Category Archives: Television

Fall Television Premiere Season: Week One (Part Two)

It’s been a great first week of the fall television premiere season. If you, like me, just can’t get enough here are the rest of my thoughts on week one.

Saturday Night Live (11:30 ET/ 10:30 CT, NBC)
Saturday_Night_Live_(Season_38_Titlecard)
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.com

Headdesk. Headdesk. Headdesk.

I’m starting to wonder how SNL has not been canceled yet.

I really don’t have anything to say other than that apparently sketches approved by the head writers seem to be just a litany of crude and unfunny jokes.

This isn’t the SNL I grew up with (I’m also familiar with the seasons prior to the late 80s and 90s). Thankfully SNL is not indicative of modern comedy as a whole.

Once Upon a Time (Sundays, 8 ET/ 7 CT, ABC)
Photo courtesy of ABC.com
Photo courtesy of ABC.com

I will admit that this show is one of my guilty pleasures. The writing and acting can be a little melodramatic at times, but I am a sucker for fairy tales. Add to that the fact that the majority of my youth coincided with the “Disney Renaissance”–yes this is an actual term.

From the moment the first promo of the pilot was aired I was intrigued to see how they would bring in the multitude of Disney and  fairy tale characters. My initial concern of total over saturation of characters just to appease viewers was eventually alleviated by, in my opinion, a very interesting and well thought out interweaving of characters.

More than just the fairy tale world, I deeply connected to and have loved the show’s main underlying theme: No one is irredeemable. This theme is especially prevalent in season three as Regina battles with putting her past as the Evil Queen behind her. All of that came to a screeching halt in the season finale as Emma made a boneheaded, albeit unintentional, move. A move that also brought a certain icy character to Storybrooke.

Of the decisions the OUAT show runners have made and the manner in which certain characters were introduction throughout the first three seasons, the decision to bring in Frozen was the first and only to make me facepalm.

I found myself rather skeptical when they announced that Frozen characters would be introduced during this season’s premiere. The decision was probably just the producers jumping on the opportunity to make more money on Frozen‘s popularity.  After all, ABC is owned by Disney and we know Disney just loves milking as much as they can out of a franchise’s popularity.

I hoped the writers would go more in the direction of the The Snow Queen, but from very early on in the premiere it was obvious that was not the case–so far Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, Sven, Pabbie/Grandpa, and even Marshmallow have shown up.

Outside of a little stylization, a less quirky Anna (my favorite part of Frozen), and a slight altering of the storyline, the integration of Frozen into OUAT has actually been rather interesting. I was especially happy to see a Fringe alum in another role– Georgina Haig, who played Henriette Bishop in Fringe, was cast as Elsa.

The premiere continues OUAT writers’ affinity for twists and cliffhangers. I am really looking forward to seeing where this season goes.  Hopefully it doesn’t get a chilly reception.

Shut up. I had to do it.

The Simpsons (Sundays, 8 ET/ 7 CT, FOX)
Photo courtesy of TheSimpsons.com
Photo courtesy of TheSimpsons.com

I am not of the type that thinks The Simpsons hasn’t been good since season ten, but I also don’t go out of my way to watch it these days.

After this season’s premiere,  that probably will not change. I watched because of the big death that was supposed to occur. This major death in the community the promos built up was, pardon the pun, dead on arrival. It was completely uneventful and incredibly disappointing.

Besides the uneventful death in the Springfield community, I found myself chuckling only a few times throughout the episode.

I won’t be yelling at clouds anytime soon, but there certainly is quite a bit to be angry about with The Simpsons so far this season.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Sundays, 8:30 ET/ 7:30 CT, FOX)
Download-Brooklyn-Nine-Nine-Season-2-Full-Episodes
Photo courtesy of FOX.com

I stupidly ignored this show when it first premiered last season. Then about half way through the season (or was it a little later?) it was the belle of the ball at the Golden Globes. I immediately gave it a watch and I was hooked instantly.

Andre Braugher as Captain Ray Holt is genius. To single out only Braugher, though, would be a disservice to the entire cast. Everyone is genius. The chemistry and comedic timing is bar none. The writing and characters are brilliant.

For me to love and stay committed to a sitcom/comedy, I need said show to lure more than a few soft chuckles out of me. From the first few scenes of the pilot until the end of the second season premiere, Brooklyn Nine-Nine has consistently produced some of the loudest guffawing from me that any show has in a long time.

After only one episode, one episode, into the second season I am tending to stitches in my side from laughing so hard. I don’t expect the rest of season two to be any different.

Family Guy (Sundays, 9 ET/ 8 CT, FOX)
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.com
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.com

I have begun to feel the same about Family Guy as I do The Simpsons. I really don’t go out of my way to watch it anymore. I’ll watch old episodes on TBS every once in a while because they still make me laugh, but the show just doesn’t do it for me anymore. It just seems to be the same tired out and recycled jokes over and over again.

Since this season’s premiere was a crossover with The SimpsonI figured I’d give it a try. To be honest, it was one of the better episodes in a while. The subtle digs at each other’s shows and the opposing characters offered an entertaining hour. I definitely laughed a little harder than I did during The Simpsons premiere.

I’m not sure if I’ll continue watching Family Guy this season, but I may be more willing now.

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Fall Television Premiere Season: Week One (Part 1)

We are currently in the midst of my favorite time of the year. Not just because everything from lattes to M&M’s is pumpkin flavored  (cue Homer Simpson drooling sound). Or because both college football and the NFL are in full swing. Or because the MLB playoffs are just next week. Or even because we are beginning to feel that crispness in the air, that crispness signaling winter has climbed out of bed but has yet to shake the sleep off.

Only one singular thing could possibly make more excited than any of those things can: Fall television premiere week. Well, technically it is the premiere season, but everything started this week. You get the picture though.

While I could be one that is consumed with annual anger over Firefly‘s absence from the Fall lineup, I choose to be happy. Happy because story lines are coming to a head. Happy because we are given the opportunity to fall in love with new shows.

Now, it can be rather overwhelming to keep up with all of the premieres, let alone watching all of them, so I have made the very difficult sacrifice of watching as much of them as I can for you.

By the way, there will be small spoilers here and there, so if you do not want to know ANYTHING at all about the shows, stop reading. I will NOT, however, reveal the big plot points; just details necessary for my assessments.

You’ll also find that I’m covering primarily Monday and Tuesday. There are two reasons for this. For one, covering the whole week all at once would make this article far too long; longer than it already is. As much as I love you guys, I wouldn’t do that to you. Secondly, most of the shows premiering Wednesday and Thursday are shows I have never watched and trying to play catch up would be a fruitless endeavor (this includes The Blacklist on Monday). Or they are shows I have absolutely no intention of ever watching (re: Shondaland).

So. Why don’t we get on with the show?

Yeah. I just did that.

The Big Bang Theory (Mondays, 8 ET/ 7 CT, CBS)
Photo courtesy of CBS.com
Photo courtesy of CBS.com

If I didn’t already have enough shows I love and have to watch on Monday nights, CBS goes and moves TBBT to Mondays. Oh well.

Now I seem to be one of the few people that have not jumped ship to join the sudden popularity of criticizing the show. Seems odd that so many people can love something and then as soon as they see other people not like it they jump on the bandwagon. But that is a whole other rabbit hole, so I digress.

To be honest, the TBBT season premiere was one that I was looking forward to all summer, so it was a nice surprise to find out CBS was airing two new episodes in one night.

The Huzzah Heard ‘Round the Nerd World

For the past ten weeks, us commanders of the Nerd Army (under the leadership of reigning king Kayla LaFrance) and with the help of those amazing nerds who volunteered have worked incredibly hard to convince TBS to renew King of the Nerds for a third season.

With the 1-2-3 Punch created by Kayla and our own Minister of Propaganda Melissa Corley, endless tweets and memes were sent out like beacons in hopes that TBS would see them and renew the show.  At times things seemed bleak. There were moments where maintaining hope was hard. But guys all that paid off because THE. SHOW. WAS. RENEWED!!!

That’s right. TBS has renewed King of the Nerds for a third season. Filming will commence this summer and the show will air in January of next year. Nerdvana’s doors will open once again.  Curtis Armstrong and Robert Carradine will be back in amazing cosplay guiding nerds through competitions that will test them deeply. And we’ll even get to see how the throne will become empty.

Now some of you out there may be asking, “Why make such a big deal out of this? It’s just another reality show”. Well, that’s where you’re wrong. KOTN is much more than just another reality show and this fact rings true for not only me, but also many many nerds alike.

King of the Nerds has provided images and examples of nerds to look up to that television has not had before. It has helped nerds become more comfortable in who they are. King of the Nerds has even opened doors to a community where nerds can feel safe and be in solidarity with other people like them.

Through Curtis Armstrong’s (Papa Nerd as many affectionately refer to him) efforts, something that changes and moves people was created. We couldn’t just let another season go by without KOTN on television. Other nerds who haven’t found the comfort and inspiration that we found in the show need to see a season. And it is also because of this that we can rejoice in the news of its renewal.

With that said, the battle isn’t over just yet. Per Kayla’s orders, we still need to get nerds over to @KOTNCasting. If you know anyone that is interested tell them to email casting at KingOfTheNerdsCasting@gmail.com. Also, and this is a big also, PLEASE send a ton of thanks in the direction of @tbsveryfunny.

What is Toku?

Greetings Toku fanatics.  My name is Biohybrid.  Jarrod invited me to work with him to cover a subject I know quite a bit about: Toku.

You who are uninitiated might ask “What in heaven’s name is Toku?” It’s my job to tell you, and with any luck, get you interested in this awesome genre of nerd-dom.

Now, to start off, I should tell you the term “Toku” is an abbreviated term for the Japanese term “Tokusatsu”.  For those who know jack about Japanese, this still means squat to them.  Tokusatsu, when translated to English, means “special effects”.

You may be thinking well that’s in most tv shows and movies right?  You’re right, BUT in Japan there is an entire genre focused on just special effects. In fact,  most everyone on Earth has seen Toku and probably just haven’t even realized it.  You may claim bull all you wish,  but if you’ve seen ONE old school Godzilla movie, you’ve watched Toku.

 

Godzilla is known as a kaiju tokusatsu (kaiju meaning “strange beast”).  It was the brain child of one Eiji Tsuburaya and was the predecessor of modern toku today.

Since Godzilla, Toku has broken off into several franchises and sub-genres which I will cover in depth in future articles.  For now I’ll just give you a condensed list:

There are many more you can explore at your leisure but the above list makes up my little corner of Toku.

I hope this and my future articles will spark an interest in this amazing genre and get you engrossed in its majesty.  For now, this is Biohybrid saying Sayonara!

Interview with Brian Davidson of TBS’ King of the Nerds #NerdsRule

Please welcome the Hipster Hobbit himself, Brian Davidson.

I have been incredibly excited about this interview. Brian was the first contestant I reached out to on Twitter, and the first I received a response from. More than anything he and his kind words of encouragement are the reason I will be audition for the third season; as long as there is a third season.

Most of all, he is a nerd after my own heart. Not only is he a History and book nerd, Brian is what we can call a renaissance nerd; a nerd of all things nerdy. He even helped me accept myself as a nerd more than I have been able to for quite a while.

Since about the mid-point of season one, I have played with the idea of auditioning for the show. Unfortunately, as a nerd is wont to do, I was a bit insecure about fitting in or being nerdy enough.  I’m not an engineer. I’m not a science or math guy. I can talk ALL day about the theological and philosophical undertones of Superman, other superheroes, and various science fiction stories. I can discuss the canon of MMPR or talk video game until I’m blue in the face. But I still feel like I wouldn’t fit in.

A conversation with Brian changed my mind. He confided that he felt the same way, but still auditioned. Once in the house that diffidence faded away.

Suffice it to say, if I get on the show I will make a few Hipster Hobbit shirts to wear. Or make sure to wear some ironic t-shirts in his honor.

Before you enjoy the interview itself, meet Brian Davidson once more, or for the first time:

Jarrod:  Growing up, who were your major influences? Were they in the field you are pursuing now?

Brian:  Rather than any celebrities, my biggest influences were my teachers. So, inasmuch as I’m in the education field (academic librarianship), we’re in similar fields. That said, authors–particularly science fiction authors–definitely influenced me at a young age. Despite what you saw me say to Nerdbot, Isaac Asimov was actually one of my heroes–I even dressed up as him in elementary school!

Jarrod:  Did you have anyone in your life that helped you believe in who you were as a person? Friends? Family?

Brian:  My family has always been extremely supportive of me, both as a nerd and as a person in general, as have my teachers. I had a small, but tight circle of nerdy friends throughout school, and we bonded over Star Trek and computers. By the time I was in high school, I found a very supportive community through a handful of online roleplaying games (text-based MU*s, not any of these newfangled MMORPGs!). I credit all of these people with helping to inspire my greatest asset, which is my curiosity!

Jarrod:  How did you decide to audition for the show? Was it on a whim? Or did someone encourage you?

Brian:  My audition story is actually kind of funny. Back in 2008, I was working for my alma mater in the LA area, and I was approached while eating lunch by a scout looking for cast members for a different geeky-themed reality show. I submitted application materials and went pretty far along in the process until the show was canceled. Fast-forward to 2013. I apparently made an impression on some Hollywood types and stayed in their rolodexes, because they called me and asked me to audition for KotN!

Jarrod:  What was the audition process like?

Brian:  The audition was intense — basically it involved sending in multiple videos highlighting my nerdy strengths and personality, and responding to some pretty in-depth questionnaires. Several finalists then interviewed with the producers, and the rest is history!

Jarrod:  We got a good idea of everyone’s areas of study or their profession. Was there anything in particular any of you were doing or working on prior to being on the show?

Brian:  We actually filmed KotN right before I started library school. I already have a master’s in European history, but I’ve been wanting to break into academic librarianship for some time. I’m now in the middle of my program, studying academic librarians and, in particular, special collections and archives. I work part-time at my school’s rare book library, which is fantastic experience. Besides, what other jobs allow you to handle Gutenberg bibles?! [Drooooool. Let the jealous geek out commence.]

Jarrod:  It was great to see a fellow History nerd on the show. When did you realize that History and the study of historical events had stolen your heart?

Brian:  I came to history almost by accident. In high school, I was actually more into biology and math, but I always had a healthy appreciation for the humanities. In college, I happened to take a fantastic course of British Romantic poetry, and one William Blake stole my heart. As I learned more about Blake and his quasi-prophetic poems, I started reading more about British history and about Napoleon, with whom the Romantics had a very love/hate relationship. Eventually, my interests traveled backwards in time somewhat, but I am still captivated by the “unseen” aspects of history — not the kings and political figures, but the transformation of culture and society at a lower level.

Jarrod:  What is your favorite historical era? Historical figure?

Brian:   I’m generally interested in the later end of the “early modern period,” so pretty much the 17th and 18th centuries. While I’ve primarily studied Britain, I’m also interested in the American colonies and in France.  As for historical figure, well…Napoleon is still pretty captivating even though he falls outside of my chronological range now (and he’s also certainly NOT one of the neglected “unseen” figures in history). I’m fond of James Boswell as well — he invented what we think of as biographies today, and his private journals are full of wonderful anecdotes about 18th century life.

Jarrod:  For those that do not know, you are pursuing a professional degree in Library Science. Is that correct?

Brian:  I sure am! I’m working on a master’s in information at the University of Illinois. [Oskee Wow Wow!]

Jarrod:  What are your hopes for your future in Library Science? What do you plan on doing?

Brian:  I would love to have a career as an academic librarian; I love being in an intellectual environment like a college or university and, as a librarian, I’ll get to have a hand in all kinds of diverse research projects and work with both students and scholars. Librarianship can be a great career if, like me, your interests are just too broad!

Jarrod:  What were your initial feelings when you first arrived at Nerdvana (best reality show campus name ever, by the way)?

Brian:  Ha! I was the first one who walked out and saw Bobby and Curtis in front of Nerdvana’s façade. So my very first thoughts were, “Wow! Uhh..the sun is real bright here. Umm..where is everyone else? Is this real life?”

Start watching at the 2 min 55 sec mark:

Once the other nerds came out, I was pretty anxious about whether or not Iwould be able to get along with them.  My fear, though, was soon assuaged!

Jarrod:  Other than what was shown on camera and in the show, what was Nerdvana like? Did the viewers receive a pretty good illustration of what the house was like?

Brian:  I think that viewers got a pretty good illustration of Nerdvana, although it was of course a bit condensed. There was candy pretty much everywhere, as well as a popcorn machine and a “nerdee slurpee” machine, and things to play with everywhere! Shuffleboard, pool, video games, Rubik’s cubes…you name it! There were also a lot of fantastic board games — we spent a lot of time playing Dominion. [Best. Game. Ever. Obviously]

Jarrod:  The viewers didn’t get to see much of the good-byes other than the player being eliminated and then leaving Nerdvana. Was there more to the good-byes than what was shown on camera?

 Brian:  Not much! The goodbyes were pretty short, and then that was that — the eliminated nerd was whisked off to get summarily executed by Bobby and Curtis. It made the goodbyes that much harder to go through, although we extended them by giving each nerd a toast once we got back to Nerdvana (you saw some of these). We also would occasionally find some goodbye notes left in our rooms by banished nerds.

Jarrod:  Throughout the season, and especially during the finale, we had the pleasure of experiencing Xander’s musical stylings. Was this a regular thing? Did he put on shows off camera?

Brian:  Xander definitely had a chance to show off his amazing voice a few times–notably during the LARP challenge, where he and Katie and a really fantastic “spellsinging duel.” There was also at least one night where a group of us drowned our sorrows by singing show tunes together.

To relive the epic “spellsinging duel” watch starting at 13 min 15 sec:

Jarrod:  What is the story behind Bacon, the Nerdvana house friend?

Brian:  I found Bacon in the purple room on our first night, and he’s been with me ever since! I’m told that he comes from ThinkGeek, but I like to think that he set off on his own quest to make it to Nerdvana on his own, with the goal of proving that he was the nerdiest of all the bacons. You should hear that guy tell stories, though — he’s a riot! [Methinks this is a friendship that will go down in history as one of the greatest. Christopher Robin and Winnie the Pooh. Sam and Frodo. Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen. Lloyd and Harry. Now Brian and Bacon.]

Here is the Between Two Nerds origins video again so you can see the moment the friendship began:

Jarrod:  What was your favorite part of the experience at Nerdvana?

 Brian:  It’s so hard to pick one thing! The challenges were great fun and living in Nerdvana itself was incomparable. I might say, though, that my favorite part was when the banished nerds returned during the finale. It had been getting lonely in Nerdvana, and it was so good to see old friends again!

The banished nerds return at about the 12 min 25 sec mark:

Jarrod:  How did you guys pass your time between Nerd Wars, etc.? Anything you can share that we may not have seen on camera?

Brian:  As I mentioned before, we played a lot of Dominion. Some people were partial to pool or the video games, and there were also some fun tools in the RadioShack lab, including quad copters (you got to see me play with one!) and “hex bugs.” [Hex Bugs are soooooo awesome.] There definitely was down time, but we were generally kept pretty busy.

Jarrod:  Does anyone have hidden talents we didn’t get to see?

Brian:  I’m sure we all have hidden talents — Chirs and Nicole especially are FULL OF SECRETS. Katie knows huge amounts of random trivia, particularly about American presidents. I can’t think of anything else in particular, but one great thing about our group was that no matter what kind of interest anyone had or reference anyone made, there was always at least one other nerd who “got it.”

Jarrod:  Other than George Takei, Bill Nye, and other nerd deities you have had the chance to meet on the show, have you had the chance to meet any amazing nerds?

Brian:  I’ve briefly met some great authors like Salman Rushdie and Orhan Pamuk, and I’ve met/taken classes from some professors who are pretty legendary in their fields, but they’re probably not household names.

Jarrod:  How has your life changed since the show?

Brian:  Not particularly! I get recognized occasionally, which is always quite amusing to me, but for the most part I’m just hiding away in my hobbit hole full of books, working towards becoming a librarian.

Jarrod:  Most importantly, whether you guys realize it or not, but you have become heroes and inspirations to nerds alike. You have become examples of accepting one’s self for who one is, and to never deny the greatness of who you are. How do you feel about fans looking to you in that way?

Brian:  Aww! I’m really flattered, and I hope that I can live up to fans’ expectations. It’s pretty wild, though — a while ago, @SotoSage tweeted me that I had inspired him to start reading again. That was one of the most touching tweets I’d received yet. It’s an incredible honor to be able to inspire nerds to take a bit more pride in themselves and maybe poke their heads out of their shells a bit!

Jarrod:  Who originally dubbed you the “Hipster Hobbit”?

Brian:  I think it was Katie, actually! The “hobbit” part kind of goes without saying, and the two of us were probably the most “hipsterish” nerds on the show (although, for the record, I’m not actually a hipster. Your first clue to that is the fact that I call myself one. 🙂 ) [And here I was under the impression one only had to grow an impressive beard to be considered a hipster these days]

Jarrod:  And I’m sure everyone is curious about this, but how long did it take for you to perfect AMAZING Gollum impersonation?

Brian:  Ha! I actually don’t think I’ve ever really had to work on it. I guess a little bit of Gollum just lives inside of me. By the way, that ring you’re holding looks awfully…precious…

Umm… this is the point where I run away as fast as I can, albeit not very fast. 

*tosses ring behind me*

________

I hope you guys enjoyed the interview as much as I did. The next interview is TBA.

Don’t forget to take the survey and bug TBS (@tbsveryfunny) to get the show renewed. Also, use #nerdsrule as MUCH as you can.

Calling All Nerds!

*** UPDATE 4/16/14 *** This is Nerd War! Since TBS still hasn’t renewed King of the Nerds, the rest of the Nerd Army “commanders” and I have decided to focus our meme efforts. This week, Kayla wants everyone to send her their best Janeway memes. Tag @On2Mars_Kayla @tbsveryfunny and use #nerdsrule when you post them to Twitter and we’ll try to show the best ones during the “Briefing” tomorrow night. Oh yeah, don’t forget, we’re doing another live show – every Thursday at 7pm Pacific, 9pm Central, 10pm Eastern. Links to the first two are below. Keep Tweeting TBS! Don’t give up hope! Tune in tomorrow night – 4/17/14.

Last week’s Hangout:

 

TBS, as of yet, has not renewed King of the Nerds for a third season.

To me and to the myriad of KOTN fans, this is an egregious mistake. The show means far too much to many of us to let this go on.  So, the reigning winner Kayla LaFrance and a couple fans, per her request, have started a campaign to make sure we have another season.

Within the last few days, blogger Melissa Corley (@thedolphinpoet) of Your Reality Recaps and the blog Talk Nerdy to Me have posted a few words from Kayla.

In a nut shell, Kayla has proposed a plan to barrage TBS about renewal and to display our support for the show through social media.

Please follow one of the two links above to find out how you can join the #NerdArmy and show your support for King of the Nerds.

And when you do, personally thank Melissa for creating the create images/avatars for the campaign.

I already have.

We need you!

Interview with Kayla LaFrance of TBS’ King of the Nerds #NerdsRule

All hail the Queen of Nerds.. Kayla!

Er…well… she actually prefers Captain, so…

Captain LaFrance has entered the bridge!

By the time she was crowned, Kayla proved that she was a force to be reckoned with. And she did it while using quite the cloaking device. Her pure joy for all things nerdy and in Nerdvana was such a joy to watch, but she also did it while quietly being a very important part of her team.

She avoided being in any Nerd Offs, and proved vital to winning several Nerd Wars. Furthermore it was her strategic choices of nerd helpers for the Nerdliminator and willingness to utilize that help that proved to be paramount in her victory.

Now before reading the interview meet Kayla LaFrance once more, or for the first time:

Also, go ahead a relive the moment of her crowning:

Jarrod:  Growing up, who were your major influences? Were they in the field you are pursuing now?

Kayla:  I was 9 years old when Captain Janeway took command of the USS Voyager and that left a HUGE mark on me every since. I know she might not be the fan favorite or the best of the Star Trek Captains, however, Janeway was able to inspire me in a way that Kirk, Picard and Sisko never could. Janeway was shown as a strong leader in charge of a starship and crew and also a brilliant scientific mind. Seeing a female in that role really inspired me, and to this day I remain devoted to her crew, and the role model that she is.

 The other two people that I have looked up to since my pre-teen years would be Dr. Werner von Braun and Gene Kranz. Both of these gentleman played very large roles in the history of the space race.  Von Braun was the mastermind behind the Saturn rockets that sent man to the moon and Kranz was a Flight Director in Mission Control as those men walked on the moon. They both serve as excellent examples of great leadership and that perseverance and determination are keys to success.

Jarrod:  How did Janeway’s impact on your life come about? We know that you love Star Trek, but was there something specifically about her character that spoke to you?

In general it comes down to the fact that we both have matching double X-chromosomes. Yes she is a girl and so am I. But one thing to consider is that I was only 9 years old when Voyager hit the TV. I was a nine year old girl that LOVED Star Trek and science. I knew all about Picard and Kirk and Sisko. They are all great captains in their own right, but none of them could inspire me like Janeway could.

Nine year old me was absolutely amazed to see a strong female in a leadership role.  I saw a respected captain that would not back down from a fight, but would try diplomacy first; a woman scientist that would work with her crew to solve problems and was respected for her brains; and I saw a strong leader.  I followed that crew and idolized that captain from age 9-16. It made me want to grow up and be a strong leader who is respect for her abilities and not because of her looks or gender.

Janeway may not be the fan fave captain, and she might not be the best written. Nevertheless, she made a huge impact on me and at age 28. I still wish I could be even half of the leader and mentor that she was to her crew and to me.

 And let me tell you this. Kate Mulgrew is an amazing woman in her own right. I have had the privilege to talk with her and meet her on several separate occasions now, and she always is humble and encouraging; a true role model on and off the screen.

kaylawkatemulgrew
Photo Courtesty of Kayla LaFrance

Jarrod:  Other than Captain Janeway, who is your favorite character and why?  We’ve seen the brass-balled Janeway style, but who else do you admire?

Kayla:  Janeway is really the only fictional character that I have taken such a huge admiration too over the years. The only other people that I admire are real life influential people such as Amelia Earhart, Dr. Werner von Braun and Gene Kranz.

Sure I obsess over Batman, but never see him as a true role model or inspiration in my daily life.

batgirl_begins__-_Copy
Photo Courtesy of Kayla LaFrance

Jarrod:  Did you have anyone in your life that helped you believe in who you were as a person? Friends? Family?

Kayla:  My grandpa LaFrance was always there for me and always was willing to teach me everything he knew. The ultimate lesson that he taught me was to “Never change who you are.” All the time spent in the field or the garage with him and all of the things that he taught me about cars and tools was all secondary to his overlying message to always be me and to be proud of who I am.

Photo Courtesy of Kayla LaFrance
Photo Courtesy of Kayla LaFrance

I was also greatly motivated and inspired by my 7th grade science teacher, Mr. Thomas Herrmann. He was the teacher that told me to stop fooling around with Star Trek and to take the time to discover what was really out in the universe. He changed my perspective on school and was the starting thread in a tapestry of a life devoted to space exploration and astronomy.

Jarrod:  How did you decide to audition for the show? Was it on a whim? Or did someone encourage you?

Kayla:  A little bit of both. When I heard about KOTN before the 1st season I was very interested and intrigued. I talked it over with a few of my closest friends, and they all agreed with me that it would never hurt to go ahead and give it a go.

Jarrod:  What was the audition process like?

Kayla:  I had a different path than my fellow contestants. I had tried to get on season 1 and was asked to come to LA for the last selection phase; however, I turned KOTN down when I was offered a chance to spend the summer working at NASA Ames on some Mars exploration research. When they started casting for season 2 they contacted me and asked if I wanted to give it another go, I was thrilled! It is not every day that you have such a unique opportunity come up twice. I still had to start at the beginning and go through the same selection process as everyone else. Nevertheless, when I made it to the final 11, it felt like a long 2-year journey was finally culminating in one of the best adventures I could imagine.

Season 1:

    1. Submitted a bio and photos – was asked to send in a video answering set questions.
    2. I made and submitted 1 video  – asked to fill out a questionnaire
    3. Submitted answers – then was asked to come to LA
    4. Turned down KOTN

Season 2:

    1. Asked to make an updated video if I was still interested
    2. Fill out updated questions
    3. Came to LA with the top 20 or so for final interviews
    4. Made top 11 to go into Nerdvana

 Jarrod:  We got a good idea of everyone’s areas of study or their profession. Was there anything in particular any of you were doing or working on prior to being on the show?

Kayla:  I am currently looking for employment post graduation. This means that I really do not have anything fancy to brag about. I would love to start working within my industry or continue my education with a PhD program by this summer.  Though, you might be interested to know that I did my independent research for my MS on “The Organization of Mission Control during Manned Surface Exploration of Mars.”

Jarrod:  What were your initial feelings when you first arrived at Nerdvana (best reality show campus name ever, by the way)?

Kayla:  The Journey Begins… Going into Nerdvana reminded me of the anticipation that one would feel on the first day of school when you did not know your classmates or teacher yet. However, it was also as exciting as the first day of summer vacation!

Jarrod:  Other than what was shown on camera and in the show, what was Nerdvana like? Did the viewers receive a pretty good illustration of what the house was like?

Kayla:  Nerdvana was a safe haven. It was fun. From the moment you walk in you are surrounded by all things nerd – statutes and posters, robots and games, computers and soldering irons. Everywhere you go in Nerdvana was dedicated to the game and to the nerd culture.  The rec room always had something fun or stupid going on. The Radio shack lab was an engineer’s DREAM. I lived in that room by the end of my stay at Nerdvana. The bed rooms were always comfy and relaxing and the war rooms were always well stocked and ready for action! From the moment you get there until the heartbreaking moment when you live. Nerdvana feels like home.

Jarrod:  The viewers didn’t get to see much of the good-byes other than the player being eliminated and then leaving Nerdvana. Was there more to the good-byes than what was shown on camera?

Kayla:  We had a letter tradition. Every nerd that left Nerdvana would leave letters behind. Some nerds would write an individual letter for each remaining contestant, while others would leave a note per team. In the Orion – that is the name the Titans of Rigel gave to our room – we turned Kelsey’s bed into the memorial bed. We placed a wampa rug on the bed, our mascot Hydra, and all of the notes would collect there until the last Titan remained. On the last day we slip the notes up. I have all of my individual notes and a few team notes as well in my memorabilia from my time at KOTN.

Jarrod:  Throughout the season, and especially during the finale, we had the pleasure of experiencing your musical stylings. Was this a regular thing? Did you put on shows off camera? 

Kayla:  Xander is one of my best friends from that experience, and yes. He is a character at all times. An absolute gentle giant who is full of life and energy!

Jarrod:  What is the story behind Bacon, the Nerdvana house friend?

Kayla:  In our rooms we all were given slippers and some form of stuffed animal from Think Geek. Bacon was on Brian’s bed and he just LOVED bacon. We took him to the Radio Shack lab to feed him some batteries and the rest was history. Bacon became a stress reliever for the Titans. His “I’m Bacon” saying would fill awkward moments and leave us all in giggles, a comedic distraction during challenging and stressful days.

Jarrod:  What was your favorite part of your experience at Nerdvana?

Kayla:  I would have to say that the best part of Nerdvana was the people, both on and off the screen. While at Nerdvana, I was surrounded by nerds and people of the highest caliber who made the experience what it was for me. There was always something to learn from one of the nerds about a fandom that they enjoy more than I do, there were always reasons to laugh and enjoy the moment – even in the midst of battle and competition.

The people that ran the show and kept things moving forward were a privilege to work with as well. Whether they were keeping us fed, keeping us safe, or throwing us into some really amazing challenges, they all loved their job, loved the show, and wanted to make sure that we nerds enjoyed the journey that we shared with them. Then there was Bobby and Curtis – Amazing Nerd Gents.

Photo Courtesy of TBS
Photo Courtesy of TBS

Amazing people all around.

Jarrod:  How did you guys pass your time between Nerd Wars, etc.? Anything you can share that we may not have seen on camera?

Kayla:  We did have a lot of fun at Nerdvana. The viewers see such a tiny and selected part of our time there. For the Titans of Rigel, we had a lot of nights were we did not have to worry about votes and the next coming days. This meant we had a lot of free time on our hands to mess around. “Between Two Nerds” is a great example of that!

While there were still a lot of Nerds in the house we would pass the time playing table top games. As the numbers began to dwindle, we found ourselves playing more individual games on the computer. By the time we were down to the last 6, I was ALWAYS in the Radio Shack room building something. It was my way of trying to shave off some of the tension and stress and find some time away from the others.

As for other lighthearted moments that have not been seen. There are two of them:

    • Chris loves to solve rubik’s cubes. We would sit there and solve one after another after another. After a few days, he had at least 20 solved cubes lying around. Therefore, I decided to go through and scramble them all up. I left them on the pool table for him to find. For the next few days, I would covertly scramble every cube he solved. Once he realized it was me he would try and hid them. It became a fun little game.
    • The night after the debate Xander and I spent hours singing Broadway musicals. Wicked, Avenue Q, Rent and Les Mes. During this time, I went through a 2 liter Mt. Dew and was feeling pretty high on a sugar rush and good vibes. The viewers saw the aftermath of that event, in my very giddy interviews and my epic goggle/Google moment.

Here is that moment [**EDIT** The video was supposed to start at the exact moment but for some reason the link is not working. Start watching at 35 min 50 sec]:

And another one of my favorite Kayla moments from the same episode [**EDIT** The video was supposed to start at the exact moment but for some reason the link is not working. Start watching at 34 min 40 sec]:

I think we all can relate to having moments such as these when our behavior is fueled by intense Mt. Dew/sugar rushes. 

Jarrod:  Does anyone have hidden talents we didn’t get to see?

Kayla:  I would have to say that we all do. For me, I never did get to go ice skating on the show! Though on one of our off days Xander and I did go ice skating and he was not that bad for someone that had only skated a handful of times in his life! (Yes I brought my personal pair of skates to Nerdvana with me! Ha! ) 

Jarrod:  Other than George Takei, Bill Nye, and other nerd deities you have had the chance to meet on the show, have you had the chance to meet any amazing nerds?

Kayla:  This is a question I really cannot answer. Not simply at least. I have a long list of astronauts that I have rubbed elbows with ranging from Buzz Aldrin to Clay Anderson, Cady Coleman and much more. I have had the chance to meet Phil Plait and John Dobson and other names in astronomy that I respect. Since I was about 14 years old, I have gone to space camps and astronomy conventions, astronomy organizations and student group seminars. This has really opened the door to meet some amazing people in my chosen field of study.

Then there are the years that I have gone to Dragon*Con, Trek Conventions, and other fan conventions that has opened the door to meet some of the nerd cultures most believed characters. I am currently on a mission to have a photo taken with every actor of Star Trek I can. At this point I am about 50% through the major roles and 30% through minor roles.

Jarrod:  How has your life changed since the show?

Kayla:  I feel like it is a little too early to tell at this point. I hope that the show will be able to open some new opportunities for me in the near future.

Jarrod:  What has it been like living in a male-dominated nerd world? Have you been faced with trouble or ridicule because female nerds aren’t the “right kind of nerdy” or because females don’t belong? Is this a reality you have dealt with?

Kayla:  This has not really an issue that I have faced. I have always been more of a tomboy. I have played sports with the guys and worked on cars with the guys. I am very use to being the only girl around. I suppose this has taught me to be very blunt and assertive when in a male-dominated environment. I do not ask for special treatment because I am a girl and I expect to be treated equally.  I can keep up with the guys and make sure that they all know that I am not someone to take lightly because of my double X-chromosomes. If they call into question my nerd-cred, then I defend myself. Usually all that takes is spitting out some random fact that is not known by a “general” fan and they usually back off. It might also help that I have a way of intimidating most guys too. 😉

Jarrod:  Do you have anything to say to perhaps young people who may think girls shouldn’t be nerdy? Or maybe to young females who love science or other subjects, but are discouraged from pursuing them because of their gender?

Kayla:  There really should not be a separate message here- the same message I would give to a young man I would also give to a young lady. And this is what I would tell the next generation:

 Find your passion. No matter what it might be, find it, hold on to it and follow it. Do not let anyone tell you otherwise. If people tease you, forget about them, because before you know it you are out of school and you leave those people behind forever.

Find the thing that motivates you and drives you to achieve your goals. When you have passion then you can work past hiccups in the road and you can find new ways to get what you want. When you follow your passion you will always have something to look forward to and will always be working towards something that makes you happy.

Following your passion might also take you out of your comfort zone, but the growth you experience will be amazing. So be ready to say ‘Yes’ when you want to say ‘No’. Say ‘Goodbye’ when you want to say ‘Hello’. And surround yourself with a good crew to help support you.

Follow your dreams with passion.

Jarrod:  Whether you guys realize it or not, you have become heroes and inspirations to nerds alike. You have become examples of accepting one’s self for who one is, and to never deny the greatness of who you are. How do you feel about fans looking to you in that way?

Kayla:  It feels great. That was always the message that my grandpa tried to teach me, so to have the chance to show others the same thing through my own actions, is a great honor to myself and to my grandfather’s memory.

Jarrod:  How do you feel about possibly being to young females who Captain Janeway was to you?

Kayla:  Even before KOTN, I had hoped that one day I would be able to have that kind of impact on some of the younger girls that I meet. I would be honored if I could influence just one young woman to follow her dreams with passion and to never change who she is. Heck, I would be happy if I could have even a small fraction of the impact on someone that Janeway had on me.

Jarrod:  For females who have been singled out because of their gender, how do you recommend responding? How do you react?  Tell them off, or is that feeding the trolls?

Kayla:  The best way to deal with someone that doubts your ability is to prove them wrong. You do not have to make a big show of it, just work hard and accomplish your goal. When you do, the person that doubted you will have no room to talk. I had dealt with a lot of crap from school bullies over my dreams of space growing up, and I always would ignore them, but would make a mental note. I turned my anger and sadness over my peer’s actions towards me into fuel to feed my determination. Instead of fighting back or hiding, I would hold my head up high and follow my dreams. I always knew that I would get the laugh last because of that!

Jarrod:  Do you have any words of encouragement for young female nerds that may feel like they don’t have a place in science or are singled out?

Kayla:  Never give up, never change, and stay strong. You will preserver and you will win in life.  You are the only person that can tell you what you can and cannot do with the destiny of your life. If you want a place in science then go for it! No one can tell you no. If you fail a test or are struggling in a topic it is not the end of the world. It just means to try again. It does not mean that you are stupid, that you are not qualified to be called a nerd, or that you cannot succeed. Failing a test or a class does indicate that you need to tackle the problem from a different angle. Do not give up, do not give in; fight for what you want and try again. Never let a failure win, always try again. Never let someone tell you that you can not do something, always try it for yourself.

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I hope you guys enjoyed the interview as much as I did. There will be a break in the interviews for a bit. I am waiting on responses from other cast members who are, quite understandably, rather busy.

Don’t forget to take the survey and bug TBS (@tbsveryfunny) to get the show renewed. Also, use #nerdsrule as MUCH as you can.