“What Happened To You Man? You used to have strong plentiful balls”: Ma-ti – Battlefield Earth Review
Back in 2007, an episode of The Angry Video Game Nerd involved the titular character reviewing the movie Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III. This was a change of pace to his regular videos as he would normally only review video games, however, I particularly loved this one video and wish he could have done more like this, or that someone would come around and be The Angry Video Game Nerd of movies. In a number of respects, this was The Nostalgia Critic (portrayed by Doug Walker). This is what first attracted me to the series when I first discovered it in 2009, and after watching a few episodes I was hooked. The series debuted on YouTube in 2007 before moving to Doug Walker’s own site That Guy With the Glasses.com (later re-titled Channel Awesome), a website which showcased of people involved in the increasingly popular genre of satirical reviews.
That Guy With the Glasses wasn’t entertainment being churned out by a corporation or by Hollywood executives, it was entertainment for the people by the people with no concern for financial gain but creating content purely out of passion which could be shared with a mass audience thanks to this thing known as the internet. I had my own aspirations to be on TGWTG, of course, nothing ever materialized, but to even be a follower of the site it felt like being part of something truly special and unique. All the great personalities the site had to offer; Spoony, Angry Joe, Todd in the Shadows, Linkara, Paw, Film Brain – the list goes on. Online videos like these have more heart, soul, and personality than contemporary Hollywood blockbusters or anything currently on TV.
But let’s talk about The Nostalgia Critic. Doug Walker was a natural comedian, he made the art of reviewing while cracking jokes, pop culture references and comedic over reactions look easy. Surf Ninjas is my favourite NC review, I have watched a good 30 times; a masterpiece of sarcasm. I remember I used to stay up on Tuesday nights to see each new video as soon as it was uploaded and I considered Doug Walker to be one of my comedic influences.
Various ex-fans of The Nostalgia Critic have different dates as to when he went downhill, so I can’t speak for everyone, but for me personally, 2011 was the beginning of the end. Right from the start of 2011, the cracks were showing. Sequel month was a lazy idea, just rehashing previous review source material, but I presumed this would just be a minor blip. Despite a few good videos over the following year, the quality had declined. Also while I absolutely adored the two year anniversary special Kickassia, the following anniversary special in 2011 Suburban Knights simply wasn’t funny, not to mention it felt like a very anti-climatic follow up to Kickassia in which they made the special in cooperation with an actual micro-nation. Going from something as large-scale and ambitious as that to a special filmed is suburban neighborhood felt like a bummer. When Star Trek month rolled around in January 2012 I gave up. Now at this point, The Nostalgia Critic’s video wasn’t awful, but more so just really boring.
I was glad when Doug brought the series to an end in August 2012 and began a new project called Demo Reel. Perhaps Demo Reel had potential but what I have watched of it is seriously dull; although at least it was something different and showed Doug didn’t want to be The Critic all his life. However, due to the failure of Demo Reel Doug revived The Nostalgia Critic. I haven’t seen everything he has done since the series revival but what I have is unbelievably awful. For this review, I had to try and watch more recent videos of his which I hadn’t seen, and doing so was the biggest chore, such a contrast to his older work which had such a natural progression and the best of which were consistently funny from beginning to end.
A rundown of the problems with The Nostalgia Critic beginning in 2011 and spiraling out of control in 2012:
Firstly he started going to way of MTV, he’s become The Nostalgia Critic in name only. This problem began in October 2011 when he reviewed Exorcist II: The Heretic and Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2; two films totally outside of his territory as there’s nothing nostalgic about them to the Critic’s target audience. He once had cut off date of 2000 (aside from the odd exception), however now it’s clear he’s run out of nostalgic movies and TV shows from his time frame and now reviews whatever he wants. He was at his best reviewing stupid and nonsensical Movies and TV shows from the 80’s and 90’s; that was the kind of material that worked best with his brand of humor.
His jokes are now forced beyond belief, an example? In his Top 11 F-Ups Part 3, he makes a joke about how people get the titles of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi and Revenge of the Sith mixed up. Not only is this joke shoehorned in out of nowhere, it’s creating a situation that doesn’t even exist. However it’s bad enough when a joke is unfunny and forced, it’s even worse if it goes on for ages. I don’t mind long jokes if they’re done well as Doug himself has done so in the past such as the dream sequence in the Junior review. For an example of a joke which goes on for an eternity; the “Allen” gag in his Jurassic Park III review. I was in a state of disbelief and non-existent laughter at just how long it lasts. I could make a huge list of the individual jokes in his new videos and why each one doesn’t work.
Other reviews are simply unpleasant, hateful and mean-spirited. In his review of Eight Crazy Nights, he had recurring gag throughout the video making fun of Happy Madison fans as lowest common denominator yokels. Regardless of how terrible Happy Madison films are, I did not start watching this guy’s videos in the first place to see such mean-spirited gags such as this.
The other major source of increasing annoyance is the lack of research he does for his videos. In his Patch Adams review he clearly has no knowledge of film’s subject matter, or in his Jurassic Park review, he criticizes the science present in the film and even has a sketch about it despite having no apparent knowledge of it. This brings me to what annoys me most of what the critic has now become. He’s become a self-righteous know-it-all jerk, and not in an intentional self-aware funny way. His review of Patch Adams is just one huge snob fest, while in his reviews of generally well-liked films (Jurassic Park, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, The Matrix), he parades like his opinion is fact even though his criticisms on these films are just stupid nitpicking. There was once a time when watching a Nostalgia Critic review was simply fun, now it’s about having Doug Walker’s self-righteous, poorly researched, incorrect or simply illogical statements shoved down your throat. The dividing line between Doug and his fictional creation is becoming increasingly blurred; in his Top 11 F-Ups Part 3 he makes a list entry related to videos he made speaking as himself and not the Critic.
Since Demo Reel failed the people Doug has hired to appear in that show are now regulars on the revived series of The Nostalgia Citric, and none of them of any charisma; it makes me miss the days of Ma-ti. His new videos also look too sterile and washed out; what happened to that warm inviting yellow background?
He’s also stopped using creative title cards and instead now uses lazy photoshopped title cards; ironic considering in his Drew Struzan tribute he criticized movie studios for using lazy, uninspired photoshopped movie posters. Also, all these new title cards have an exaggerated facial expression from Doug which is increasingly obnoxious. I’m sure there are many other problems I could mention, but trying to watch his more recent videos for the sake of this review is excruciating with how bad they are.
Then there’s his NC: Editorials. These annoy me for two reasons. Firstly it’s the constant retreading of this mentality that you’re simply blinded by nostalgia if you dislike some aspect of contemporary popular culture. Secondly, they’re pretentious, giving an over important emphasis to questions no one was asking the answers to (Is It Right to Nitpick? Why Do We Love Stupid?), or questions which have obvious answers (Have we gone too deep into CGI?, Why Is Tom & Jerry Genius?).
I can’t comment on the current state of other TGWTG contributors as I gave up on the site as a whole long ago (expect Todd In the Shadows who is the only one I still watch), but I know some of the longtime members such as The Nostalgia Chick, Oancitizen, Phealous, and Obscurus Lupa are no longer there.
When writing this review I was wondering if it was a mistake to undertake as I much prefer to write reviews of stuff I love instead of contributing to an internet full of negativity, but this show used to mean so much to me and bring me such joy, now it does the complete opposite. I have witnessed two things in my life degrade from being something I loved so dearly to becoming one of the worst pieces of so-called “entertainment” I have ever seen – The Simpsons and The Nostalgia Critic. It’s hard to watch his old videos now without thinking about what a joke he is now. Congratulations Doug on destroying your own creation.