— Nickelodeon and The Splat–the network’s programming block dedicated to Nick’s legendary library of hits from the ‘90s and 2000s–are blasting open the vaults for a slime-tastic, immersive experience at Comic-Con International: San Diego 2016 that’s bound to be All That, and more. Headquartered at its 1,800 square-foot booth (#4113) on the convention floor, Nickelodeon will pay tribute to some of its most memorable shows and popular characters with activations, games, panels, talent signings and interactive design elements featuring: Legends of the Hidden Temple, Hey Arnold!, Rugrats, Double Dare, Aaahh!!! Real Monsters, CatDog, Rocko’s Modern Life, and Invader Zim, among many others.
“Those who dare to pass through the sacred gates of Comic-Con will enter a world of nostalgic treasures, artifacts and trivia from Nickelodeon’s beloved ’90s archives,” said King Olmec, Keeper of Nickelodeon’s booth. “The choice to enter is yours and yours alone, loyal fans.”
Every day of the convention, Nick’s booth will feature: a virtual reality 360-experience where fans can step into the world of the upcoming Legends of the Hidden Temple live-action TV movie; an interactive trivia game featuring Legends of the Hidden Temple’s King Olmec, Keeper of the Temple; photo opps with a life-size replica of the Hey Arnold! stoop and the nose from Double Dare; a retail area, where attendees can purchase a variety of exclusive Nick, The Splat and ‘90s-themed gear and one-of-a-kind collectibles; costumed character appearances; and autograph signings with cast member from All That, SpongeBob SquarePants’ Tom Kenny, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles voice talent, Kirk Fogg from Legends of the Hidden Temple, and more special appearances to be announced in the coming weeks.
Nickelodeon will present four panels during the convention: Happy Happy! Joy Joy!, a look back at 25 years of original Nick animation featuring the creators of Invader Zim, Hey Arnold! and other legendary series; Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles–Return to New York, an exclusive first look at the current TV season; She Made That?: Nickelodeon hosts Women in Animation, featuring some of the genre’s female pioneers of the past and present; and a special reunion of cast members from legendary kids’ sketch-comedy series All That–with a surprise from Nick’s forthcoming Legends of the Hidden Temple TV movie.
The following is a full rundown of the panels and booth activity:
• Happy Happy! Joy Joy!: 25 Years of Nickelodeon Original Animation
Thursday, July 21, 11:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m. (Room: 6A) – For 25 years Nickelodeon has produced some of the most innovative and memorable animation in the history of television. Nick Animation Podcast host Hector Navarro finds out how and why four of the network’s most influential creators did what they did: Craig Bartlett (Hey Arnold!), Jhonen Vasquez (Invader Zim), Butch Hartman (The Fairly OddParents, Danny Phantom) and Arlene Klasky, who along with Gabor Csupo and Paul Germain, created Rugrats. Don’t miss the chance to see production art from the upcoming TV movie Hey Arnold!: The Jungle Movie; animation from Hartman’s new Bunsen is a Beast!; and the world premiere of Don vs Raph, a TMNT animated short written and produced by Jhonen Vasquez.
• Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles–Return to New York
Friday, July 22, 11:45 a.m.-12:45 p.m. (Room: 6A) – They travelled time and space to save planet Earth, and now the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles return home! Executive producers Ciro Nieli and Brandon Auman share sneak peeks of the epic adventures and new characters that await the Turtles when they return to the streets of NY in season four. On hand will be the extraordinary voice actors of the TMNT world: Rob Paulsen (Donatello), Greg Cipes (Michelangelo), Gwendoline Yeo (Shinigami) and Eric Bauza (Tiger Claw). Also, witness the world premiere of two never-before-seen TMNT animated shorts presented by TMNT co-creator, Kevin Eastman. The panel will be moderated by Andre Meadows (Black Nerd Comedy).
• She Made That?: Nickelodeon hosts Women in Animation
Friday, July 22, 6:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m. (Room: 24ABC) – Join this group of innovative and pioneering female cartoon creators for a discussion on their careers and the opportunities for women in animation today. Panelists include women responsible for the original Nicktoons from the 1990s and others who are making some of today’s best animation for TV and the web. The panel will include Lauren Faust (My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic), Mary Harrington (Invader Zim, Hey Arnold!), Vanessa Coffey (The Ren & Stimpy Show, Rugrats), Rikke Asbjoern (Pinky Malinky), Margaret Dean (Women in Animation) and Maija Burnett (California Institute of the Arts).
• Back to the ‘90s: Nickelodeon’s All That Reunion and Legends of the Hidden Temple!
Saturday, July 23, 11:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m. (Room: 6A) – Join Nickelodeon’s throwback programming block, The Splat, for a reunion of the trailblazing sketch comedy series’ major players, Josh Server, Danny Tamberelli, Lori Beth Denberg and Kel Mitchell, discussing all things All That, with a few added surprises. Plus, get the first look at Nick’s new TV movie based on Legends of the Hidden Temple and hear about it from returning cast members Kirk Fogg and Dee Bradley Baker, along with Isabela Moner (Transformers 5). The panel will be moderated by Entertainment Weekly staff writer, Marc Snetiker.
DAILY BOOTH ACTIVITY
• Legends of the Hidden Temple Virtual Reality 360-Degree Experience: This 360-degree experience transports fans into the world of the upcoming action-adventure TV movie inspired by the iconic game show, allowing them to experience the mysterious Mayan temple first-hand.
• Olmec Photo Opp/Trivia: Fans can interact with Legends of the Hidden Temple’s King Olmec and test their knowledge by answering trivia questions for the opportunity to win prizes.
• Hey Arnold! Stoop and Double Dare Nose Photo Opps: Fans can take photos on a replica of Arnold’s stoop from Hey Arnold! and with the nose from Double Dare (beware of boogers).
• Autograph Signings: Signing opportunities with Nickelodeon talent include: All That cast; Legends of the Hidden Temple cast; SpongeBob SquarePants voice talent; Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles voice talent and executive producers; Nick current series creators and executive producers (C.H. Greenblatt, Harvey Beaks; Chris Savino, The Loud House; and Dave Cooper, Johnny Ryan, and David Sacks, Pig Goat Banana Cricket); and Nick original animation creators (Butch Hartman, The Fairly OddParents and Bunsen is a Beast!; Craig Bartlett, Hey Arnold!; Arlene Klasky, Rugrats, Wild Thornberrys, Rocket Power; and Jhonen Vasquez, Invader Zim).
• Costumed-Character Appearances: The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Rugrats, SpongeBob SquarePants, The Fairly OddParents, Arnold and Saban’s Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and Power Rangers Dino Super Charge will make appearances at Nick’s booth at select times during the convention.
• Retail: Attendees can purchase Comic-Con exclusive figures, t-shirts and more.
• Giveaways: Enter for a chance to win special prizes over the course of the convention.
Additionally, in celebration of the Aug. 11, 25-year anniversary of the launch of the network’s original animated series (The Ren & Stimpy Show, Rugrats and Doug), The Splat will feature brand-new commentary and behind-the-scenes information from the series’ voice talent and creators, along with themed programming and encore airings of these animated series every night during the month of August.
Nickelodeon’s The Splat is a multiple-screen destination spanning television, eight social media platforms and a dedicated web site aggregating the most loved Nick content from the 1990s and beyond. Celebrating the characters and shows that are definitional to millennials who grew up in the ‘90s, The Splat consists of: an eight-hour television block airing daily from 10 p.m.–6 a.m. (ET/PT) featuring landmark Nickelodeon programs and classic programming stunts; a fan-driven website (www.TheSplat.com) built around social conversations; a robust social media community on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, Tumblr, Twitter, Vine and YouTube platforms; and a fully integrated Splat-branded emoji keyboard with emoticons, stickers and GIFs.
Midnight Mass: The Blood of Life
The isolated island community of Crockett receives a mysterious new head priest, full of secrets and a brand new testament under a very unusual Messenger of God.
Meet poor Riley Flynn (Zach Gilford), freshly released from prison and wracked with guilt over what got him there, a stupid drinking accident that caused the death of his ex-girlfriend. The last thing he wants to do is go back to Crockett and the judgment of the mostly religious community there, his disappointed family, and the nightmares of his ex’s death that plague him. But where else would have him? Resignedly on the ferry, he goes.
Riley’s dad Ed (Henry Thomas) isn’t the kind of man who talks very much at all, much less about his feelings, or his very real disappointment in his elder son. Riley’s teen brother Warren (Igby Rigney) has no idea what to say to him either, and just generally keeps mum. Riley’s mom Annie (Kristin Lehman) is accepting and loving, hesitant in how to help her eldest son but never wavering in her faith in the help of our lord Jesus. Mom seems to think a good heaping dose of the Church would set Riley right but is surprised to learn that the old priest of the Parish, Pruitt, has taken an extended leave of absence from the island, and his newcomer replacement Father Paul (Hamish Linklater) is young, charismatic, and bursting at the seams to tell the whole island about the gifts he brought them, most especially what he claims as a new testament under a messenger of God.
We’ll get back to that whole ball of issues in a moment, the other interesting characters of Crockett Island. Bev Keane (Samantha Sloyan) is the nightmarish overly polite and gently, almost lovingly condescending neighbor Christian woman you’ve ever loathed, the kind of person who explains away every last thing her Church may do wrong or contradictory because, after all, God works in mysterious ways. Pfft. Of course, Bev immediately ingratiates herself as the second to the new Father Paul in their services and is the first to start covering up his transgressions as they become more rampant.
Newcomers to Crockett Sheriff Hassan (Rahul Kohli) and his son Ali (Rahul Abburi) present a burgeoning problem to the plans of Father Paul and his shadowy companion, for they are both practicing Muslims. The practical side of investigating these so-called ‘miracles’ and strange happenings falls on Hassan’s shoulders, as he already struggles with barely-concealed racism and suspicion from his fellow islanders, and of course his son is being wooed away from him by the promise of actual, tangible miracles, but from a different whole faith and God. Father Paul definitely does not practice a traditional Christian faith and relies far too much on making use of the eucharist, the ceremony of the blood and flesh of Jesus Christ turning into bread and wine and, well, consumed.
Wade (Michael Trucco) and his wife Dolly (Crystal Balint) are lifers of the island and both in general interested in one thing, the advancement of their own family, specifically their daughter Leeza (Annarah Cymone), who happens to be in a wheelchair. And that happens to be the canny Father Paul’s first real miracle-with-a-cost that he demonstrates to the astonishment of the parishioners, after a heartfelt and rousing sermon, Father Paul commands Leeza to rise, to stand, and to walk. And lo, she does. What parents wouldn’t wholly dedicate themselves to a cause after seeing this happen to their beloved precious daughter? The fringe benefits of healing, and power, the ones that come at a mighty, currently unnamed, cost, are simply a nice bonus.
Joe Collie (Robert Longstreet) is the town drunk, and while his reasons for drowning his sorrows in the sauce might be understandable, absolution wears a very different face when it comes from Father Paul. While Leeza might be willing to forgive Joe, and even as Joe begins attending the newly-formed Al-Anon meetings on the island of course hosted by Father Paul, redemption might’ve been better sought from medical professionals, and not this newfound method of religious worship.
Dr. Sarah Gunning (Annabeth Gish) is the islands’ kind of all-around medic, and this is how she and Riley’s old friend Erin (Kate Siegel), also newly returned to the island, a few months pregnant but traveling quietly alone, met when Erin comes to the Doc for obstetrics. Sarah’s older mother Mildred Gunning (Alexandra Essoe) has many medical and mental issues, and Sarah struggles in their shared home, to take care of her addled mom and balance her own life. Then Father Paul takes it upon himself to visit one of his oldest parishioners, bringing the sacred host and wine with him to give directly to Mildred, who starts looking and acting so much better under his loving care.
The show is very much a slow slow burn, with a lot of the actual action taking place in the last two episodes. Much of the beginning and middle episodes feature two people just sitting alone, having quiet and seriously in-depth conversations about heavy subjects – grief and repentance, what happens when we die, the disasters that come as a result of addictions, how our actions’ consequences reverberate to those we love around us, faith and the foibles of man, and of course, the giving of oneself over to a higher power, for strength, and guidance, and love.
Except, for the higher power that Father Paul brought back with him, to share with his beloved flock of Crockett Island, while it may be extremely powerful and full of what could be considered miraculous magic, everything comes at some kind of a cost. And when the Messenger of God is finally revealed to the shocked denizens of Crockett at Easter Mass, with Father Paul rapturing on about rebirth as the bloody massacre begins in earnest, it’s faith, not in any kind of God or religion, but faith in each other, that may save a few hardy souls.
Question the wisdom of your religious leaders along with the rest of us in a fine slow-burn addition to the Flanaverse, Midnight Mass is on Netflix now!
Saw X: It ain’t brain surgery!
Legendary executioner Jigsaw returns to exact revenge on a cadre of scam artists who promised him a bogus cure for his cancer!
First off, be aware, that this is what I call an interleaved sequel, a movie set between previous films in the franchise. In this case, Saw X occurs after the events of the very first Saw film, and before Saw II. Everybody got where we are? Good! Into the madness, we dive!
So, as we all know, John Kramer’s been diagnosed with cancer, very aggressive brain cancer, and likely doesn’t have much time left. And he’s tried everything under the sun, doing a ton of meticulous research, we’d expect nothing less from our master of the art of murder, and not one thing has worked. Yet one man from the support group for cancer sufferers, Henry (Michael Beach), offers an off-the-books supposed miracle cure, and John jumps at the chance.
Why does this nonsense always sound too good to be true? Because it is. Deleted scenes from the first Deadpool movie already told us why traveling to Mexico for any kind of medical cure is a sublimely stupid move, but Kramer is desperate. And while he might be sick and dying, John Kramer has never been what anyone could call stupid. So the villa out in the Mexican countryside, the affable cab driver Diego (Joshua Okamoto) professes surprise at Kramer being highjacked for his good, the nervous muttering from assistant Valentina (Paulette Hernandez), the side-eyeing from little housekeep Gabriela (Renata Vaca) and her tequila, and most especially the smooth and smarming reassurances of head “doctor” Cecilia Pederson (Synnove Macody Lund), all leave a kind of sour taste in John’s mouth.
The whole cluex4 scene is done in the style that the Saw films are known for, where we the audience are treated to cut-together explanatory scenes in a flip-flash fashion of usually about two minutes, for poor John when he realizes he’s been hoodwinked and just how badly, seems a little contrived. But then it’s entirely possible that we the audience truly expected our genius mastermind of the infamous Jigsaw murders to have realized what was happening sooner, and got enraged along with Kramer. And cheered as he prepared to take his bloody and ultra-violent revenge!
First up in our grand guignol of executions is the return of Jigsaw’s first protégé, Amanda (Shawnee Smith). And despite her avowed reverence for Jigsaw and his proven “therapy”, Amanda does waver a bit when the scammers are put through the paces of their specially-made Saw traps, and they shriek and blubber and bleed out. The appearance of the ringer of the bunch, Parker (Steven Brand), doesn’t even slow our beloved engineer of the damned down, because we knew Jigsaw would have his other apprentice waiting just off stage, the deliciously vicious Detective Hoffman (Costas Mandylor). Even the monkeywrench of involving little-boy soccer fan Carlos (Jorge Briseno) in the traps, is just another cog in the machine that is the brilliantly plotting mind of John Kramer.
A fine addition to the Saw legends, showcasing a return to the beloved style and panache of the original Tobin Bell-starring Jigsaw films, Saw X is splashing gore and gallons of blood in theaters now!
Scott Pilgrim Takes Off
“Scott Pilgrim Takes Off,” Netflix’s latest series, is a rollicking journey through the world of video game culture, blending nostalgic references with a fresh narrative twist. Centered around Scott Pilgrim, portrayed with magnetic charisma by Michael Cera, the show skillfully integrates gaming elements into its storytelling, creating a delightful homage to the video game subculture.
The series cleverly employs pixelated graphics, power-up animations, and game-like sound effects to bring the virtual world to life. These visual cues, reminiscent of classic video games, enhance the storytelling and resonate with audiences familiar with the gaming landscape. The attention to detail in recreating iconic gaming moments is commendable, creating a visual and auditory treat for enthusiasts.
The exploration of video game culture goes beyond mere aesthetics; it becomes an integral part of the characters’ identities and interactions. The script intelligently weaves gaming terminology and tropes into the dialogue, effectively blending the real and virtual worlds. The series navigates the challenges and triumphs of the characters through the lens of gaming, making it a unique and engaging experience for both gamers and general audiences.
The ensemble cast, including standout performances from Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Ellen Wong, and Chris Evans embraces the gaming theme with infectious enthusiasm. The chemistry between the characters is palpable, adding emotional depth to the series.
“Scott Pilgrim Takes Off” successfully taps into the zeitgeist of video game culture, offering a nostalgic yet contemporary take on the gaming phenomenon. It’s a must-watch for those who cherish the pixelated roots of the gaming world while providing an accessible and entertaining narrative for a broader audience. The series takes off not only in its title but also in its ability to soar within the ever-expanding realm of Netflix originals.