Saturday, July 29, 2006

Since when is "Who Wants to Be a Superhero" a trick question?

I think my schedule's going to be wonky for a while. I'm still re-adjusting to the time zone, and I have about a million DVDs and things on the TiVo to catch up on. I went into the office yesterday and spent more than an hour just opening all the mail that accumulated while I was gone, and just as I was walking out, feeling like I had accomplished something, the receptionist said, "Oh, Alan, that big pile over there is yours, too. Your desk was becoming a fire hazard."

First up, after my childhood-justifying meeting with Stan Lee and my hand-injuring encounter with Ty'Veculus, there was no way I wasn't going to watch "Who Wants to Be a Superhero?" Extremely cheesey but fun, especially if you're a raging geek like me. Stan the Man is, if anything, even stiffer than Donald Trump -- the bit where he threw a temper tantrum over the contestants' blatantly staged "party" was painful -- but the contestant mix is pretty good, even if the only two genuine comic book nuts went home in episode one. On the plus side, Cell Phone Girl is the only one who seems like a blatant famewhore, and Major Victory is so damn nuts that I think he's posessed by the undead ghost of Adam West. (And what a shock: the one contestant picked by the fanboys is a hottie in a low-cut gold lame bodysuit.) Not a bad little time-waster, though I hope future tasks will be less repetitively-edited (that, or they get a kid whose fake crying is more believable).

On the recommendation of some people on the "Life on Mars" thread, I checked out a little of "Garth Marenghi's Darkplace," which is a spoof of late '70s/early '80s cheese, a sort of "Galaxy Quest"-esque fake show written by and starring a hack British horror writer. (I'm explaining this badly; forgive me, but I'm jet-lagged.) What I've seen so far is funny (especially the "performance" by Marenghi's publisher), but it doesn't feel like it has a lot of legs. After all, only three out of the six "Police Squad" episodes are any good, and those three all felt more layered than this. But I'll finish this one up and give next week's a shot.

Got through the last two "lost" episodes of "Chappelle's Show," and now I understand why Comedy Central only wanted to send the first one out. Pretty much anything that was good at all was used in that first one, though I will never complain about watching Dave's Lil John impression ("WHAT?"). And I can see how the racial fairies sketch would have made Dave uncomfortable, if not "give up $50 million and flee to Africa" uncomfortable.

The two most recent "Entourage" episodes were two of this uneven season's strongest, mainly because the writers played to the show's biggest strength: letting Jeremy Piven go absolutely berserk at all the things in the world he can't control. Ari being unable to reach Vince unless he got Drama a job was brilliant -- as was Lloyd swooping in to save the day. The threesome story was also a rare interesting focus on Eric (though, typically, most of the entertaining scenes about it featured Eric talking about it with the other guys). Definitely one of those "be careful what you wish for" scenarios.

I watched both the post-fight "Deadwood" episodes while I was out in LA, both times right before drifting off to sleep after a long day at tour, which I realize is not the ideal condition to be watching this show. What to me felt like two fairly uneventful hours were interpreted by Matt to be much deeper than that. I don't know whether he's right or wrong in his analysis, but in my fatigue mostly what I noticed was how pointless all the scenes with the theater company seem. I will never complain about an appearance by Brian Cox, and Langriche makes a good foil for Al, but when it's just Jack and his actors, I'm both bored and frustrated by the feeling I get that Milch planned to resolve most of their story in the now-nonexistent fourth season.

I didn't have a chance to comment on either "Contender" episode after the fact. I was amused that the premiere played out almost exactly like the season one opener, with the least-heralded fighter knocking off the alpha dog (even Alfonso commented on it in show two). And, of course, the winning streak continued in episode two, though the fight wasn't as competitive. Jeff Fraza has to be feeling like a jinx at this point; whether he's on the blue team or the gold, the same bad luck keeps happening. Will he get the mumps before he gets to fight? I know some people have complained that the lower budget is too noticeable, but I don't miss Sly or the challenges or even the celebs in the audience, and I felt both fights were shot and edited at least as well as the early season one bouts.

Some people commented on "Life on Mars" in that post, but has anybody given "Eureka" a shot?

Still have to watch the most recent "Rock Star" performances and some other stuff, but this blog has been dark for too many days in a row. Time to hit the "publish post" button. Hopefully back with real-time "Deadwood" and "Entourage" reviews on Monday.


R.A. Porter said...

I enjoyed the "Eureka" pilot a lot, but the replacement of the brilliant Greg Germann character with the smarmy still-husband of the so bland I poke my eyes out when she talks make her stop Salli Richardson-Whitfield character hurts it quite a bit. In fact, anything that gives her character more screen time is a problem.

Otherwise, if they'd embrace the goofiness and let the rest of the actors exude their boatloads of charm, I think this could be a nice addition to the SciFi family. (At the very least, it could bump "Stargate: Atlantis" if we're all lucky.)

Anonymous said...

I agree whole heartedly about the last couple of episodes of Deadwood and the theater company in particular. I find myself extremely frustrated that they didn't know there wouldn't be a season 4 when shooting season 3.


Daniel said...

With "The Contender," all that ultimately matters is that the fights are good and ultimately all three of the fights have been good, with the only possible exception being the third fight, there I still don't understand how Gary Ballerina won. Actually, in the second fight, there was the oddness of one judge thinking Rudy had won, while the other two judges scored the fight decidedly for Bravo, but at least the final decision was good.

There's no question that the editing has been sloppier this season in the fight sequences. The final rounds of two of the three fights have been sliced to bits, almost to the point that I had no idea of who was ahead, which is sortta the point.

Also, am I wrong that last season the episodes were spaced out so that the fights played out without commercial interuptions? I thought that was the case, but this season there's been a break after either the second or third round each time, which is really irksome.

And that's enough discussion of The Contender.


Anonymous said...

They only did 6 episodes of Police Squad? Well, I don't remember seeing one I didn't like. I saw all 6 episodes of Darkplace, and at least 4 of them made me laugh.

Anonymous said...

I finally got around to watching the first two episodes of Eureka this weekend. It is mostly amusing and I will continue to watch it.

lady t said...

Who Wants to be a Superhero is pretty damn funny,especially Major Victory(all those goofy moves he made during the costume change challenge were great-man needs his own show,seriously!)and it surpises me how superhero illiterate some of these folks seem to be. You're supposed to stop to save a crying little girl(yes, she was an obvious plant but hello,there's a reason she's there!)if you are a good guy!

Monkey Woman is good at crying-maybe she should make that one of her special powers.

Anonymous said...

I haven't had a chance to watch "Who Wants to Be a Superhero?" but I read that some of the wannabes are working actors (a couple have several credits listed in the imdb). I was hoping this was going to be a show with a slew of real comic-book geeks. Is it still worth watching?

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed Eureka a lot, although it would have been better if Greg Germann was still around, of course. It looks like it could be a lot of fun, and Joe Morton is always good. I do agree that the Salli Richardson-Whitfield character is dull, and they're pushing the possible love interest there way too hard right now.

The talking intelligent house is a comedy gold mine, and they're using it as such. (In contrast to the OK but still disappointing "My Super Ex-Girlfriend", which gave the villain henchmen and did nothing funny with them.)

Anonymous said...

Very annoyed - I liked "Super Hero" a lot, but had to catch it on a repurpose cahnnel. Apparently, I no longer have the Sci Fi channel, although i used to. Very cranky.