Posted tagged ‘Futurama’

RA: Politics for Geeks

September 13, 2008

I’ve been aching to put together some recomendation lists for awhile now, and as it’s an election year I figured this would be a good one to start of with.  So my top 10 political stories for geeks:

10) Iron Council, the most political novel from New Weird proponent and former Socialist party candidate China Mieville.

9) Sam & Max: Abe Lincoln Must Die, Telltale games has done an amazing job by bring back Sam & Max to adventure games.  This episode is the highlight of it to date, thanks in large part to seeing the homicidal rabbit-like Max debate the Lincoln Memorial.  Right now it’s also available as a free trial to advertise the other 9 episodes.

8 ) Howard the Duck, the best satire of life in the 70’s comics ever produced.  Of particular note here are issues 7-9 in which Howard is nominated as the Presidential candidate for the All Night Party, only to lose when some lurid photographs of him get released.

7) V for Vendetta, forget Watchmen, V is Alan Moore’s masterpiece.  A searing blast of anarchy aimed squarely at Margaret Thatcher that didn’t lose any of it’s power when translated into a movie focused on Bush’s America instead.  Both the movie and the original are well worth checking out.

6) DMZ, Brian Wood’s chronicle of the second U.S. civil war (centered in New York City) is Vertigo’s best book (once 100 Bullets ends in a few months) and is by far the most relevant comic currently on the stands.

5) Futurama: A Head In the Polls, always a show with a slight politicla bent to it (Al Gore’s daughter was one of the writers after all), Futurama went all it for this episode in which the Planet Express team explore a political convention, watch the debates between Jack Johnson and John Jackson, and ultimately allow for the second coming of Richard Nixon.  One of my favorite episodes if only for the Hypnotoad.

4) Wag the Dog, Barry Levinson and David Mamet’s brilliant tale of a staged war used to distract the public from a scandal involving the incumbant President.  Some great performances from Dustin Hoffman, Robert DeNiro and William H. Macy help to sell my favorite political film.

3) The Onion, still the best source for print satire of current events.

2) Battlestar Galactica, a continually surprising, Peabody Award winning space opera, that has proven to be the most relevant show on tv.  The writers excel at playing devil’s advicates.  Positing a world in which the heroes have no choice but to rig elections, commit terrorist bombings, hold secret military tribunals and criminalize abortions (they have gone on the record as actually being fairly liberal).  Now if it’ll just come back to wrap up the final season.

1) Transmetropolitan, the book that first put Warren Ellis and Darick Robertson on the map.  An epic chronicling how the press brings about the rise and fall of a President.  Besides the politics it is also one of the great works of futurism and a scathing attack on the failures of the press.  I’ve reread the entire thing at least half a dozen times now and I fully plan on doing so again in the near future.

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Spotlight On Futurama

June 28, 2008

In honor of the new dvd release this past week, the Beast With a Billion Backs, this weeks spotlight is on the most geek friendly show of all time, Futurama (an indespensible part of any dvd collection).  The show is of course Matt Groening’s failed follow-up to the Simpsons.  Failed because it never found much of an audience when it was on Fox (which might have had something to do with their erratic scheduling for it).  However, it has since gone on to huge cult status, revivals on both the Cartoon Network and Comedy Central, and now a series of straight-to-dvd films.

Now the reason Futurama is worth mentioning here is that it has what is perhaps the most highly educated writing staff for a show in television history.  Amongst the writers are:

David X. Cohen who studied physics at Harvard and computer science at Berkley.

Ken Keeler who has a PhD in applied mathematics from Harvard University and who spent time at Bell Labs.

Jeff Westbrook a former professor of computer science at Yale.

Kristin Gore, novelist and the daughter of the former Vice-President.

The end result is one of the best pieces of science-fiction television has ever seen.  The show pokes almost equal fun at society and advanced physics.  The previous dvd release even had a math lecture as a special feature!  This is a show that just understands all the unexplainable aspects of geekdom (like our love of fight pits, killer robots, and penguins with shotguns).  It’s also perhaps the most environmentally conscious show ever, with regular environmental themed episodes (often featuring guest appearances by Al Gore) and carbon-neutral dvd packaging.