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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The End of the Nostalgia Critic/Top 11 NC Episodes

   Sad to say it, but I kind of expected this day would come.  Last week, after the conclusion of To Boldly Flee, the online film celebrating the fourth anniversary of Channel Awesome and the That Guy With The Glasses website, Doug Walker announced that he and his brother, Rob, had decided to retire the character of Nostalgia Critic, the persona that has largely defined the burgeoning career of not only himself, but of all the other reviewers and entertainers for whom his website has become a base of operations. 

    Not that either the website or Channel Awesome as a whole are done, far from it.  While Nostalgia Critic would no longer be a weekly show, he said, he could bring him back for the occasional special, and his other personas (Ask That Guy, Chester A. Bum, and Video Game Confessions, among others) would continue as well.  In addition, he is already planning a new web series called “Demo Reels.”  Nostalgia Critic may be gone, but the career of Doug Walker, in all likelihood, is far from over. 

    However, this is still a pretty big moment.  It was the Nostalgia Critic persona that fueled his career in the first place, and the constant back-and-forth between him and Youtube over the NC videos that helped launch the TGWTG website back in 2008.  It remains to this day the biggest draw on the site, bringing in (according to Wikipedia)  over 100,000 views a week.  Many people know him only as the Nostalgia Critic.  Given all that, it is somewhat surprising that he would choose to end something that is still so enduringly popular. 

    Personally, I think the signs have been there for some time that he would eventually call it quits.  The first warning sign was the end of his review of “My Pet Monster,” where he has a mock phone call with the director of the film and is “ridiculed” for being an adult who watches children’s movies, after which he sadly stares out the window and a caption announces, “The End?”  The next was when I first saw the trailer for To Boldly Flee, and his somber voice-over describing how everything had been building “to this moment.”  So while I am very much saddened (and, yes, nostalgic) about the news that the character is pretty much retired, I can’t say I’m shocked. 

    I do find it rather poignant that he would retire the character shortly after my graduation though, since it was just a few months before I started college as a freshman that he launched the site, and I’ve been following him weekly for well over 4 years since then.  Now I understand how my senior friends from my freshmen year felt when “Scrubs” ended right as they graduated.  Like an old friend has gone away, a moment in time is gone.  And it’s not just because his shows were a fun, regular way to put off studying.  The Nostalgia Critic videos are one of the biggest influences on my own sense of humor, along with Zero Punctuation, Monty Python, and Mystery Science Theater.  They have also greatly altered how I view the internet and the possibilities it offers for movies, shows, and comedic creativity.

    There is something remarkably unique about the work of the TGWTG team.  For all the audiences that the site caters to, and the huge number of regular viewers they receive (over 1 million a month), it’s hardly a cash cow.  These people are paid by the ads they post on the site, but they are hardly raking in mounds of profits from their work.  And many of them, outside of the people who watch their videos, are hardly known, since some of them review VERY specific genres and subgenres of film, comics, and video games.  So they aren’t exactly obtaining celebrity status by doing this either.  They each put in hours and hours of effort to film, cut, edit, dub, and format all of these videos (and the amount currently on the site is staggering), often using little more than commercially available laptop programs and perhaps one decent camera and microphone set.  Their work is truly homemade. 

    And it’s that level of personal touch and devotion that, in my opinion, makes the site so special, and why their work has such an enduring effect on both myself and others.  Even though many of them use carefully crafted and maintained personas and characters for their videos, through every video and every series shines a strong and very evident passion for their subjects.  They do what they do not because it brings them profit or celebrity status, but because they just enjoy spending their time doing it.  Because of this, after watching so many of the videos of so many of the people on the site, you almost come to feel that you know these people personally, that you’ve really met them and talked about your shared interests with them.  I can’t help but think of Doug, Todd, Lindsay, Lupa, Linkara, and the others with a certain warmth and affection.  Not as friends, of course, but as comfortable, familiar acquaintances.  We live in a society where most television shows, news programs, and movies are increasingly impersonal and mechanical in how they’re made, formulated not out of a desire to create art and express passion, but simply to make money.  As a result, having a niche site like TGWTG where artists can bring their work and others can come to enjoy it just for what it is is special indeed. 

    Through the popularity of the Nostalgia Critic character, Doug Walker has created something genuine.  His work, and the world that he and the members of the site have worked to build over the past 4 years, inspires both myself and others to always remember that, no matter what, there are always ways to enjoy and express your passions in life.  And for that, I proffer my hat to you, Nostalgia Critic, and thank you for all the laughs you have brought us over the years. 

    I am currently contemplating doing some retrospectives of my own on the Nostalgia Critic (Doug will be doing his videos over the coming months), including formal reviews of the three full-length anniversary films Channel Awesome has done thus far.  Currently I am in the process of putting together a list of the “classic” Nostalgia critic episodes, consisting of my 30-40 personal favorites of the 284 “official” episodes listed on the Nostalgia Critic page.  For length’s sake, however, I will save that for a follow-up post. 

    So to conclude this preliminary article, I offer to my readers my own Top 11 Nostalgia Critic Episodes list (possibly to be followed by a Youtube counterpart).  Why Top 11?  Because he went one step beyond, and so should we.  Thanks Doug. 

The Top 11 Nostalgia Critic Episodes: 

11. Pokemon: The Movie- April 20, 2008
10. Top 11 Most Awkward Christopher Walken Moments- March 30, 2010
9. We're Back!- August 12, 2009
8. Top 11 Villain Songs- February 23, 2010
7. Good Son- February 13, 2009
6. Casper- October 20, 2009
5. Top 11 Nostalgic Mindfucks- February 24, 2009
4. Siskel and Ebert- November 10, 2009
3. Batman and Robin- May 23, 2008
2. The Room- July 13, 2010
1. Nostalgia Critic MUSICAL REVIEW: Moulin Rouge- November 29, 2011

2 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. You know what? That's a good question. I might revisit this topic next year after Top 10s and award season.

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