Nostalgia can be a dangerous thing. No matter how much we may have loved something in our youth, returning to revisit it as an adult can sometimes lead to painful disappointment when we discover that the movie, TV show, cartoon, book, comic, videogame, etc. has been visited in the meantime by the Suck Fairy, who has taken that beloved item and infused it with suckiness that we just don’t remember being there the first time around. For this week’s Roundtable, we discuss those properties that we adored in the past, but are terrified to look at again.
Before we start, I can make no secret of the fact that this week’s Roundtable was inspired by a recent post on sci-fi author John Scalzi’s Whatever blog. I thought that it was a great topic and worth sharing here as well.
I used to love, I mean L-O-V-E, the classic ‘ThunderCats‘ cartoon. It may not have been the best even back then, but it had a colorful cast of characters and could readily occupy my attention span. It also had an interesting mix of adulthood versus childhood to it. I could really envision myself in any role, not just the ones that matched my specific age group. (George Lucas and your Jedi babies, take note.) I have been deathly afraid to revisit this show, or even the recent reboot, due to fears that it would compromise one of my few positive memories from childhood. I just KNOW that I’d spot more than a handful of terribleness in it, and I can’t bring myself to do that.
Do you remember that scene in ‘(500) Days of Summer’ where Summer and Tom are trying to hum the theme song to ‘Knight Rider’, but just can’t get it right? Well, as a young kid, that was me – only I never forgot a theme song. My old man would quiz me with “What’s the theme song to… ?” and I’d never let him down. My two favorite themes were ‘Knight Rider’ and ‘Airwolf’. Everyone remembers ‘Knight Rider’, but ‘Airwolf‘ not so much. Mrs. Hickman had never heard of it it, let alone seen it, so I queued up the first episode for her to watch. I anticipated the intense chopper battles and seemingly impossible missions, as that’s how the series is painted in my memory. Imagine my disappointment at seeing it now. What an awful series this is. After 15 minutes, we’d both had enough and called it quits. It turns out that the synthesized theme song – which I can still hum on command – was the only aspect worth revisiting.
I’ve got to say, as much as I loved ‘X-Men: The Animated Series‘ growing up, after revisiting it I found out that it was better left in the nostalgia centers of my brain. Watching it again a while back when the DVDs finally came out, I realized that this show definitely didn’t age well. Most of the dialogue consists of bad one-liners and punchlines, usually delivered by Wolverine. As a matter of fact, all Wolverine speaks in is one-liners. Not to mention all the time wasted episode after episode focusing on Jubilee’s story.
I will, however, credit the show with one thing that has remained with me throughout the years. When I was young, after watching an episode on Saturday morning, I’d wander around the rest of the day looking at metal objects, wondering, “If I were Magneto…” I still do that today. For example, “If I were Magneto, I’d crush all ‘X-Men’ cartoon DVDs with my mind so that no one would be tempted to revisit the show, and would instead remember it with super-awesome-completely-oblivious kid nostalgia.”
Adam Tyner (DVDTalk)
As far as movies go, I’m enough of a nostalgia addict to have picked up most of my childhood favorites again. Sometimes I really, really wish I hadn’t, and I’m looking at that copy of ‘The Dark Crystal‘ on the shelf when I say that. That 48-minute scene with all of the Skeksis huddled around each other, screeching, “mMmmmmMMMMMmmmmmMMMMMmmmm,” in particular is just nails on chalkboard.
The comic that’s mostly responsible for my lifelong obsession with the medium is Mike W. Barr’s ‘Outsiders‘. I have a complete run of that about seven feet from where I’m sitting right now, but I haven’t cracked those open in ages. I mean, there was a badnik in one of the early issues named The Ghetto Blaster whose armor could level buildings with intense blasts of sound waves. He literally blasted the ghetto. Another one named New Wave was a mohawked punk rocker who could turn into waves of crashing water. The Nuclear Family was an ‘Ozzie and Harriet’-style ’50s idyllic bunch, except for the part where they were androids created at the peak of the Cold War and were walking, talking nukes. I didn’t even get to the part where a Jewish caretaker performs the Heimlich maneuver on a choking Hitler clone. There’s still a special place in my heart locked away for Geo-Force, Halo, Looker, and the rest of that bunch, but that’s where they’re gonna stay.
I never avoid a childhood favorite for fear of it having aged badly. Maybe I should. Lord knows I’ve let nostalgia get the better of me far too many times, but I usually know that I’m in for a cruel surprise long before I hit PLAY. But there’s one movie, one longtime family favorite, a series my sisters and I used to drag our parents to as soon as they hit theaters. The third one gets a lot of well-deserved flack, but the second one, the second one I always thought was good. I watched it again last year, and it has not held up well. I’ll tell you the title, but the pain is too great to delve into it more. That film, that gut-punch of nostalgia gone haywire, was ‘The Karate Kid, Part II‘.
I recently watched the first season of ‘Batman Beyond’ for the first time since it premiered, and was pleasantly surprised to find that it was better than I remembered. I’ve had my share of disappointments, though, like when I saw ‘Krull’ on DVD. ‘Split Second’ was not the serious film that I remembered either. The show that I’m always tempted to watch, but have abstained out of a combination of unavailability and fear, is ‘C. O. P. S.‘. I remember it being animated, involving a futuristic flying-car and a hard-nosed police force, and being awesome despite having a short run (bad sign). I think that seeing even a few minutes of the show would fill me with a heap of disappointment that no set of rose-tinted glasses could prevent. ‘Transformers: The Movie’ from 1986 continues to be every kind of awesome. On the other hand, that ‘G.I. Joe’ thing with the B. E. T. is not so good, I’m afraid.
M. Enois Duarte
I think that I’ve pretty much revisited most of the movies and shows from my childhood, and have been both disappointed and satisfied with them. But the one show I have yet to muster up enough strength for is ‘What’s Happening!!‘. I loved watching this show every time it came on, but today, after a few decades, I’m a little afraid that it will be a major disappointment. I have lots of fond memories of laughing out loud to the weekly shenanigans of Dwayne, Raj and Rerun. I’m too scared of ruining what I remember and still imagine to be a great TV show, so I’ve avoided buying the episodes on DVD and have to wait until I can build enough courage to watch them again.
There was this movie released in 1983 called ‘Yor: The Hunter from the Future‘ that I’m sure most people have never even heard of. The few who did obviously hated every minute of it, judging by its 3.7 rating on IMDb. I’m not sure why exactly, but somehow this prehistoric science fiction adventure starring Reb “Always Scream for Nothing” Brown managed to become a childhood favorite of mine. The movie is full of terrible acting, horrible dialogue, really lame special effects and plot holes galore, but for some strange reason, the 7-year-old me latched onto this laughably bad film. Thinking of it now makes me wonder if the ‘Mystery Science Theater’ guys ever made fun of it. I so, I’ll have to track down that episode for old time’s sake.
When I was a kid, ‘G.I. Joe‘ was my religion. I bought into that franchise wholesale – toys, lunch boxes, bed sheets, coloring books, Shrinky Dinks, the works… I think I always knew that the afterschool cartoon series was kind of silly and dumb, but I enjoyed it anyway. So I knew what I was getting into when I rewatched the animated movie a couple years ago. But the comic book, that legendary Marvel series written by Larry Hama… No, that shit is sacrosanct in my memory. It was 100% flawless, and I don’t dare think of it otherwise.
The problem, unfortunately, is that Hama has returned to the franchise on-and-off in recent years, and I haven’t been much impressed with what he’s written. Maybe he’s just gotten worse as a writer, but his stilted dialogue and goofy plots have an uncomfortable familiarity. As I think back on it, I have to admit that I remember the old book having an abundance of day-glo ninjas and ridiculous sci-fi stuff. Was the original comic not as good as my recollection of it? I’m afraid to find out.
What prized items from your youth do you fear that the Suck Fairy may have visited? Tell us in the Comments.