Thanks for the Inanities

Since this week marks Thanksgiving in the United States, I thought that I would spend this column going over the things I am thankful for, but then it occurred to me that you probably don’t care.  I don’t mean that in a bad way, but really we all say the same things when asked what we’re thankful for.  It’s usually some combination of our significant others, family, friends, health, and employment.  Maybe something especially great happened to us in the past year, or perhaps we’re getting past something truly awful.  Whatever it is, I decided that you probably didn’t need to read “I am thankful for my kids” from me when pretty much everyone with kids says that.

Instead, I’m going to go a bit more pointless and talk about some of the less important things that I’m thankful for.  Shockingly, most of these are going to be pop culture related.

I am thankful that Big Finish Productions is bringing David Tennant back as the Doctor.  I’ve never been able to focus on audio books, and I haven’t had an interest in Big Finish’s long-standing line of Doctor Who audio plays starring Doctors and companions from the classic era of the series.  Recently, though, Big Finish got the rights to use characters from the 2005 relaunch.  River Song, as voiced by Alex Kingston, is going to show up in a story with the Eighth Doctor, which is great.  However, what really has me excited is the return of David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor.  Even better, Catherine Tate is coming back as Donna.  Listening to THIS SAMPLE CLIP posted Radio Times made me very, very happy.

I am thankful that I decided to give Best Time Ever with Neil Patrick Harris a chance this season.  I like NPH, but the idea of a variety show didn’t really appeal to me.  Still, I decided to check the show out and found its eight episode run to be incredibly enjoyable.  It was live television with all of the potential for problems that come with it.  In one episode, a stunt involving a giant inflatable slide had to be canceled due to wind, and audio problems occasionally hit their Sing Along Live segments.  Still, the shows were fast moving and fun, propelled along by NPH’s seemingly-endless energy and enthusiasm.  Also, I was amazed at the lengths they went to filming bits with unsuspecting audience members weeks and even months before they found themselves pulled into the show.  There aren’t a lot of shows that my kids and I watch together anymore, but we all wanted to see what NPH and company were going to do on Best Time Ever each week.

I am thankful that Supergirl decided to completely ignore the tone set by Man of Steel.  Yes, the series still is trying to find itself narratively and has a bit of a Superman problem (I don’t have a issue with him staying out of the way while Kara figures out how to be the hero she will become; although, he could offer some mentoring.  Come on, Clark.  She’s your cousin!  I do, however, have a hard time believing that an entire prison full of alien criminals could crash on Earth and that Superman wouldn’t do anything about it.), Supergirl has remembered one crucial thing that the most recent Superman film (and, judging by the trailers, the upcoming Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice) forgot: superheroics should be fun!  While Clark spent most of MoS moping, Kara truly enjoys her powers and that she can use them to help people.  Ever since I was a small child, I’ve wanted to be able to fly like Superman.  Now I want to fly like Supergirl.  She at least looks like she’s having a good time.

I am thankful that I stopped watching Gotham last season.  I try to avoid negativity, and I’m not one to hatewatch a series.  The completist in me has stuck through some shows that I’d pretty much lost interest in, but that’s a habit that I’ve been trying to break.  Life is too short to spend watching something out of some bizarre self-imposed obligation to see it through.  No one else cares.  From the helpful and generally hilarious recaps of Gotham on io9.com, it looks like the issues that drove me away from the series at the end of last season have, if anything, gotten worse.  With The Flash, Supergirl, and Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD taking care of my superhero fix, I’m happy to leave Gotham to the viewers who actually enjoy it, while I appreciate having that hour of my life back. 

Finally, and more personally, I am thankful that I went to South Dakota this past Summer.  When planning a vacation, South Dakota isn’t usually the first place that comes to mind.  Sure Mount Rushmore is there, and then…um…  That’s where most people’s knowledge of the state ends.  Maybe they’ve heard of Badlands National Park.  Those two locations were pretty much the extent of my familiarity with South Dakota.  What I found upon traveling there and spending 4 days driving around the state was gorgeous country that was so very different from my home in the mid-Atlantic.  As someone who loves just getting in the car and driving, I enjoyed the long stretches of interstate bordered by flat landscapes that allowed me to see for miles in every direction.  The Black Hills in the western part of the state were almost the opposite with beautiful lakes, tree-covered slopes, and, of course, the man-made marvel that is Mount Rushmore.  One of these weeks I should post some of my photos from the trip.  While South Dakota had never been on my list of must-sees, I’ve very thankful that I did.

With that I will return you to your regularly-scheduled activities.  Be thankful for that if you want.  I won’t be offended.

- Alan Decker

@CmdrAJD on Twitter