Internet Heroes, Assemble!: “To Boldly Flee”

Copyright © 2012 by Channel Awesome.

That Guy With The Glasses is quite an accomplishment for the Internet.  A massive site that brings together a variety of reviewers and online producers to create original, professional content for an equally large and varied audience.  Whether you’re tuning in for a look back at the Eighties and Nineties, a critical analysis at comic books and music, a fresh perspective on anime and video games, or even the occasional sampling of arthouse cinema, this is the place to be.

Every year, TGWTG has celebrated every anniversary with a major video event.  Last year, I reviewed its third-year event, a crossover series called Suburban Knights.  And this year, we get the biggest production ever, To Boldly Flee.

To give a very succinct summary, the Nostalgia Critic (Doug Walker) has been lamenting the death of his friend Ma-Ti (Bhargav Dronamraju), who sacrificed himself at the end of Suburban Knights.  However, when he receives transmissions and visions about a very literal Plot Hole forming in space around the moon of Europa, the Critic is compelled to gather his reluctant allies once more and seek out the answer to Ma-Ti’s passing and the emergence of the Hole.  Meanwhile, the ragtag band of critics find themselves in conflict with the Executor and his minions, who will do anything to keep the Plot Hole in place and use its power to enrich themselves at the expense of Internet critics everywhere.

The Nostalgia Critic in action. Copyright © 2012 by Channel Awesome.

What really caught me by surprise was just how serious this storyline was, even though it’s littered with fantastic comedic timing and lots of lovely satire. As much as this fourth-year event is an affectionate parody of Star Wars and Star Trek (and a scathing jab at SOPA and MPAA lobbyists), it’s also a very serious look at the current state of Internet criticism and modern filmmaking.  And in its final act, it offers a touching affirmation about the creators and fans who gave That Guy With The Glasses such life and passion over the past four years.

For standout performances, Doug Walker is by far the most deserving of praise.  While he still has some of the best jokes (usually at his own expense), he really gives a more thoughtful and dramatic performance than we’ve come to expect.  The weight of everyone he’s ever hurt and the value of his own rage-filled reviews are called into question, and he’s able to step back and let many of the other reviewers get in their one-liners and snarky comments.  I also have to say that Noah Antwiler does some good work as both his prime character Spoony and as Terl from Battlefield Earth, while Hope Chapman really makes good use of her cameo as anime reviewer JesuOtaku before becoming a wonderfully over-the-top Radical Edward from Cowboy Bebop.  And then in Part 7, we get Kyle Kallgren as Oancitizen, easily one of my favorite characters on the site (no more need be said, lest I start gushing overmuch).

The TGWTG fourth-year event is one big triumph in my book.  A comedic tour de force, a heartwarming story of Internet reviewers and true companions, and an inspiring look at the past, present, and future of online media.

Bibliography: To Boldly Flee.  Directed by Doug Walker.  Written by Doug and Rob Walker.  Produced by Doug Walker, Rob Walker, Holly Brown, and Michael Michaud.  Channel Awesome.  August 23 – September 13, 2012.

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