Oct 24, 2004

Clark Kent's Older Than Superman?

I don't know if I ever told anybody at the site or the boards this, but I'm a huge Superman fan. I'm just a big a Spider-Man fan as I am Superman, but The Man of Steel is the iconic hero of the comic industry. Don't get me wrong, I won't plaster the shield on everything in my house nor name my first born child "Kal El," but I am definitely a huge Superman fan.

A few columns down in my Christopher Reeve obit, I even admitted that I had Superman pajamas with a velcro-tabbed cape when I was a little kid, often waking up mornings climbing on the chairs in the living room with my arms at my side and my chest beaming doing a cocky laugh as my cape flew in the breeze of the oscilating fan. I've enjoyed both the comic tales as well as the televised adventures of Superman, both the animated (I'm probably one of the few folks that actually got up at 8 in the morning to check out the '88 Ruby Spears series) and the live-action (Dean Cain was good and all on Lois and Clark, but where was the trademark spit curl?).

I'm still a huge fan of Smallville (btw, the last episode introduced a character calling himself "Bart Allen" [the secret identity of Kid Flash, formerly Impulse] but also called himself "Jay Garrick," "Barry Allen," and "Wally West," all incarnations of The Flash; shame folks missed it to watch the Yankees lose badly and embarassingly to the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium in New York) and actually can't wait for, of all shows, Krypto the Superdog on Cartoon Network this spring. I'm also anticipating Bryan Singer's Superman movie in 2006. If his track record on The Usual Suspects and the X-Men movies are any indication, the movie is definitely going to be a must-see. However, the guy he picked to be Clark Kent/Superman, Brandon Routh, is actually younger than the guy who plays Clark Kent on Smallville, Tom Welling. Brandon's 25 and Tom's 27.

It's probably much ado about nothing, I'm sure that Brandon will do a good job in a role that made Kirk Alyn, George Reeves, Christopher Reeve, Dean Cain, and Tom Welling famous (no pressure). It's probably best that a virtual unknown plays the role of Superman, and plays the role well. I have no doubts that Tom would have played Superman as well as he plays Clark Kent. However, I can understand that Mr. Singer and the producers of the movie franchise aren't trying to connect Smallville continuity with the movie continuity. It would have been nice. Hell, it would have even been appropo. But the movie version and the series version of the Superman mythos shouldn't be connected at all since they are different shades of the same story. Otherwise, you'd have the same origin story for every version. Lois and Clark barely covered the Kryptonian side of the story but it did have elements from John Byrne's reimagining of the origin in his Man of Steel mini-series in '86. When Timm, Dini, and Burnett relaunched Superman in animation, Jor-El is much more kind-hearted and warmer than the cold version created by Byrne, who is, in turn seemingly nicer than the version implied on Smallville.

If you think Superman's filmed origins are different, check out Spider-Man's. There's only one constant in all the versions . . . Peter Parker gets bitten by a radioactive spider, gaining its strengths and powers (God bless Bendis and JMS for actually creating interesting spins [no pun intended] on the origin created by Stan Lee in Ultimate Spider-Man and Amazing Spider-Man, respectedly) and donning the mask of Spider-Man. The live-action series actually had Peter Parker as an adult photographer getting bit. The various animated versions had Peter Parker as a teen getting his powers, but predominately shows him as a college student. Ultimate has Peter as a teenager bitten by a genetically-altered spider, and actually keeps him as a teenager. The movie Spider-Man is basically a mutant of sorts, bitten by a genetically-altered spider but using his actual spinnerets rather than constructing his own. The "traditional" Marvel Spider-Man has Peter Parker getting bit by a radioactive spider as a teen, but as an adult, he gets an interesting philosophical lesson that radically changes the way Peter (and the reader) sees his powers and how he really got them (was the spider going to give him his powers, or was the radioactivity just a small factor into the source of his powers). Like the Superman movies and series, each version of Spider-Man stays true the core of the original story.

It'll be good in the end.

Oct 22, 2004

Hey Comcast . . .

It's been a little over half a year since you guys bought TechTV and merged it with your ill-conceived G4 network. Originally, you guys said y'all were going to name the new network G4, but smarter heads prevailed to a point and named it G4techTV. Admittedly, I felt you guys would have been better and name it something entirely different, creating a new brand as a result.

But G4techTV failed . . . badly. It landed on its ass and hasn't really caught on with the masses.

Sure, G4techTV is on 50 million households, and that's good. But who's really watching? And what are they really watching? Yeah, they're largely watching X-Play. X-Play is the most watched series on G4techTV. It's also 70% of why you guys bought TechTV. You turned The Screen Savers into a 75% gaming show instead of the 85% tech-oriented show it was meant to be (and pushed out a bulk of the older, wiser Savers to boot). What's worse is that you took out three minutes of The Screen Savers to show simulated video-game hockey clips.

I'm going to say this one more time to make sure you understood me.


Under the name of G4 Sports, you, in effect, are pouring salt on the wounds of hockey fans who would rather see the real thing than see hockey video game clips. It's stupid. I'm in a minor-league town, mind you. Some Chicago Blackhawks are playing across the river in Norfolk for the AHL team here.

Also, the name is G4 Sports, not G4techTV Sports. It's like business as usual at G4 rather than fully uniting G4 with TechTV as promised. The bulk of the lineup is filled with old G4 programming. All the newer shows, with the exception of X-Play, use G4 microphones, not G4techTV logos (seriously, they could easily slap a TechTV logo sticker on another side of a mike. They even have a show called G4TV.com, which could have easily been renamed G4techTV.com, but alas, that would have caused a little more work to be done. What's more, the name of the production company is G4 Media. It's sad that you guys don't really know what you had when you bought TechTV.

You had a news department that actually covered tech news more than once a week, people that actually knew what they were talking about, and older folks who were experienced in the industry. Instead of a great network, you essentially turned TechTV into a game version of MTV.

And that's not a compliment.

So, Comcast, hear me out. You want to start phasing out the TechTV name on your programming? Fine. Phase out the G4 name as well as the G4 Media name. Relaunch the network's programming under a new name, develop some new programming to fill out the Cheats/Cinematech hour, decide between Judgement Day and The Electric Playground (I'd choose EP because it has more bite to it and not so sophomoric), and actually have more tech-driven programming. And no, Robot Wars is not tech-driven (not as much as Techno Games was). You merged the networks together, but didn't have an exit strategy in making the network successful. You guys need help. Listen to the old TechTV fans.

They know what's up.

Oct 19, 2004


Have you seen the new Stargate SG-1 Season Seven DVD set? I'm glad that they're promoting the series and all, but one thing perplexes me. With all the talent and finances that MGM has in their employ, not to mention the monies Sony will imput in the months to come, how come the geniuses who came up with this ad misspelled a TV Guide declaration, the only one in the whole ad?

Instead of "A Worldwide TV Phenomenon," they said, in huge bold letters:


Yes, my friends, and it's circulating on the network that supposed to be G4techTV (but not; I'll talk about later) all week long. Incredible.

Oct 11, 2004

In Memory of Christopher Reeve

Another Superman from my youth passed away yesterday. Earlier in the year, Danny Dark, voice of the Superfriends' Man of Steel, died, and this morning, I learned that the quintessential Superman, Christopher Reeve, died yesterday afternoon. He was 52.

I've seen and heard many individuals portray the first iconic superhero over the years, from Bud Culdyer and George Reeves to Tim Daly and Dean Cain to George Newbern and (at least in the Clark Kent identity) Tom Welling, but it was Christopher Reeve who put a human face on the comic book character. Twenty-six years ago, he graced the silver screen in a way that, at the time and, to some, still has, changed the way the American public looked at comic book-driven films and television shows.

Think about that for one moment.

Until the Superman movie came out, Americans still considered the 60s Batman series as a template for all comic book-based productions. Campy, over the top, full of overdramatics, hamtastic acting, just plain silly. Superfriends, as good as it was, also had similar attributes. Even less silly comic book-based projects like Wonder Woman (which could have been a disasterous comedy series if the Batman producers' earlier pilot had been successful) were more or less cut from the same cloth. When Christopher Reeve first donned the familiar Superman costume, attitudes about comic book properties changed. The film personified the current attitudes of the comics of the era, long trying to get from under the Batman camp image in the mainstream. Mr. Reeve's performance as the Man of Steel paved the way for Bill Bixby's David Banner/Hulk, John Wesley Shipp's Barry Allen/Flash, Michael Keaton's Bruce Wayne/Batman, Wesley Snipes's Blade, Hugh Jackman's Wolverine, and Tobey McGuire's Peter Parker/Spider-Man, among others.

Christopher Reeve made people believe that a man can fly. He has made such an impact on the mythos of the Superman legacy in many wayes. Kingdom Come, a miniseries created by Mark Waid and ALex Ross, was largely a Superman story that was dedicated to Mr. Reeve. Recently, he made one last mark on the current incarnation of the Superman mythos Smallville as Dr. Swan, who enlightened Clark Kent about where he came from and what his destiny will be.

In recent years, after an equestrian accident left him paralyzed, he became an advocate for many causes. Though he wasn't as mobile as he once was, Mr. Reeve continued to champion many paraylsis studies and programs, some more controversial than most. To some, these real-life heroics made him more like Superman than ever, but to me, slightly reverting back to the days when I wore my Superman pajamas with the velcro cape, Christopher Reeve will always be Superman, and he will be missed.

Oct 8, 2004

Who Watches And Listens To Local Broadcasts Anymore?

I rarely look at my local television stations nowadays. Aside from a few shows on Fox, ABC, The WB, UPN, and NBC (yeah, I know CBS exists, but there's absolutely nothing on it worth watching), I rarely look at broadcast television anymore. Most of what I look at on television is on cable. Sunday nights belong to HBO from 9 to 11 PM (of course, and I'm almost ashamed to admit it, but I'm digging ABC's Sunday lineup now) and Cartoon Network the rest of the night, Monday nights, I check out Raw on Spike TV. I look at some of the broadcast comedies on Tuesday nights, but I check out the FX dramas like The Shield and nip/tuck at 10. After Smallville goes off, I pretty much channel surf for an hour until Good Eats comes on. After Smackdown goes off on Thursdays, I channel surf again. Fridays, I check out CN, ABC, Monk on USA, and HBO throughout the night. Saturdays, well, if you don't know by know, perhaps you really don't know me nor my other site.

Broadcast television offers very little for me. Didn't used to be that way, but broadcast channels (both television and radio) have become really lazy. Part of the laziness isn't their fault (broadcast outlets are, afterall, handcuffed by the FCC, which continues to make this country one of the most puritanical societies in the world mediawise), but most of it is. If you're going to keep on duplicating the same old formulas (still anticipating the announcements of CSI: Wichita and Law and Order: Mall Security), people aren't going to be impressed. Seriously, when CBS announced plans for a second CSI spinoff (and the fourth show to have the letters CSI in the title, including Navy NCIS), what exactly was the reactions in the boardrooms? I think it went a little something like this:

Exec One: Hey, this CSI franchise is just blowing up, and we're doing just as well with Navy NCIS. We have one on almost every night of the week except Tuesdays and Wednesdays. How about we make a CSI . . . in New York?

Exec Two: Great, just what television needs . . . another cop/detective series based in New York.

Exec One: It's not cops. It's crime scene investigators.

Exec Two: Detectives. How about something original instead of the same series in three different shells?

Exec One: Well, we could put on a reality show where we put a group of slightly slutty, gold-digging girls in a mansion with a g - -

Exec Two: CSI: New York is a go!

Broadcast networks whine about cable television who "get away with more stuff." They cry that it's unfair to compete against the likes of HBO, FX, and USA because they can air shows with almost no limitations. Shows like The Sopranos, Monk, Sex in the City, The Shield, Deadwood, Six Feet Under, Curb Your Enthusiasm, nip/tuck, Rescue Me, and others aren't bound by the content standards enforced by the FCC. Unlike broadcast television and radio, cable television content has evolved tremendously. Hell, did you think you'd see something like Cowboy Bebop on Cartoon Network without being hacked to bits? Broadcast outlets are, more or less, still operating under the same rules established in the 1950s. Why? Because there are strong forces who still have the mentality of a McCarthyesque bureaucrat. And these forces are more vocal than the rest of us, so, more often then not, the enforcements they push for are the ones that usually become law. That's why Saturday mornings are a lost cause for broadcast television. That's why guys like Howard Stern and Opie and Anthony are bolting to satellite radio.

And that's why the rest of the world was laughing at us for fining Viacom for the Justin Timberlake situation at the Super Bowl (it's funny why one party had been persecuted while the one who actually did the act just got his street card revoked).

So, with more people watching cable television and more people slowly drifting to satellite radio, do we really need broadcast television and radio? Of course we do, but they really have to enter the 21st century to keep up with the audiences. I'm not saying that the FCC should be dismantled, but it certainly wouldn't hurt. Funny thing is that broadcast outlets are always a step behind. With the advent of the internet and local news and weather stations on cable, you could get the latest local news and weather info. For national news, you could always glance at the 24/7 stations (caution: too much cable news can cause cases of smugness, arrogance, inaccuracy, cut off mikes, and spontaneous combustion). The NBA has basically become a cable-only sports league, and MLB is slowly swerving in that direction as well. Heck, the NFL's actually thinking of putting Monday Night Football on ESPN rather than on ABC.

Let's see, local news, weather, children's entertainment, and sports are pretty much covered by cable. So, there has to be a use for broadcast right? Well, yeah, if you like a lot of reality programming and a lot of formulaic series.

There are plenty of gems out there on broadcast television, but you really have to look hard for them. And pray that the networks don't cancel them so quickly. Fox had a lot of great shows on its lineups in recent years. Wonderfalls, John Doe, Firefly (think Outlaw Star live-action), Dark Angel, and Arrested Development all received critical acclaim, but little love from the network. Heck, Arrested Development was nominated for (and won) Best Comedy Series at this year's Emmys, and yet Fox still thought about cancelling the series. It'll be back, but it was one of the lucky ones. So, there is just a slight glimmer of hope for broadcast television.

As for broadcast radio, it's a waste of time. Edited music, numerous talking heads, endless commercials, plus the same type of music on all the time, broadcast radio sucks. I dig Music Choice and I respect internet radio. Haven't heard much satellite radio, but I liked what I heard. Broadcast radio is a dinosaur that needs to evolve beyond what's there.

Of course, that's just my four half-cents.