The 11 most traumatizing TV episodes of all time

The golden era of television showed us a bucolic, peaceful world where nothing changed and nobody died. Those days are gone, my friend. Modern television shows glory in evoking all of the negative emotions the human psyche has to offer – fear, despair, guilt, and agony.

In this feature, we’ll run down eleven episodes of TV shows past and present that delivered a healthy dose of trauma. Warning: spoilers ahead, but maybe that’s a good thing in this case.

Game Of Thrones, “The Rains Of Castamere”

After the death of presumptive main character Ned Stark, you’d think that Game of Thrones watchers would have realized that no one is safe. The Season 3 episode “The Rains Of Castamere,” though, delivered a shock to the system that even the most dedicated fans flinched from.

The marriage of Edmure Stark to Roslin Frey should have marked the coming together of two houses, but they don’t call it the Red Wedding because they drank a lot of wine. A treacherous attack by the Freys slaughters every Stark in attendance, including Robb’s pregnant wife, and the political landscape of Westeros is changed once again.

ER, “Be Still My Heart”

Long-running medical series ER didn’t skimp on the drama or the blood, but both turned up to 11 in the season 6 episode “Be Still My Heart.”

When a man with schizophrenia checks into the emergency room, med student Lucy Knight tries to talk to Dr. Carter about it, but he blows her off. This would turn out to be disastrous for both, as in the show’s final scene the man gets ahold of a knife and brutally stabs both Knight and Carter, who fall to the blood-soaked floor next to each other. This shocking act of violence came out of nowhere and still stands as one of the show’s most memorable moments.

The X-Files, “Home”

Many of the “monster of the week” episodes of The X-Files come off as a little corny, but Season 4’s “Home” certainly doesn’t have that problem. Marking the return of writers Glen Morgan and James Wong to the show, it’s a chilling tale of incest and terror set in rural Pennsylvania with not a single supernatural element to be found.

The story starts with a baby being buried alive and just gets grimmer from there, and when Mulder and Scully discover the amputee matriarch of the Peacock family under a bed, it’s a moment that no amount of bleach can scrub out of your brain.

Dinosaurs, “Changing Nature”

Mid-90s sitcom Dinosaurs seems like a weird pick for this list – the Jim Henson-produced ABC show about a family of working-class saurians is probably most famous for introducing “I’m the baby, gotta love me!” into the lexicon. But the last episode aired, “Changing Nature,” is one of the most bleak environmental parables to ever hit the small screen.

In it, we learn that a species of beetle has been rendered extinct by over-building, which causes a plant to grow out of control, which eventually brings on a new Ice Age and leads to the extinction of the dinosaurs. You read that right: all of the characters we learned to love die in this one.

Dexter, “The Getaway”

The essential tension of Showtime’s Dexter was his balancing act between his normal life with Rita and her kids and his dark passenger. So the finale of the show’s fourth season shocked everybody by completely upending that.

With the Trinity Killer aware of Dexter’s real identity, he spends the whole episode hunting him down and eventually ending his life. All seems well until Dex returns home, where we learn that Trinity had been there before him and murdered Rita, leaving her body in a blood-filled bathtub.

M.A.S.H, “Abyssinia, Henry”

Although much of the television of the mid-70s was trite and formulaic, Korean War dramedy M.A.S.H. was way ahead of its time. The show loved to twist its viewers into knots, and the third season finale “Abyssinia, Henry” did so with gusto.

The plotline revolved around the camp’s beloved CO Henry Blake finally getting a honorable discharge out of Korea. Emotions ran high throughout the episode, but at the show’s ending Radar comes into the operating room to tell the crew that Blake’s plane had been shot down over the South China Sea with no survivors. The producers kept the scene a secret from the cast until right before filming, and the emotion they felt was palpable through the TV screen.

Battlestar Galactica, “Valley Of Darkness”

At the start of the second season of Battlestar Galactica, things don’t look too bad for the survivors of humanity, all things considered. The ship escaped a battle and rejoined the civilian fleet, but then things got real bad, real fast.

A virus takes out everything but emergency power and Cylons board the ship, intent on killing every human they see. The nigh-unstoppable robots slaughter tons of crew members and very nearly end the entire series in one fell swoop. It was a great way to establish that the lines of war were always shifting and no place was safe.

Twin Peaks, “Coma”

Sometimes a show just needs one awful moment to fix itself in your mind for years, and for Twin Peaks that came in second-season episode “Coma.” The identity of Killer Bob, the slayer of Laura Palmer, had been revealed, and the long-haired drifter had been glimpsed at the margins of the frame quickly. But it was in “Coma” he came front and center and scared the crap out of us.

Laura’s cousin Maddy has a hallucination in which Bob comes through Donna Hayward’s living room at her, and the way it’s shot and the way he moves are enough to make a hardened man piss his pants.

Buffy The Vampire Slayer, “The Body”

We don’t have to ramp up the gore to deliver pure, uncut trauma, as this classic Buffy The Vampire Slayer episode shows. Death has always been present in Sunnydale, but when Buffy’s mom passes away of a brain aneurism, it becomes all too real.

Dealing with the loss of a family member is tough even if you aren’t a Slayer, but knowing that all of the powers of the supernatural world can’t bring the most important person in your life back is truly heartbreaking. The episode’s complete lack of music and unusual pacing just reinforced the emotional power it carried.

Six Feet Under, “That’s My Dog”

A typical episode of HBO’s Six Feet Under would spend equal time on each member of the dysfunctional Fisher family and their funeral home, but the Season 4 episode “That’s My Dog” threw a spanner in the works and created one of the tensest hours of TV ever aired.

When David Fisher picks up a hitchhiker, it sends him on a journey into terror that involves smoking crack, getting a gun jammed in his mouth, and ends with him being doused in gasoline and almost set on fire. The trauma would reverberate through the rest of the show, with David never truly getting over the assault.

Futurama, “Jurassic Bark”

If you ask a true geek what the most emotionally devastating cartoon of all time is, chances are they’ll say Futurama’s fourth-season episode “Jurassic Bark.”

Time-displaced main character Fry is reunited with his fossilized dog Seymour, which he then gets the opportunity to clone. A surprisingly deep moral quandary is created, with Fry eventually deciding that his dog moved on without him after he disappeared into the cryogenic freeze. It’s the episode’s coda that smashes you in the guts, though, as a flashback reveals that Seymour waited outside a pizzeria for Fry for thirteen years before he died. Ouch.

What TV episodes scarred you for life? Share them in the comments and maybe we can marathon our misery together.

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5 Reasons Why CHUCK Was One of TV’s Best Shows EVER (and How it Can …

[WARNING: This article contains some minor spoilers for the incredibly awesome show that was CHUCK. If you have not seen the show then I suggest you switch over to Netflix and start binge watching it immediately.]

Since television began way back in the 1950s there have been many a show that has made television history and claimed the title of someone’s favorite show of all time. Whether it was The Adventures of Superman, I Love Lucy, Star Trek, M*A*S*H, Cheers, Seinfeld or Friends; television has been there in one form or another to keep the masses entertained.

Some shows are great, others moderately decent and some shows are so bad it boggles the mind as to how they ever made it beyond the pilot episode. And then there are shows that are so good they transcend just being a TV series. Some shows are written, acted and generally developed so well that they (for all intents and purposes) become part of a person’s life. They look forward to seeing those episodes each week, anxiously await their return in the fall and become generally invested in the storylines and characters. I can see where that may sound a little sad but keep in mind that the purpose of television is to entertain, so when a show reaches that kind of level it’s safe to say that it has done its job to perfection.

For a lot of people, shows like M*A*S*H and Friends were that kind of show. The former having taken a three year conflict and turned it into an eleven year series that opted to end its run while it was STILL on the top of the ratings chart. For me personally, being from a slightly newer generation of television, those shows consisted of Smallville (for the first five or six seasons at least) as well as Supernatural (also only for the first five seasons) and, more currently, The Walking Dead. Sometimes a show, even one that you were heavily invested in, can go on for too long. That, for me, was the case with Smallville and Supernatural. Both shows peaked about halfway through and started to reduce in the quality and consistency of their stories the longer they went on.

But then there was a little spy comedy that ran on NBC for five years called Chuck. I didn’t know anything about Chuck when it was being developed. In fact, I had never heard of it even coming on all the way up to the premier date. The day that it was set to air I had suddenly found myself bogged down with the “Hi, I’m Chuck…” interactive ads that had taken over Yahoo! each time I went to the Internet. Through rather brilliant Gorilla Internet marketing (and given the fact that it was airing immediately before one of my other favorite shows at the time – Heroes) I decided to give it a shot.

And what a shot it was.

But what was CHUCK about?

The core cast of CHUCK.

Chuck premiered on NBC in 2007 and told story of Chuck Bartowski (played incredibly well by the multi-talented Zachary Levi – you may also know him as Flynn Rider from Disney’s Tangled or as Fandral from Thor: The Dark World). The titular character of Chuck was a computer technician working for the Nerd Herd at the Burbank Buy More (think the Geek Squad at Best Buy) who was a little down on his luck ever since he had been kicked out of Stanford when his roommate, Bryce Larkin, accused him of cheating on a test. As it turns out, that very same roommate (played by Matt Bomer of White Collar and Magic Mike) is a CIA agent who steals a very important computer program called The Intersect and sends it to Chuck via email just before being shot.

Upon viewing the program in said email, Chuck suddenly has all of the government secrets for both the CIA and the NSA downloaded into his brain to access whenever a certain file is visually triggered. From that point on, Chuck becomes an irreplaceable asset of the U.S. government and is teamed up with a beautiful (and deadly) CIA Agent, Sarah Walker (Yvonne Strahovski), and the dangerous and emotionally detached John Casey (Adam Baldwin) of the NSA. While maintaining his day job at the Buy More as a cover, Chuck gets thrust into the often dangerous world of espionage, terrorism and secret organizations bent on overthrowing the CIA from the inside.

Chuck had the misfortune of premiering the year of the dreaded strike of the Screen Writers Guild, which led to a shortened pilot year and almost ended the freshman series. However, the strike came to an end and the show was brought back for a second season and all started to be well. It maintained lukewarm ratings which placed it on the chopping block for cancellation ever year, but cult fan following plus the potential that NBC saw in the series kept it alive for a full five year run that allowed the creators, writers and cast to end the series on their terms. Other shows that year, like NBC’s Journeyman, were not so fortunate.

What Made CHUCK so great compared to other action shows?

On the surface, if one had not known much about the show, Chuck had all of the elements of any other generic government action show. Guy gets lured into a government plot, meets an attractive woman, sexual tension and intrigue ensue till show eventually ends. It’s happened before in TV and film and will happen again, I’m sure. But Chuck did a series of things differently that brought certain elements to its show that most never achieve. As a result it remains, to this day, one of the best shows (if not, dare I say, THE best show) I have ever seen and continue to watch from start to finish over and over again.

For starters…

1. CHUCK was about US!

That is to say that the title character of Chuck Bartowski was every bit the same as the average person in the audience that the show was targeting. Chuck was a regular guy in his late twenties with an interest in nerd culture and working a dead end job with dreams and aspirations of something bigger in life, as well as sharing that with the right woman. For every guy reading comic books, working retail and sitting in a room with a Tron poster on the wall there was that desire to be something more and Chuck Bartowski was THAT character. As a result, the show grounded itself with the audience more than any other genre show ever could. With most shows there’s something unattainable about the main characters. They’re usually incredibly well built models with lives and backgrounds that nobody can realistically relate to. Sure, the shows are entertaining when you suspend disbelief but there’s always that realm that the audience just can’t grasp. For this reason you’re usually given the goofy supporting character(s) that pal around with the protagonists to relate to. With Chuck, science fiction elements of the Intersect aside, you have a lead character that essentially was the audience.

Not only that, though, Chuck was also a genuine “regular guy” in that he loved his family and friends and was loyal to them before anything else. And since he wasn’t a military asset or government agent and didn’t know how people in that world were he was very trusting. As a result he made the same mistakes that any of us would in his situation and learned from them accordingly. As time went by he got more adept to the situations and became a better agent/hero.

Having Chuck depicted that way rather than as a stereotypical hero type brought with it a whole new viewing experience.

Sgt. Al Powell, LAPD…

2. CHUCK was very “Nerd Culture” friendly!

A lot of shows might try to reference nerdy things but more often than not they are actually making fun of them. Chuck fully embraced the nerd culture that it was setting its characters in and was very mindful of the fan base that was in the audience. So not only did you get the more obvious stuff like framed comic books, references to Comic Con and Star Wars, or the famous Tron poster – you also got more subtle Easter Egg style stuff. Whether it was the Chuck/Morgan Sandworm costume (from Dune) at the Halloween party, having Reginald VelJohnson reprise his famous role of Sgt. Al Powell from Die Hard (pictured above with fan favorite actor Michael Rooker), or having Stan Bush’s “The Touch” from Transformers: The Movie play during a world-saving game of Missile Command – Chuck was never without its awesome surprises.

One of the more fun Easter Eggs I always enjoyed catching, as well, were the frequent references to the cult classic film Big Trouble in Little China. James Hong (who played David Lo Pan in the film) appeared in season one as Ben Lo Pan and Sarah Walker’s father (played by Gary Cole) was named Jack Burton. In season two, when the episode ended with Chuck standing at the trailer of his estranged father I was seriously hoping that the following week it would be revealed that the actor playing him was Kurt Russell. However, we ended up with Scott Bakula (famously known for Quantum Leap and Star Trek: Enterprise) and the results made for splendid television. And then, of course, there was the inclusion of the cover to one of the DVD/Blu-Ray episode guides that featured an homage to the classic Drew Struzan Big Trouble movie poster:

The producers and writers really knew what they were doing when they developed all of the hidden gems for this show and they did with an extreme level of care and attention.

3. Appropriate Levels of Tasteful Sex Appeal

Piggy-backing off of the nerd culture bit is the inclusion of sex appeal. All shows and movies do it to varying degrees of necessity and success. “Fan Service” (whether it be sex or violence) is a common factor with shows, movies and anime of this nature. Often times it’s bluntly thrown into your face. Other shows with a hard R rating like Game of Thrones and Spartacus depend on it to fill in the gaps between character interactions and excessive subplots.

Chuck understood its audience and knew that sex appeal was a factor that would help generate the interest. However, they put a more comedic spin on it. Being on network television it was always kept within the acceptable parameters but they also played it up as much as they could to make it seem over-the-top. Whether it was Sarah Walker fighting crime in lingerie or a bikini, the women of the Nerd Herd filling out their uniforms like a Catholic School Girl, Brandon Routh’s Daniel Shaw character conveniently walking out of the shower to comedically establish sexual tension with Walker or Ryan McPartlin’s Devon “Captain Awesome” Woodcomb always working out in nothing but bicycle shorts, the sex appeal always maintained an element that was almost a parody of Fan Service as it was actual Fan Service.

4. Great chemistry all around

It’s not always easy to have actors with great chemistry. Sometimes, no matter how great the performance is, the chemistry just isn’t there and the whole thing starts to unravel. Not only did Chuck‘s main characters (Zachary Levi and Yvonne Strahovski) have amazing chemistry, but the entire cast worked great together! You believed that Chuck and Ellie (Sarah Lancaster) were perfectly bonded siblings. The development between Chuck, Sarah and Casey as a team who eventually began to really care about each other was amazing. The best friend appeal between Chuck and Morgan Grimes (Joshua Gomez) was relatable to anyone who has ever had that loyal best friend relationship.

But it always came down to Chuck and Sarah. There has never been a relationship in television or movie history that I, as a viewer, was more invested in. I really cared for these characters as if they were actually friends of mine and I wanted, desperately, for things to work out for them in the end. One of the best moments in the series, to me, was actually when Sarah and her father danced at a wedding they had set up to catch a team of Iranian terrorists and Chuck watched from the DJ booth with a big, genuinely loving smile on his face. Perfectly executed moments like that make for amazing television.

And when Sarah lost her memory towards the end of season five I was on the edge of my seat waiting for her to get them back. And when the series finale ended and she hadn’t got them back I was actually quite devastated. As far as I’m concerned this was the best, most genuine couple in fictional history and you weren’t sure that it worked out.

That’s what great chemistry is supposed to do.

5. The Support Cast was top notch!

Ensemble shows are hard. Sometimes there are too many characters. Often times there are the ones that aren’t fleshed out enough or just aren’t really that interesting and you can’t help but not care about them.

That wasn’t a problem with Chuck.

This is probably the only time that there weren’t any unnecessary or underdeveloped characters. And each one was perfectly acted and gave their contribution to the development of the show. Morgan and Captain Awesome all eventually became valuable members of the team in one capacity or another, Lester Patel (Vik Sahay) and Jeff Barnes (Scott Krinsky) were always entertaining comic relief and the “Jeffster” subplot always came through at least once a year.

And then there was Agent Daniel Shaw (Brandon Routh).

I was already a big fan of Brandon Routh’s. So much so that when I had the opportunity to meet him at a comic con in Philly I froze and my wife had to break the ice for me.

Daniel Shaw came into the show as the new leader of Team Bartowski in season 3 to help them take on the nefarious Ring organization. Through being a genuinely interesting character and extremely well acted by Routh he became a fan favorite character almost instantly.

And when he finds out that Sarah killed his wife on a Red Test mission he suddenly jumps ship and becomes a Ring agent, gets his own version of the Intersect and kills Chuck’s father. Amazing…absolutely amazing television. I just can’t even put it into words without probably recapping the entire season. The two-part season three finale, to this day, are my favorite episodes of the series and it took multiple viewings for me to finally not shed a little bit of a tear when Shaw kills Steven Bartwoski (Bakula).

The cast and characters on this show were absolutely amazing. There just isn’t any other way to put it. It’s by far my favorite ensemble cast and I’m a guy who loves an ensemble cast. That’s putting them up against some fierce competition.

The Intersect

The series finale, Chuck Versus the Goodbye, aired on January 27, 2012 and like any fan favorite show there has been a clamoring for it to come back in one way or another.

And I’m here to now tell you that it can if the Powers That Be allow it to.

TV shows don’t stay gone anymore. Canceled shows like Family Guy and Futurama got their revivals years later and Firefly fans got closure when the film Serenity was released. Heroes is coming back later this year with the event series Heroes: Reborn (starring Zachary Levi). Even shows that ran their natural course like 24, The X-Files, Prison Break and Twin Creeks either have or are coming back for a limited run event series. So why not Chuck? Or maybe a spin-off for other characters? How about Sarah Walker, Texas Ranger or John Casey: Agent of G.R.U.N.T?

All kidding aside, though, here are the three ways that Chuck can continue if the creators, actors and rights holder (Warner Bros.) are ever interested.

Event Series, Movie or Comic Book

The obvious choice would be to reunite the cast for a movie or 8-13 episode limited event series picking up where the show left off. If that just isn’t in the cards then, worst case scenario, it can pick up as an official, ongoing comic book series the same way that Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Smallville did.

It should also be noted that I have a killer idea that I have been developing in my head since the series ended that would work great in any of the aforementioned formats. So Josh Schwartz, Chris Fedak and/or Mr. Levi, if you’re reading this (and I hope you are) hit me up on Twitter (@ThisIsJamesT) and maybe we can talk.

BUY MORE: The Series

Before there was an Intersect or the hidden CIA substation known as Castle, there was the Buy More. Just a regular, every day electronics retailer run by a group of misfits. So imagine if you will a Chuck shared universe (those are all the rage these days) depicting the Buy More as a workplace comedy. Perhaps bring back Morgan Grimes as the lead and depict his comedic adventures post CIA as the manager of the Buy More with Big Mike and his girlfriend Alex (Mekenna Melvin).

and lastly…

JEFFSTER: The Series

When last we saw the cover band, Jeffster, they had just helped save the day by highjacking a classical music concert and using it as an impromptu performance of their own. As a result they got a record deal in Germany and left the Buy More. Maybe now we get a The Lone Gunmen style spin-off where they get involved with some shady business on the other side of the Atlantic….while performing more cover songs, of course.

Well that’s all I got for you, guys. Let me know what you think below.

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Rick and Morty Season 2: Will New Episodes Avoid the B-Story Problem?

Rick and Morty Season 2 finally premieres on July 24, with ten new episodes (one less than the first season of Rick and Morty, *frown*).  In the months since the end of Rick and Morty’s first season, the show has been strewn with plaudits, all deserved. Rick and Morty is indeed the best science fiction show on TV. Plus, it’s funnier than Futurama ever was. But in our rush to out-adore Rick and Morty perhaps we’ve let some of the show’s structural issues slide. Why is Rick and Morty so bad at the B-Plot and will Rick and Morty Season 2 fix the problem?

Rick and Morty Season 2 Simpsons Couch Gag

Traditional sitcom structure often has an A-plot, which is the main narrative of the episode, and a B-plot, which may or may not interact with the A-plot and is basically there to keep us on our toes or underline A plot themes.

Every episode of Rick and Morty is loaded with big sci-fi ideas and some of the darkest laughs Adult Swim can deliver. Rick and Morty is dense with great stuff; I suspect I’m far from the only whose seen every episode more than twice. But some episodes are harder to re-watch than others, and it all comes down one of an episode’s two plots not working all that well. 

Rick and Morty Season One B-Story Probs

Here are the most obvious “Rick and Morty” problem episodes.

Rick and Morty Raising Gazorpazorp” – Watching Rick and Summer tromp around Gazoorpazorp is great, but man is watching Morty raise a kid under the condescending gaze of his parents boring.

Rick and Morty “Something Ricked This Way Comes” – Rick going to toe-to-toe with The Devil is hilarious, but it’s impossible to care about Jerry’s slow-draining ego. Pluto isn’t a planet!

Rick and Morty Anatomy Park” – Is there even any comedy in the awkward Christmas Rick and Morty’s family suffers through while Morty is escaping Anatomy Park?

Rick and Morty Ricksy Business” – The Titanic B-plot may be one of the oddest on the show—remarkable, since it isn’t sci-fi—but it’s hard to deny that it feels a little stretched (“Cape Fear! I’m doing… I’m going to do like from Cape Fear!”).

The point is, Rick and Morty often falls flat when we’re not with Rick and/or Morty. Episodes that involve family members in the science fiction challenges, such as “Rick Potion #9” fare quite a bit better.

Luckily, it seems like Rick and Morty co-creators Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon agree. The good news is that Rick and Morty Season 2 will focus less on the drearier household material and focus on the science fiction. Here’s what Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland, co-creators of Rick and Morty, told Nerd Depository

I think its accurate to say that in Season 2 things get a little more intergalactic. We felt in Season 1 that the formula would always be a domestic B-story about Beth and Jerry’s marriage, or family concerns…and that the A-story would be this crazy sci-fi thing by comparison. But quickly we found in Season 1 that that formula wasn’t as necessary as just having an A-story and a B-story, one of which should probably have an emotional grounding point. So having learned that from Season 1, I think we’ve been a little more fancy-free about just saying “Well, Beth and Jerry, they go into outer space in this episode because of this reason. and meanwhile Rick and Morty have to stay home and work on something in the garage.”

Roiland followed up, saying “But both stories will be sci-fi. Not all the time, but yeah, we’ve sort of freed ourself up to be sci-fi across the whole episode.“

For all its unevenness, Rick and Morty Season 1 is a formidable start. Imagine if they work out the kinks for Rick and Morty Season 2.


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Adam Sandler new movie Pixels reported to bear eerie similarities to a 2002 …

To combat the invasion, Adam Sandler enlists the help of retrogamers Peter Dinklage and Josh Gad to defeat the alien threat with systems akin to arcade video games.

The movie, set for release this July, is adapted from a short film by Patrick Jean, of the same name.

Enthusiasts are claiming that this concept bears similarities to the themes of a 2002 episode of Matt Groening’s Futurama, “Anthology of Interest II“, in the mini episode titled “Raiders of the Lost Arcade”. In the episode, Fry has to use his extensive skills as a 1980s arcade gamer to defeat an alien invasion.

Donkey Kong, Pac Man and Space invaders feature in 3D pixellated form in the Pixels trailer, released by Sony Pictures on 17 March 2015.

The famous video game characters also featured in similar roles in the Futurama episode as video game antagonists, or in Pac-Man’s case, an ally.

At one point in the trailer, Sandler and his fellow cast members have to avoid Donkey Kong’s falling pixelated barrels, deal with aliens descending from the heavens, and use ‘ghosts’ to combat Pac-Man in the maze of the city.

In Futurama’s concept, the cast travel through Pac-man’s maze and combat falling space aliens with a vehicle which imitates Space Invaders gameplay.

Sony Pictures has been contacted for comment.

Read more: Matt Damon stranded in first teaser for The Martian
Native American actors walk off Adam Sandler’s Ridiculous Six set

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Flying Lotus Delivers Electrifying Set at Governors Ball 2015 [EXCLUSIVE …

Flying Lotus increased the heart beats of many on Randall’s Island in New York City Sunday evening (June 8) when the all-around music man from Los Angeles showcased his West Coast style at Governors Ball, delivering one hell of a show.

Dressed in black and wearing a squid-like mask that made him look a bit like Dr. John A. Zoidberg from Futurama (but with more swag), Flying Lotus greeted and hype up the crowd onstage before getting on the 1s and 2s.

The producer, born Steven Ellison, was fearless during his set, featuring tracks from his album, You’re Dead!, bouncing trap and dark bass-heavy beats that rumbled so hard out of the speakers that internal organs seemed to vibrateHe also threw in a few old funk melodies but made sure to lace them with his signature dark twists. He also played a remix of Drake’s “Know Yourself” and “Wesley’s Theory,” a song he helped produced on Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly album.

The stage setup looked more elaborate than what usually rests behind the average rapper’s hip-hop set. Two screens displayed images of neon lasers, geometric shapes and maniacal faces of Flying Lotus, which added to the trippy nature of his music selection. And just in case the audience forgot who was serving up the tunes onstage, he made sure to display his name across a sheer sheet as a reminder. His sounds were so intoxicating that there were moments when it seemed he wasn’t commanding the stage but rather an unknown force. However, he made sure to make his presence known by having a little chat with the crowd before continuing with the rest of his performance.

“I’ve been locked in a cave for weeks,” the DJ admitted toward the end of his set. “This s— is nerve-wracking, man. I’m just a dude up here. So thank you for coming out.”

Perhaps one of the only things that concertgoers were hoping for was a surprise guest — possibly Kendrick Lamar. He was set to perform at Hot 97′s Summer Jam in New Jersey on Sunday evening but stopped by Mayer Hawthorne’s set earlier that day at Governors Ball to perform their collaboration, “Crime.” Since the rapper was already on Randall’s Island, there was speculation that he would rock “Eyes Above” or “Never Catch Me” with Lotus.

Despite the absence of special guests, Flying Lotus proved that he could handle his own onstage. For those who needed to shake off all of the stress from the prior week on Sunday night, listening to his sonic vibes was the best remedy.

Next: 10 Songs Guaranteed to Rule Summer 2015

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Talking Heads: Chinese Doctor Takes Transplants to a Whole New Level

There is also the question of where donor bodies would come from. China, like many other countries, has a shortage of organ donors. Dr. Ren says donors could be found, such as accident victims.

Define “accident” in China.

And needless to say, the whole affair is unseemly. In Severed: A History of Heads Lost and Heads Found, which I previously reviewed for the Washington Free Beacon, Frances Larson writes about Robert White, a Cleveland surgeon who, in 1971, transplanted the head of a rhesus monkey onto another monkey’s body. “The operation took eight hours,” she writes. “When the monkey regained consciousness, White described his patient as ‘dangerous, pugnacious, and very unhappy.’” You think? She goes on, “The transplanted monkey’s head, which was anaesthetized so that it felt no pain, remained conscious and alert. It tracked the movement of people and objects around the room, it bit people’s fingers, it chewed and tried to swallow food.” At most, these victims “survived for between six hours and three days before dying from blood loss or immune response rejections.”

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Crowd-funder of the day: Kenosha festival brings comics to the next generation

GROWING UP in Michigan and Indiana, Anne Morse Hambrock can’t recall a time she wasn’t reading comics. “Unlike almost everyone my age, I did not start with newspaper comics. It was comic books and the New Yorker, Jules Feiffer and MAD. Why these? Because of my dad.”

As a kid born in Grand Rapids, she pored over the New Yorker magazines her folks subscribed to (“I devoured Charles Addams“) and Feiffer’s “Sick, Sick, Sick” (“At the age of 8, I didn’t understand a single thing the man wrote, but I knew I liked his drawings”). She read the great “Peanuts” collections, and all that MAD (“I couldn’t get enough of Will Elder and Jack Davis and all those guys”). And then there were all those Marvel comics (Thor! The Thing!) lying around at the barbershop that Dad went to.

She even eventually came around to newspaper strips, too, like “Steve Canyon” and “Doonesbury.”

But Morse Hambrock, a professional harpist and performance coach, never envisioned herself working in comics.

“When I married John Hambrock, he, to my knowledge, had no intention of ever doing anything with comics [either],” says Anne, whose husband was working as a graphic designer. “We always say that my passion for them infected him. Until one day he came home, put down his briefcase, and said ‘I want to do a comic strip.’ ”

The Hambrocks started a self-syndicated feature, “Second Nature.” “We were enjoying it, but it was not getting picked up for syndication so John decided to try going in other directions — which ultimately culminated in [King Features’] ‘The Brilliant Mind of Edison Lee.’ I contribute heavily to ‘Edison’ in that I color all the strips — dailies and Sundays — do about 30 percent of the writing, and act as general sounding board, editor, social-media manager etc.” (Anne also does her new webcomic, “Anne and God.”)

All that multi-tasking enthusiasm and creative passion make Anne just the right person, too, to be an engine behind the Kenosha Festival of Cartooning, which is now on two-year fundraising drive via an Indiegogo campaign. “Each festival costs anywhere from $17,000 to $28,000 to put on,” says Anne, noting: “We pay our guest artists an appearance fee, cover their hotel and meals and as much of their travel as we can afford.”

The lineup for this fall’s festival includes Darrin Bell (“Candorville,” “Rudy Park,” WPWG editorial cartoons), Mark Tatulli (“Lio,” “Heart of the City”), Bill Morrison (Bongo Comics, “Futurama,” “Roswell Little Green Man”), Jan Eliot (“Stone Soup”), Ed Steckley (award-winning illustrator) and Mark Anderson (Andertoons).

“We have some money left from 2014, some grant money for 2015, and the Indiegogo — which, at its current level will guarantee a festival for 2015 when all combined,” says Anne. “But we are almost at square one for 2016. If, by some miracle, we suddenly make our $27,500 goal on this Indiegogo, it will guarantee 80 percent of our 2016 budget will be in place.”

Then there is the community involvement, as Kenosha embraces the multi-day event — which is small-town festival, not a sprawling comic-con.

“Once the cartoonists get here, they not only give a presentation such as you would see at the [NCS] Reubens,” says Anne, who has lived in Kenosha for a quarter-century. “They go into the local schools and interact with kids of all ages and backgrounds. Lincoln Peirce (‘Big Nate’) visited five schools in 2014. We have outreach events scheduled this year for elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools.”

“There is a special kind of energy created for both the comic artist and the comic fan when they are given the opportunity to interact up close and personally,” Anne emphasizes. “Festivals like this — that give cartoonists that platform — are vital to the future of comics and cartooning.”

Spoken like someone who grew up on the art form, and wants to nurture it for the generations to follow.

“Big Nate” creator Lincoln Peirce talks with kids at the Kenosha Festival of Cartooning. (photo by Mike Cope)

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What if The Simpsons Had Only Lasted One Season?

Charles Kenny

Mon Jun 08 03:00:00 EDT 2015

Perhaps the greatest ‘what if’ when it comes to TV animation
is what would the industry be like today if The Simpsons had only managed to
last one season on the air. For all that has come after this pioneering series,
if it were not the instant hit that it was, the industry as we know it would
have been very different.

Looking back at that first season now is akin to viewing a
show from a different era. The animation is loose, the colors are wild, and the
characters have an oddly gruesome appearance that isn’t helped by their tangy,
yellow skin. If you’ve seen the original, rejected footage from the Babysitter
episode, you’ll know that the show was off to a very, very rocky start
with success being far from assured.

The show had more than bad animation going against it
though. It was the first animated series on American primetime in almost 15
years, and came nearly 20 years after the Flintstones first appeared on ABC.
The original order was also only for 13-episodes; a sure sign that FOX was
merely testing the waters.

So what if Simpsons had actually embodied developer Sam
Simon’s mantra of ‘thirteen and out’? The very one that he infused the writer’s
room with because he believed that one half-season was all they were going to
get? Let’s assume that the Simpsons was broadcast and utterly failed to
convince anyone that it was worth renewing. What would recent animation history
look like instead?

For starters, everything animated that has followed the
Simpsons on broadcast TV would just flat-out not exist. Futurama, Family Guy,
King of the Hill
, and any other series that FOX has broadcast would have never
been created. Ditto for the other, more obscure series broadcast on other
networks such as Clerks and Family Dog that would have never seen the light of
day if not for The Simpsons.

Interestingly enough, the kids networks would probably still
look pretty similar. The success of those shows stems from the original
Nicktoons and have largely followed the same format for the past 25 years.
Where The Simpsons has had an influence is the breadth of the stories
and style of comedy. Without that show, animated TV might have remained as
either pure slapstick pure comedy, or have slid backwards into blatantly toyetic shows.

More curiously is what would have become of cable cartoons.
South Park, Clone High, Beavis and Butthead, and The Boondocks were all
broadcast on cable channels with a decidedly different audience than the kids
or broadcast networks. While the influence of the Simpsons on these shows is
obvious, would they also fail to exist if it had not come before?

It’s a tough call, but there is a good chance that they
would in some shape or form, and with not nearly the popularity that they
actually have. Cable toons might have been restricted to odd networks and hours
of the day, and probbaly would have acquired niche audiences at best.

The area where there is real uncertainty is the internet.
The Simpsons is famous for being one of the very first TV shows to be discussed
on, and embraced by the internet. Discussion among usenet
and fan sites helped drive a lot of initial discussion of the series
that was not present to the same extent in the real world.

The ease with which fans were able to find and connect with
each other was done in ways that presaged the success of other animated shows
such as My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Had the Simpsons failed, it is
unlikely that another animated show would have fulfilled that role on the
internet for many more years (South Park debuted in 1997.)

Considering developments in the last 10 years, the current
growth of web animation can be traced to a beginning that owes little if
anything to The Simpsons. The short-form animated videos that have proliferated
on sites like YouTube represent a radical shift from the script-driven,
family-based comedy of Springfield’s residents. The removal of certain barriers
by the internet has pushed the limit of what works and can be successful in
regards to animated content. All the while The Simpsons receives the odd
acknowledgment or reference, but all in all, it’s been left behind by the new

Would web animation have gotten started sooner in a vacuum
of intelligent, humurous animated shows? Possibly, but the appetite for such
shows among views, and the zeal with which creators would be willing to provide
it would not exist. If anything, the success of the Simpsons proved that you
could have an animated, funny, and successful show; and be profitable all at
the same time!

It could be said that The Simpsons‘ ability to leave a
legacy has declined in recent times, but to consider that the animated world of
today would still be the same is to decry the series’ very rich influence on
just about every animated show that has appeared after 1990. Had the show
failed, it would have been consigned to history as a footnote detailing a
doomed attempt to emulate The Flintstones. Animated shows would still be around
today, but the vast array of shows we currently enjoy would not, and our lives
as a whole would be the worse for it.

This article is related to:
The Simpsons

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1995 marked the birth of internet-paranoia films

Box Office Mojo list for 1995 and grossing more than $50 million. The rest, though, could be considered flops. (Poor Hackers didn’t even reach a double-digit gross, making nearly $7.6 million and finishing the year in 130th place.) The best they could hope for was a home-video cult following. The mini-trend in 1995 of internet-related movies didn’t come about because studios were chasing after the lucrative technological-paranoia market. Instead, there was just something in the air at the time; internet culture gave filmmakers the heebie-jeebies.

As a result, in these films the internet and virtual reality are pushed to characters who live on the fringes of society: outsiders, criminals both petty and powerful, and people who work in between, dealing in black-market goods.

In The Net, Angela Bennett (Sandra Bullock) isn’t a hacker or a criminal, just someone who works in cyber security, but she’s still depicted as person living outside the mainstream. While her technical skills are praised by everyone she works with, she’s still positioned as someone to be pitied, not admired. Bennett is little different from any other sad Bullock character at the beginning of her romantic comedies: She’s home alone ordering pizza for one over the internet with no friends except for a few chat-room buddies. (Even worse, her one sorta-friend in real life is Dennis Miller.) There are a few pixelated avatars, but no other humans enter the frame of movie—they’re just disembodied voices over the phone—until Bennett agrees to take a look at a weird virus one of her cyber-security friends asks her to investigate, running her afoul of a hacker group that calls itself the Praetorians.

From there, the Praetorians show themselves to be destructive on two levels. Their true aim is to cause nationwide chaos—crashing the New York Stock Exchange, snarling air traffic at LAX, blacking out the lights in Atlanta—ultimately to benefit another cyber-security company. And while those massive events do seem threatening, the scarier danger the Praetorians pose—the power to affect an individual person—is more devastating. Bennett’s life is wiped out from beneath her. Her identity is changed, the deed to her house is transferred to a stranger, the medical records of her allies are tampered with, and she’s given an outstanding criminal record so she can’t go to the police for help. The Praetorians apparently hacked her Blockbuster account, too, because they know the movies she’d rented most often (though it doesn’t really take a hacker to guess that a lonely, single lady would be into Breakfast At Tiffany’s). Her story underlines the clear message: There is too much information on the internet, and it makes us all personally vulnerable. Now, that kind of identity theft is such a common narrative device that it’s now cliché, but, at the time, it was as novel as the idea of ordering pizza through the internet in a pre-Seamless world.

In GoldenEye, the villainous Alec Trevelyan (Sean Bean) seeks to exploit the same vulnerability, though for revenge for Mother Russia instead of profit. It’s almost uncanny how much his aims align with the Praetorians’ strategy. “It’s not just erasing bank records,” says Trevelyan to Bond. “It’s everything on every computer in greater London: tax records, the stock market, land registries, criminal records. The United Kingdom will reenter the Stone Age.” He plans on crippling England the same way the Praetorians go after Bennett, by tampering with personal information.

But instead of employing a shadowy collective of baddies, all Trevelyan needs is a single hacker on his side. Boris Grishenko (Alan Cumming) has enough know-how to hijack satellites and set off weapons from outer space. And while Cumming might seem like an odd casting choice for a computer genius, he totally embodies the emerging stereotype of the ADHD hacker. Instead of acting stoic like the military-trained Trevelyan, Grishenko is wiry and fidgety—so antsy, in fact, that his inability to sit still without clicking a retractable pen accidentally sets off one of Bond’s explosive devices. He dresses in loud shirts, is boorish to his female co-workers, and is obnoxiously boastful, raising his hands and shouting, “I am invincible!” (though that last bit is almost endearing). More henchman than supervillain, Grishenko just might be the first depiction of an internet troll on film. Since the Daniel Craig reboots, Bond villains have gone back to being low-tech mercenaries, terrorists, and the odd former MI-6 agent. The closest thing they’ve come to manipulating the stock market is Le Chiffre’s short-selling of stock in Casino Royale, which he then cashes in on through terrorist attacks with nary a hacker in sight. After Grishenko, the world of hackers didn’t prove a glamorous enough foe for 007.

While hackers pose external threats in both The Net and GoldenEye, the problems the digital world raises in the messy cyber-steampunk Johnny Mnemonic are more internal. The film posits that, by the year 2021, people will have installed upgrades in themselves that will turn them into human flash drives; data too sensitive to send over the regular internet could be transmitted through human courier. (Don’t worry—if that seems gross, the fax machine is still in use in 2021.) Here, internet and virtual reality are basically one and the same; they’re distinct in other films, and virtual reality has pretty much ceased to be an ongoing concern today. In any case, this method of data transfer, while profitable if the courier feels comfortable working with shady people, is not without its costs. For his “one last job” before he’s out of the business, Johnny Mnemonic (Keanu Reeves) overloads his system, taking on more information than he has memory. (Get it? Memory? If that wasn’t clear enough, Johnny also had to get rid of some cherished childhood memories to make room for his last big score.) He spends the rest of the movie suffering from “synaptic seepage,” with the information leaking out of its storage center and causing him migraine-like pain. His virtual data is damaging his physical, real-life body.

Immediately, both the yakuza and a Jesus-like bounty hunter (Dolph Lundgren) start coming after the information in Johnny’s brain. It turns out that the package he’s carrying is the cure for 2021’s big pandemic, Nerve Attenuation Syndrome, which causes seizures and is ultimately fatal. What causes it? An unjustly discredited doctor, Spider, played by a bespectacled Henry Rollins, lays it out: “It’s information overload,” he tells Johnny. “We have all of this shit because we can’t live life without it.” Exposure to the radiation from all the electronics causes a worldwide plague, but people are just too addicted to get rid of it. In its convoluted way, Johnny Mnemonic is a warning that one day we’ll all be too reliant on the internet for our own well-being. It’s a theme that still resonates throughout popular culture, though usually without any priestlike bounty hunters delivering the message.

Virtual reality is also an addiction in Kathryn Bigelow’s underrated Strange Days. Set at the turn of the millennium (just four years away from the film’s release), the movie presents a world in turmoil: Fires, riots, and looming doomsday fears are the film’s constant, often-unremarked-upon backdrop. Yet even in a world in dire need of escapism, virtual reality has been outlawed. That makes former cop Lenny Nero (Ralph Fiennes, with a level of smarm and haircut that suggests today’s Bradley Cooper), a black-market VR dealer. “This is not like TV only better,” he explains to a potential client. “This is life—straight from the cerebral cortex.” Although it’s a passive medium—users can only watch and feel, and not participate or interact with others—it’s the good stuff.

Nero specializes in what he calls “street life,” or VR clips that feature dark and gritty sex, violence, and crime. What he chooses to watch himself, though, is altogether more wholesome: sunny clips of roller-skating with his ex-wife (Juliette Lewis) that, fine, also end in sex. But whether VR is used to live vicariously through others or recall happier days, it’s incredibly addictive. Characters talk about getting “strung out” and doing “too much playback,” which makes them turn violent and paranoid. Escapism turns out to be a dangerous drug.

Eventually, Nero is sent a “black jack,” or a snuff clip of a murder, and he’s compelled to solve it. In a twist on the old trope where a cop has to put himself in killer’s shoes, Nero has to actually live out a killer’s life, feeling his sense of elation as he claims a victim. For Nero, living through those moments is sickening and torturous. (In the course of his investigation, Nero finds a clip showing a police killing of an unarmed black man that feels oddly prescient today.) In Strange Days, VR isn’t just corrosive to the body; it’s corrupting to the soul as well.

Like Strange Days, the head-scratching Virtuosity uses virtual reality to get into the mind of a killer. In the film, a scientist creates his own digital version of a bastard son of a thousand maniacs—a computer simulation that amalgamates the personalities of more than 200 serial killers, affectionately called SID 6.7 (a playing-to-the-back-row Russell Crowe). It sounds like a terrible idea, and it is, but some lip service is given to how it can be used to help train law enforcement. By the opening of the film, however, it’s still too risky, and only convicts like former lieutenant Parker Barnes (Denzel Washington) are allowed to test out the virtual-reality system. His first felon-partner, though, doesn’t fare so well: He gets fried in the VR world, melting his neurons and dying in the real one. Even when safely ensconced in its own virtual environment, Virtuosity worries that the internet can jump out and kill you.

It does so more and more literally as the movie goes on. The only other personality program shown in the movie is a sex-charged female that SID 6.7 manipulates to escape his digital confines. He uses her as a distraction to somehow get ahold of an android body and goes on a crime spree in real life, with all 200 personalities—including, sigh, the one that killed Barnes’ family—in tow. Virtuosity’s vision of virtual reality is full of fear and panic: The internet is a repository for base human instincts—sex and murder—and we will somehow lose control of it, and it’ll be fatal.

The only thing worse than SID 6.7’s murderousness is his desire to broadcast his crimes, using poor Barnes as his audience until he eventually takes over the airwaves. The internet users of 1995 weren’t painted as the Instagramming narcissists that they are today, but SID 6.7 previsions a vain streak inside us that nothing matters unless someone else is watching.

Not every 1995 internet-paranoia movie is so fatalistic. Hackers does show the dangers of being plugged into the grid; as in the other films, the internet is used to mess with personal data, conjuring arrest warrants out of thin air, listing living employees as deceased on their company payrolls, and inserting phone numbers into embarrassing back-page personal ads. But for the most part, the hackers in Hackers—a band of them led by tech geeks with handles like Crash Override (Jonny Lee Miller) and Acid Burn (Angelina Jolie)—are seen as mostly harmless. The majority of their exploits are really just hijinx, like changing the programming on a local TV station. Hackers is one of the few 1995 films that shows internet culture as an offshoot of youth culture; as a result, it also looks the most rooted in the 1990s when watched today.

If youth culture gives us the heroes of the film, it’s an older hacker, who goes by the handle The Plague (Fisher Stevens), who represents the true danger. It’s not his technical skills that make him a villain; it’s the fact that he sells them out to a major corporation, one that controls oil tankers, then tries to exploit them for personal gain. He creates a virus that’s one of the only white-collar techie crimes available to filmmakers: the Superman III/Office Space “salami-slice” virus that rounds up pennies on a large number of transactions and puts them into a personal account. The Plague doesn’t believe in one of the basic tenants of the “Hacker Manifesto,” which is that all information should be free. And, as a final insult, he schemes to frame the hackers with purer ideals for the crime. (He also skateboards—a sure sign of villainy. Hackers came out during the brief window of time when rollerblading was the dominant mode of conveyance for true believers.)

But if hacking can cause problems like the ones The Plague creates, the film shows that it can also present a solution. To save our heroes, the hacker community across the world bands together and uses its powers for good, exposing the villain’s plot, clearing the names of the accused, and holding true to the ideals of making information free. It’s the one ray of hope in a year of films very, very scared of the internet.

The internet and virtual-reality films of 1995 also show the emergence of a problem that filmmakers are still struggling with today: how to represent a digital world on screen. You can see early attempts to create some sort of cohesive visual language to stand in for the internet. Status bars, for example, are used in more than one of these movies as a quick way to ratchet up tension; the heroes have to wait until the bar reaches 100 percent before they can flee to safety. It’s a cheap thrill, and one we sadly haven’t outgrown yet.

Mostly, though, attempts to create a new look for the internet are hideous, trafficking in cheesy, psychedelic swirls of numbers and symbols and environments that look like video games circa Nintendo 64. Hackers and Virtuosity both fall victim to the allure of pop-art colors: Virtuosity makes is virtual exit quickly, bringing SID 6.7 into the real world, but Hackers often goes into the “architecture” of circuitry, with skyscrapers of squares and rectangles standing in for the systems they’re trying to break into, and dreamy-looking equations standing in for the data they want to collect. Today, it looks dated.

You’d think that visual artist Robert Longo, who directed Johnny Mnemonic, would have better luck, but his vision of the internet looks like 3-D screensavers from Windows NT; the big climax shows a CG cartoon version of Johnny fighting viruses as if he were playing a video game, all while Ice-T narrates. Four years later, The Matrix would look much more slick and stylish using nothing but monochromatic green characters scrolling across the screen. (Johnny Mnemonic’s shortcomings is a major reason the The Matrix was such a surprise hit.)

GoldenEye and The Net mostly avoid depicting the internet altogether, but that comes with its own set of problems. In The Net, where hacking is so crucial to the plot, Bennett has to spend some time at computer terminals. Here, the movie resorts to lackluster shots of Bullock furiously typing while talking to herself, explaining to herself what she’s looking at while a series of static web pages flash in front of her eyes. Strange Days acquits itself the best. Its virtual reality looks just like regular film footage—all conveyed in point-of-view shots for a more first-person perspective—that might have a tint to it if the recorder were colorblind. It’s simultaneously the most engrossing depiction of the virtual world and the one that looks most contemporary today.

It’d be easy to think that, in the past 20 years, filmmakers would have solved the problem of tackling the internet on screen, but they’re still struggling. Status bars still stand in as tension-mounting devices (as in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, which had an eye-roll-inducing race between a status bar and a plane crash). There are still visualizations of the internet as a psychedelic-colored version of the real world (though Futurama at least had some fun with this idea). And there are still shots that zoom along wires and down into circuits, like this year’s Blackhat (though Chris Hemsworth is a long way from Alan Cumming—good job, hackers). Blackhat, like its 1995 brethren, was a huge flop early in 2015 (even fewer people saw it than saw Hackers in its initial release). Even after two decades, during which the web has become fully integrated into our daily lives, the digital-paranoia subgenre still has room to mature.

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‘Star Trek’ Star Nichelle Nichols Suffers Stroke

‘Star Trek’

Nichelle Nichols, best know for her role as Lt. Uhura in “Star Trek,” suffered a stroke in her Los Angeles home on Wednesday night.

Her rep Zach McGinnis announced the news on Facebook.

“Last night while at her home in L.A., Nichelle Nichols suffered from a mild stroke,” McGinnis wrote. “She is currently undergoing testing to determine how severe the stroke was. Please keep her in your thoughts.”

Nichols was next scheduled to appear at New Jersey’s Eternal Con on June 13 and 14.

Nichols, 82, appeared in the original “Star Trek” TV series, which ran from 1966-1969, as well as the “Star Trek” movies. She also played the role of Nana Dawson in the ABC show “Heroes,” and voiced characters in the TV series “Futurama,” “Gargoyles” and “Spider-Man.”

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