On September 14th, 2012, Internet personality Doug Walker, better known by his alias the Nostalgia Critic, released the final episode of To Boldly Flee, a mini series made in celebration of the four year anniversary of his website, thatguywiththeglasses.com. It was big, it was epic, it was funny, a great way to cap off four years of reviewing shitty movies from the 80’s and 90’s. But not everyone seemed to be thrilled about it. In fact, a lot of people got worried. Without giving anything away, the ending seemed to be a bit sensationalist, hinting that it just might be the end of the Nostalgia Critic. People panicked! There were riots in the streets! Shooting sprees spread across the nation! Fans poisoned their families and hung themselves rather than face a world without their weekly dose of Nostalgia Critic videos! Okay, it wasn’t that bad, but regardless, the rumor mill’s imagination went pretty wild. This wasn’t the first time Doug teased about killing off the character. He pulled this stunt before with his reviews of Garbage Pail Kids and My Pet Monster, and people fell for that too only to forget about it a few weeks later. But a lot of signs seemed to be pointing to the fact that this just might be the endgame for this series. The next morning, Doug himself revealed that this was in fact the case, but it’s also the sign of a new beginning.
Before I get into further detail about what’s going on and my opinion on the matter, allow me to explain exactly why I’m bringing this up. Without Doug Walker and his associates, I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing now. He was one of the first to get me interested in being a critic. And I think it’s safe to say that my comrades on both this site and sites like Reviewtopia, The Agony Booth, and Space Monkey Mafia Studios have taken influence from not just him, but other members of Channel Awesome like Linkara, Spoony, Nostalgia Chick, The Cinema Snob, just to name a few. It also provided us with the best forum I’ve ever been to, which served as a virtual second home with a great community of intelligent and awesome people, and was where I found the casting call that lead to my position on Man In Black Reviews. So needless to say, I owe a lot to this site. Thankfully, the site will carry on with or without Doug and our favorite shows will remain in tact. But this isn’t about them, this is about the Nostalgia Critic, and more specifically what his retirement will ultimately mean.
In the video he released the day after the To Boldly Flee finale, Doug explained that the main reason he’s retiring the Nostalgia Critic character is that he felt that he did everything he could do with the premise. Sure, there’s a whole deluge of movies he hasn’t reviewed that fit right into his little niche, but there are only so many ways that you can say “this movie sucks”. To me, this is a perfectly sound and reasonable explanation for wanting to do this. As an avid watcher of his show for nearly three years who has seen almost every episode, I could see that some of the later videos were getting repetitive and were becoming clones of his older stuff. Sometimes it’s good to know your limits and quit when you see the writing on the wall and have nowhere to go from there. Flight of the Conchords canceled their show when they ran out of ideas. LCD Soundsystem broke up when they decided they reached their peak. There’s just no point in beating a dead horse when you’ve done everything there is to do. If you don’t realize that, you’ll end up like The Simpsons or Tim Burton or Weezer. It’s clear that Doug doesn’t want the Nostalgia Critic to be his entire legacy and wants to try new things. For that, I respect his decision. Besides, he’s been making episodes every week for over four years. I think he deserves a break.
Now I know what you’re thinking. “The Nostalgia Critic is the driving force of the website. Why would he kill off his main attraction?” I have two responses to that. One, the stats of the last few episodes have been going downhill. Doug realized this was due to the show becoming repetitive and decided to pull the plug before he ran it into the ground. Second, while it’s true that the Nostalgia Critic was the cornerstone of the site, there are still dozens of of content makers on that site who still put out material on a regular basis. I know people who go on the site that don’t care that much for the Critic, and only go there for people like Linkara, Angry Joe, Spoony or The Cinema Snob. Hell, the main reason I came to that site in the first place was because of JesuOtaku, and as time went on I had discovered Todd in the Shadows, Oancitizen, Paw, Nash, and had their videos to look forward to as well. It helps if you think of TGWTG as a TV station. Let’s use Showtime as an example. Some probably only watch Showtime for Dexter, which isn’t such a bad thing since Dexter is the channel’s most popular show. But as they’re watching it, they might also discover Californication, Weeds, or The Borgias, and become fans of those shows as well. The point I’m making is that even though TGWTG is Doug’s baby, he’s not the only person there with something to offer, and they can carry on without him. And even if the site did disband, half these people have sites of their own, so it’s not like any jobs will be lost.
Which is not to say that he’s gone forever. One rumor I heard a lot both before and after the announcement was that Doug was shutting the site down and leaving the Internet entirely. When I saw the trailer for To Boldly Flee on Facebook, there were a bunch of comments saying goodbye like he was dying or something. While that’s definitely not the case, I still think that’s an extreme and irrational conclusion to jump to. For one, the site, like I said before, is still raking in views and making a lot of money. Aside from that, Doug just signed an exclusivity contract with Blip. For someone to just up and retire at this point in their career is idiotic.
As for what he means to do in the future, very little detail has been revealed. He means to continue his other sketches like Ask That Guy With The Glasses, Bum Reviews and Video Game Confessions, and he hinted that maybe, just maybe, he’ll do a Nostalgia Critic every once in a while if he gets a good idea for an episode. (I actually like this idea since he’ll have more time to actually work on it instead of just farting one out in a week.) Aside from that, he has a big project that he’s been wanting to do for years. So far we only know two things. One, it’s called Demo Reel, and, aside from movie-centric themes, it will be significantly different from the Nostalgia Critic. Two, he actually bought a studio and will soon be holding casting calls. Will this be as good as the Nostalgia Critic? Will it garner as big of a fanbase? The answer is I don’t know. Nobody knows. They haven’t even started casting yet. Clearly this is something on a much bigger scale than anything he’s done before and he’s risking a lot on this, but it’s too early to make any conclusions. After all, no one can predict the future.
So despite one of the most popular and influential characters on the Internet ending his final chapter, nothing of real significance has changed. Doug will still be making videos, TGWTG will carry on, and the world will keep on turning just as it had before. He’s left a huge and infallible impact on Internet culture and provided us with nonstop entertainment for over four years, and we should be grateful that it lasted this long without burning out. Thank you, Doug Walker. I have nothing but respect for you and I wish you the best in your future endeavors. My only complaint is that now I’ll never get to see you review The Big Green. Sparkle sparkle sparkle, you crazy diamond. Sparkle sparkle sparkle.