mess it up. The First AD told me he thought the exec would have a heart attack.

As a result the First AD never looked at Depp the same way again, after being told that story – nor could I.

I have to agree with the gentleman that wrote the letter – the Miami Vice film was terrible. I have some insider baseball knowledge on that – the script was great – but then Mann decided to change it while in principle photography.

Things got worse for the script due to Mann trying for authenticity shooting in the Dominican Republic and things got heated between director and cast due to shots fired near the set resulting in other changes in the film. It’s too bad, I was hoping to love the film, but hearing of how Mann is reckless on his films – understandable why the actors didn’t want to be on that location after the shots were fired – which the unintended consequence was the script changed drastically.

Love the first two seasons of Miami Vice – it’s just hard to convey unless you lived during that time how much of a juggernaut that show and the influence it had on the zeitgeist.
-James W.

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Break out the pizza, we just got a TMNT letter, dude.

This will be totally tubular dude and dudettes. A really radical time. Hope your having a bodacious day Rob dude. Buckle up my dudes and dudettes, and grab that slice of pizza. Hang on to those radical buns and get ready or a shell of a good time, with pizza and one liners.

‘Cause in 1990 New Line Cinema brought us Teenaged Mutant Ninja Turtles, but in far-out wicked live action bro.

They’re turtles. And ninjas. And gnarly.

Directed by Steve Barron, it’s the story of four pizza eating mutant ninja turtles, each with their own colorful tuboloso bandanas.

Leonardo who wore blue. Donetello who wore purple. Ralphael who wore red, and Michelangelo who wore orange. They were trained in the ways of the ninja by Master Splinter.

The film took from both elements of the animated series and the comics. Mainly that April was a television reporter like in the animated series.

Jim Henson created the Turtles and Master Splinter, and it was the last project he worked on before he passed. The amazing creature work beings the characters to life in a film about ninjas and pizza. The four turtles are teenagers and not only ninjas they are well versed in 90s slang. The famous catch phrase “cowabunga” is a cheery celebratiory catch phrase through out the film.

There’s kick butt action fights, and plenty of pizza action all blended in a fun martial arts film. It’s the classic tale of good vs evil, but with mutant turtles, a rat, a reporter and a guy with a hockey stick versus the footclan and Shredder, the leader of the foot.

Growing up as a kid I loved this film, and the animated series. I collected the action figures and had a totally rad time playing with my turtles. Donny of course always being my favorite turtle. So bro who is yours? Turtles 199o is the best film out of all the turtles films that came after. It truly mad you love being a turtle. The film is a shell of a good time.

That roof too fight scene at the end is really amazing. The characters are fantastic and you grown quite fond of them all. Each has quite a distinctive personality. Leo is focused and driven and he leads, Donny does machines. Ralph is cool but rude, and Mickey is a fun loving party dude.

The dialogue is full of snappy one liners and often makes me chuckle.

This film made me want to be a turtle growing up. I love the film, and the sequel that follows a year later. I recently watched it again and I often still enjoy the film. I doubt I’ll ever stop not loving the film.

Perhaps because the one liners and the awesome kick butt rad fighting scenes, but also because of the emotional moments as well. Which only add to the films story. Like April and Jones falling in love.

In closing I can only say I hope you have a shell of a good time of a day, and I love being a turtle. So thanks for reading this.
-Thomas B.

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