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Holiday Specials!

Today we have a guest post from The Prime Merlyn on the Holiday Special, I hope you enjoy!

Happy Holidays!

Or is it? It’s difficult to tell nowadays when watching television. And no, I’m not talking about the news or the political drama. No, I’m talking about the holiday television specials that flood our flatscreens every winter.

Oh, you know the drill. Main character hates Christmas but, by end of movie, suddenly is an advocate for the season to be jolly.

OR the Main Character loves Christmas, comes across something that makes them think they are a fool for loving it, and then all is made right again by end of story.

OR Main Character is a loner who is sad during the season due to family loss or not having a family at all and they find love, the perfect town full of the most over-the-top loving people, and then all is made right in their world and the Main Character is full of hope and joy and (if the Main Character is a woman) possibly pregnant.

And that’s it. There doesn’t seem to be any other type of holiday movie. They are so easily predictable that within 5 minutes of it starting you can predict how it’s going to end. Which then makes you wonder, “Why do they keep making these regurgitated plot-lines? Why don’t they just re-show the older ones, if they aren’t going to produce anything original?”

That’s what we are going to be talking about today. How can the Holiday Television Movie Special be remade in order to no longer follow this trope? After all, they can’t ALL be like Die Hard.

Now, according to most stats, a holiday movie is full of heart-warming love, forgiveness, bits of magic (usually involving Santa Claus), and very little, if any, violence or foul language. I can get behind that…for the most part. But this limiting of allowed plots also limits the viewers you will attract. And going the opposite direction, like Bad Santa, seems to spawn sequels and a growing crowd, but those types of movies also spawn mimics who think it’s funny and cool to walk around being an ass to others while dressed as Santa or an Elf or anything else Christmas related.

Sadly, that seems to be a growing trend. Traditional Christmas movies are becoming so cliché no one wants to see them, but the movies that make fun of Christmas and shows how to be a jerk and get away with it, are growing in number and popularity. So, what we need is to produce a truly great Holiday movie that can speak to everyone without hitting those repeated clichés.

A new Holiday movie should inspire, but in a positive manner. It should warm your heart, but not with fake towns full of “holiday cheer” or where nothing bad or real actually happens. It should introduce the possibility of a miracle or magical experience without stepping over the line into mysticism or something out of a children’s book.

In today’s world of reality television shows, making a holiday movie that steps into more realism yet holds onto the possibility of a magical season and all the changes that the joy of the holiday can bring is exactly what is needed in these days.

Basically, if changes are not made to the standards of these holiday specials I have a sinking feeling that soon the traditional seasonal movies will be full of misbehaving, cussing, violent action…and that’s just from the viewers.

Do you agree, let us know in the comments!

Villainous Tactics Part 3

Villainous Tactics, Part 3

Welcome to our third and last blog post in the series on villainous tactics. You can read part 1 here, and part 2 here. This time we’ll be talking about villains and their business plans and how some can be total head scratchers, but also how they can be sensible plans which actually advance their schemes – right in time for Black Friday.

First a distinction needs to be made, in terms of the purpose. Is the product or service itself an evil/villainous thing, or does it serve as a front or cover? We’ll be discussing both possibilities, and for the sake of this piece the assumption will be that the product or service is desired, and not obviously evil like the sandwiches in Supernatural, or zombies. While at it, though not the topic of this post there really needs to be a market for the product, not some vague government product stuff.

As a front service or product – remember the entire point is for this to be loud and draw attention away from covert activities. So taking attention off is vital as well as producing income or gathering resources seems in order. Another vital question is, does the business serve as a base for your deeds or is it on the periphery? If its on the periphery just keep it separate and resources can continue flowing in.

Now if it is related or you need to keep attention on it, there’s the obvious solution. Marketing campaigns, ads, holiday sales to ensure your shop is flooded with customers making it hard for heroes to snoop around. In a sci-fi setting that could be a little harder what with online or maybe even telepathic businesses and specialized news feeds. You can still take off the heat by announcing new construction, or if the heroes happen to be plucky crimefighters unaware of the link between you and the business, have your minions attack your own store so you can set up an ambush.

For a actual villainous based product, its clearly a little harder. If its obviously evil, such as it reduces you to a zombie if you eat it people have a way of noticing. Regulatory agencies ever so slightly tend to get prickly about say beer that melts you inside out, or killer tomatoes in the supermarket. However, there are ways around this for distribution of your evil product, that dont involve big shiny letters and a storefront. Consider donations, black markets where people are desperate – it provides a good explanation for how whatever the villainous product is to spread.

Have other ideas? Let us know in the comments!

Villainous Tactics Part 2: Doomlasers and other super weapons

Welcome to part two of our posts on villainous tactics, this time the Super Weapon. The Deathstar, Star-Killer Base, and all sorts of other planet-killing devices or other super weapons. Typically a pinnacle of the plot, awesome looking when it’s not a tesseract the Super Weapon is meant to inspire fear and terror. Yet its usage in fiction often leaves you with a head scratcher if you start thinking about it, and could even be counter productive or require quite a few coincidences that can just strain the willing suspension of disbelief.

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First its beneficial to think about the plots involved. Let’s use Star Wars Episode IV, and immediately it goes into plans stolen for this Deathstar. Naturally this details a weak spot, and the destruction of the weapons – hopefully Rogue One will showcase the plot of stealing the plans in the first place. Regardless, its a blow up the Deathstar style plot as a number of Super Weapon based plots tend to be.

So what might make a villain more threatening or show skill with the weapon? Deception is always good. Imagine how Star Wars would go if the plans to the Deathstar were false? What if multiple copies of the plans were leaked to create ‘noise’ and uncertainty? Purposefully obscure locations for making the weapon? Or just dont have a cliche big red button marked Self-Destruct? All of these deceptions could enhance the survivability of your big laser of doom or whatever, and that’s important as a plan,

Making your weapon survivable is of course a huge aspect in having the big laser of doom a threat. There’s not just deception, in addition, the super weapon could deal with escorts. As an example, in today’s world a carrier is sort of a super weapon – but they move in battlegroups surrounded by escort vessels to aid their survivability. Of course, not having an obvious weak point helps as well. Though you may note the topic of our post is tactics there has got to be more than survivability and deception right?

Well, this comes to a movie I enjoy – Contact with Jodie Foster has a quote “the first rule of government spending, why build one when you can build two for twice the cost?” while spoken tongue in cheek it illustrates a point with Super Weapons. When the Manhattan project was running the United States made three bombs, one for testing and two for use. The point of all of this, is its wasteful generally and not ideal to have a single point of failure for your villainous schemes. Secondary weapons can reduce that, or having backups for if your weapon is taken out.

Lastly, in terms of actual use. The point of a super weapon is generally to deal with either inspiring terror or some ridiculously strong defense that needs breaking down by an equally ridiculous weapon. This means actually planning out which of the two you’re going to do, having a backup but also attempting to ensure it fulfills those objectives. Like the Deathstar when it goes after the rebel base in the yavin system – why couldn’t a half a dozen star destroyers do that task instead all without the potential of weakness from leaked plans? How exactly would the destruction of a remote moon inspire terror?

Just some thoughts, let us know if you have others in the comments!