?In the words of Larry David, 2010 was a “pretty, pretty, pretty good” year for nerds. Futurama, Being Human and Doctor Who all made triumphant returns to the airwaves. Films like Iron Man 2 and Toy Story 3 actually gave people valid reason to stop streaming movies on their TVs and go to the movies again. Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark proved to Broadway that the web-slinger could pack audiences in for an evening of nerdy (and completely safe) musical theater. Oh wait. Maybe the year wasn’t so wonderful after all.
With life being the tragicomedy that it is, there was plenty of disappointment to go around over the course of the past 365 days. But what geekcentric let downs really stood out? Let’s take a look with this overview of moments, events and releases that made nerds everywhere feel like they just spent a day with Debbie Downer. From aliens who completely refuse to show off their true reptilian selves to mystical caves of denouement, here are the nine biggest nerd disappointments of 2010 (and yes, I fully expect that some smart ass will say this list is the biggest nerd disappointment of 2010 in the comments. Such is life).
After a brief four-episode run in 2009, a somewhat retooled V returned to ABC in March with promises of more action, more excitement and more alien mayhem. Instead, viewers were forced to watch more endless scenes of mother/son tumult between Elizabeth Mitchell as criminally inept FBI agent Erica and some kid with a punchable face as her son, Tyler .While that pair had their domestic drama drag out in the most tedious manner possible, the rest of the supporting cast got caught up in a demented game of one-upmanship to see which character was the most pointless/annoying (spoiler alert: it was a tie between Kyle and Father Jack!). Also, no guinea pigs were eaten and Michael Ironside never turned up — so failure all around basically. When the show returns in a few weeks, it brings with it original series stars Jane Badler as Visitor baddie Anna’s mother and, in the season finale, Marc Singer. Here’s hoping this influx of old life makes the new show watchable. It better, because I’m only giving V one more chance before tossing it aside like one of its own numerous unresolved plotlines.
8) Jon Favreau Announces That He’s Not Directing Iron Man 3
Rob has already gone on record with his thoughts as to the possible reasons why Jon Favreau won’t be returning to helm Iron Man 3, and regardless of the director’s intentions it’s hard not to be a bit saddened by the news. Through his work on the first two Iron Man films, Favreau — previously best known for his era-defining role of Gutter in PCU — was crucial in mapping the cinematic playground that Marvel’s movie properties will be kicking around in for at least the next decade or so. Fanboys are already fearing an X-Men: The Last Stand-type debacle given how that franchise sputtered once the guiding hand of Bryan Singer was taken away. At this point there are more questions than answers (will Favreau even return as Happy Hogan?), so stay tuned and keep your fingers crossed that his replacement has the understanding of what makes Tony Stark et al such captivating characters.
7) The Continuing Glut of Lousy 3-D Films
In 2010, there seemed to be ten Yogi Bears for every Tron: Legacy that hit theaters. And so the ultimate legacy of Avatar is revealed. Unless you have been trapped on an island where a magic cave of light controls mankind’s fate (or something), you probably noticed that the studios were frantic to catch a ride on Jim Cameron’s money train this past year. Hollywood has convinced itself that the easiest way to do so is by releasing any and all would-be blockbusters in 3-D. When done properly, the efforts are astonishing. Yet the majority are post-converted 3-D efforts like Clash of the Titans that dull the wow of the format and cause fatigue amongst moviegoers tired of shelling out more money per ticket for sub par visuals (the notable exception being the wonderfully cheesy Piranha 3-D). The 3-D trend is just going to get worse in 2011, so best to start bracing yourself now for having pot brownies, robotic testicles, John Turturro and inane comedy thrust at you when Transformers: Dark of the Moon comes out in July.
6) Leonard Nimoy Retires
It’s a bittersweet symphony, that’s life. In April, Leonard Nimoy announced his retirement from Hollywood after an illustrious career that has established him arguably the greatest nerd icon of our time. Spock aside, his filmography includes campy efforts like the psychic racecar driver telefilm Baffled!, his hosting duties on In Search Of…, a pivotal cameo in The Simpsons‘ hilarious “Marge vs. the Monorail” episode and, recently, the recurring role of Walter Bell on Fringe (these are just amongst my personal favorite roles of his; feel free to name yours in the comments). Rumors abound that Nimoy will briefly return from his self-imposed exile to make another appearance on Fringe at some point in 2011. Maybe his parallel universe self can convince him to return back to acting full time…
5) Tron: Legacy Action Figures
It’s difficult staying angry with Spinmasters given the great job they did on their lightcycles and mini die-cast vehicles from Tron: Legacy, as well as their awesome “impulse projection” 6-inch figures featured in yesterday’s list (although the figure itself, minus the hologram feature, is kind of crap). But Spin Master’s 3 ?-inch figures are an exercise is sloppy toy making that appear to be the work of sweatshop drones who have never seen either a photo or crude stick drawing of Jeff Bridges. So here’s a handy reference photo for Spinmasters just in case another wave of figures gets made:
?Okay, so this is disappointing to be sure, but at least there’s Hot Toys’ Kevin Flynn figure that features something like 1800 points of articulation and a likeness so dead on that you’ll think the Dude has moved into your home. What’s that, it costs $150? Oh Tron toys, why must you torture us?
4) Epic Mickey
When we first learned of the Epic Mickey game, it was through steam punk-inspired concept art by Gary Glover, Tony Pulham and Fred Gambino that did the impossible by making Disney characters seem really badass. As you can tell by the embedded trailer here, the final gameplay looks fine… but not nearly as terrific as it was originally envisioned. You see during production, changes were implemented that made sure that game didn’t stray too too far from the established status quo for Mickey and his cohorts (read about an especially interesting change here that excised the evil “Scrapper” Mickey from the game). All that was left was your basic platform and adventure gameplay, along with a “paint/erase” mechanic copied pretty much from Mario Sunshine. By playing it safe developer Junction Point Studios missed a chance to have the title be one for the ages. It could have been so much more. It could’ve been epic.
3) The Last Airbender
I was going to run the film’s trailer with this entry, but the hilarious video you see above perfectly summarizes the myriad issues fans had with M. Night Shyamalan’s live-action adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender (the guy channeling Lewis Black is especially entertaining). The main problem with the film comes down to hubris — M. Night made arbitrary changes to the story and characters that wound up alienating/infuriating the property’s core audience. He did this of course with hopes of making the movie more mainstream. See how that turned out? All M. Night really did here was to validate the critics who see him as a one-trick pony. That’s of small comfort to fans of Aang, whose grief over the director’s besmirching of Avatar: The Last Airbender was only dissipated by watching that YouTube video of an audience jeering his name in the Devil trailer. That movie sucked too.
2) Scott Pilgrim vs. Poor Box Office
A film adaptation of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s beloved graphic novels directed by Spaced/Shaun of the Dead/Hot Fuzz mastermind and starring Michael Cera should have been a home run. And in every way but box office success, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World was. Coming on the heels of Watchmen failing to generate large amounts of cash in 2009, the movie’s dismal intake proved yet again that fanboy adoration and good word of mouth does not result in big business. There’s some comfort to be found in the fact that the movie is rapidly becoming a cult phenomenon, and not just amongst the folks who actually caught it in theaters the first time around. Not that any of that matters to Universal’s accounting department, but screw ’em, they probably had it coming (for the record, I still think Scott should have wound up with Knives).
1) The Lost Finale
Depending on your point of view, the end of Lost disappointed because it didn’t answer all of your questions or you were upset that it seemed to stray away from the core characters to focus on brothers bickering about a magic cave (then there were those who are just bummed that the greatest genre show in a generation had to come to an end). Without condemning or condoning the Lost finale, the show’s departure has clearly left a huge void in the television landscape. One that will not be filled anytime soon. But it’s over and there’s no magic box to bring it back. After the finale aired, Damon Lindelof tweeted “Remember. Let Go. Move On. I will miss it more than I can ever say.” It’s a sentiment shared by anyone who ever set out to learn more about Alvar Hanso or had “Make Your Own Kind of Music” as their ringtone. Like the last episode of Six Feet Under, “The End” is a finale that will be thought about and obsessed over for years to come. It sticks with us and continues to stir up strong emotions — both positive and negative –whenever brought up. Maybe that kind of visceral response is something that should ultimately be celebrated instead of feeling let down by. Or perhaps the light cave really was bullshit. In any case, remember, let go and move on. There will be plenty of things to bitch about in 2011.