SciFi: Who Wants to Be a Superhero? (Episode 4)

The first episode of SciFi Channel’s superhero reality series was much better than I expected, but the show has been on a steady decline since. With episode four, Who Wants to Be a Superhero? has become the show I was afraid it would be from the beginning.

The transformation of Iron Enforcer to the super-villain, Dark Enforcer, continues to be a disappointment. This week, Dark Enforcer interviewed the friends and family of the heroes to dig up some dirt on the do-gooders. It turns out that eco-friendly Creature has been a bit of a litterbug in days gone by, Fat Momma isn’t always so body-positive, Major Victory may or may not have worn a thong, Lemuria isn’t above using her sex appeal to get what she wantsHow this could come as a shock to anyone is beyond me; in her original costume Lemuria was one jiggle away from a citation for indecent exposure., and Feedback has a very messy desk.

Here’s a tip for Dark Enforcer: Villains don’t interview the people closest to heroes, they kidnap them. Fat Momma’s momma should be cooling her heels in a non-descript storage container on the docks, Feedback’s wife should be tied to a chair and videotaped pleading for her life, and the other heroes’ so-called “friends” (who were only too eager to rat out their buddies) should be dangling over vats of acid and toxic chemicals. Come on, Enforcer, grow a pair and get with the program!

Unfortunately, the obnoxious hero turned gutless villain isn’t the only factor contributing to the downward spiral of Who Wants to Be a Superhero? The heroes faced two challenges this week; the first wasn’t bad, but the second was simply ridiculous.

Given a little time to themselves, the heroes took to the streets, intent on helping Joe and Jane Citizen muddle through their daily lives. Creature gave clothes to the homeless, Major Victory helped little old ladies cross the street, Lemuria thwarted jaywalkers and Feedback protected children from the evils of storefront lingerie displays.

Back at the lair, Dark Enforcer sprang his evil interviews on the surprised heroes and Stan Lee chastised each of them in turn, then asked Major Victory, Fat Momma and Creature to step forward and defend themselves. In the end, Creature’s apparent hypocrisy and her illegal activities earlier in the day (she jaywalked while delivering clothing to the homeless) were the deciding factors; she was asked to turn in her costume.

The second challenge was simply ludicrious. The heroes traveled to a prison, where they were given secret goals to accomplish while interacting with the inmates.A disclaimer in the show’s end credits revealed that the inmates were actually actors, but assured that the heroes were unaware of the ruse. The secret goals were:

  1. Sit on the inmate’s lap for ten seconds. Lemuria immediately chose this goal.
  2. Brush the hair off the inmate’s face three times. This one went to Fat Momma.
  3. Rub the inmate’s shoulders three times. Major Victory selected this one.
  4. Hug the inmate three times. Feedback chose this goal.

The purpose of this challenge was ostensibly to test the heroes’ ability to perform a “covert operation under stressful conditions,” and the convicts were to provide the stress. Prior to interacting with the inmates, the heroes had to sign a statement wherein they accepted liability for conditions “including, but not limited, to bodily injury, hostage situation or death.”

The problem with this challenge is that there was nothing inherently heroic about it. Take Lemuria’s covert assignment, for example: the only time sitting in someone’s lap should ever be considered heroic is when you are two years old and the lap in question belongs to a mall Santa Claus. Lemuria was none too subtle, waiting all of five seconds before attempting to saddle up. This didn’t go over well with her assigned convict, a surly, burly woman. I suspect the other inmate, an equally surly and just as burly man, would have been far more receptive to the idea of having the scantily-clad heroine park her bottom on his knee.

Fat Momma, Major Victory and Feedback all fared much better than Lemuria, each of them managing to accomplish their covert tasks despite the inmates’ uncooperative attitude. Watching the heroes struggle to complete their assignments, it seemed that the purpose of the challenge was more to ridicule to contestants than to prove their mettle.

Later, on the roof of the secret lair, Stan Lee called Major Victory and Lemuria forward. Lee again chided Major Victory, claiming that “a superhero never takes off his costume under any circumstances.” During the inmate challenge, Victory had removed his cape and gloves after the convict said he looked like an idiot.

The issue with Major Victory’s costume and clothing has come up before; in an earlier episode, another hero criticized Victory for having been a male stripper in the past, and near the beginning of episode four Major Victory removed his cape, laying it at the feet of the little old ladies a la Sir Walter Raleigh as he helped them cross the street.

To borrow an idea from Stephen Colbert, I’m putting Stan Lee on notice. Why? Because every single time Stan Lee addresses the heroes, he does so via video monitor from a remote location, and mounted on the wall behind him is a poster of Stripperella, the stripping superheroine Lee created for Spike TV in 2003.

Stan Lee

Though her show aired for only one season, you can be certain that Stripperella removed more than her gloves and cape in both her civilian guise as dancer Erotica Jones and in her role as an agent of F.U.G.G.I have no idea what it stands for. Perhaps Stan Lee needs to have a look behind him before he wags a finger at Major Victory again.

Despite being on the chopping block twice this episode, Major Victory managed to survive. In the end, it was Lemuria — the only hero to fail the inmate challenge — who had to turn in her costume.

Lemuria’s departure was just as melodramatic as Ty’Veculus’ in episode three. In fact, the entire show has become weighed down with the kind of weepy, sniffling, overblown drama that inevitably creeps into reality programs as the number of contestants drops. Unfortunately, it’s only going to get worse, as next week promises “the elimination so tragic it breaks Stan ‘The Man.'”

There are three heroes (Fat Momma, Feedback and Major Victory) left and only two episodes remaining. Despite the show’s descent into melodramatic farce, I’m curious enough to continue watching. I strongly suspect that Feedback will be the victor, if only because his hero would make the best story for a SciFi Original movie.