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Moving Day

Well, y'all (like, all one of you) shoulda seen this coming. With the way recent changes on TV.com have been, I just don't think I could continue blogging on this here site until things just become more usable in general. Don't trip, I'll still be doing the minimum effort as editorship over my current guides, but you just won't be seeing much of anything in the blogging category until TV.com gets their act together.

Until then, I've set up a wordpress account, so...



^^Clicky!

FUNimation: Dragon Box Z

The Dragon Ball series, at least in terms of how things played off in America, is one of those franchises that has always been somewhat prominent in our culture, whether it be from the actual episodes themselves being aired, to parodies and online memes of the series being created. And while such may not be a bad thing, it does prevent most American fans, or even just average joes that have heard of the series, to not be attached to it in a nostalgic value. On one occasion, I actually remember a cIassmate of mine being surprised that the series ended once I brought it up to him last year. I guess in the public eye, Dragon Ball has just always been around and as such could never really be considered as something old-school at all.

Enter the Dragon Box.

In a nutshell, American distributors of the Dragon Ball series, Funimation, has made multiple releases of the series, one of the latest being in the form of orange brick-styIe "Season Sets."However, upon finding that the release had the episodes cropped from the original fullscreen to a widescreen format, many people (myself included) put a boycott of sorts, refusing to purchase any of these latest releases. Regardless of such, though, many casual fans were willing to pick up the sets, not really caring for how they watch the episodes as long as they were well... the episodes in one form or another. But with the older releases becoming harder to pick up and with such a crappy alternative, I felt like it would be at least 10 more years until a respectable release came around.

Nevermind.

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Early this year, Funimation announces that they were able to get their hands on the Dragon Box masters of the series. What's a Dragon Box, you ask? Imagine those fancy remastered 50 year anniversary special collector's edition releases that Disney does with their older movies... but for DBZ. Yeah, it's kind of a big deal. Almost immediately after the announcement (and checking around to make sure Funimation didn't screw around with anything), I pre-ordered the darn thing. Finally, a Dragon Ball release I can be proud of when I look at it up on my bookshelf. Now all that's left is to wait... for three months.

Well as of approximately three hours ago, that wait is finally over.

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Just the thought of having something that was originally meant for a limited release in Japan just astonishes me.

One thing I wanna get out of the way when dissecting this beast of a release is that I can totally understand why people who gave in and bought each and every one of the previous releases is ticked about this release even existing in the first place. But honestly, this is Funimation we're talking about—the same people that did three releases of Yu Yu Hakusho even though they really could have stopped at two. It's always been about a waiting game when it comes to their releases. Is it my fault you pulled out too soon?

Another I should bring up is who the release is really aimed at: the "hardcore fans." Funi even goes as far as using the term in their unveiling of the release as well as on the packaging itself. But what do they really mean by this? Well, it's simple enough when you go through the makeup of this particular release. The attached guide book refers to characters and attack names using the Japanese versions of the names. Voice actors mentioned are only from the Japanese cast. Heck, even the default setting is to the Japanese track with English subtitles. So yeah, sorry hardcore dubbies-with-dub-music-track fans, this ain't for you.

I've only had the set for a couple hours, but flipping through the basic stuff, this release was everything I expected it to be. It's like an early Christmas gift... or an early birthday gift, in my case. Geez, I was so pumped to give a thorough dissection of everything, too, but I'm just all excite-ified out. I would be sad about that, but c'mon... I've finally got my mitts on a Dragon Box.

Related Links:
DaizEX: Funimation Dragon Boxes Feature
DaizEX Forum Discussion: FUNimation Dragon Box Z #1 (In-Hands) Discussion

My Photobucket
FUNi's YouTube Teaser Video

Hero's Come-Back (Ver. 3.0)

In the now 4+ (still can't believe I've been able to keep this whole blogging thing on a somewhat regular basis) years I've been blogging on this here website (er, "websites") one thing has always been a constant: school. Whether it be having to catch up on summer reading, being glad about getting a free period with friends or just goofing off after classes, school has always just been one of those things that has been a constant in my blogs. That said, welcome to the third annual petewrigley first-day-of-school blog.

In a nutshell: I'm now carpooling with the sister, being dropped off to my college as she goes on her way to her graduate school (don't wanna brag, but :coughcough:Stanford:coughcough: ). So far, we've ended up with quite the irregular schedule since trying to synch up our schedule's isn't exactly the easiest thing in the world. It's a work in progress, I guess.

As for actual school stuffs I was pleasantly surprised to find that I met nearly every person I wanted to meet to get off on a good first day of school. First off would be the chica who'd use me an' the old roomie's room last year as a temporary dumping ground for her stuff. Now joining her ranks as a commuter, we were actually able to make some solid conversation for once. I guess one can only go so far with awkward conversations these days.

...though on the topic of awkward conversation, I must say that when I feel like it, I can be an awkward conversation master. Case in point: reuniting with the rest of the building. I get a text from one of the guys telling me to stop by as I was already on the way to the building, hoping someone would be around so I could get access to the building (still waiting for the heads of whatever to do something or other on my card so I can get in the building like old times). And with exception to the sudden room shuffle, I was pleased to see that if anything, the place actually upgraded. For one, practically my entire posse from last year has all decided to room in said building, making for an easy hang-out place. For another, the new freshmen seem chill enough to not be all that big of a problem... if any.

...but I digress. Upon entering the self-designated "hang out" dorm room and seeing the entire gang back together was sure a sight for sore eyes. The band has finally reunited; the series is back from hiatus; whatever way you wanna think of it as still ends up as a definite positive. As we begin jumping from random topic to topic, barely even mentioning anything about the summer itself, it felt like nobody even left. It was just good times all around, really.

I'd say more, but like always, it seems like I've blogged myself out for the moment. Until next time, and in the case that you really need your fix of snarky petewrigley comments, feel free to further e-stalk me over on the twitter under the username "DaemonCorps" (I just gotta approve of you to make sure no wackos are stalking me like they may or may not be doing on this here site already). It's like a blogging site for the ADD... whose population has apparently dramatically increased since the days of old.

The Rise and Fall (and Rise Again) of Reborn!

AKA "PW Really, Really Hates the Future Saga"

Having now officially caught up in the manga for Katekyo Hitman Reborn!, I can now say that I have been into Shonen anime for much too long, having come up with a list of "references" used by Shonen titles from the past. The question now is whether each of those qualities helps or hurts it. Here we go:

I. Initial Pro/Eventual Con: The switch from gag-manga to action manga

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When I found out that the series would eventually make the jump from goofball gag-manga to a full on action manga, I was actually pretty excited for it. For one, I was already getting tired of the ongoing gag of everybody falling for Reborn's disguise except for Tsuna (a la Animaniac's Chicken Boo) and I thought it was about time they get down to the nitty gritty of things. Besides, I personally think such a move is good, if the author truly wants to bring the series in a more action-oriented realm. All other recent anime/manga out there tend to be way too serious at times, but to have one series take that same route but have the excuse being that it was so silly prior is like a breath of fresh air. Besides, it worked out well for Dragon Ball.

II. Pro: Awakening a huge power in the protagonist

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I gotta say, once the first non comedic arc rolled into the manga, I was pretty pleased. Furthermore, to have that same arc finish off with the main character unleashing this unknown power he had inside him (as trite as the concept's become) just wanted me to keep reading. It had the makings of every great "hero awakening" scene: the main character on the ropes while the baddie's about to give the finishing blow; the secondary characters down on their luck, but putting their trust in the main character; and the main character realizing that they have a responsibility of protecting all those around him. If anything, I'd say the scene was most comparable to Yu Yu Hakusho's Saint Beast Saga... except I actually liked the bad guy this time around.

III. Con: Over-explaining what was previously accepted regardless

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Remember back when Shonen didn't bother explaining things like massive power levels or killer techniques because well... we didn't really care to begin with? Things like Neji's explanation of chakra flow in Naruto or erm... every shinigami's explanation of their zanpakutou in Bleach really just killed those series for me and made certain chapters just a chore to go through and Reborn's Future Saga is no exception. The first two action-oriented arcs had a good enough balance of action and gags to keep me reading, but a majority of the Future Saga just made me want to hurl from information overload, from the dying will bullets to those mystical things simply called boxes. The advantage of coming off of a gag-manga styIe of story-telling is that you don't have to give those kinds of explanations for every little thing that can't be possible in the real world. And on top of that... well, I'll save that for another point.

Honestly, whatever happened to someone just firing off a kamehameha from their feet and having you just accept it?

IV. Initial Pro/Eventual Con: StyIe in conjunction with new characters/character designs

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I gotta admit, one of the big reasons why I even continued on with the series was due to its awesomely awesome art styIe Like Bleach, things like title pages were just ripe with character designs and clothing styIe that would make Tim Gunn wanna... eh, I won't go there, since he's a cool guy (seriously, who else gets an exclusive tour around the Marvel building?). Put simply, though, the designs would give off a sort of new school pop art-ish vibe that that alone would be enough to keep reading.

Sadly, like Bleach, Reborn's art styIe started to take a strange turn for the weird once the Vongola Rings were introduced... along with a new cast of baddies. By this time in the story, as good as it still was, I think the author was really trying to keep things interesting for himself by making characters that looked a bit well... flamboyant, which in turn would work as a sort of excuse to try and re-insert the funny back into the series. While I'm reluctantly forgiving this move since the series has moved on since then, I still think it's such a weird move to make. It doesn't help that excessive use of leather is utilized in those newer designs either.

V. Con: Giving a value to strength

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Power, power, power. That's all that seems to be on the fanboys' mind once the characters end up reaching a certain level of strength in the series. Such ends up being one of the flaws of my all-time favorite anime/manga Dragon Ball in their introduction of those darn scouters and it looks like the same happened to Reborn during the Future Saga. With that particular story arc just getting so long and convoluted, I really just ended up skimming through some pages when massive amounts of text arrived, the prime example of this being Spanner's contacts he made for Tsuna. Heck, I still don't get how those things work. I just think of 'em as one step ahead for scouters, which is really just one step behind for my respect of the series.

VI. Con: The False enemy to set up for a real one

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While it can be interpreted as a pro if pulled off correctly, as a whole I just frikkin' hate false enemies. I mean, I guess if you're able to pull it off like in mystery novels, but the way it was done in the Future Saga was just plain messy. And it doesn't help it when the story ends up lagging on, only making you believe that the baddie the heroes are facing is really the baddie. You invest so much time believing in one thing only to have things turned on you and you just feel like crap. An example of this being pulled off in a manga: Yu Yu Hakusho's Yujigen Mansion Arc. It was short and sweet with baddies you actually liked but in the case that you didn't there'd be an actual baddie coming soon so it didn't matter that much. Ugh... I frikkin' hate you, Future Saga.

VII. Pro/Eventual Con if overused and abused: Animal Partners

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(Admit it; you thought Nuts was a Digimon when you first saw him too.)

Okay, a quasi new arc means new characters introduced, yeah? Well this time around it looks like we end up with not just one, but multiple animal partners for our heroes. Now I know the concept has been done to heck, especially in kid-centric things, but when I looked at the group shot of the Vongola and all their animal buddies, I just immediately thought of Digimon. Probable cause? I'm gonna say the author's trying to bring it back the cutesy factor, considering that the previous source (the Arcobaleno babies) have been squished squashed and churned to the point that even in their baby form, readers have learned to see them as more of a badass unknown than a cute baby that happens to be holding a lethal weapon in their hands. (I always thought they were more on the creepy looking side, anyway.) As for whether this is a good thing or not, I'm gonna say only time will tell, since we've yet to see too much of them (a chapter here or there, but not too much) just yet.

~~~

Thankfully, it looks like the events of the Future Saga are all a bad memory now and we've moved on to an actual plot connecting more to the characters themselves in those them there Arcobaleno folk. My one complaint into the arc so far: you have these Arcobaleno, these all powerful mysterious babies, introduced and sprinkled throughout the series so far and all of a sudden, we end up getting not just one, but each one of them's adult forms revealed in nothing but a title page. Ridiculosities, but still... it can't top the crappiness that was the Future Saga.

Kid, Teenager, ENS, Adult

Whenever I go to Target, I usually just spend my time at the DVD section, usually in the animated section where some of the best titles out there for kid and adult alike are forced to share shelf space with the latest live action Disney movie. I think if I could sum up my personality with one example, it would be this one.

Our commercial society definitely knows their stuff when it comes to dealing with products for adults, kids and teenagers, but I think a fourth demographic should be considered—the space between teenager and adulthood. I'd call it the "man/woman child" but I'm pretty sure that's more synonymous with child predators and "young adult" is just so vague, combining the same people that stay up to DVR "Camp Rock" with the same people that are trying so hard to sell every bit of their precious childhood memories to help pay off for college tuitions. With this entry not really able to go much of anywhere else without something of a name for the topic itself, you'll have to forgive me for having to come up with a phrase to explain this long overlooked stage in life: the "early nostalgia stage," or "ENS" for short.

Especially in this day and age, we've got quite the amount of things being released banking on the nostalgia factor, and thus being marketed towards ENS'rs. However, since it's nostalgic things we're talking about, they typically end up being bunched together with the present day's kids' stuff and ends up either being overlooked except for the long-time fans, or just lost in all the jumble. A really good example of this would be the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise. As old as the series is, it was still able to have a successful revival with a new series, as well as maintain the older fanbase with releasing the original series on DVD. Include things like 25th anniversary movie box sets (even being considerate enough to speak of the latest film to be the fourth movie) graphic novel compilations and a good number of retro apparel and video games and well... you've got all the qualities of a series that someone in the ENS may consider.

With exception to CIassic Disney movies, ENS-oriented series are usually rather difficult to come by in your typical stores, and thus a hobby is made, spanning from Beanie Babies to He-Man figurines. When you think about it, most if not all facets of any geekdom have the basics of ENS at its core, wanting to re-live things from your not-so-distant past if only for the sake of nostalgia. Now, if only such a facet were better acknowledged, maybe things like comic shops and novelty stores wouldn't be so looked down upon and even glanced over by the mainstream.

Long story short: I seriously want my CIassic Nickelodeon shows easily available at your local retailer now. Don't gimme none of that made on demand amazon.com releases or iTunes downloads; I want a tangible object that I may proudly display on my bookshelf with the rest of my crap.

(Now if you don't mind, I gotta prep my b*tch slapping skills in the case that tomorrow's trip to SF Japan Town takes a nosedive.)

Brought to you by: Cinemassacre

Maybe you know him better as the Angry VideoGame Nerd. Let me first say that while his excessive swearing and overall (and I guess literal if you wanna go there) toilet humor wasn't really up my alley, his videos have grown on me in that they're indreibly informative without coming off like some snooty nitpicky critic (like a certain other online persona that may or may not have "critic" in their monacre). He doesn't take himself too seriously but is still able to make his videos informative and, most importantly, available for a general audience to get into. Contrary to popular belief, I'm actually not that big of a gamer, but I absolutely love sitting through the Nerd's videos as he goes around tossing F-bombs about the most archaic of games that nobody would care about otherwise.

That said, I've gotta direct you to another line of videos he's been making, elegantly titled: You Know What's Bullsh*t, where (as you might've guessed) good ol' James rants about the simpler things in life outside of videogames. One that particularly resonates with me, and that I just can't stop rewatching would have to be his bit on DVDs in general. Being mainly a TV.com user, I can really relate since I've got a crapton of DVD sets of my own that I could rant on for a week's worth. Watching his video really makes me get just why I saw a Blu-Ray player that also had a VCR built in along with it. Check it out:

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Forget the Compass, Reborn's got ya Covered

I've been going through an on again/off again type of dealie with One Piece and have only been keeping up with Bleach and Naruto just because the chapters are short enough to do so. But the latest Shonen manga that's actually (more like "finally") caught my interest would have to be Katekyyo Hitman Reborn!

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I think more than anything, this series appealed to me the most because it started off as a gag-manga more than anything else, with one chapter vignette-styIe story telling. While these types of stories honestly got old fast (probably picked up and re-picked up the series three times by now) I wouldn't have the story start off any other way. I mean, you start off with your typical normal middle schooler trying his best just to get by when he suddenly encounters a baby who disguises himself as his home tutor to tell him that he is destined to become the next mafia boss of the Vongola Famiglia. Considering how the series takes a turn to the more action-oriented while still keeping aspects such as a bazooka that ages you ten years and a secret organization of powerful babies, it only makes sense for it to have spent the first seven volumes doing nothing but goofing off. In that respect, it already has more of my respect in comparison to another certain Shonen manga featuring a ninja that sports a bright orange jumpsuit. Just saying; Reborn is the type of series that's self aware of its ridiculosities in that that's how it got its beginning in the first place.

... and in a world where it seems like practically every mainstream shonen out there has its plot staged out from start to end, it's quite the breath of fresh air to have a series that succeeds at the ol' "anywhere the wind blows" type of approach. If memory serves, a certain older manga series featuring a monkey-tailed goofball did pretty well doing the same.

20th Century Boys

...no, not the T-Rex song, though you will get that stuck in your head after immersing yourself in the following series.

During the bizarre quasi sitcom that was my first year of college, my neighbor introduced me to the 20th Century Boys. He just watched the movie a while back and was just starting the manga at around the place where the first movie leaves off. Curious (and needing something to distract me from finals) I figured I'd check it out. That is the entire manga as well as the first movie. Of course, some studying took place somewhere in there, too.

The manga starts off strongly enough, with what starts off as an adult's completely ordinary life running a convenience store eventually turning into one of those "past come to haunt you" type of stories. Turns out the events in the disaster manga he and his old childhood friends made up in the sixties are starting to come true and main character Kenji has to gather anyone connected with the manga (appropriately titled "The Book of Prophecies") to find out who the villain is and for what reason. Combine this with a constant skipping between past, present (and maybe even future) and you've got a pretty sweet manga. The fact that the childhood flashbacks remind me of something straight out of The Wonder Years sure helps, too.

Where the series really begins to falter, though, is midway through. Without spoiling too much, I'll just say that the story really seems to lack any direction at all, with the constant jumping between different characters' stories going from entertaining to just plain sloppy. Having multiple red herring characters really doesn't help, either. To this day, I still forget who the actual bad guy is.

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Thankfully, the movies are a definite step up—though that's still not to say that they have their own faults. Just as a quick backstory, in celebration of Nippon TV's 50th anniversary, the company started the gigantic project of turning the 20th Century Boys manga into a live action trilogy. Now, coming off of movies like Death Note and DragonBall, I honestly had little to no faith in any manga having a decent live action adaptation. Though with a crazy amazing budget and a cast list that fits the series' cast to a T in terms of looks and personality, I gotta say I was pretty amazed with how the first movie came out. While I wouldn't say it was crazy amazing, it was definitely better than your average adaptation. My only complaint would be that the pacing is super quick (be prepared to do some rewinding just to double check the plot) and the climax at the end... just couldn't have worked if you read the manga. Still, coolness over accuracy can be forgiven.

Now for the sequel, which I just watched through today. Having read the series in its entirety going into it, I wasn't all that hyped for the second installment of the trilogy. Thank god I'd end up with all that turned on me. Apparently the series has taken to the whole pattern of the sequel being the better installment to mind. I'd say it's comparable to series like the original Star Wars and Avatar in that I prefer the second installment best overall since it's where the heroes really get into a slump, but with this series, the heroes really never seem to get any breaks, with their world in a constant nosedive into chaos. Though, maybe that's why the manga became so popular in the first place.

For the second movie, while there were some noticeable alterations made in the plot, they were all made for the better. Certain stories were combined and condensed, yet not to the point where I'd consider them watered down in the slightest. If anything, I'd say the movie version is much better by far, and I'm actually pretty excited to see how the third movie does. Off the top of my head, I'm just hoping that a certain someone's backstory doesn't get skipped and that a major rewrite's done for the final confrontation, which was just painful to get through.

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Oh, and before you go out hunting down any torrents, keep in mind that good ol' Viz picked up the trilogy and has plans for releasing the first two movies sometime near the end of this year. They're also in the middle of releasing the manga and are at volume 3 or 4 last I checked. Seriously, checkitout.

Motion Comics Review: Spider-Woman / Time Jumper

I'll admit it: the thought of "motion comics" in general just doesn't appeal to me. I mean, you have things animated or done in live action, then you have things drawn out in comic books; you'd have better luck trying to mix oil and water. Regardless, I figured I'd at least check out two particular Marvel motion comics that happened to catch my eye. The fact that they're currently free helps, too.

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Remember whenever they'd tell stories in Reading Rainbow how where all text in the book was replaced with narration/voice acting combined with some stills of the pictures from the book they're telling you and maybe if you're lucky some "special effects" of some lighting or a particularly nice panning shot? Yeah, I was pretty much reminded of that all the while during episode one of Spider-Woman.

That aside, the story takes place after the events from Marvel's Secret Invasion story line, which could be a big turnoff for readers unfamiliar with that arc. From what I've pieced together, though, Spider Woman (Jessica Drew) is currently going through quite the amount of drama after the head of an alien race known as the Skrulls stole her identity. After all that nonsense was taken care of, Drew is still having some trouble getting back into the swing of things. Having a shape-shifting alien ruin your life and add doubt to all the people around you tends to do that, I guess. Okay, maybe too much information to digest all at once, but I'm still interested enough to continue reading (er, "watching").

Drew is still in quite the slump after everything that happened to her and appears to have become something of a shut-in, that is, until she receives a mysterious message:

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Turns out some super secret "prevent aliens from reaching Earth at all costs" group known as S.W.O.R.D. wants to recruit her to (what else?) hunt down the remaining Skrulls that still reside on the planet.

The episode clocks in at around ten minutes and is interesting enough to keep your attention all the way through (the special guest appearance by a certain other web-slinger sure helps, too). However, like most comics, it relies on a good amount of text, which may lead to having to do some re-watching. While such a flaw is only a minor thing in actual comic books, I find it pretty annoying in motion comics, which could also turn some people off.

Still, based on the first episode, this seems like a pretty solid series. Definitely check it out for free on Marvel's site while you still can.

Back on the topic of text, here's a case of it just being plain annoying.

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Stan Lee's Time Jumper is your standard time travelling story where thinking about it too much would just make your head hurt. The basis is interesting enough: 20 year old college student (dunno why, but they really make a point of bringing this up whenever they can) Terry Dixon has reluctantly taken the job of time-travelling hero once his father, inventor of the time jumping device, and older brother go missing. Why him? Well, to make sure no baddies go stealing the device for their own baddie purposes, Mr. Dixon invented the device making sure that it can run only on his family's DNA. Okay, good basis, but where does it go from there?

Honestly, considering that the title literally had Disney's name stamped right on it, I would have been fine with a simple formulaic story where the bumbling bad guys would continually be trying to steal Terry's DNA in each episode only to fail miserably each time. What we get is some kind of rival organization that wants to use the device for... evil time travel related stuff, I guess. Motives aren't exactly a major thing in the first episode. What we do get are the baddies hacking the time jumper and being able to piggy-back off of Terry's "jumps" so they may travel along with him. The main baddie uses this as an opportunity to take a strand of Terry's hair, jumping back to the present to report back to her "boss" on a mission accomplished.

Again, while the basis of the story is pretty solid as are what we see of each character so far, there is a severe lack in the "why" department: Why do we even need a time traveling organization? Why are these "wrinkles" in time happening in the first place? Why doesn't the "good" organization just take Terry's hair and have someone more adept handle the time traveling missions? Most of these questions are given little to no answer, which is sorta ironic, considering all the text that floats around on the screen, so if you're able to just sit back and watch something without questioning any of it... maybe this is for you?

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Oh yeah, and at the least, catch Stan Lee appear in the show as "Lee Excelsior" (yeah, seriously). Check out the first episode, as well as a behind the scenes featurette free on iTunes.