SciFi: Who Wants to Be a Superhero? (Episode 2)

The heroes’ assignment this week was a test of raw courage. An old lady had locked herself out of her house, but the back door was unlocked. All the heroes had to do was climb over the back fence, cross the yard, and touch the back door. Unfortunately, there were two attack dogs in the back yard.

One by one, the heroes donned padded gear and helmets, then attempted to cross the yard. Ty’veculus was barely staggered as both dogs hit him with full force, their jaws locking onto the heavy padding on his arms. The hero then walked across the yard — the growling dogs writhing back and forth, refusing to release him — and touched the back door. Total time elapsed: 16 seconds.

Not everyone fared so well. Fat Momma attempted to distract the dogs with crullers, but to no avail. The dogs hit her and she hit the ground, crying “uncle” a few seconds later. The bombastic Iron Enforcer crawled to within two feet of the door before he, too, admitted defeat. Cell Phone Girl, complaining of a headache, lasted a mere four seconds before she relented.

The true star of this challenge was Monkey Woman. Before her attempt, the simian superhero declared that she would not fail; she was seeking redemption for her failure in the costume change/lost girl assignment. Immediately, it seemed that Monkey Woman was doomed to failure. The dogs took her down in a matter of seconds and it seemed that she was severely overpowered.

Every hero had either completed the challenge or cried “uncle” in less than a minute, but even after nine minutes of being mauled by the dogs and never regaining her feet, Monkey Woman continued to fight her way across the back yard. Nearly ten minutes passed before she stubbornly dragged herself and the horrifying hounds to the door.

The challenge completed, Stan Lee announced that there would be another elimination. Four heroes — Cell Phone Girl, Creature, Iron Enforcer and Lemuria — were on the chopping block. When asked whether she should ignore grave danger because she has a headache, Cell Phone Girl lamely replied that she still had a headache. Not surprisingly, she was asked to turn in her costume. “Your minutes are up,” Stan Lee said.

Following the elmination, Stan Lee announced that the heroes would each receive a new costume. The results:

  • Lemuria is far less likely to fall out of her costume.So much for the 18 – 34 year-old male demographic.
  • Major Victory has shiny, shiny shorts.
  • Ty’veculus almost got kicked off the show.

The new costumes didn’t look too bad, for the most part. Ty’veculus, however, must have drawn the short straw, as his new duds looked six kinds of silly. Rather than admit that he wasn’t happy with the new costume, Ty’veculus pretended to be thrilled with it. Both he and Feedback (who had mocked Ty’veculus’ new outfit) wound up under the axe, along with Iron Enforcer.

This is where the show really started to break down and feel scripted. Iron Enforcer’s costume makeover was almost non-existent. As far as I could tell, the only thing Stan Lee’s designers had done was given the guy some new pants. His reaction to the new outfit wasn’t anything worthy of elimination, but Lee called him out anyway, claiming that something about the costume just didn’t feel right. The problem was (as it had been before) Iron Enforcer’s massive gunSeriously, the thing is huge.. Reiterating that heroes don’t kill people, Lee asked Iron Enforcer to turn in his costume.

Last week, I said that there was no way they’d get rid of Iron Enforcer because every reality show needs someone for the audience to root against. I was wrong, but I was right. As Iron Enforcer left the secret lair, Stan Lee appeared to him again, offering a chance to return to the show as his new supervillain. Iron Enforcer consented and was reborn as Dark Enforcer.

This came as no surprise to Laura, who has maintained all along that Iron Enforcer was more suited to supervillainy than superheroism. We both agreed that the entire elimination sequence was clearly scripted and Iron Enforcer was likely a plant from day one. Despite this obvious departure from “reality,” the show remains enjoyable. With the Iron Enforcer out of the heroic mix, I suspect that the plants have all been weeded out and the show should feel a little less scripted going forward.

Preview: Hellboy: Sword of Storms

Though I don’t own any of Mike Mignola’s Hellboy graphic novels, I absolutely loved the 2004 movie starring Ron Perlman as the titular character. Perlman and several of his live-action co-stars are lending their voices to two animated Hellboy movies. The first, Sword of Storms is set to premiere on the Cartoon Network in late October 2006. The second, Blood and Iron will debut early in 2007.

I’ve previously linked to the production diaries of Tad Stones, which feature all kinds of behind the scenes insight into just how much work goes into creating an animated feature. Now there’s an official site for the animated movies, GoToHellBoy.com, featuring descriptions of the movies, downloadable wallpaper, AIM buddy icons and a teaser trailer for Sword of Storms.

The screenshots and animation look fantastic, and there’s just no way you can go wrong with Ron Perlman as Hellboy and John Hurt as Professor Bloom. What I find interesting is that Doug Jones will be providing the voice of Abe Sapien, the amphibious BPRD agent known as “Blue.” In the live-action movie, Doug Jones portrayed Abe on screen, but David Hyde-Pierce (Frasier‘s Dr. Niles Crane) provided his voice.Doug Jones will also provide the voice of the Silver Surfer in the sequel to Fantastic Four.

Can you tell I’m looking forward to seeing these movies on Cartoon Network? Well, I am. Almost as much as I’m looking forward to their eventual release on DVD (in February and June of 2007) and the second live-action movie, Hellboy 2: The Golden Army.

Non Sequitur: Going Vertical

I work on the third floor, but — thanks to science’s failure to deliver flying automobiles back in the year 2000 — the MVoD is parked at ground level. Also at or near ground level are the dispensers of beverages, microwaveable foodstuffs and conveniently packaged snacks, ((I originally typed “conveniently packaged snakes,” which would certainly make the vending machines more interesting.)) not to mention a host of offices and conference rooms. Thus, there are a number of reasons for me to move between the first and third floors of the building throughout the day.

There are two elevators in the building, the use of which reduces the number of vertical steps between the third and first floors (and vice versa) from forty-four to zero, likewise reducing the amount of physical exertion necessary to travel between those floors. For this reason alone, I should avoid the elevators at all cost. My job and most of my leisurely pursuits require very little physical activity, so I should get exercise whenever possible, even if it’s just four flights of stairs.

Laziness often wins out over common sense, and I find myself riding the elevator instead of taking the stairs, especially if someone else has already summoned the vertical conveyance to my current floor. Shaky rationale often reinforces laziness in this case, for surely I am saving valuable corporate dollars by decreasing the cost-per-passenger when I join someone else in an elevator that is already bound for my destination.

This week, building maintenance swept in to aid laziness. Painting in the stairwells has produced fumes, turning those enclosures into nausea-inducing gas chambers and making the elevator all the more attractive as a means of traveling along the z-axis. Unless, of course, the previous passengers consisted of two individuals returning from their smoke break and a third carrying his bag of recently-microwaved popcorn; the combination of the two odors is enough to turn the stomach and conjure images of Marlboro Lights drizzled with melted butter.

Perhaps it’s an as-yet-untapped marketing niche: Buttered Popcorn cigarettes could take their place on the shelf next to the ubiquitous menthol and never-expressed-but-always-implied burning dog ass flavors. ((There goes my G-rating for today.)) Tempting as it may be, I’m not going to jump on that potential cash cow. I’ll let Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds fight over it. I’m nothing if not magnanimous.

There’s a lesson in all of this, I suppose. Something as simple as “take the stairs, you lazy bastard,” but disguised in layers of abstract symbolism and metaphor to make it seem deep and philosophical. Time for me to try my hand at proverbs, I guess.

“Even the laziest dog knows the proper time to lift his leg.”

Yeah, that’s it.