Sunday, September 26, 2010

Smallville Final Season Premiere "Lazarus"

Another great opening sequence. Love the mix of clips spanning the series.

A little surprised to see the Fortress repaired already.

Great to have Lex back in some form. It was as if he was never gone. Interesting that the real Lex is still dead, as far as that clone knew. Weird that Tess is now caring for the little Alexander.

Clark stopping the globe was excellent.

This episode did spend a little too much on the past (especially with Clark's attitude), but otherwise great start to the final season.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Go Go Power Morphicon

With these conventions, I never quite know what I'm getting myself into. Sure there's Power Rangers -- and LOTS of it, but the convention doesn't go until midnight, leaving the nights open. How would this go?

Got to Sea-Tac early and awaited Tyler S. and Ryland to show up, as the 3 of us had seats together. Coming up from Tacoma took longer than expected and we missed our 9:00 flight. The Alaska Air staff was nice about quickly switching us to a 10:00 flight, however, Ryland now had a separate seat from us and was charged $50 (likely due to not checking in online before).

We arrived at LAX a bit before 1:00 and soon met up with Tom, and Evan and Sean -- 2 guys making their first appearance at a gathering. Ryland was hoping I had arranged a limo or something to take us to Pasadena, but I figured we'd just get something there. We eventually got a Super Shuttle van and arrived at the Sheraton Pasadena Hotel around 3:00. I got settled in my room and was glad to let go of my sisters bag. I texted the guys who had gone out for mexican food and learned that Johnathan -- who I had an ugly falling out with a couple months ago -- was there too. It was inevitable we would see eachother, so may as well get it over with. I was surprised by his response when I sat down and I didn't say a word the whole time. Everyone soon left and I eventually went back to the hotel, trying to fend off what happened get to me. If I hadn't gone, he probably would've said something later and now I could just avoid him.

I then mostly hung out in the lobby, while the guys had joined some of the convention staff to check out the convention center and begin setup (pretty much getting the gift bags ready and rolling up posters). Knowing I'm not on good terms with Chris Funaro, it was best to not get involved. Soon after 8:00, my roommate Tyler W. arrived from Baltimore and we chatted a bit before he wanted to go help with setup. I was hesitant about joining in with Chris there, but since my entire posse was there along with the staff and volunteers, I changed my mind and asked if I could do something. They put me to work and we were here until the convention center needed to close around 9:45. A group of us then debated where to go to eat and settled on a nearby hamburger place in the same plaza that had the mexican. Afterwards, some of us went to a bar in the hotel lobby, although their wasn't much going on.

Headed to the registration area outside the convention center about 10:00 and mostly hung out there in the sun after I got my "Gold Ranger" member bag of goodies. Their was a nice grocery store across the street, so I got a pastry and juice.

The doors officially opened a little before noon and once inside I looked around at the Bandai (PR's toy maker) displays and several different booths with everything -- toys, props, clothing, DVDs, artwork and more toys -- that you could purchase (Not just PR but a ton of Japanese stuff as well). I was expecting some sort of an opening ceremony, but instead, Paul Schrier (Bulk, seasons 1-7) kicked things off with a few words on a mic. Not too long after, the Bulk & Skull Panel got underway and Paul tore it up along with Jason Narvy (Skull, seasons 1-6) for about an hour. This was Paul's only afternoon at the convention and it was a great way to get started. Afterwards, I hung out in the main area and began to get some autographs and take pics. At one point I noticed a couple older well-dressed gentlemen standing around, who I assume were there on behalf of Saban Brands (more on that later).

At 3:00 was the Creating Power Rangers with Judd Lynn Panel, marking Judd's first ever public appearance at any Ranger event. Judd was responsible for writing most of the episodes between 1998-2001 and was with the show before that too. He was also a substitute Executive Producer in 2009 (when the show was on the way to ending) and under a different name, wrote 2 great episodes during the writers strike in 2008. He's a great guy, even giving away original film slides to fans on Saturday. One of things I really liked about his era of writing on the show is how story driven the seasons were, which is something Judd really pushed for, compared to the stand-alones and simple plots of MMPR. I never got his autograph or anything, but just being in his presence after all this time made part of the convention for me (as I'm sure it did for many others).

At 4:00 I saw the SPD Panel followed by a panel with a couple cast/voice actors representing Lost Galaxy, Lightspeed Rescue and Wild Force. A special "Gold Ranger" event screening of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: The Movie was supposed to start at 6:00 but was delayed over 30 mins while we waited for Jason Narvy to come back to the convention center for live commentary.

It was close to 9:00 before I left for the night and I soon metup with a couple of the guys, as well as Eric and his friend, Rita. Pretty much hung out in Evan & Tom's room for awhile, ordered pizza and then went to the hotel lobby bar at 11:00, where others from Rangerboard (and other people) were hanging out. I mostly sat quietly, keeping my distance from Johnathan and his friends. A few actors were around and some dude sang and played guitar as well.

Slept in until 9:30 then hustled out grabbing a snack from the lobby gift shop. Meanwhile, a "Gold Ranger" event breakfast was going on with a dozen or so actors that I kinda wanted to go to, but it was nice to sleep in (which would help staying up at night later) and I saved $40. So much for hustling to the convention center -- The breakfast ran late and people weren't let in for the panel with Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers/Power Rangers Zeo cast until after 10:30.

At noon I watched a screening of an episode of Kamen Rider Dragon Knight then left for awhile while the last episode clip-show was playing. Returned for Q&A with the cast and people behind the show, which was followed by autograph signings. Despite the fact the show ended up being not that good and had nothing to do with Power Rangers or Saban, it was great to meet a bunch of the cast who were really cool and it was nice they were invited to the convention.

At 4:00 I saw the Villains Panel, then one with a mix of cast from Turbo, In Space, Time Force and SPD. That was followed by a Q&A with Ron Wasserman, who did the original "Go Go Power Rangers" and all the music the first few years -- as well as the SPD theme in 2005. He signed autographs afterwards as the main area closed for the night. Then Tony Oliver (a producer for MMPR and currently doing some writing for the upcoming season) had a video presentation, showing some stuff we saw at the first Morphicon, along with some stuff we didn't. At 9:00 there was supposed to be a MiSTing with Ryland, Chris and a self-proclaimed "internet celebrity" doing running commentary about 2 episodes, but was delayed and by the time it started, there was only time for 1 episode. Afterwards, my gang and I went up to Tom & Evan's room, ate pizza, talked about the day and horsed around. Tyler W. and I left and I went to bed about 2:00.

Got up after 9:00 and hung out at the hotel until my sister came by to get her suitcase. We had lunch at the Pasadena Whole Foods -- a large, fresh-looking, 2 floor version of the store. Then returning to the convention center, I mostly worked on getting autographs and pics in addition to sitting in on a female Rangers panel at 1:00. Later at 4:00, as many as the center would allow crammed into one of the rooms for a short closing ceremony, hosted by Jason Narvy and most of the actors, voice artists, crew and head of the Power Morphicon staff spoke one last time.

I pretty much hung out, while the convention was still open, taking in everything one last time, before it all started to come down and get boxed up. Soon I met up with the gang and we walked to Panda Express for dinner. Then with Evan gone already, we chilled in Eric & Rita's room for awhile. Word had gotten out about a pool party that was supposed to be happening, so we went out to the pool outside the hotel just to find -- no one. We chilled there anyway, while I used the hotels free wi-fi to check-in for the Monday morning flight. Eventually people did start to come over to the pool (including the guy who wanted to have it to begin with). Johnathan and his posse came over too, but my group and his didn't interact that much and we stayed away from eachother. After being out here 2 and a half hours or so, we went back to Eric & Rita's. Again, I went to bed about 2:00, with Tom in Tyler W.'s bed who left already.

Got up about 8:15, took a shower and packed, then took a walk outside the convention center, hopped across the street to a espresso place for breakfast and came back to my room. Eventually Tyler S. and Ryland met us there. The hotel staff, figuring we were cutting it close, quickly got us a taxi and after Sean joined us, we left for LAX about noon (The flight boarded at 1:00, so yeah, we made it fine, but could've gotten going sooner). Ryland, Tyler S. and I arrived at Sea-Tac, I said my goodbyes and got home about 5:00.

It was a great weekend and despite the sorta rocky start, I had a lot of fun spending time with friends from Rangerboard and the chatroom we hang out in. Compared to Power Morphicon '07 and Anime Central '08, it was a bit different without their being any sort of "Rangerboard Party" -- instead people in their own groups, like I was.

The convention layout was nice and quick to navigate (albeit a little crammed at times), compared to the first Morphicon at Wilshire Hotel. There was even a "Morphin' Kitchen" food stand you could purchase lunch and snacks from.

Another bigger difference was that this time there were scheduled photo-ops you could purchase tickets for and get your pic taken with the cast member at the scheduled time -- although some still didn't mind having their pic taken with fans for free. (I got some pics with cast and didn't bother with the photo-op, different than getting in pics with everyone before). I did get a lot of high-quality autographed pics and the cast members were really great -- most asking where you were from and stuff.

Their was definitely room for improvement as well. A lot of people didn't like how the Gold/Silver/Red Ranger membership levels were handled. I liked getting priority seating in the first few rows. The 2 panel rooms were a little small and it literally got to 100+ degrees in one of the rooms at one point.

Next time I plan on focusing more on getting autographs on Friday and go to panels later. This weekend showed that the convention can still be overwhelming at times (no matter where it's at or who it's run by) -- between trying to decide if I wanna go to Panel A, Panel B, or get autographs (In all I got 33 and missed about 6 I wanted). I don't expect to get involved in setup again either, even if my group does. The real challenge would probably be getting Jason David Frank's autograph (Tommy, seasons 1-5, 11). Their was a line just for him all weekend, snaking up 3 rows of stairs.

And now that Saban has the show again, their should be more of presence from Saban Brands next time, which was pretty much absent (As part of the free stuff you got, I was kinda surprised to see a "Super Legends" Red Ranger poster and refrigerator magnets, both copyrighted to Disney -- but I guess it makes sense since the official convention announcement was made with Disney's sanction, close to Saban's purchase happening). Some cast from other defunct Saban shows were at the convention as well, which I wasn't interested in.

2012 we'll do it again and in the meantime, the power lives on...

Check out the gallery here.