Thursday, October 27, 2011

TV Review: Superboy, Episodes 1 & 2

1988 saw the 50th anniversary of the creation of DC Comics' famous character Superman, and (not coincidentally) the first season of "Superboy" the TV series. I recently traded away some used DVDs including Ben Affleck's 'Daredevil' when, during an enjoyable Rifftrax evening with my wife and our friends, I discovered it was not worth re-watching 'Daredevil' as much as I already have.

The upshot of which is: I traded for various possible treasures, including "Superboy" Season 1.

Maybe I'm not sure how to use the term upshot. Then again... all it has to be, to be worth my time, is better than the wretched, long-running, inexplicably popular TV series 'Smallville'.

This it achieved- six seconds into the opening credits. The lead actor is IN costume, FLYING, and by gum: he's SMILING. It's the cocky smile of a guy thinking 'hur, hur, I'm Superboy, and you're not' but you know what? That's what I'd be doing if was him. So there.

It's goofy, it's cheap-ass, and it makes 'Miami Vice' look like fine classic cinema. But I'll tell you what it has: Superboy. This is both good and bad. But nowhere near as bad as "Smallville'.

Alexander Salkind (who previously brought me the 1984 'Supergirl' movie as well as some movies normal people liked) presents this series, with character creation credit (and little else) going to Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. In this incarnation, young Clark Kent is attending the Siegel Journalism School at Shuster College in Shusterville, Florida. His classmates include T.J. White (Daily Planet's Perry White's nephew, duh!) and Lana Lang (Stacey Haiduk, whom I recall fondly from equally implausible adventures on "SeaQuest DSV" Season 1). Haiduk's performance is as far above the 'Smallville' Lana as the star Rao is above doomed planet Krypton. High nerd praise.

Also along for the ride is scheming bully Lex Luthor and his crony Leo. I have never seen Luthor portrayed as a golf-sweatered preppie douche canoe before, but it kind of works for him. (Actually, the actor's terrible so far but he might be the smarmiest Luthor I've ever seen. That should count for something, right?)

Finally, John Haymes Newton as Clark Kent/Superboy. Huh. So, it's possible to look surprisingly LIKE Tom Welling, while still possessing a modicum of talent. Good on you, sir!
Also, Newton and his wife earlier this year provided the voices of Clark Kent and Lois Lane in a minute-long cartoon I just enjoyed on youtube called 'Superman Classic'. Nice!

And that's my review. Nice. Call me crazy, but I like a Nice Superboy, not some perpetual mope. These early episodes were made Super-Cheap, so kidnapping crooks, a poorly-defined cursed jewel, leisurely car chases and a typically energetic '80's dance have to suffice instead of giant robot battles (which, face it, 'Smallville' never gave us either). The music, the dialog, both stories- were pretty darn hokey. It's a poor substitute for Supes in comic or cartoon form, where he shines best in my books. 'Superboy', at least the early episodes, is a warm, brightly coloured cheeselog. But it's got moxie in spades, chums!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

TV Review: Terra Nova

I watched the pilot for 'Terra Nova' and the bottom line is: I have so few new SF choices I'm going to keep watching it. If I start to actively DISLIKE it... well, I'm never going to run out of cartoons and sitcoms, am I?

Chicago 2147 AD, a world on the verge of environmental collapse. Humanity is cut off from the sun and the moon and uh, oxygen. Perhaps oxygen deprivation helps explain some truly bizarre choices in this culture. The Shannons, Jim & Elizabeth, are a cop and a doctor who break the two-child law. Already blessed with demographically appealing Josh (15) and Maddie (13) they have kept Zoe (3) hidden until our story begins with government jackboots. Jim fights the Man and earns 6 years in jail.

Two years later, an exciting action-packed break out from future prison, followed by an action-packed break-in to The Tenth Pilgrimage. You see, Elizabeth and her legal kids were invited, Jim and Zoe were NOT. It's a voyage through a fracture in space-time to Terra Nova: a human colony 85 million years in the past. So, I gotta ask: apart from wanting to show us Jim is bad-ass, WHY?
Why split up families? What kind of colony doesn't want breeders? Why crowd your jails if you can dump your problem citizens down a time hole?

Well, it's a colony with problems, to be sure, and despite the dinosaurs outside the gates, most of them are human. Commander Nathaniel Taylor gives a speech about how greed, war, and ignorance destroyed their home. Now that it's a brand new beginning, he and all the other gun-toting soldiers have a second chance. My hypocrisy sense is tingling.

So, a splinter group with a nebulous agenda from the Sixth Pilgrimage are up to something, and they started their own gun-toting colony with uh... with blackjack... and hookers! Our group call them Sixers. To keep them distinct from Slashers, which are dinosaurs with sort of a certain slash-y quality.

I should mention that 'Primeval' spoiled me on what CGI creatures on a TV budget can look like, and these look a little... well, primitive.

While I'm picking nits, I should point out that if smarty-pants Maddy's dialog is to be believed, then the basis for believing this is a separate timeline from theirs (thus safe to step on butterflies in), is down to the fact that nobody in 2149 has yet found an 85 MILLION YEAR OLD basketball-sized probe. That's a hell of a supposition. Hey, they looked for it almost a month. Things to do, man!

"Control the Past, Control the Future." No shit, Sixer. How about, Save the Cheerleader, Save the World?

I'm a complainer, but I'm watching episode 2. I notice Star Trek veterans Rene Echevarria & Brannon Braga wrote it. Worth it? Sure, why not?