Skrip - tyur' - i - ent: adj. Possessing the violent desire to write.



My reactions to the Sci Fi Channel’s “Who Wants to be a Superhero?” episode 2.

Holy crap, this show just gets better and better! Stan Lee piles on the cheese until nothing remains but a creamy soufflé of reality show delight!

The first challenge is running past attack dogs while wearing a bite suit. Pretty typical reality show fare, we’re seen this on Fear Factor and other shows before. I’m waiting for the twist, like one of the dogs has a thorn in it’s paw and you have to pull it out… but no. Seems like a pretty straight-forward challenge. As expected the woman have a hard time with it, and all the men make it. Except for The Iron Enforcer! He gives up when he’s mere inches away from the goal… how can this be? In the after interview he says, lamely, “I don’t know what happened.” Well, now WE know what happened… more on that later.

Full props to Monkey Woman. While you can never really trust reality show editing, it appears that she dragged herself forward while those dogs bit the shit out of her. It took her 10 minutes, but she reached the goal. Pretty impressive. Of course, Stan was impressed, too; telling her he was “very proud of her” in the next video conference. Stan comes across a little patriarchal at times, but I guess the guy is old enough to be the great grandfather of most of these contestants, so I’ll give him a pass.

And then! Surprise elimination! The producers aren’t screwing around, they’re booting people left and right. On the chopping block is everyone who didn’t make it (except Fat Mama… she gets a pass from Stan. Probably because she tried to distract the dogs by throwing them donuts from her utility belt. She’s using her powers! Stan eats it up!): Cell Phone Girl, The Iron Enforcer, Creature and Lumuria.

I was sure it was going to be The Iron Enforcer. And here’s where the producers threw me: we’ve seen Cell Phone Girl in a different (and improved) costume on the website, making me think that she made it to the new costume challenge. But no! Cell Phone Girl is out, mostly for bitching about having a headache. When are these people going to get it? Stan wants you to be a superhero ALL THE TIME. And I’m not saying you can’t complain, but you have to COMPLAIN LIKE A SUPERHERO. All Cell Phone Girl had to say was that “local radio interference” was causing her powers to fluctuate or some such shit and Stan would have eaten it up! But she doesn’t and she’s given the boot. Stan in his awesomeness tells her, “Your minutes are up.” Excelsior!

Finally, the “challenge” I had been waiting for… new costumes! This is just the fanboy in me, but I was really excited to see what the producers would do to improve the costumes the contestants made themselves. And, it made for the most cheesetastic moment of the evening!

Each superhero was brought into a room to talk to Stan, via TV screen, of course. I love it that Stan won’t actually appear in person with them at any point. I’m sure the Big Brother act is all BS and that Stan is right there on set with them, probably talking to a camera is the next room. But I love the effect.

Lemuria is first. She needs the most help, since her current costume is a disco-era gold jumpsuit. And her boobs are in danger of popping out at any moment. Which is 100% true to the comic book universe, but the producers don’t want to spring for extra pixilation costs.

So lab coated A.I.M. agents spring into action and measure her for new duds. She’s led into a closet, the doors close AND! The house rumbles! Cheesy lighting effects shine from under the door! The doors open again, spilling out clouds of smoke to reveal! The NEW Lemuria! Her new golden suit still shows plenty of cleavage, but the nip-slip worry is removed. Not bad.

As an aside, “Lemuria” ? I guess she’s trying to express luminosity, light powers, or something, but I still thinks it’s a dumb name. And I just can’t get past the fact that “Lemuria” is also the name of a lost undersea continent in the Marvel Universe. But this woman has probably never read an issue of The Sub-Mariner in her life.

One by one, all the other superheroes get new suits. Most are just better constructed and shinier versions of what they came with, especially Feedback. Guy looks like he fell into a vat of Armor All. Monkey Woman is actually showing a little less skin after the makeover… very surprising. But Creature (my new dark horse to win this thing) is still decked out in very little.

Of special note is Ty’Veculus. He’s clearly being set up when he comes out in a ridiculous soft-shape costume, complete with a stupid feathered helmet. But, even though he hates it, he tells Stan he loves it. Feedback actually mocks him when Ty’Veculus rejoins the group (a move that would bite him in the ass later). Ultimately, he reveals his dislike to Stan, who allows him to put on his old costume. But oh, what a missed opportunity for Ty’Veculus! All he had to do was make up something like, “I wear a costume not to disguise my identity, but to augment my powers -- and this isn’t doing it” and Stan would have been all over it. “A hero must always be true to himself,” I can hear Stan saying, “In costume or out.”

Then! Elimination time again! On the chopping block this time are Ty’Veculus, for lying to Stan about how he liked his costume; Feedback, for making fun of Ty’Veculus’ costume; and The Iron Enforcer, for… for I don’t know what, exactly. Stan gives a lame explanation, citing how he’s not very well liked in the lair, and “something wasn’t quite right” during the makeover.

The smart money was on Feedback to go, for cracking jokes at Ty’Veculus’ expense. But no! It’s The Iron Enforcer for, um, what exactly again? I’m about to call bullshit about the arbitrary way he was eliminated… but wait! Stan “The Man” Lee has a huge twist up his sleeve! Oh, Stan, how could I have ever doubted you?

As The Iron Enforcer dejectedly walks down the street, Stan suddenly pokes up (on a closed-circuit TV someone conveniently left atop a pile of trash in the alley) and makes The Iron Enforcer a deal: he’s a crappy superhero, but he’d make a great supervillain! Would he be willing to work with Stan to “make the superheroes life very difficult”? The Iron Enforcer is in! A.I.M. comes roaring up in a van and one cheesy lightshow later he’s transformed into The Dark Enforcer! The superheroes now have an arch nemesis! AWESOME!

Man, oh man. ALL BETS ARE OFF! Suddenly, “Who Wants to be a Superhero?” has morphed from reality show to soap opera. Was The Iron Enforcer in on it all along? Of course he was. It’s just way too convenient that he was abrasive and no-one liked him, and now he’s a villain. So who else is a plant? A quick search on IMDb shows me that most of the contestants have credits and are in the business in some fashion. Only Cell Phone Girl (who’s already gone), Nitro G (also gone), Fat Mama and Ty’Veculus have no Hollywood credits to their name… we can probably assume that they are real people and not plants. The Iron Enforcer doesn’t have listed credits either, but I’m not buying it for a second that he’s not working for Stan.

So now I expect the cheese to be cranked up by a factor of a billion. Previews from next week show Ty’Veculus shouting, “What treachery is this?!” when the new Dark Enforcer makes the scene.

What treachery, indeed? Only Stan knows for sure.


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