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Jul 152015

There are many different villains in pop culture. Some live on to become as iconic as the heroes who fight them while others, not so much. So I put together a list of old villains from movies and TV shows that seem underrated, but still stand out as favorites of mine.

#10) Mouser from The Super Mario Bros. Super Show: Originally featured as a bomb-throwing boss from the Super Mario Bros. 2 NES game, this talking mouse often serves as King Bowser Koopa’s right hand man. Mouser is a stooge but a worthy adversary. However, he hasn’t been featured in the Super Mario Bros. franchise for a long time, among other old characters that seemed to have disappeared off the radar. I wonder why that is.

#9) The Witches from the Volcano of Gloom from My Little Pony (1986 version): They are known as Hydia and her two daughters Reeka and Draggle and come from a long line of evildoers. This trio, along with their giant spider monster Ahgg, is intent on turning the world dark, dank, and dreary and the little ponies are the only ones standing in their way. The witches were the main villains on My Little Pony the Movie (1986) and the ten-part episode The End of Flutter Valley. After that, the witches never returned. It would’ve been nice if they did but this series was not known for its consistency when it comes to villains.

#8) Hurricane Harry from Cool McCool: It does seem that the villains on this show are very similar to the ones in the Batman franchise. That’s mainly because the series was co-created by Bob Kane, the original creator of Batman. However, Hurricane Harry stands out the most. His lungs are so powerful that a single deep breath can easily affect the world’s weather. The most impressive example is when Harry shows his ability to inhale the power of the sun and spit fire like a dragon. It’s unknown how Harry acquired this power to begin with, but it is enough to overlook his lisp.

#7) Jean- Baptiste Emanuel Zorg (Gary Oldman) from The Fifth Element: Gary Oldman has had quite a few villainous roles before. Unfortunately, this was not labeled among his best. Zorg is an industrialist who believes that preserving life comes from destruction and chaos. He may come off as a lame villain at times, but don’t underestimate him. Zorg is ruthless and never likes to be disappointed by anyone. When that happens he won’t hesitate to blow you up.

#6) Mr. Freeze (Arnold Schwarzenegger) from Batman & Robin: I know this sounds strange since Mr. Freeze is a popular Batman villain. However, this particular version is often frowned upon due to the fact that this movie was constantly mentioned as a box office flop, based on many reviews. Sure his dialogue mostly consists of ice puns but Mr. Freeze is highly skilled. He can move around smoothly in that extremely heavy suit and his freeze gun is amazing. It can encase people and objects within ice in only a matter of seconds. The special effects really blew my mind, especially when compared to the effects used in this movie’s predecessor Batman Forever. Seriously, how can you not find this interesting?

#5) Velasca (Melinda Clarke) from Xena: Warrior Princess: This amazon warrior from season 2 was the adopted daughter of Queen Melosa and intended to be queen of the Amazons. When Gabrielle was selected as heir, Velasca became incredibly jealous. Soon after, she ate ambrosia and became a goddess completely intent on killing Gabrielle. Velasca was eventually plunged into a lava pit along with Callisto, leaving the possibility that they would both return. Although Callisto did return in the third season, Velasca didn’t. There were plenty of opportunities to bring Velasca back throughout the series run but it never happened. Any ideas why?

#4) Beastur from My Pet Monster: He’s the evil master of Monster Land and always pops into the real world in his many attempts to bring Monster back with him. The confrontations are always big chases, but I always liked how Beastur keeps getting sent back to Monster Land when he’s defeated. He does have his hilarious moments too and that’s what makes Beastur so memorable.

#3) Tweeg from The Adventures of Teddy Ruxpin: It’s no surprise that this troll grunge makes this list. Although Tweeg’s biggest evil trait is his greed, many of his evil plots are focused on trying to meet the standards of MAVO (The Monsters and Villains Organization) as well as his troll mother Eleanor. Tweeg is sneaky and cunning, but even with a group of bounders serving him Tweeg always seems to fall short. He can’t even hit anything with a cannonball. Sometimes you just can’t help but feel sorry for the guy.

#2) Prince Gasket and Archerina from Power Rangers Zeo: The oldest son of King Mondo had fallen in love with the daughter of King Aragon (not featured in the series). Since their families were at war with one another, the two of them eloped. That scenario is much like in Romeo & Juliet, except that Gasket and Archerina mostly lived in hiding from their fathers. These two are both skilled fighters intent on conquering the Earth and ruling the Machine Empire. Once King Mondo caught up with them, Gasket and Archerina retreated and were never seen or heard from again. It leaves you wondering what could’ve become of this duo since they only appeared in 10 episodes out of 50.

#1) Prime Evil from Ghostbusters (1986 version): Who better to take the top spot than the Ghostbusters’ biggest archenemy. This creepy character is intent on taking over the human world and has many different ghosts and ghouls serving him. Of course, Prime Evil has his comedic moments also. He takes insults as compliments, struggles to say “Ghostbusters”, and has a hot temper when putting up with his henchmen. Unfortunately, with the other version of Ghostbusters completely overshadowing this series, Prime Evil went down with it but he’s one villain I’ll never forget.

Special Note: It wasn’t easy putting this list together since there were so many underrated villains to choose from. I was also going to include Scorpina from Mighty Morphin Power Rangers as an honorable mention, but after learning the reason behind her disappearance from voice actress Wendee Lee at Anime Festival Orlando 2011, I’m going to let that one pass.

Nov 222013

Back in the 80s, there were some very memorable shows from the PBS network like Sesame Street, The Electric Company, and Square One TV. I have recently remembered another one I used to watch often. Welcome to Zoobilee Zoo (1986-1988), population: 7. It’s a nice neighborhood inhabited by zoobles, which are talking animals with human-like qualities. Each zooble’s home is entirely based on his or her common interests and they’re only walking distance from each other.

Running Zoobilee Zoo is Mayor Ben (Ben Vereen) the leopard, who lives in a mountain cave. He hosts the show and narrates. Mayor Ben never leaves his home, but whenever the other zoobles need advice he’s always there to help.

Bill der Beaver (Sandey Grinn) is a handyman, or handyzooble, who likes to build things. Bill’s house also has a living hand in the wall that helps him out. What is it and where did it come from?

Lookout Bear (Michael B. Moynahan) loves going on adventures. I’m referring to the kind of adventures one would find in exploring nature, not the kind found on Adventure Time. This is a children show after all.

Whazzat Kangaroo (Louise Vallance) is the youngest of the zoobles. She’s sweet, has a cute giggle, and loves music. Whazzat can play any instrument, which I think is impressive. Whenever she’s confused about something she says, “Whazzat?” I guess that’s how she got her name. What I’ve often noticed is that Whazzat usually hangs out with Lookout and he enjoys her company. I don’t know if they have a relationship or what.

Van Go Lion (Forrest Gardner) is an artist that loves to paint. He’s also brave when faced with danger, most of the time. Van Go also enjoys singing and dancing. It’s true that all of the zoobles often break into song, but Van Go stands out because he’s the lead singer in a rock band called the Zoobadoobas. (Apparently, that was only featured in one episode.)

Then we have Bravo Fox (Gary Schwartz) the actor. He directs and stars in every play he presents. Bravo’s costars are the other zoobles, even though they’re not official actors. But who else is there? Bravo can also juggle bowling pins and his house is a stage theater. I’ve heard the term, “Life is but a stage”, but this sure takes the cake.

On a side note: Gary Schwartz has made a couple of guest star appearances on The Super Mario Bros. Super Show, but this series was what helped me recognize him.

Last, but not least is Talkatoo Cockatoo (Karen Hartman). This bird is a writer, mostly for the Zoobilee Zoo newspaper. It used to confuse me when I look at Talkatoo’s house, which looks like a children’s book. Now I understand that she likes to write stories as well as articles. Another side note: Karen Hartman has also made guest star appearances on The Super Mario Bros. Super Show. Once again, it was Zoobilee Zoo that helped me recognize her.

Together the zoobles all live in harmony. Sometimes they go to other lands to learn things by using a transportation system called the Zoobilee Zoo-Choo to travel through the Tunnel of Surprise. Of course all six zoobles have to do a song and dance number before hand, even though only three or four of them are actually taking the trip. I’ve also noticed that the Zoo-Choo has five gates, but Gate 3 is the only one that’s ever open. Isn’t that puzzling.

This was certainly a classic series. Even though there are guest stars on occasion, I just find it hard to believe that there are so few zoobles that live in Zoobilee Zoo.

Aug 082012

It was a real pleasure meeting Tara Strong at Anime Festival Orlando 2012. She has voiced quite a few characters from cartoons I grew up watching, as well as some newer favorites. The following characters are just a few a my favorites.

Bubbles from Powerpuff Girls: She’s the sweet and sensitive member of the team. Her special powers include communicating with animals and her supersonic shriek. More importantly, Bubbles is level-headed when it comes to teamwork, especially when her sisters Blossom and Buttercup clash with one another.

Hip and Hop Koopa from Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World cartoons: They’re the youngest of the koopalings. In the video games, these two are known as Lemmy and Iggy Koopa and don’t have a whole lot in common. On the cartoons, they are twins who are hardly ever apart and often finish each other’s sentences.

On a side note, Tara Strong told me that she was about 14 years old when she voiced these characters.

Hello Kitty from Hello Kitty’s Furrytale Theater: That’s right. Tara Strong voiced the lead in a Hello Kitty cartoon. On this show, Hello Kitty and her friends put on plays based on iconic stories. Hello Kitty usually plays the lead and/or the princess in these productions, since she is the leadership figure of the group.

Patty Putty from Garbage Pail Kids cartoon: Though meant to be grotesque, she has useful stretching abilities and can bounce around.

Lena Dupree from Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island: She’s an excellent chef who works in a house on Moonscar Island, but has a dark secret. Her southern charm lures people to the island before they become zombies.

Lil’ Red and Fairy from Shrek 2 video game: Like many video games based on movies, they are made more interesting by adding extra story lines and characters that were not featured in the films themselves. Shrek 2 for Playstation 2 is a good example.

Lil’ Red and Fairy were not in the movie, but were interesting allies for Shrek and the gang. Lil’Red can fight enemies with her picnic basket and can throw apples accurately, thanks to her softball pitching skill. Fairy is one tough little lady who can throw fairy dust to take out enemies.

I know Tara Strong has voiced many characters over the years. What are some of your favorites?

Mar 042011

One of the cleverest foes in the Super Mario Bros. franchise is Lakitu. He hides up in the clouds with his unlimited supply of spiny eggs, which he throws down at Mario and Luigi. Once the eggs hit the ground, they become spinys, one of the first enemies that can’t be stomped on. There’s quite an evolution with Lakitu as well.

1985: Lakitu makes his debut on the original Super Mario Bros. game in level 4-1. Originally I thought he was just a cloud that follows you everywhere you go while throwing the spiny eggs and is happy about it. Then I later realized that Lakitu is a turtle riding the happy faced cloud. He can be killed in one stomp, but it’s difficult to reach him at the top of the screen. And if that weren’t bad enough, no matter how many times you take out Lakitu, he always comes back as if there was more than one.

1989: On The Super Mario Bros. Super Show, Lakitu is boss of the clouds. Not only does he have spiny eggs, but his cloud also makes rain and lightning. However, Lakitu was only in one episode, where he was helping King Red Baron Koopa take over Pasta Land.

1990: Lakitu returns in the Super Mario Bros. 3 game, not only with red spiny eggs, but also green ones that don’t hatch, but are just as deadly. I never figured out where Lakitu gets his spiny eggs from, unless he lays them himself.

1990: Lakitu makes an appearance on the Super Mario Bros. 3 cartoon series also, but only in one episode for a couple of seconds during a chase scene. I think he deserved a little more recognition than that.

1991: Next in the Super Mario World game, a new feature after defeating Lakitu is that you can snatch his cloud and ride in it. Unfortunately, it only lasts for a short time. Another new feature is that Lakitu fishes for Mario with a 1up mushroom as bait. I wonder if that was the inspiration behind Fishin’ Boo.

1992: When the Super Mario Kart franchise came along, Lakitu held the starter light and flags for the races. That’s been his job on every Mario Kart game, including Mario Kart Wii. He has a birds eye view of every race up on that cloud.

1993: On The Lost Levels game in Super Mario All-Stars, Lakitu’s skills are the same as the original Super Mario Bros. game. All that’s new is that he comes and goes throughout the levels as if he only wanted to attack in certain areas. Could it be a new strategy, or is he just getting soft.

1996: I guess the Mario Kart experiences might have led to a possible change of heart, because on Super Mario 64 Lakitu shadows Mario with a camera throughout the adventure without any interference. That would explain the camera angle options.

2006: Lakitu is only labeled as an annoying enemy that attacks from a cloud on Super Princess Peach, but that’s putting it lightly. This time his spiny eggs blow up like bob-bombs, when they hit. On occasion he sleeps calmly until he’s woken up by Princess Peach’s presence. At least Lakitu is reachable more often.

2006: As the Mario Bros. go back to their roots on New Super Mario Bros. DS, so does Lakitu with his even spikier spiny eggs. At the castle in World 7, Lakitu becomes a boss called Lakithunder. He rides a dark cloud that shoots lightning, which gives him more of an edge.

2009: Of course, like other common enemies, Lakitu returns again in New Super Mario Bros. Wii. This time there can be more than one of him attacking at once. The spinys are different also. Yoshi used to eat them easily, but now they’re as hard to swallow as turtle shells. What did Lakitu do to those spinys to make them so tasteless?

As long as King Bowser Koopa continues to try to take over the Mushroom Kingdom with his various minions, Lakitu will always be there to back him up with air support, no matter how many of him there is.

Feb 262010

I’ve been a fan of the Super Mario Bros. franchise for a long time. So I put together a character evolution post on one of the top damsels of the video game world.

1985: Princess Toadstool started out in the original Super Mario Bros. NES game as the damsel in distress Mario and Luigi head out to rescue from King Koopa. Although her look at the time was pretty shoddy as an 8-bit character, it was still exciting to see her in the game. Considering that you had to get through eight different castles to find her.

On a side note, 8-bit characters can be a little misleading. Would you believe I used to think that the Goombas were angry bird heads with feet?

1988: When the Super Mario Bros. 2 NES game came along, there was the option to play as the Princess. I find that as useful as it is interesting. The Princess may have been the slowest runner and the slowest at picking up items, but she could float in the air for long distances with her jumping skill. I wonder if it has something to do with that dress.

1989: In Super Mario Land for Game Boy, Mario rescues the Princess from an alien named Tatanga. It’s revealed that her first name is Daisy, but is it really the same princess? It only took four castles to find this one.

1989: Later that year, Princess Toadstool’s look really started to change when The Super Mario Bros. Super Show premiered. As she travels with Mario, Luigi, and Toad, it’s revealed that she’s not spoiled. (Thank goodness.) The Princess is a fighter and good ruler. She just can’t help getting kidnapped by King Koopa so frequently.

1990: Next up in the Super Mario Bros. 3 NES game, Princess Toadstool provides special items for the Mario Bros. after defeating a Koopaling like magic P-wings and happy faced clouds that let you skip levels. Unfortunately, after getting through World 7, King Koopa kidnaps the Princess again. At least we know where to find her this time.

1991: Then we have Super Mario World for the Super NES. King Koopa kidnaps the Princess yet again. This time it’s in a clown copter. I admit, she sure looks good when she peeks out and screams for help.

1992: At around this time, Nintendo Power magazine started having comics based on Nintendo characters in Manga style animation. One of my favorites was Super Mario Adventures. Throughout this story, the Princess can be pretty fierce when she’s angry. Was King Koopa trying to turn her people into statues again?

1993: When Super Mario All Stars was released for the Super NES, Princess Toadstool had a more graphic look as both a heroine and a damsel.

1993: Samantha Mathis plays the Princess in the Super Mario Bros. movie and is one of several damsels in distress. Her name is Daisy, so maybe the princess in Super Mario Land is the same girl.

1996: After Mario saves the Princess and her kingdom in Super Mario 64, Princess Toadstool decides to prepare a cake for him as a reward. That’s nice. It sure beats a second quest.

1999: I stand corrected on the Princess’s name. On Super Mario Bros. Deluxe for Game Boy Color, Princess Toadstool’s first name is now revealed as Peach. In a perfected version of the original Super Mario Bros. game, along with some newer challenges and extra courses, Princess Peach awards Mario and Luigi with medals for completing their quests. Come on now, Peach. Is this supposed to be a competition based on a nostalgic rescue mission, or something?

2006:  When Super Princess Peach came out for the Nintendo DS, things got turned around. Peach has to rescue Mario from King Koopa. On this quest, she’s armed with a talking parasol and vibe power. I never realized how emotional Peach could really get.

2006: Not to worry. Princess Peach goes back to her damsel roots in New Super Mario Bros. DS as Bowser Jr. quickly drags her from tower to castle to tower and so on. I wonder how she manages to keep her dress clean through all that fast dragging.

2007: It wasn’t until the Mario Party games, like Mario Party DS, when we find out that there are two princesses in the Mushroom Kingdom, Peach and Daisy. The difference between them is that Peach is noble and graceful while Daisy is spunky and sassy. I’ll tell ya. Daisy would’ve made a great character on the Super Mario Bros. cartoons as well. Frankly, so would Wario and Waluigi, but that’s beside the point.

2008: Here’s where things really get interesting. On Mario Kart Wii not only is there an option to be either princess, but also either baby princess. They’re both adorable and wild in those vehicles. I wonder if that’s what they were like during their childhood.

2009: Last, but definitely not least, we have New Super Mario Bros. Wii when Princess Peach gets kidnapped by all eight Koopalings and the Mario Bros. chase them while she sits helpless in the airship before getting dragged into King Koopa’s castle. Fighting Bowser is easy. The hard part is dodging those waves of lava as you cross the platforms to where Peach is.

Whether a damsel in distress or a fierce fighter like on Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo Wii, Princess Peach has come a long way as a fan favorite. King Koopa must really have a thing for Peach if he keeps kidnapping her all the time. I can only think of three possible reasons for it. He either wants something from Peach, use her as bait to get to the heroes, or just personal pleasure. It’s hard to say what King Koopa’s motivation really is. There were times when Bowser wanted to marry Peach. Ewe! Apparently, Bowser also wants her kingdom. But he ain’t getting it as long as Mario and Luigi are around.