Friday, August 11, 2006

Stan and I Pass Judgement!

We all know that the Starman Archive has no rival for DRAMA. But if it did, that rival would be "Who Wants to be a Superhero?"

Boy, when Stan Lee said the tests would only get tougher, he wasn't kidding, True Believers.

Love the Enforcer's new supervillain outfit and his mushmouthed scenery-chewing! I'm now his biggest fan -- or second biggest fan, judging from last night's challenge! HA! AhHAHAHAHA!

He's not a real supervillain, of course; he's a Sinister Sidekick ("Hey, Bawss, you'll find dese here seecret recordins ree-uhl useful-like!").

Who would have thought the "Buying Lunch Challenge" would be an insidious snare, and one which would easily trap all but two of the heroes? FOOLS! THE UTTER FOOLS! Truly an ingenious deception; I applaud the producer's evil.

I bet Nitro G and Levity wouldn't have fallen for that trick, because they actually read comic books. Feedback escaped because of his steely gaze and power of super-disturbing-sincerity. Fat Momma, well, I think she escaped only because the trap was flirtation-based and she knew darned well no one would be flirting with her.

There were two eliminations last night and, lemme tell ya, they were pretty shocking! Shocking, but justified in the context of ratcheting up the moral standards of the contestants. Sadly, two of the contestants I liked the most were eliminated, leaving two who I can't stand.

Now it's time for me to pass Moral Judgment on some of them, like my idol, Stan Lee.

"Lemuria -- you are a vicious backstabbing viper-fanged beyotch of the worst kind. You are a nightmare and should turn in your costume. However, as a consolation prize, you're being sent to DC as the latest member of the Outsiders."

"Tyveculus -- it's my job to tell Lemuria she's a vicious backstabbing viper-fanged beyotch of the worst kind, not yours. Soopuheerowz are supposed ta make people feel bettuh about themselves, not worse! Captain America called; he wants his high horse back."

"Feedback -- if I asked you to bite off the head of a hamster to prove your courage, would you do it? Ah, no, Feedback! Put down the hamster! The '90s are over, Feedback, and people want heroes who can do their jobs non-psychotically."

"Creature -- I hate you less than I used to, because you immediately understood the Self-Sacrifice Challenge and you met it with complete sincerity. I don't like you, but you've earned my respect and you seem to be actually learning something during the process."

"Monkey Woman -- I have adored you more with each passing episode and you are a Tower of Fabulousness. But! A Tower of Fabulousness built on the Quicksand of Deceipt will inevitably sink. 'Nuff said."

"Fat Momma -- you have gone over to the dark side. I was so happy for you when you aced the Fire Walk With Me challenge and used your donuts to comfort the Screaming Twin! But you totally missed the point of the Self-Sacrifice Challenge. I used be a huge supporter of you, but you have abadoned Justice and embraced Vengeance. Overwhelmed by emotion, you have lost your mission and you are lost to us. You will reassigned as the Fat Funny Friend of the Punisher where it is hoped you will revive its sagging sales in the black female readers demographic."

"Major Victory -- every time I think you're going to trip on your own cheesiness, you prevail. Even though you stumbled on the Buying Lunch challenge, you of all the contestants seem to have the best natural sense of what it means to be a soopuheerow. I don't know whether you'll win, but I'm becoming convinced which each passing episode that you are the only man worthy of fathering my baby."


naladahc said...

Hopefully the Tivo snagged all those repeats last night.

Anonymous said...

At the risk of sounding like a total valley girl -- like, oh my god, I like totally ditto what you say about Major Victory!

PS - Speaking of judgement, what did you think about the first challenge last night (trying not to give away spoilers) and what they were being judged on? Did Stan just not know what is going on in the Marvel U or was it his own personal commentary?

Anonymous said...

On the strength of last week's review, I watched both episodes last night. THANK YOU SCIPIO!!!

I too was sad to see Monkey Woman go, especially after her heroic struggle on last week's show, but Stan had a point.

I get the impression that this show was filmed well before the Civil War sheninigans.

Scipio said...

"Did Stan just not know what is going on in the Marvel U or was it his own personal commentary?"

Neither, I think. Yes, there is lots of delicious irony in noting the host of Marvel characters who regularly, constitutionally, or incidently violate each of the principles of being a super-hero that Stan is on the show to uphold.

But none of it is intentional satire of current comics; it's merely an indication of how far writers and editors have allowed superheroes to wander off the path of righteousness.

You have, however, given me fodder for a future post, so thank you... look for it.

Anonymous said...

I utterly forgot to watch last night, and here I awake the next day to find that Monkey Woman is gone! Oh cruel fate!

Well, MV's my front-runner now. I will say that Creature managed to win me over a bit in the previous episode with her explanation for laughing in the face of defeat (which I bought) and then training a winsome face that you just know had to have been honed over the course of her entire life. I look forward to the Urban Scavenger Fairy from Outer Spaaace to continue to surprise.

David C said...

I thought Ty'veculus got a raw deal in the second challenge (sure, self-sacrifice is all well and good, but if Captain America thinks there's a problem with the Avengers' roster, he'll deal with it before committing hari-kari!)

OTOH, I can't feel too bad for him given that he's the one who really earned the boot on the first challenge. It's one thing to give up your first name, but Mary Marvel got away with that for decades (same name, even!) But giving up your PHOTO ID to a supervillain front operation? Man, that's dumb....

Anonymous said...

You know, I'm wondering exactly what ID Ty'veculus presented to the waitress, since she read it E. Quincy Whatever. I was thinking for a second that we were going to find out what the E. stood for. If it was a driver's license , I would have expected it to say something like Edgar Quincy Smith. Hmmm. I guess maybe his first name may actually be E.

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah, what kind of superhero can't remember her hero name? I can expect Stan to mess up calling fer Lumeria, but when she does it, it's a little odd.

Low Deig out.

Scipio said...

"if Captain America thinks there's a problem with the Avengers' roster"

Ah, but nobody appointed him Captain America ... nobody but himself. And it wasn't about them as a team; they aren't a team.

Stan asked the equivalent of "Whom shall I destroy?" Ty said, "Her, because she's not as good as I am." I don't disagree with what he said; but saying it rather than sacrificing himself (particularly after others already showed the way) was NOT superheroic.

It wasn't a test of honesty -- he already failed that test. It was a test of selflessness and he failed it. When you get shown up by Creature, it's time to go.

Anonymous said...

This is my first comment, and I wanted to start by thanking you for persuading me to watch the show - I was skeptical at first but am now hooked. My 2-year-old son, who has shown little interest in super heroes so far, loves the show and demands to watch it over and over. He's especially attached to Monkey Woman, which broke my heart last night - he kept pointing at the screen and asking "Where Monkey Girl?" after she was axed.

What actually prompted me to post a comment is that I think last night's test of "self-sacrifice" was really poorly executed. The first challenge (with the crying child) tested self-sacrifice in a genuine way -- the contestants had to put themselves at what appeared to be a disadvantage in order to help someone in need. This challenge, by contrast, did not really test self-sacrifice (the fact that it eliminated a FIREFIGHTER while keeping a transparent self-promoter like Lemuria should give you a clue). My problem with the challenge is that what it really tested was the ability to mouth phony platitudes because that's what you think the people in charge want to hear. I'm not persuaded by Scipio's argument that "it's not a test of honesty" -- if honesty is a core virtue, shouldn't you be honest all the time, not just when it's what the prodcuers are looking for?

I also don't think it's fair to say that Tyveculus failed the previous test of honesty (I assume you're referring to his reluctance to say he hated his makeover) - first, because he was singled out (no one else got a costume designed to make them hate it) and second, because he was being "dishonest" to avoid hurting someone's feelings - Feedback got criticized during the very same challenge for expressing his true (snarky) reactions to the awful costume because "super heroes are supposed to make people feel good."

Anonymous said...

Gotta love how the first thing Major V noticed after the blindfold was the girl.

Then later he realised he was tricked.

Jon said...

Major Victory is probably the best thing the SciFi network has ever put on television. That is a man that looked in the mirror one morning and thought "the only two jobs available to someone who looks like me are television weatherman and superhero... I don't know shit about weather, get me a cape."

I will say this, though; that cat needs a belt like whoa. That get-up just looks weird without one.

Anonymous said...

Woo hoo! Do I get a No-Prize or somethin'? ;)

David C said...

I agree with Dr. Midmorning, and incidentally, I have a feeling the producers arrived at the "self-sacrifice challenge" by accident, having screwed up the design of the "test of courage."

I'm not certain this is the case, but I think the heroes pretty much all knew the balance beam was on the ground. Why? A trick magicians (and phony psychics) often use with blindfolds. The typical blindfold of the sort seen here likely won't cut off all sight, because there'll be a little gap where it's not skintight, where your nose meets your face. And that gives you a bit of vision - straight down, pretty much, which won't help much in many situations, but of course is exactly what you'd want here.

The heroes all seemed to have an easy time of it, which makes me think the producers (unintentionally) messed up.

Scipio said...

"My problem with the challenge is that what it really tested was the ability to mouth phony platitudes because that's what you think the people in charge want to hear. I'm not persuaded by Scipio's argument that "it's not a test of honesty" -- if honesty is a core virtue, shouldn't you be honest all the time, not just when it's what the prodcuers are looking for?"

I feel the force of your remarks, and part of me agrees with you passionately. On the other hand, I feel that "insincerity" is at the heart of that kind of self-sacrifice. When the MONSTER says, "I can only eat one of you, who is the juiciest?", honesty and sincerity are not the highest virtues. You lie and say that YOU are the juicest, sacrificing your integrity and your life if need be.

Did they sincerely believe that THEY were the ones who should go? Of course not. That's the only reason saying that they WERE is of any valued. They recognized the "right" thing to do and they did it, even if most of them did a poor job of justifying it.

And as for being honest all the time ... well, you can't do that and hide your secret identity. Honesty is high on the list of superheroic virtues but it's way below protecting other people (even that only means protecting them from getting booted off the show).

Scott said...

True, there was a tension between the two virtues Stan said he was testing - it's kind of hard to be honest and sincere when hiding a secret identity. How many times has Clark Kent or Peter Parker lied to friends and loved ones about where they were when their costumed alter egos appeared?

Both tests were kind of ironic, considering that

1) Regardless of Civil War, Stan Lee introduced some of the first superheroes without secret identities way back in the 60s - the Fantastic Four. I was actually surprised, especially considering that none of the contestants' costumes have masks, that none of their heroic backgrounds included a public identity, unless that was specifically verboten by the contest/audition rules.

2) Stan Lee also wrote some of the first superheroes to regularly bicker with each other, including many characters who wouldn't be shy about telling another that they didn't have what it took to be a superhero. Superheroic self-sacrifice is generally about saving somebody else's life, not their ego or career.

Anonymous said...

I take it you don't watch ECW, Jon?

Anonymous said...

At first I was wondering about the contradiction between honesty and maintaining your secret identity, but perhaps, as a superhero, your superheroic identity is your true self so there's no contradiction in honestly proclaiming it. When Stan criticizes the contestants for "giving up your identity," I think you could interpret that in two ways - in the sense of revealing your secret, and in the sense of stepping out of character. I'm especially disappointed in Monkey Woman for that, since up until now she's always been so thoroughly Method.

But you've got me wondering now how many modern superheroes could pass Stan's tests. When do we get to see "Who Wants To Continue Being A Superhero"?

Jon said...

I take it you don't watch ECW, Jon?

When the crowd started chanting "change the channel," I listened.

Anonymous said...

Tyveculus was awful. He failed every single challenge. Anyone that can wear a broom on their head with big lips on their shoulders and say "I've now been reborn" needs to go. Took himself way too seriously (like yelling "No" and clutching his heart when he discovered Enforcer is a bad guy now).

I liked Lemuria and now that I've found out she's a vicious, backstabbing viper-fanged beyotch of the worst kind, I think I may be in love with her. My wife will be pissed though. But, she'd make a great femme fatale for Major Victory.

I liked Fat Mamma, but now I don't.

I can't stand Feedback.

I liked Monkey Woman because anyone gets into a role so much that they clean a booksehlf like a monkey deserved to be on this show.

Creature just sucks.

Major Victory will win, since we all should strive to be winners and not weiners.

And, everyone on this show will be making money doing conventions for the next decade.

Anonymous said...

While the dishonesty of the contestants on the self-sacrifice challenge bothers me too, I believe it was still a genuine challenge in the sense that it tested whether they'd be willing to do what was right even if they didn't believe it. Superheroes are often faced with situations in which they know they need to make a choice and they know what the right, noble choice is, but they still hate it because it's not what they want to choose (usually, this involves deciding whether or not to divulge their secret identity to a loved one, or whether they need to give up a possible chance at saving themselves to stop the villian from hurting more people). Were they being dishonest? Probably, but the test was about whether they would willingly step up and "take one for the team," so to speak, since superheroes will have to deal with that from time to time.

Also, to Jon, when you said: "when the crowd started chanting 'change the channel,' I listened," are you sure you weren't watching WCW? Because that would make a LOT more sense to me.

Anonymous said...

Why couldn't Stan accept that Monkey Woman happened to be a superhero who enjoyed acting on the side? It makes sense to me.

And I realized I watch far too much TV when I immediately recognized the hot waitress from her appearances on several crappy sitcoms.

Scipio said...

The problem was that she lied in her application; she said she was a real estate agent, not an actress.

Anonymous said...

You can't do both? In fact, if you were to poll 3/4 of the people in LA, chances are you'd find out that they're an actor/whatever-they-actually-do-money. Plus, by that same standard Creature, Feedback, Lemuria and Major Victory should also be booted off the show, since they all also have IMDB acting credits (as did Levity). According to the official website they've all listed their occupations as something other than actor, which makes them all as equally guilty of duplicity as our beloved MW.

Anonymous said...

That secret ID challenge was a better use of metafiction than anything Morrison ever did.

Also, I still don't get Lemuria's name. Is it supposed to be like the lost continent, or are her powers somehow lemur-related? Or did she mean Lumeria (something to do with light) and spelled it wrong?

She's hot, though.

Norman said...

Blast it! It's gonna be at least a whole year before this show comes to my neck of the woods!

Anonymous said...

Episode three is available to watch free on the SciFi Channel website, for those of you that have not yet seen it.

Link is under "what's new".

Michael said...

That Monkey Woman was an actress in her secret ID isn't the whole story. When she gave away her ID, she did so without being prompted - "Hi, I'm Monkey Woman, aka Mary" - and she also was the only one who gave out three websites for reality show wannabe actors. It wasn't that she was an actress, it was that this was another acting gig for her.

Anonymous said...

It bothers that after the twist in the secret ID test we'll never find out who brought back soup and a hero for lunch.

Anonymous said...

"It wasn't that she was an actress, it was that this was another acting gig for her."

And it isn't for the others?

I hate to be cynical, but....

Heck, according to IMDb, this is Creature's second appearance on a reality show.

Anonymous said...

I get the feeling Monkey Woman's dismisal was more about her giving away her real name without prompting.

I still think they should have taken three of them to task rather than singling her out; Creature gave her FULL name and Tyveculus showed a photo ID, for crying out loud - both much more serious breaches than a simple first name. I mean, how many Mary's are there in LA?

The self-sacrifice test was a bit of a load too - not because of how fake the people saying "I'll sacrifice myself for the good of the group" were (Lumeria, I'm looking at you) but because of Fat Momma's total BS answer on who to get rid of.

Get rid of Feedback because she doesn't want his feelings hurt? That's a damn site more bitchy than Ty calling out Lemuria because he's worried about her physical well-being. I think Fat Momma's trying to get Feedback because, be honest, he's the biggest threat.

Seriously, he's only failed two challenges and only been called to task once. And unlike Major Corn, Feedback at least seems to be taking things seriously and trying to get better.

Anonymous said...

I bet Nitro G and Levity wouldn't have fallen for that trick, because they actually read comic books.

Possibly this is part of the reason they went first - so Stan would only have "unmolded clay" to work with?

Scipio said...

I wondered about that myself.

Anonymous said...

It strikes me that the producers are eliminating contestants for entirely arbitrary reasons. We'd never been given any indication that the heroes were expected to maintain secret identities. Despite Stan's speech to the contrary, it's not a requirement for the gig anymore, and certainly hasn't been since he co-created the flippin' Fantastic Four.

Wanting to parlay a reality-show gig into an acting career demonstrates a lack of commitment? What the hell? Stan, these people are not going to continue to be superheroes. When the winner is crowned and the lights go off, they are not going to return to their batcaves and fight crime.

(In my view, the dismissal of Monkey Woman was a blow to fans of both monkeys and bikini-wearing superheroines. May you continue to ook-ook-ook, Mary!)

While Tyveculus was practically beggin' to get the boot, I think it was for the wrong reason. His speech about recognizing one's limitations and not endangering oneself presumably makes perfect sense in Firefighting 101, but is completely contrary to the superhero genre, and Stan should've called him on it.