Saturday, February 9, 2013

Return of the Nostalgia Critic

Maybe he'll turn out to be the best Internet reviewer I never knew I missed.

The Return of the Nostalgia Critic is something that I'd been prepared for since the “original series,” I guess we could call it, ended in September last year. I just hadn't expected it to be as soon as it has been, or as permanent as I understand it to be.

See, at the time, Doug Walker, the man behind Nostalgia Critic and its successor, Demo Reel, was more than a little burned out on what had been his flagship show for a little more than four years. After 300 episodes, more or less, it had become clear, or at least what seemed clear, that the show had run its course. With the end of the Nostalgia Critic show officially announced shortly after the Channel Awesome Team's fourth anniversary project, entitled To Boldly Flee, Mr. Walker, I thought, did a good job of making it clear that the Critic was gone except for special occasions, only making rare appearances.

Demo Reel, meanwhile, started slowly, essentially as a group of characters doing extended versions of Nostalgia Critic scenes tied together by a plot of an amateur film studio making bad remakes of popular movies. As the show progressed, I thought it was getting better, moving from a constant string of drawn out one-shot jokes that were so far over the top as to almost be on another planet, to spending more time working with character development and making a smaller number of jokes work better.

The decision to cancel Demo Reel and bring back Nostalgia Critic can't have been an easy one for Walker and the staff at Channel Awesome. From what I understand, a sitcom sort of thing was exactly the kind of thing that they'd wanted to do for quite awhile, and I thought they were finally starting to get it to work. I would have liked Demo Reel to continue for at least a little while longer, but it wasn't my decision to make.

And with that in mind, I suppose the decision they made is at least a little bit like the one that the Sci-Fi Channel was faced with when they canceled Mystery Science Theater 3000 back in 1999. From a business standpoint, I suppose it was the best one they could have made, given that the audience base for MST3K wasn't growing fast enough to keep up with the price of making an episode, which was on the rise due to the fact that the rights to the movies was going up fast. MST was a favorite, and even the folks who own the rights to the bad movies shown were in it to make money.

Likewise, the That Guy With The Glasses website, and specifically his Blip videos were, and still are Doug Walker's primary source of income. Since the majority of the viewing audience seemed to prefer Nostalgia Critic to Demo Reel, the decision to go back to what the audience wanted had to be made. And from what I understand, there was a benefit to the Critic just going on hiatus for a few months rather than being canceled for good. What I took away from a Nostalgia Critic/Demo Reel crossover episode, Walker still had a lot of ideas he wanted to work with, and after a few months away from the Critic, he got his mind right to actually make them work.

Now, as of this writing, I haven't yet watched the first episode of the New Nostalgia Critic Show. There's only one out at this point, so catching up shouldn't be too hard. Another of the things I took away from the crossover episode announcing the reboot was that at least some of the old restrictions that Walker had previously had in place on the Critic had been lifted so he could do more what he wanted with that character and show. And I'm sure having it come out biweekly instead of every week will be a big help, too.

Now, where will this New Nostalgia Critic Show go from here? Well, it's hard to say, since we're only at the beginning. But I get the feeling it will be interesting. After all, I wrote a few Looking Back articles on That Guy about things that I'm surprised were never made into official Critic episodes. The most recent of these was the Muppet Babies article, since there's like a law or something that says people in our age group pretty much had to watch that. One that did make it into the old series was Pound Puppies. I'm not sure if one of us inspired the other, and if so who inspired whom, but I fumbled my way through an article about the Saturday morning cartoon while he did the movie version that I'd forgotten, if I ever knew about it.

What the future holds will be interesting. I hope it brings good tings to the Channel Awesome team and to us all.

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