When the Mainstream Takes a Holiday

Posted by Rob Noble on April 5, 2010

Of the many pleasures of geekdom and nerdery, one of the most rewarding is when you discover some glint of awesomeness in what’s otherwise a pile of crud. Pop culture offers an endless buffet of slick, shiny product that’s usually meant to coax more dollars from your wallet than thoughts from your deepest psyche. But sometimes, just sometimes, the lucky fan discovers some unknown lode of weirdness and fried gold in the oddest of mainstream places.

The problem comes in trying to convince other people that what you’ve found is worth checking out. Tell your old college roomie that you found a stack of late 70’s Creepy magazines featuring unproduced, re-purposed Kolchak stories and just watch his eyes light up with recognition and excitement. But try telling him that the late period Woody Allen rom-com Anything Else is actually a time travel movie, with Woody coming back from the future to tell Jason Biggs, his younger self, not to get married or take that job? Disbelief and a raised eyebrow.

Here’s another example: The final season of Family Matters. After 6 seasons on ABC’s TGIF line-up, it moved to CBS for its 7th and final season. The background characters were dropped almost entirely and the show became a modern-day Bewitched, or My Favorite Martian. Every episode followed the same pattern: Urkel would have a sci-fi accident/adventure (shrinking down to six inches…gaining ESP…teleportation ….clones!) and next-door neighbor Carl would get caught up in it. At the end of the 22 minutes some semblance of balance had been restored, but seriously, each episode could have been an old I Dream of Jeannie.

Like this.

It’s a fact. Even the most ardent genre nerds can be hard to convince. Sci-fi characters shouldn’t be wandering around outside their “genre ghettoes.” But they do! All the time! So I’m putting it to you, dear reader – What have you found that’s so obviously sci-fi, horror, or geeky cool – but that others can’t be convinced of? We want to know!

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