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Weekend Roundtable: Fearing the Suck Fairy

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.

Nate Boss

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.

Luke Hickman

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.

Aaron Peck

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.

Mike Attebery

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‘.

Brian Hoss

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.

Tom Landy

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.

Josh Zyber

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.

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What prized items from your youth do you fear that the Suck Fairy may have visited? Tell us in the Comments.

34 comments

  1. Alex

    I remember absolutely *loving* the Dungeons and Dragons animated series, getting up every Saturday morning, rushing to eat my cereal and disappear into the basement to enjoy the lastest adventures of my favorite band of mismatched heroes.

    Dear heavens. It was on Netflix. I couldn’t stop myself. I wish I had. I can’t unsee what I have seen….

  2. Another title I considered going for was Pirates of Dark Water. Now THAT show was fucking neat when it first came on the air. I refuse to watch it again, knowing I’d lose that memory.

    Comics, my favorite run growing up was the “New” X-Factor run, from 71-100. It was adult yet kid friendly, it had GREAT comic relief between Strong Guy and Multiple Man, and even if the villain stable was HORRIFICALLY bad (Mister Sinister aside), I still loved that run. I stopped at 102 and didn’t look back.

    • Have you been reading the current X-Factor series? It doesn’t get the press that a lot of the other X-books do, but it’s one of my favorite comics that Marvel’s putting out.

      Josh: I came so, so, so close to writing about G.I. Joe comics as well. Now I’m glad I didn’t! I was nerdy enough about them that — despite not having read any of ‘em in decades — I can still tell you that the origin of Snake-Eyes was in #26/27 and that Cobra Commander was ‘killed’ by Fred VII in #61.

    • Good picks. During the two years that I read comics, that X-Factor run was probably the best. Oftentimes when I ‘m stuck waiting in line, I think of Quicksilver explaining how his whole life is waiting for everyone else’s snails pace.

  3. Ryan

    Masters of the Universe. I was a huge fan as a kid, but now I see it as preachy and craptastic animation. Wish I hadn’t bought the entire original series.

  4. JM

    “While Transformers 3 may have done well at the box office, the film did nothing for toy sales… It’s because of having the same characters in all three movies. This is why Transformers 4 will have a new cast of robots and it will be a story revolving around these new characters.”

    - Brian Goldner, CEO of Hasbro.

  5. JM

    TMNT 2014…

    The film’s villain is named Colonel Schrader, and he’s the head of a secret military operation backed by an army nicknamed “the Foot.”

    Casey Jones is the main protagonist. He and and April O’Neil are 18-year-olds, dating and in high school. Casey spends his time as a security guard at a furniture factory. He’s also an amateur hockey player.

    April is getting ready to move to New York for an internship at CBS, where she will meet the turtles who are indeed from outer space. Specifically, Dimension X.

    The Turtles make Kung Fu Panda jokes and wear color coded masks because, as the script states, it was cool in Reservoir Dogs.

  6. EM

    When I was ten, I saw a movie called The Private Eyes in the theater. It was a mystery spoof with horror elements, starring Don Knotts and Tim Conway as bumbling detectives. It was a laugh riot and greatly inspired my imagination, particularly where haunted-ish castles were concerned.

    Maybe five or six years later, the film was going to be broadcast on TV. O happy delight! As was standard operating procedure with Important Cinema in those days, I set up the VCR to tape the movie for my collection. (Yes, I do have a shady past!) As I watched the broadcast, I was dumbfounded by how execrable the movie was. Yet I kept watching, thinking it would get better. It did not. About the halfway mark, I finally regained myself enough to stop recording, rewind the tape (to record over, of course), and—most importantly—get that program off the tube.

  7. William Henley

    Airwolf was a brilliant recommendation. I fondly remember this show as a kid, but also could not make it through the pilot on Netflix.

    I remember growing up LOVING Quantum Leap. The show just has not aged well. Maybe it got better after the first season, but man, it sure is hard to get through now.

    Little House on the Prarie. I was watching this just the other day on the inspiration channel. Man, I think the girl who played Laura has got to be the most annoying actress ever! I so do not remember the show being this bad growing up!

    I find it funny how it seems that no one has hit on video games, so I will start. Impossible Mission, Bubble Bobble, Pitfall, River City Ransom, Paperboy. any sidescrolling SpaceShip Shooter game, Ultima, Wolfenstein 3D. I am sure there are others that I am forgetting, but these are the ones that come to mind.

    • I was a die-hard Quantum Leap fan too. I watched the two-episode pilot a while back and you’re right – it has aged. But I still find it better than 95 percent of today’s network television.

      • Shannon Nutt

        I think that’s more a reflection of television taking a giant leap forward in production values. Give credit to shows like The X-Files, CSI, etc. (Twin Peaks actually started the trend, but even those shows look a bit dated now) – making TV episodes look more like mini-movies.

        Script-wise and acting-wise thought, I still think Quantum Leap holds up.

        • William Henley

          Well, yes, but look at other shows that were well made that do hold up well – Star Trek (all of them), Lost In Space (okay, its corney, but I don’t think the show was ever ment to be serious. Well, maybe a few episodes in season 1), Battlestar Galactica (not as good as the new one, but still holds up well), Buck Rogers.

          Quantum Leap just didn’t hold up as well as other sci-fi shows. I am trying to get a bit futher into the seires on Netflix – hoping the show got better. The pilot was pretty good, but this was followed by about 5 or 6 really weak episodes. It pretty much kept me from wanting to watch more of the series. However, I did catch a couple of random season 2 and 3 episodes back in the day on one of the HD channels (don’t remember if it was HDNet or Universal HD), and I seem to remember them being much better. So maybe the show got better over time.

          • EM

            Although I’ve seen the show several times, I’m not very well versed in Lost in Space. That said, it seems to me that the early episodes were an attempt at straightforward sci-fi/fantasy adventure, albeit with a juvenile bent, before the series devolved into outright camp.

    • Adam Tyner

      Geez, I haven’t played River City Ransom in forever, but I sure hope it’d still hold up today. The Scott Pilgrim vs. the World game was heavily a RCR homage, and I loved the heck out of that.

  8. Luke – When Ernest Borgenine died last month, I immediately thought of Dom on Airwolf.

    Dungeons and Dragons cartoon – woot. Had to get the UK release. Very cool package, still was not announced in the U.S.

    Anyone here remember The Wuzzles? You still can’t go to a big thrift store and not see at least one of the stuffed animal toys there.

    Inhumanoids was cool too.

  9. Kevin

    For me, the one that really didn’t age well was “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie”. I still get a kick out of the show (I just did a complete rewatch of MMPR thanks to the Shout Factory/TimeLife DVD set), but the movie is just painful. Honest to god, looking back at it all, I actually think the spandex and guys in suits robots/monsters from the TV show work better than the “armor” and CGI in the movie.

    • William Henley

      Oh, come on, was this show ever good? Half the characters were badly dubbed from the Japanese version, you threw in a few scenes with American actors, horrible dialogue. The show was painful to watch when it was on.

      Actually, I think the show is still on. My roommate’s kid watches it like non-stop. I am shocked that this show is still playing after, what, 20 years?

      The movie was at least somewhat well written.

  10. There are so many films that I loved when I was younger… A lot of them, to be honest, I still really enjoy, despite having dated. I can view them in the context of their time and still enjoy them. (e.g. Space Hunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone, or The Sword and the Sorcerer). But there are one or two that just aren’t great…

    Troll, Ghoulies… Yikes… (Though Troll at least still has good moments).

    Yor reminded me of another old SF I’ve never been able to track down. I can’t remember the full title, but it was called ‘Something and the challenges of Xcalibr8′ I think (obviously the xcalibr8 was supposed to be related to excalibur in a weird science fiction way. I think it was a computer). Wish I could track that one down… ;-)

    • EM

      Doomsie, I think the XCALIBR8/Excalibrate film you’re referring to is The Dungeonmaster a.k.a. Ragewar a.k.a. other things. I first ran into it on This, a TV network that specializes in “classic” movies. It is the source of the fantastic quote, “I reject your reality and substitute my own”, which Adam Savage has popularized on the series MythBusters. I find the movie does have its charms, in its own hokey way.

  11. lordbowler

    I’ve been wanting to revisit some old toons, like Thundercats, He-Man and others.

    One in particular I remember fondly was M.A.S.K., which had one of the best theme songs ever.

    I did revisit the short-lived Pirates of Dark Water and it has held up well. Too bad it never got to finish the story.

    • William Henley

      I was thinking that I must have missed the ending. Glad to know (or maybe not so glad to know) that I wasn’t missing anything.

  12. AllanL5

    I feared to watch the original “Jonny Quest” series on DVD. It had one of my favorite episodes growing up: “The Robot Spy”. But I was able to get the DVD, only to find out they only did one season of it — too expensive, I suppose. Still, it holds up extremely well. There is an episode or two with cringe-worthy racism though.

    • Jonny Quest is one of the few things I’ve found holds up (though I also take issue with the racism). I’d add that “The Invisible Monster” still creeps me out while reminding me I want my damned jet pack.

      The only thing I’ve revisited that doesn’t induce severe cringing is Robotech, and even that is pretty much limited to select episodes of the Macross saga.