What role has merchandising played in turning our favorite movies, TV shows, comic book heroes and characters into nostalgic memories? It’s just one of several questions raised in today’s crop of viewer letters.

What role does merchandising play in the creation of nostalgia?

Hi Rob,

I hope you have recovered from my last ‘letter’. I had a question to ask you but first I wanted to thank you for reading out my essay article on Knight Rider 2010 in its entirety. Maybe there was some miscommunication but what I wrote about KR 2010 was not a letter but an article retrospective I have been trying to get published online for a couple of years.

Unfortunately no one wanted the article because I’m not a staff writer. Screen Rant takes on unsolicited articles but they have to focus on current film or TV, so basically clickbait. I need a job but I don’t think I could do that because it would be boring for me. My article was posted by Mike Bawden onto the Burnettwork website.

I had no idea it was going to be read out as it’s not letter length so I apologise for wearing you out with my analysis of something obscure. I hope it wasn’t too boring. I personally feel the film is fine and relates to today but they shouldn’t have called it Knight Rider. It also amazes me that KR 2010 paved the way for the Fast and Furious movies. The similarities in the elements between them are there. Now we know which movie to blame for the FF franchise.

Anyway I have standard reviews for films and video games I can post to the website so if they get read out by you they aren’t too overly long.

Action-adventures, Westerns, Kids’ shows and some Comedies all had healthy merchandise campaigns behind them in the 1960s and 70s – following the example of shows like Batman in the mid-60s and Mickey Mouse a generation before that.

So I had a question for you which was sparked by an old Inglorious Trekperts podcast about comics I was listening to while dusting my room.

I probably need to dust my room more so I’m not so far behind on the podcasts. How else can I get my Gene Roddenberry impression fix?

I was thinking about merchandising of nostalgia and how we’ve seen things from the 80’s to the present day targeting collectors or fans but what will happen to retro entertainment whether film or TV from the past? What I mean is the most common merchandise made featuring 60’s characters are from the Adam West Batman series. That’s great but what will the fate be for TV shows like Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Land of the Giants or Lost in Space as Generation Z grows up?

Sure we might occasionally get a revival with the original cast like Saved by the Bell or Punky Brewster but will anyone in the years to come remember shows like Bonanza, I Love Lucy, Happy Days or The Waltons? Will newer generations be aware or interested in black and white film noir movies or 1950’s musicals? Another question: what happens to the decades of historical awareness for those films and TV shows?

Is the 1980’s becoming the 1950’s of film history for today’s generations?

I wondered what your thoughts on this was?

Kind Regards
Pedro

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Which of our favorite starships is the most “livable”?

Hi, Rob,

The rather spartan look of the interior of the Enterprise NX-01 helps give the show a sense of verisimilitude.

In Star Trek, if you were to rank all starship designs, which one is the most appealing? I love the interior of the NX-01.

I’m a huge fan of TNG, but the interior of that ship does look like the Love Boat. I can see why Riker didn’t want to leave.

I also like both the interior and exterior of the Defiant. I like DS9, but it was nice to get off the station. The reason I prefer the interiors of those two ships is because they’re more utilitarian. Not quite as Spartan as a Klingon ship, but close. They reminded me a bit of a submarine, where space is at a premium. No frills. No carpets!

Do a new Star Trek, set long after The Picard Show, with this kind of utilitarian ship. And then never speak of the Picard Show again. The Romans had something called “damnatio memoriae,” condemnation of memory. We need this for Picard and Discovery. After we’ve given them the Joe Pesci treatment at the end of Casino.

And no families on board. Having families on board seems like a needless risk.

As far as exteriors, you can’t beat the original. Only the original, only classic!

Joe D.

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A few movie suggestions for Horace …

Hi Rob, moderators, and Post Geek Singularity,

One viewer, Horace Wimp, recently sent a letter where he asked for recommendations for science fiction related entertainment.

Imagination Connoisseur, Omar 94, highly recommends specific episodes of the TV Classic: “The Twilight Zone” for fans in search of great sci-fi.

I thought about that and had some suggestions.

For films, there are a lot of great science fiction movies, so if I were to name a few, I would say Terminator 1 and 2, Alien and Aliens, the original Total Recall, the original Robocop, the first Men In Black, Gattaca, and Blade Runner.

For television, I would go with certain episodes relating to science fiction. There many science fiction related Twilight Zone episodes to check out such as The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street, Will The Real Martian Please Stand Up, The Obsolete Man, and To Serve Man.

Those were the ones I thought of first.

Thanks, live long and prosper.
Omar 94

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… and even more movie recommendations for Horace.

Hi Robert,

I hope yourself and all the wonderful members that comprise the Post Geek Singularity are cruising through the week with aplomb and purpose.

Christopher Plummer in STAR TREK VI: THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY

I want to begin by saying I meant to include Christopher Plummer’s role in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991) in my letter concerning my choices for the world’s best film actors. I do like his performance in that film very much. It was so great to see such as seasoned, theatre-trained actor with experience of Shakespearean roles play a Klingon with scenes of him reciting Shakespeare.

I have always felt that was extremely cool. I allowed myself to be distracted as I was writing the letter as I had people coming and going from my office, including half-a-dozen parcel deliveries. I should have been a little more focused. Damn! I can’t believe I let that slip. I should have picked up on that.

Here is a list of my favourite films released between the years 2010 and 2020. I love these films for a myriad of reasons: cinematography, production design, editing, score and good performances. I really enjoy these films and I constantly refer to them when people ask me the question “what are my favourite films?” So, without further ado here is the list:

2010: 13 Assassins, Bedevilled, The Housemaid, The Social Network, The King’s Speech, Green Zone, The Man from Nowhere, OSS 117: Lost in Rio, Letters to Juliet, Splice, Salt, The Expendables, Gothic Lolita Psycho

2011: War of the Arrows, Silenced, Senna, Hara Kiri: Death of a Samurai, The Help, The Ides of March, Warrior, Hanna, Crazy Stupid Love, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Soul Surfer, Paul, Rango, X-Men: First Class

2012: Argo, Masquerade, The Thieves, As One, Lincoln, Zero Dark Thirty, Architecture 101, Painted Skin: Resurrection, Dredd, Brave, Rurouni Kenshin, A Werewolf Boy

2013: Cold Eyes, Way Back Home, The Grandmaster, Miss Zombie, Rush, Mama, Oz: The Great and Powerful, 42, Evil Dead, Insidious Chapter 2, The Conjuring, The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug

2014: The Admiral: Roaring Currents, The Royal Tailor, Over Your Dead Body, Godzilla, Guardians of the Galaxy

2015: Our Little Sister, Assassination, The Assassin, The Beauty Inside, Memories of the Sword, The Man From U.N.C.L.E, The Big Short, The Silenced

2016: The Handmaiden, Train to Busan, The Wailing, Canola, The Accountant, Hacksaw Ridge, Steel Rain, Zootopia

2017: The Villainess, Blade Runner 2049, 1987: When the Day Comes, Heart Blackened, A Special Lady, The Fortress, Deadpool

2018: Shoplifters, Crazy Rich Asians, Bohemian Rhapsody, Default, The Great Battle, The Witch Part I: Subversion, The Negotiation, Ilang: Wolf Brigade, The Meg, The Nun

2019: Joker, Innocent Witness, The Farewell, Kingdom, Bring Me Home, Ashfall, Godzilla: King of the Monsters, Alita: Battle Angel, Hustlers

2020: Innocence, First Love, Pawn, Beasts Clawing at Straws, The White-haired Demon Lady, The Old Guard, Freaky

As everyone can see, my absolute favourite film for each year is predominately Asian: War of the Arrows, Cold Eyes, The Admiral: Roaring Currents, The Handmaiden, The Villainess and Innocence are all South Korean. 13 Assassins, Our Litter Sister and Shoplifters are Japanese films. Even overall, my favourite films are predominately Asian.

The last decade has seen films from that region that have exhibited substantial quality and sophistication to level, and in many cases even exceed, content released from major Hollywood studios – especially from South Korea and Japan. China, too, cannot be left out of this equation, it has become the biggest market in the world for distribution and exhibition of films. There have also been good films to come out of China including Buddha Mountain (2011), So Young (2013), Dearest (2014), The Assassin (2015), I’m Not Madame Bovary (2016), Our Time Will Come (2017), The Wandering Earth (2019), The Eight-Hundred (2020). Top three highest grossing films of 2020 were all Asian productions: Demon Slayer: Mugen Train (Toho/Aniplex), The Eight Hundred (CMC Pictures Holdings) and My People, My Homeland (China Lion Film Distribution). The former is a Japanese anime feature and the later are two Chinese releases. Demon Slayer earned USD$$473,000,00 globally to recently dethrone The Eight Hundred from the top spot. This trend will likely continue.

So far, eight of the ten highest grossing films of the year are Asian productions with the Chinese comedy Hi, Mom (China Film Co. Ltd) leading the list with USD$829,120,000.

That is not to say there hasn’t been good films to come out of Hollywood – there have been plenty. Those on my list are examples as are BlacKkKlansman (2018), Uncut Gems (2019), Hustlers (2019), Marriage Story (2019), and The Irishmen (2019).

Well, that is all from me with this letter. I hope yourself and the PGS have enjoy the remainder of the week.

Sincerely,
Jason Webster

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The benefits of cramming four hours of entertainment into two.

Oh hi Rob,

You’ve mentioned how two hours of entertainment is two hours of entertainment. I’d like to add my thoughts.

More and more TV viewers are preferring YouTube over traditional TV programming. But why?

I like to watch YouTube. I probably watch more YouTube than movies or television at this point. There are some caveats though. I almost always watch YouTube or listen to a podcast at double speed. And I’m almost always doing something else, like washing the dishes or walking the dog.

If I was going to get my wife and some friends together to go to the theater, we all have certain expectations. As much as I love Robservations, my friends and family would look at me strange if a YouTuber started playing in the theater instead of a movie with characters and a plot.

Your neighbour probably watches some YouTube too; but you probably don’t watch the same YouTubers.

I’ll add that when I’m watching YouTube, the topic is usually regarding a new streaming show or movie. I get to watch a new show and then I get to hear people talk about it some. Without those shows or films to talk about, I’m not sure I’d log into YouTube. In the past I could talk to a coworker at the water cooler about a show, but these days we don’t watch the same shows.

We could probably think of a hundred ways new technology is changing entertainment. More than ever people enjoy the thing they like rather than choosing from a very limited menu. It becomes increasingly difficult to be the one thing most people are talking about. This means some projects should possibly aim lower and scale back their budgets. This also means that those that do aim high likely need to risk a healthy amount of capital in hopes of becoming the cultural event that stands above the noise. (I’m saying Marvel has to keep their quality up, which costs money.)

I get your point about 2 hours of entertainment being 2 hours of entertainment, but wanted to add the idea of media with an enduring legacy. We mostly don’t care about the local news from a month ago, but there are films and series that we do care about half a century later.

All the best,

Collin L.

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The search for great stories and the importance of good recommendations

The Robcaster is TRULY begirt with many talents, the multiple of single minded warriors and as we have seen elsewhere, the accumulator of the world’s rarities!

Thanks for reading my letter on episode #685. Before I go on to my point, perhaps I should set the table.

NIGHT CROSSING (1982) is the true tale about two men planning to escape from East Germany to the west via hot air balloon.

Back around the time of my visit to Berlin as a nine year old (if you remember that last letter) my fourth grade teacher figured out rather quickly that I was quite interested in that city and looking back she seemd to want to encourage my curiousity. One was she did this was by pulling me aside one Friday afternoon and telling me about a movie she thought I would find interesting. It would show on late Sunday afternoon (the exact dates and times have long since escaped me), she said.

The movie was called “Night Crossing” and was based on the true story of two East German families that got together and assembled a hot air balloon which they then used to escape East Germany. I did in fact see a good part of it that afternoon and as it turned out a good portion of my classmates saw it as well. We were chattering about it the next morning as my teacher was getting ready to start the day and she lit up hearing us talk about it. “You saw ‘Night Crossing’? What did you think?” she asked us before the class started.

My teacher already knew me well enough to know that I was all in for that subject matter, and she scored a massive hit there with that recommendation. For that and many other reasons well outside the scope of this letter, she’s one of the best if not one of the THE best teachers I have had. The point being is that I was primed for anything I could get my hands on related to Berlin or in this case the division of Germany at that time. Whenever anything came up relating to Berlin in movies, radio, TV, newspapers, and elsewhere, it was time to stop what I was doing and pay attention.

I felt that instinct come back when you mentioned “Wings of Desire” and “Far Away, So Close”. Once you mentioned those movies, I’m telling you, the nine year old in me was of the mind: “Shut up and listen”. I was intrigued enough to look them up on IMDB. I don’t know if I will be able to watch them right away, but if I get some appropriate hardware upgrades, I’ll look for them on iTunes and if I can’t find them there, well, I’ll have to get creative.

I do have somewhere in the archives a Blockbuster Video card but somehow I don’t think that will be helpful to me these days. (And here I am, rattling the following around in my brain: “Why haven’t I heard of these before?”) With any luck I can score some copies in German with subtitles, as I can get by in German even now and I can use the practice. 🙂

I find myself traveling to the east coast fairly frequently these days so there is about a roughly 2 to 2.5 hour block of time in the air during which I can watch the movies. I’ll have to drop a line when I get around to them.

Again, thanks much for reading the letter, and potentially recommending what could well be a pair of good movies.

From deep in the heart of Texas,
Steven Thompson

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Is it safe to say that movies are now “Executive Driven” instead of “Director Driven”?

Hi Rob, moderators, and Post Geek Singularity,

Are executives ruining Hollywood be exerting too much control over directors?

Ramadan is finally over, and luckily shows like this, The John Campea Show, Let’s Get Physical Media, and others, have helped pass time.
You recently talked about how showrunners are worried about the Marvel shows redefying showrunners.
I was thinking about that, and how movies are done.

While television is a writer driven medium, film is typically a director driven medium.

However, with movies now, especially when it comes to most big studio movies, the medium has become more executive driven. What I mean is, directors do not have as much control when it comes to the movies, as studio executives already have things they want, with studio notes. Sometimes, there can be behind the scenes drama, like studio interference, uncredited rewrites, meddling, and all of that.

I feel like when I hear this story, I always want to say to the studios to back away and trust the creators. I’m not saying the filmmakers should have complete control, but enough to make the best movie possible.

If you look at high concept studio movies of the past, they worked because the filmmakers could do their thing without executives breathing down their spines. Steven Spielberg could do his thing, and that’s why E.T, Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, Raiders Of The Lost Ark, and Jurassic Park are good. John McTiernan did his thing, which made Die Hard good. Robert Zemeckis did his thing with Romancing The Stone, Back To The Future, and Who Framed Roger Rabbit, which made all those movies good.

That’s why I feel like movies now, especially the big budget high concept studio movies, are executive driven.

Thanks, live long and prosper.
Omar 94

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A little fan entitlement goes a long, long way.

Hello Robert, I hope everything is well.

Over the past weeks on your show the concept of fan entitlement has often come up and got me thinking. While I am a fan of many IP’s it is Star Wars that has been my longest choice to follow. I feel that the time spent with Star Wars will allow my to voice my opinion.

I was young when the original trilogy was released so once the movies were done, all I had was the various comics and cartoons that existed at the time. These add on were not masterpiece’s, but they were something to expand the imagination. The release of the Star wars RPG by first West End games then others gave Star Wars fans a chance to continue to grow and explore the universe, if only in their on ways. I still run Star Wars rpg games to this day but have decided to take the canon into my own hands.

The Star Wars franchise has a rich, expanded universe – but how many of those stories will be told on the screen?

When the expanded universe of Star Wars started, it brought me back to reading and the addition of the new stories in novels and comics brought the universe to life and reignited the debates of who would win if? The release of the prequels gave me great excitement as the focus would be on Darth Vader, more or less one of my favorite characters, to the point my first pet, a cat is named Darth Vader. The growing expanded universe and the prequal trilogy that created so much excitement but also has its own dark side.

The dark side of the expanded universe is that while great stories were written and we saw Luke, Leia and Han grow greater then their on screen time, the books eventually began to contradict existing stories or canon. We saw the characters become great, and new characters were added to the mythos, and the best viewing for any stories is the theater of the mind, where as long as a good story is told , the mind will fill in the gaps and create the visuals.

The discussion of fan entitlement starts here. When Disney took over they wiped the expanded universe out, with the option to cherry pick the ideas they want. Many were upset but I felt this anger was removing the few great stories they loved, but as fans were able to ignore the inconsistences in the novels. To leave the expanded universe in play as canon, it would limit Disney’s ability to create stories without contradicting the existing writings. It was my hope that Disney, with a clean slate and the collection of stories and characters of the EU could create something new, something different.

While the Disney trilogy shows there was no consistent plans for a story or continuity, it showed they were more hoping the money would come because of the brand. Where the Last Jedi was the movie that divided fans and brought the conflict of destroying characters to the top of discussions, it is here the talk of entitlement soars to the top.

While it would have been great to see Luke as the great powerful Jedi of the EU books, the path they chose was interesting. When Luke talks about the Jedi and Sith more or less being the same, to me Luke’s sadness showed the idea that the ideals of the Jedi were misrepresented. The Jedi were not righteous defenders of the people but pursued their own goals and ideas.

It was this point were I had great hope that perhaps Disney would create a new interpretation of the force, something new and fresh. The Rise of Skywalker showed us that Disney really had no idea of where to go.

So as a Star Wars fan was I entitled to have Disney create a all powerful Luke in the cinematic universe, the answer is no. I don’t own the story or the character. For me to demand that they make any of the characters a particular way infringes of the rights of those who own the rights to the universe. What I feel I am entitled to, as a fan, is a good story with good character development.

If you want to show Luke falling from the ideals he held in Return of the Jedi, then develop the story and present it in a manner that is enjoyable. Since the fan is paying money and investing their time, the fan should be entitled to a good story. The problems studios face is that you will never please everyone all the time. Fans may not like a characters development or arc, or a story concept will be presenting in a lack luster manner.

As fans we can vote with our wallets. If you don’t like the franchise change in its story, the fan has the right to walk away not to demand it done “my way”.

I apologize for the length of the letter, keep the content coming and keep the hope alive that the franchises lost to bad writing will one day recover.
Tatum B.

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