May 20th, 2014
David Lynch's Return of the Jedi:
Had he agreed to direct ROTJ I don't think there's any chance whatsoever that Lynch would have got to give the conclusion of the Original Trilogy a properly Lynchian feel. But it's fun to imagine, isn't it…
Even better, imagine the path Lynch's career could have taken if he'd been credited with directing a bona fide blockbuster and he'd had his pick of mainstream Hollywood's hottest projects. Can you imagine David Lynch's Titanic? David Lynch's Fight Club?
Then again, that path might not have led Lynch to Twin Peaks, and that's too high a price to pay.
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May 29th, 2013
Doctor Who: An Alternative History of 11 American Female Doctors is rather good…
Second Doctor: Virginia Mayo (1966 – 1969)
It started as a sort of sexist joke in a production meeting about how often women change their clothes, but the concept of regenerating a new body when the old one was damaged was to become a core concept in the Doctor Who mythos. When Eve Arden stepped out of the Tardis for the last time, former vaudeville turned screen star Virginia Mayo sauntered in.
You could not possibly have two more different women. Arden relied on a quirky poise, while the vivacious Mayo tended to use her undeniable physical beauty combined with a slightly off-putting style of humor to manipulate her surroundings. She had a tendency to cater to ditzy dame stereotypes, but used her appearance as a somewhat helpless damsel to secretly save the day out from under threats.
She's most fondly remembered from an incredible performance in "The Silver Pyramid," where she took on Eric Kleig (Richard Attenborough) as he snidely accused her gender as incapable of logic while he sought to resurrect the Cybermen from their frozen tombs. The line, "Logic, Mr. Kleig, is just another kind of madness in the hands of a fool," is widely considered one of the best lines ever spoken on the show.
Jef With One F, the author of that post, did a similar recasting exercise featuring male Doctors earlier this year. That article included the single best casting idea of them all. How great would Alan Alda have been in the role?
Fun as they are, there's one very important point that neither piece covers. If the Doctor was an American (so to speak), what familiar-but-outdated shape would the TARDIS have got stuck in so it could prompt all those 'bigger on the inside' reactions? Did early-mid 20th century America even have police phone boxes?
[Via feeling listless]
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January 16th, 2012
Movies From An Alternate Universe. A different cast. A different era. A different poster.
I'm not sure even Sam Peckinpah could have convinced me that Al Pacino could play Wolverine but I would absolutely have paid good money to see Sean Connery in The Fifth Element, with Christopher Lee in the Gary Oldman role and Daniela Bianchi replacing Milla Jovovich.
Also, I so want to see Fritz Lang's 2001: Odyssee im Weltraum.
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July 20th, 2011
In praise of Joanne Rowling's Hermione Granger series:
It's the end of an era. The entertainment which has stretched across books, movies, and countless marketing tie-ins, which has captivated children and adults for well over a decade and which has, for better or worse, managed to become the defining myth for an entire generation, is winding to its close. I speak, of course, of the Hermione Granger series, by Joanne Rowling.
So, before she goes away for good, let us sing the praises of Hermione. A generation could not have asked for a better role model. […]
Hermione is not Chosen. That's the best thing about her. Hermione is a hero because she decides to be a hero; she's brave, she's principled, she works hard, and she never apologizes for the fact that her goal is to be very, extremely good at this whole "wizard" deal. Just as Hermione's origins are nothing special, we're left with the impression that her much-vaunted intelligence might not be anything special, on its own. But Hermione is never comfortable with relying on her "gifts" to get by. There's no prophecy assuring her importance; the only way for Hermione to have the life she wants is to work for it. So Hermione Granger, generation-defining role model, works her adorable British ass off for seven straight books in a row. Although she deals with the slings and arrows of any coming-of-age tale – being told that she's "bossy," stuck-up, boring, "annoying," etc – she's too strong to let that stop her. In Hermione Granger and the Prisoner of Azkaban, she actually masters the forces of space and time just so that she can have more hours in the day to learn. […]
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December 4th, 2010
John Reilly's The Gray Havens is an alternate history of the end of the War of the Ring:
"The end of the world is one thing, but missing lunch is serious."
It was March 25, in the 3019th year of the Third Age, and Arwen was not taking the lack of news from the South well. She needed to get out of her rooms. As for me, being a Hobbit, I would have gone to lunch even if I were on fire. […]
The Point of Departure for this particular bit of alternate history is that Frodo failed and the One Ring found its way back to Sauron. As you might imagine, this complicates the lives of Men, Elves, Dwarves and Hobbits in all sorts of ways.
[Via MeFi user BungaDunga, posting to this thread]
November 12th, 2009
The best comment on MightyGodKing's heartbreaking, heartwarming, downright awesome Scenes From An Alternate Universe Where The Beatles Accepted Lorne Michaels' Generous Offer came from MarvinAndroid:
MarvinAndoid said on November 11th, 2009 at 2:16 am
I think Douglas Adams would appreciate this, and that's just about the best thing I can say about anything.
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October 10th, 2009
What if Gordon hadn't lost an eye…
Today he is one of the most familiar celebrities in British life, a sporting legend whose mellow Scottish charm as a team captain on A Question of Sport has won new generations of admirers. Even the embarrassing scenes on Celebrity Big Brother a couple of years ago – that poodle business with Rula Lenska! – have largely been forgotten. It is funny to think that, for Gordon Brown, it could all have been so different. […]
It's no What if Gordon Banks had Played? or Thaxted, but it's not bad.
[Via The Browser]
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August 31st, 2009
The event: a Town Hall Meeting on Health Care Reform. The place: Berlin. The year: 1939…
Protester #4: Hey, what about the fact that Hitler combs his hair over to hide his democratic sympathies?
Nazi Rep: Well, I have to admit that that would be an extremely odd way for the FÃ¼hrer to hide something like that. But you can rest assured that he has no such predilections. He believes in totalitarianism and the power and judgment of the state. It's a wonder I'm even here right now, soliciting opinions and questions from you all. You can rest assured that nothing you say will make it back to the FÃ¼hrer.
Protester #4: What about the secret holes he has in his nose where he hides his boogers?
Nazi Rep: Those, sir, are what I believe are referred to as nostrils. Everyone has them.
Protester #4: And if someone doesn't – are they entitled to free health care under Hitler's crazy plans for reform?
Nazi Rep: No, it's my understanding that people without exactly two nostrils will likely be shot.
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March 23rd, 2009
Fred Clark proposes a thought experiment:
Imagine a newspaper with no "Business" section. Where the Business section is now, there is, instead, a "Work" section.
It would make sense for the paper from a, you know, business standpoint. Higher circulation means more revenue for the paper, so it makes sense to focus on the needs, concerns and interests the largest number of potential readers. The current model of a Business section is designed for only the tiniest slice of potential readers — those who think of themselves primarily as investors. Why not aim, instead, for the vastly larger, overwhelming majority of potential readers, those who think of themselves primarily as people who work for a living? […]
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July 13th, 2008
Reviewing a collection of memoirs by New Labour figures for the London Review of Books, John Lanchester spotted an interesting point of divergence involving former Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott:
There is one fascinating counterfactual to emerge from Prezza. It concerns the incident when he punched an egg-throwing protester in Wales during the 2001 general election. He includes a photo of the punch, a solid left jab right on the manâ€™s chin. There was a furore, which Prescott survived because the public (not the papers, not at first) were largely on his side. But Prescott was an amateur boxer in his youth, and on page 118-19 there is a photo of him landing what looks like a knockout punch on an opponent. He is right-handed, and the knockout punch was a right. Here is the counter-factual: if 16-stone Prescott had hit the egg-thrower with his right, he would have knocked him out, and quite likely have broken his jaw. If either of those things had happened – if the man had ended up in hospital – Prescott would have had to resign. Whoever Blair appointed as his new deputy prime minister would have had much less pull with the party, because no one had as much pull with the party as Prescott. So when the crucial vote on the Iraq war came, Blair wouldnâ€™t have had a deputy able to bring the party onside in the way that Prescott did. Instead of 139 Labour MPs voting against the war, a majority of them would have voted against, Blair would (as he said in private) have had to resign, and we wouldnâ€™t have gone to war. And all because, for once, a New Labour figure didnâ€™t lean to the right.
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