• Kraken: Tentacles of the Deep (2006)


    Kraken: Tentacles of the DeepKraken: Tentacles of the Deep (2006)

    Starring Jack Scalia, Victoria Pratt and Charlie O’Connell

    Written by Nicholas Garland, Sean Keller and Brian D. Young

    Directed by Tibor Takács

    Thanks to the wonders of TiVo, I was able to sit down and watch Kraken: Tentacles of the Deep Saturday afternoon. The movie, which stars Jack Scalia, Charlie O’Connell (Sliders) and Victoria Pratt (Mutant X), was originally titled Deadly Water until The SciFi Channel held a contest to rename it. 1Despite the title, the featured creature is never referred to as a “kraken” by any of the characters.

    Archaeologist Nicole (Victoria Pratt) is not Indiana Jones, but she’d like to be. 2At one point, Nicole declares that an artifact “belongs in a museum.” She’s traveled to Desolation Passage in search of an ancient bronze mask she hopes will lead her to a legendary opal. She is dogged in her quest by Maxwell Odemus (Scalia), who plans to secure the opal in order to regain favor with his family back in Greece.

    Dashing marine photographer and all-around nice guy Ray (O’Connell) offers to help Nicole after the skipper of her boat is killed by a giant squid. Unbeknownst to Nicole and her crew, Ray has his own agenda: his parents were killed by a giant squid in Desolation Passage over a decade ago, and Ray’s got a taste for calamari with a side of revenge.

    As SciFi originals go, Kraken: Tentacles of the Deep is pretty mediocre. Apart from the obvious Indiana Jones ripoff (sorry, homage) and the low-grade computer-generated sea critter that changes size from scene to scene, the story is just generally weak. For instance, Nicole maintains that the squid may be the embodiment of Scylla, a figure from Greek mythology. Scylla was a beautiful nymph transformed into a hideous sea creature by the sorceress, Circe. Nicole adds the element of the opal to the myth, claiming that anyone who possessed the giant gem was ultimately slain at sea by a giant squid. This explains why the squid attacks Nicole and her crew when they’re exploring the sunken Chinese freighter (which was also attacked by a giant squid) that contains both the mask and the opal, and it certainly makes sense that the squid would attack Odemus’ men when they attempt to recover the opal after blowing up Nicole’s boat.

    Even the hapless teenagers who are attacked halfway through the movie have managed to earn the squid’s ire: they inadvertently stumble on the remains of Nicole’s nosy underwater camera, the very thing that awakened the cantankerous cephalopod in the first place.

    But why attack Ray’s parents at the beginning of the movie? They didn’t possess the opal, nor were they attempting to find it or even in danger of accidentally stumbling upon it. It’s just a random attack on some innocent people who are trying to enjoy their vacation. Of course, it gives Ray a reason to want the squid dead, but it’s one of those annoying inconsistencies that turns a passable story into a bad one.

    In the end, the bad guys are all killed, a couple of the good guys manage to escape, and the opal sinks back to the bottom of the passage, where a host of tiny squid swim around it in preparation for Kraken 2: Deeper, Tentacles, Deeper!. 3SciFi Channel’s first original hentai movie.

    1 Despite the title, the featured creature is never referred to as a “kraken” by any of the characters.
    2 At one point, Nicole declares that an artifact “belongs in a museum.”
    3 SciFi Channel’s first original hentai movie.
  • SciFi: Who Wants to Be a Superhero? (Season Finale)


    All good things must come to an end, as must all things that started out good but then turned bad after an attempt to use lizard DNA to regrow an arm. Who Wants to Be a Superhero? falls somewhere in the middle of that particular spectrum, and it, too, has come to an end.

    The episode began with Stan Lee sending the two remaining contestants to “Stunt School”, where they bounced on a trampoline, kicked a fella in the stones, and “flew” in front of a green screen. You’d have sworn it was Feedback’s birthday and he’d just gotten the best present imaginable, as I don’t think the grin left his face once during stunt school. Fat Momma wasn’t quite so enthusiastic; not only didn’t she have a permanent grin affixed to her face, but she didn’t do backflips on the trampoline and opted not to be flung through the air in front of a green screen, either.

    Later, each of the heroes had a little face time with Stan Lee. When speaking to Stan Lee, Feedback’s super power is sniffling and hero worship. He once again reiterated that Stan was his hero, while Fat Momma got all misty when talking about her own personal hero, her father.

    The final elimination took place on Universal CityWalk before throngs of fans. Fat Momma and Feedback were both featured in their own video montage, where they fought Dark Enforcer and leftover footage from SciFi Original movies. Finally, Stan Lee eliminated Fat Momma, which should have surprised exactly no one but seemed to catch Feedback off guard.

    As is standard practice for reality shows, all of the contestants eliminated in prior episodes returned to congratulate Feedback. Then, for the first time in the series, Stan Lee appeared in person to offer his congratulations as well.

    The first episode Who Wants to Be a Superhero? impressed the hell out of me, but by episode four the show had become everything I dreaded it would be from the beginning. By the final episode, there was nothing surprising, innovative, or even amusing about it. Feedback’s victory was pretty much a given, and everything about the finale leading up to the elimination of Fat Momma was just filler.

    Now that the show is over, Feedback can take his wife to Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida. He will also be featured in his own comic book developed by Stan Lee and published by Dark Horse Comics. Finally, his character will be featured in a SciFi Original movie on a Saturday night in the future.

    The Feedback movie will not be the first time that Stan Lee has collaborated with The SciFi Channel. If their previous movie collaboration (Lightspeed) is any indication of what we can expect, Feedback may want to turn in his own costume before Lee and SciFi destroy the character he created.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • SciFi: Who Wants to Be a Superhero? (Episode 3)


    This week, the heroes were introduced to their new nemesis, Dark Enforcer ( Iron Enforcer), who showed up full of malevolent bluster but then disappeared again. The Iron Enforcer’s ridiculously huge gun would have made mincemeat of the heroes, but it was nowhere to be seen. This is why super-villains so often fail to defeat their do-gooder rivals: lack of planning and wasted opportunities.

    Meeting your arch-rival is hungry work, so Stan Lee gave each of the heroes twenty bucks and sent them out — in full costume — to get lunch from a nearby takeout place. The food they each brought back, Lee said, would tell a lot about them. When all the heroes had returned, Dark Enforcer unveiled his insidious trap: the turncoat had hidden cameras throughout the restaurant and bribed the waitstaff to ask the heroes some very revealing questions.

    The true test: can you keep your secret identity a secret? Only Feedback and Fat Momma wouldn’t reveal their alter egos to the waitstaff. Major Victory, who had passed all previous tests, gave up his real name without a second thought, Ty’veculus actually showed the waitress his driver’s license, and Creature gave her real name but not her superhero name.

    Ultimately, Monkey Woman was eliminated; she offered up her real name before the waiter had a chance to ask, then wrote down the addresses of several web sites he could visit to apply for spots in reality television shows. The final straw: Monkey Woman’s alter ego is apparently not a real estate agent, as her application claimed, but an actress. After such a strong performance against the dogs last week, it was a shame to see Monkey Woman eliminated.

    The second challenge of the week was a rooftop rescue. The heroes had to cross a beam connecting one rooftop to another in order to rescue a woman from a fire. Once again, Dark Enforcer showed up to complicate matters. He forced each of the heroes to wear a blindfold during their daring rescue attempt, concealing the fact that the beam they were crossing was not suspended over an alley, as they thought, but only inches above a mat laid out on the roof.

    Despite the blindfolds and (in some cases) a fear of heights, each of the heroes succesfully crossed the beam and then led the frightened young lady (actually the twin sister of the woman on the other rooftop) to safety. Because no one failed the challenge, Stan decided to give the heroes a taste of what it feels like to pass judgment; each was asked to pick the hero they felt ought to leave the show and explain why.

    Creature went first, and fell on her sword. Major Victory followed suit, declaring that he should be asked to leave. Ty’veculus selected Lemuria, claiming that by completing the rooftop challenge she proved she doesn’t know when to quit. Lemuria was next, and she also chose herself. Feedback admitted that he might be holding the other heroes back and should probably be eliminated. Finally, Fat Momma suggested that Feedback was taking things far too seriously, beating himself up after each challenge, and ought to be asked to leave for his own good.

    Some of the heroes learned their lesson from the takeout challenge: nothing is as it seems. Stan Lee revealed that the exercise was a test of self-sacrifice, and that Ty’veculus and Fat Momma had failed. Fat Momma was somewhat redeemed by the fact that she appeared to be concerned for Feedback’s safety when she chose him for elimination, but Stan suggested that Ty’veculus’ reasons for selecting Lemuria were not as noble. Next time you point a finger, Ty’veculus, remember that there are three fingers pointing right back at you.

    With Monkey Woman and Ty’veculus out of the picture, only five heroes remain: Creature, Fat Momma, Feedback, Lemuria and Major Victory. The third episode cranked up the drama big time. During the self-sacrifice test, several of the heroes opened the waterworks and praised their fellow contestants while throwing themselves to the lions, when Ty’veculus was eliminated the remaining heroes gathered around him for an emotional farewell, and at multiple points during the episode, Fat Momma and Lemuria verbally sparred. Without Iron Enforcer in the ranks as a quick, easy target, some tensions are starting to build where there didn’t seem to be any before.

    This was easily the weakest of the episodes thus far. Major Victory had a few amusing quips (after his performance in the takeout test, he suggested that he was a weiner, not a winner, and his name ought to be changed to Major Dumbass), but the opportunities for his cheesy brand of heroism were a little scarce this time around. Plus, the introduction of Dark Enforcer seems to have done little more than make the heroes bicker among themselves; he needs to kick his villainy up a notch if he wants to be interesting and represent a real challenge. I suggest sharks with frickin’ LASER beams attached to their heads.

  • 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.

  • SciFi: Who Wants to Be a Superhero? (Episode 1)


    Somewhere in my parents’ house in Upper Michigan is a copy of How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way by Stan Lee and John Buscema. The book taunted me from the shelves of the local bookseller for months before I shelled out the sixteen-dollar purchase price and took it home, fully intending to master the artistic secrets contained within.

    Yeah, maybe the next time I’m in the U.P. I’ll grab the book so I can get to work on that.

    In the twenty years since I bought How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way I’ve created — but not drawn — quite a few superheroes. In addition to not drawing the superheroes I create, I make a special point not to dress up in their costumes. This, along with a fairly firm grip on reality, is probably what separates me from the contestants on SciFi’s new reality series, Who Wants to Be a Superhero?Plus, I missed the audition deadline.

    The series premiere introduced the twelve heroic hopefuls who, over the course of six weeks, will compete for their own Dark Horse comic book and SciFi Original Movie. In the first half hour, Stan Lee summoned the heroes to their secret lair, revealed a traitor in their midst, and booted one of the contestants, all before the competition even began.

    The first challenge: find a discrete place to change out of your street clothes and into your costume, then run to the finish line. Monkey Woman, true to her character, climbed a tree for her costume change, while the gladiator-like Tyveculus hid behind a Porta Potty and Creature climbed into a trash can. Even in his street clothes, The Iron Enforcer is the antithesis of discretion, mostly because he’s toting around a huge freaking gun. All of the heroes eventually crossed the finish line, but only four stopped just a few yards from their goal to help the crying little girl who had lost her mother.

    The true challenge, of course, was not reaching the finish line quickly, but being heroic by putting aside one’s own ambitions in favor of helping someone in need. Some of the contestants were in such a hurry that they didn’t even glance at the girl (whose pleas were far from quiet); others looked right at her and ran by, not even bothering to return once they had achieved their “goal”. Of the four who stopped to help the little girl, only one — Major Victory — was male.

    Right off the bat, Major Victory stands out as having a bombastic, no-holds-barred attitude when it comes to acting the hero. Laura and I both laughed out loud as he leapt onto the scene, all exaggerated movements and cheesy persona. Victory is a cross between Austin Powers and The Greatest American Hero, and it works for him.Laura thinks his costume is a little too reminiscent of The Incredibles, where I felt it could have benefitted from a cape. Ridiculous? Yes. Fun to watch? Absolutely.

    Another early standout is Lemuria, who is unique among the contestants in that she was apparently not chosen by Stan Lee, but rather voted onto the show by visitors to She may also have been voted “Most Likely to Fall Out of Her Costume,” which goes a long way to explaining the motivation of the average SciFi fan.

    The elimination ceremony at the end of the episode involves the heroes lining up in front of a billboard-sized video screen from whence Stan “The Man” Lee reveals which three contestants are on the chopping block. Each potential eliminee is required to convince the legendary superhero creator why he should allow them to remain in the secret lair, and ultimately one is asked to turn in his or her costume.

    Stan Lee actually fills the role of mentor, taskmaster and judge quite well. An actor he isn’t, but he’s got a good personality for the role and he delivers his messages to the contestants — always via flatscreen television — with a charming-yet-earnest air. Anywhere else Lee’s persona might be jarring, but in the context of Who Wants to Be a Superhero? it fits perfectly, if only because… well, he’s Stan Lee.

    I’m actually surprised with SciFi recently. Twice in the span of a week they’ve premiered new shows that have proven to be very watchable; Who Wants to be a Superhero? is the second.Eureka is the first; more on that later. As much as the concept piqued my curiosity and made me cringe all at the same time, the first episode was a lot of fun.

  • SciFi Preview: Who Wants to Be a Superhero?


    This Thursday, the new “reality” series Who Wants to Be a Superhero? will premiere on SciFi, the channel that brought you Battlestar Galactica and Mansquito. Eleven superheroes will compete with one another for the grandest of prizes: a comic book developed with Stan Lee and a SciFi Channel movie.

    With the exception of the second season of The Mole and accidental exposure to an all-day marathon of The Amazing RaceI was not granted super powers. on Bravo last year, I generally avoid reality television, but Stan Lee and SciFi know just how to push my buttons; I’ve already got the Season Pass for Who Wants to Be a Superhero? set up in the TiVo and my expectations set very, very low.

    More on this soon, I expect.