GeekMom Lisa’s Best of 2014

Image collage by Lisa Kay Tate. Images (clockwise from top left) Disney/Marvel, Quirk Books, Her Universe, Titan Comics,Water Tower Music,  FXNetworks, and Tee Fury.
Image collage by Lisa Kay Tate. Images (clockwise from top left) Disney/Marvel, Quirk Books, Her Universe, Titan Comics,Water Tower Music, FXNetworks, and Tee Fury.

There is a quite a bit of geeky goodness to look forward to in 2015 in movies, books, television, and events, but 2014 provided a bevy of great memories. Here is my personal list of some of the year’s top offerings:

Best Big Screen and Comic Super Team: Guardians of the Galaxy. I liked these guys before they were cool, so when it was announced the team’s current assemblage of the galaxy’s rogue gallery would hit the big screen, I was a little skeptical. I thought “what would the over-blown, misguided Hollywood machine do to this wonderful and weird comic title?”

FX’s Fargo miniseries and Marvels Guardians of The Galaxy made for some great viewing. Images: FXNetworks and Disney/Marvel.

Well, what they did was find an underdog-savvy and relatively unknown director (James Gunn), assemble a cast as varied as the characters themselves, put together a fun, sentimental, and often hilarious adventure, and deploy some of the best marketing strategies I’ve seen in a while. Everything about this surprise success has just been skillfully handled, from the accompanying Awesome Mix Volume One retro-inspired soundtrack, to the ever-improving comic series. Even the 4-D preview shown at the Disney parks prior to the release got fans ready to welcome this new franchise in a big way.

Honestly, I would be a little resentful of all theses Johnny-come-lately fans of the team, if I didn’t completely understand their wanting on board. May Groot continue do his dance in our dreams into the year to come.

Best Geeky Event in My Own Backyard. The Atari E.T. Unearthing. This year, the most unusual high-profile gaming news happened just an hour outside of my home town, when the community of Alamogordo, N.M. uncovered thousands of cartridges of what is said to be one of the Atari system’s worst games ever made, Atari 2600 Port’s E.T. the Extra Terrestrial. The 1982 game apparently sucked Reese’s Pieces so bad, Atari literally covered up their mistake with a mass burial of the games in the New Mexico desert.

This apparent act of embarrassment on the part of Atari became the topic of urban legend, as no one saw or heard from these little pixel stinkers for more than 30 years. In the Spring of 2014, however, the games were excavated from an Alamogordo landfill…and the collectors went crazy. Everyone from museums, to local officials wanted to claim these little video game failures as their own. The game that was so critically panned no one wanted to ever admit they owned it, was now raising thousands of dollars via Alamogordo-approved eBay auctions, and there was even mention by Alamogordo’s mayor of turning the “E.T. Burial Site” into a tourist-worthy landmark. Even online design retailers TeeFury commemorated the event with a limited edition t-shirt design.

This just goes to show, sometimes the skeletons in your closet—or landfill—may emerge someday with new-found appreciation.

The Ninth Doctor Dress and William Shakespeare’s Star Wars Trilogy Box Set. Two of the items for which I gladly handed over my cash. Images: Her Universe and Quirk Books.

Best New Comic Series: Titan Comics’ Doctor Who. Marvel had a go with The Doctor in the past, and then IDW had their turn, but now Titan Comics’ release of all new Doctor Who adventures has given us wonderful new stories featuring the Tenth, Eleventh, and Twelfth Doctors. The Twelfth Doctor series has been my favorite as it was a fitting companion (no pun intended) for another favorite arrival of 2014, Peter Capaldi’s Doctor Who debut. I have to give special note to the first Tenth Doctor story arc, which features The Doctor’s first Latina companion set among my favorite regional celebration, Dia de los Muertos.

Driving this selection home was the announcement of a new Ninth Doctor mini-series in March 2015. It’s about stinkin’ time!

Best Geeky Attire: Ninth Doctor Little Black Dress. Speaking of “it’s about time,” Her Universe finally gave Ninth Doctor fans something of which they can be proud to wear, a nice simple black dress with Nine’s signature black jacket and jumper design. I’ve worn this thing to school events, church, on date nights, and just because I feel like it. Departing from the fall-back “Fantastic” and “Bananas Are Good,” Ninth Doctor fans can finally show off his bad boy image in way that Whovians will appreciate and non-fans will enjoy as just a stylish and practical dress. It’s hard not to wear this out and feel a little private sense of pride. Yes, Doctor, we are so impressive.

Best Television Series That Snuck Up on Me: FX’s FargoWith the long hiatus after BBC’s Sherlock Series #3, and the year-long wait between Hobbit movies, I was beginning to get withdrawal for Martin Freeman’s great acting. I learned about the series based on the Coen Brothers’ 1996 film of the same name about a week before it came out, and it became my guilty addiction for its entire 10-series run. The acting on everyone’s part was amazing in this, but it was Billy Bob Thornton’s scary deadpan and Freeman’s evolution from Hapless Nerd Lester, to conniving A-Hole Lester that drew us in.

Doctor Who arrives at Titan, the “world’s worst game” becomes gaming’s biggest collector’s item, and The Hobbit gets a send-off worthy of the story. Images: Titan Comics, Tee Fury and Water Tower Music.

Within the span of ten-weeks I found myself rooting for poor Lester to rooting for his deserved demise. Stellar acting only Freeman can deliver. I heard there are plans for a second series with a new cast, but I can’t even imagine it topping this one.

Best Book Series: William Shakespeare’s Star Wars Trilogy Imperial Boxed Set. Ian Doescher concluded his first trilogy of the William Shakespeare’s Star Wars series this year, allowing for an attractive boxed set of these books to be released in October, ready for holiday gift-giving. I bought each one of these books–Verily, A New Hope, The Empire Striketh Back, and The Jedi Doth Return–as they were released, but now I wish I had waited from the set. It makes it easy, however, to purchase gifts for everyone else of whom I can’t wait share this clever, well-written tribute to both The Bard and The Jedi. Bravo, Mr. Doescher. When to we get to see, Thee Ghostly Menace?

Best Musical Tribute: The Last Goodbye from The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies. Even those who felt Peter Jackson’s decision to divide The Hobbit into three films was a bad idea, it was hard not to shed a sentimental tear for the end of the series when Lord of The Rings alumnus Billy Boyd (Pippin) delivered this beautiful number. The tune was co-written by Boyd, and chosen to wrap up the six-movie Middle Earth labor of love by Jackson. What a fitting, lovely tribute to classic story and epic motion picture adventure series.

Farewell 2014. Thanks for the music, memories, and movies, and keep the fun coming in 2015!

Lisa Kay Tate is a veteran feature writer with 20 years experience in newspaper, magazine and freelance writing. In addition to serving as Associate Editor for her local arts and entertainment guide, El Paso Scene, she has been a regular contributor to the site and maintains her own blogsite at She and her husband, writer/photographer Rick, live on the edge of "New Texico" where they keep busy raising their two geeklings and sharing space with their dog, Sirius Black, and cat, Loki.