August 26, 2006

  • SciFi: Who Wants to Be a Superhero? (Episode 5)


    The penultimate episode of Who Wants to Be a Superhero? was a mix of good and bad, with a heavy dose of ugly.

    The Good

    The challenges were actually decent this week.

    First, the heroes made an appearance at an elementary school, where they were presented with a poster-sized version of the cover for their own comic book. After the unveiling, each hero spoke to the youngsters and answered their questions. Feedback explained how he got his powers, Fat Momma told the kids that their differences make them special, and Major Victory expounded upon the aerodynamic qualities of his hair.

    After each hero had been given their moment in the spotlight, Stan Lee asked the kids to stand behind their favorite costumed crusader. Fat Momma had the most fans, while Feedback — whose presentation was a bit complex for young children — came in a distant thirdWord of advice to Feedback: You get your powers from video games. Pong shouldn’t even be on your list of favorite games, much less at the top..

    The second challenge took place on the Universal CityWalk at Universal Studios Hollywood. The heroes were informed that Dark Enforcer was loose somewhere in the vicinity and only by following a series of clues could they locate him and foil his fiendish plan.

    The first clue led the heroes to a woman wearing high heels with a tattoo above her ankle, who provided the next clue and a bottle of lotion. The second clue led to a heavyset man with a diamond earring; the third clue was written on his belly and back and could only be revealed by rubbing the lotion on him (or else it gets the hose again). The third clue led to a woman with a fancy purse containing thirty-seven dollars and fifty cents and the final clue, which revealed the location of Dark Enforcer.

    Major Victory, as always, was hilarious as he ran through the CityWalk in search of each clue. Of all the heroes, Victory has been the most fun to watch since day one. From his mannerisms to the way he moves to the way he interacts with the citizens he seeks to protect, Major Victory has always been a consistent, colorful and dynamic character.

    Feedback took the challenge very seriously and even though he’s not as fun to watch as Victory, he’s got the right attitude about being a hero. Upon finding the final clue, Feedback had an opportunity to win the time trial (though he wasn’t aware of it at the time) but stopped to pick up the coins he’d dropped and put them back in the woman’s purse before running off to find Dark Enforcer.

    Major Victory and Feedback both completed the challenge in a little over fifteen minutes; Fat Momma, on the other hand, wandered around the CityWalk bumming french fries and chicken strips from various people while searching for the clues. Later, Stan Lee reported that it took Fat Momma forty minutes longer to locate Dark Enforcer than the other contestants.

    The Bad

    The challenges only lasted about half an hour.

    Previous episodes generally consisted of a challenge followed by an elimination in the first half hour, followed by a second challenge and another elimination. With only three heroes left at the beginning of the show and another episode yet to come next week, there was only room for a single elimination in episode five. The elimination, of course, occured at the end of the episode. Unfortunately, both challenges had been completed by about 9:35, which left twenty-five minutes for…

    The Ugly

    As I mentioned last week, my theory of reality television is that the amount of drama is inversely proportional to the number of contestants remaining. The final half of episode five of Who Wants to Be a Superhero? certainly reinforces that theory; all three of the remaining heroes brought the melodrama to levels that would make your average daytime soap opera wince with embarrassment.

    First, Fat Momma locked herself in the bathroom and refused to come out until she could speak with one of the show’s producers. It seems that Fat Momma was concerned that Feedback would not handle losing well, so she wanted to withdraw from the show. Eventually, Major Victory and Feedback came in for a big, weepy hugfest and Fat Momma decided to remain in the contest.

    Then came the elimination. Stan called all of the heroes forward onto the red blocks, citing each of their failures: Feedback didn’t communicate with the children on their own level, Fat Momma didn’t take the CityWalk challenge seriously, and Major Victory — for all his enthusiasm — was not so much a hero as he was a parody of a hero. In the end, Major Victory was eliminated for the traits that made him so much fun to watch.

    In a final fit of orchestrated tear-jerking, Stan arranged for a phone call between Major Victory and his estranged daughter. The “reconciliation” was almost as painful to watch as Fat Momma and Feedback holding hands as they waited to see which hero would be asked to leave or Lee’s “breakdown” at having to eliminate Victory.

    And so the final episode will be a showdown between Fat Momma and Feedback. I don’t know if I can handle a full hour of their sob-sodden interactions and I’ve given up hope that Dark Enforcer is going to manage anything more dastardly than short-sheeting the heroes’ beds; but I’ve made it this far and I’m committed to watching the finale, even if doing so makes me want to burn every comic I’ve ever read in the hopes of eradicating the taint of what Who Wants to Be a Superhero? has become.