Halloween Special: Mad Scientist Showdown


This showdown has exploded, expanding from two to a handful of mad, neurotic fictional scientists. They’re all tied in my book – special in their own way, as the cliché goes. Who’s your favorite?

1. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is the original mad scientist. In Shelley’s gothic magnum opus, Dr. Victor Frankenstein must traverse the world in pursuit of his runaway creation. This is one of my favorite pieces of classic literature. Besides its obvious impact on the horror genre, it has also influenced science fiction, prompting us to ponder the question of what really makes us human. Nowadays, the monster is often mistakenly referred to as Frankenstein in pop culture, to the horror of literary nerds everywhere.

2. Dr. Whale (***SPOILER ALERT***), as we now know, is Once Upon A Time’s version of Frankenstein. In Season 1, we got to know him as the (hot) asshole that didn’t call Mary Margaret back after a one night stand. In tonight’s episode, Dr. Whale tries to bring back Regina’s love, Daniel, back to life in hopes that she will repay this favor by sending him back to his own world. But the resurrected Daniel is not the stable boy Regina once fell in the love, although he makes one sexy monster. The episode also takes us back to Queen Regina’s first encounter with Dr. Whale/Victor, in which he deceives her into thinking he is trying to bring Daniel back to life, when all he really wants is an enchanted heart from her world. (I may have to go off on a tangent about this episode in another post, it gave me so many fan-gasms.) Quote of the Night: When Victor says, “It’s not magic…it’s science.” Science, ftw.

3. Dr. Frank-N-Furter is just a sweet transvestite from Transexual, Transylvania and the mad, alien scientist of The Rocky Horror Show. Brad and Janet are just looking for a phone, but their strait-laced world is turned upside down (inside out?) by Frank. And in just seven days, he’ll make a man out of his own creation, sexy blond boy toy Rocky Horror. It’s just a jump to the left, and then a step to the right…let’s do the time warp again!

4. Dr. Horrible is played by the versatile Neil Patrick Harris in “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. He has a PhD in Horribleness and is vying for a spot in the Evil League of Evil. He runs a pretty tight schedule, what with hatching his evil plans and clashing with his nemesis Captain Hammer, all the while admiring his crush Penny from afar. Sadly, but perhaps not too surprisingly given it’s a Joss Whedon creation, we see Dr. Horrible live up to his title by the end of this web series.

5. Fringe’s Dr. Walter Bishop has gone from bad scientist (during his days when he and business partner William Bell tested psychic children in his laboratory) to quirky mad scientist. He’s riddled with idiosyncracies and seems to have experimented with drugs in the 70s, but he is driven and obsessive when it comes to his work. The brilliant John Noble portrays this neurotic scientist with grace and great comedic timing as well as playing his counterpart in the parallel universe, “Walternate.”

 

Can you think of any others? And Happy Halloween (Eve Eve Eve)!

Sunday Showdown: Meg Ryan v. the 22-Year-Old Cocktail Waitress


After a busy week, yesterday I retreated to the warm and fuzzy black hole that is my couch with a serious case of the sniffles and popped in a few of my favorite movies – among them, my ultimate favorite romantic comedy, “You’ve Got Mail.” And now to go along with my cold, I have a serious case of the 90s.

With this post, I know I risk echoing Mindy Kaling’s rom com-obsessed character on her new show, “The Mindy Project” (which is awesome, by the way.) And I realize that nostalgia fills us with a deceptive longing for times gone by: Although we’d like to think so, music, movies, TV shows, etc. probably weren’t really any better back in the day, as much as we like to think so. Ascertaining that the pop culture of the past is better than today’s gives us a sense of superiority over more fledgling generations.

Despite this, I would like to argue that rom coms were, in fact, better in the 90s (at the risk of sounding like an old fart).

1. Meg Ryan

First off, I love Meg Ryan’s rom coms. I know that type-casting her in these roles probably cost her other, more challenging roles, but she is the quintessential 90s rom com heroine. Although “You’ve Got Mail” is my favorite, other adorable movies with her are “Sleepless in Seattle,” “Kate and Leopold,” and probably also “When Harry Met Sally,” which I admittedly have never watched (although I want to, just haven’t gotten around to it). Kathleen Kelly is beautiful, a bookworm and a career woman. She owns her family’s book store, Shop Around the Corner, and has aspirations to write children’s books. When her privately owned bookstore is threatened by the big, bad chain store Fox Books (ironic from today’s perspective since even those have been trumped by Amazon), she “goes to the mattresses” to try to save her business. Ultimately, she must gracefully close the Shop Around the Corner, but she emerges from this journey as an even more ambitious, self-motivated woman. Kathleen Kelly is a smart and strong leading lady, and “You’ve Got Mail” itself is as witty and intelligent as rom coms come. And of course, the dynamic between Ryan’s character and Tom Hanks’ Joe Fox is utterly adorable. Other pluses: Dave Chappelle plays Hanks’ bff, and Greg Kinnear’s technophobic Frank Navasky owns about a zillion typewriters.

2. The 22-Year-Old Cocktail Waitress

In case you were born circa 1995 or so and aren’t familiar with the sheer awesomeness that is “You’ve Got Mail,” the title of my post derives from one of Kathleen Kelly’s quips in response to finding out Joe Fox’s true identity: “‘Joe’? ‘Just call me Joe’? As if you were one of those stupid 22-year old girls with no last name? ‘Hi, I’m Kimberly!’ ‘Hi, I’m Janice!’ Don’t they know you’re supposed to have a last name? It’s like they’re an entire generation of cocktail waitresses.”

Although I have nothing against the rom com actresses of, ahem, my generation (I am in twenties), there is something lacking in more recent rom coms. Sure, they’re cute…I would watch “How To Lose A Guy In Ten Days” and “Letters to Juliet” more than once. But others, like the disappointing movie version of Sophie Kinsella’s witty book “Confessions of a Shopaholic,” depicts the main female character as the vapid, materialistic cocktail waitress suggested by the quote above. And, as much of a fan I am of the rest of the franchise, the second “Sex and the City” movie catered to a very similar idea. Gone are the ambitious career women who are able to balance work, life and love; in their place are ladies whose penchant for buying shoes they can’t afford isn’t really that funny anymore. And no, it’s not really Isla Fisher’s fault, but a combination of crappy writing and gearing of script towards an audience they believe exists due to the shenanigans of those around my age who are in the public eye (I’m looking at you, Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian).

 

Or maybe it’s Sunday night, I’m still sick and hopped up on cold medicine and thinking way too deeply about this.

So, what do you think of 90s (or even 80s) rom coms versus those of today? Which are your favorites, and why? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!