Hatcher’s Junk Drawer #9: Just Stuff

Sometimes there just isn’t a column’s worth of things to say about anything. Sometimes there’s just a paragraph or two. So here are several of those, hooked together to make a column.

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Actors That Got Robbed. The internet is aflutter this week with the news that Henry Cavill is out as Superman.

I don’t really have a horse in the race except to point out that it strikes me as a little unfair, since Mr. Cavill didn’t really get to PLAY Superman in the first place.

Seriously. The guy running around in the current crop of DC movies isn’t the character anyone recognizes as the guy in the comics. He’s regarded by humanity as suspicious and scary. That right there is a deal-breaker, or it ought to be. Moreover, he has fewer lines in his own solo movie than anyone else, it feels like, and Superman is not taciturn and surly any more than he should be suspicious and scary. And so on. Anyone who feels like making a list where Warner’s blew it with their DC movies could. (And many already have.) But this is not that.

No, my gripe is that you can tell that Cavill could have been a brilliant Superman if he’d been given the material. In a scene like, say, this one…

I think Cavill is good enough to make that work. He could have sold it. But you won’t see a scene like that in a DC movie anytime soon. Too uncool. Too “corny.”

Instead, Cavill joins a long list of actors being punished because they were betrayed by their scripts. Like Jason Momoa, a wonderful Conan in a crappy Conan movie.

Or James Brolin, who demonstrated that he could have knocked it out of the park as Jonah Hex if he’d been in, you know, an actual Hex movie.

But the most heartbreaking one for me is still Gene Hackman who got to be Lex Luthor in THREE movies and still was never Lex Luthor, not really.

Yeah, yeah, I know, everyone loved the first Superman movie, Reeve was wonderful, the Daily Planet scenes were perfect, etc. I don’t care. That guy Hackman is playing is not Luthor. This is Luthor.

I don’t care which version it is. Golden Age, Silver Age, modern, whatever, the one thing about Lex Luthor is the engine that drives him is that he hates Superman. HATES HIM.

You miss that and you don’t have Luthor. And I maintain that the Luthor Gene Hackman was playing is not that guy. Hackman’s Luthor sees Superman as an annoying obstacle, but he doesn’t hate him. Not like Clancy Brown’s did in the cartoon, or John Shea’s did in Lois and Clark. Say what you will about that show, they nailed that aspect of Luthor.

Imagine what Gene Hackman could have done with that, given a chance. Or middle-aged Hackman beating the shit out of handsome Christopher Reeve on a red-sun planet. Or Gene Hackman laughing his ass off, gloating at a Superman helpless to prosecute him because there’s no proof. Or, hell, Gene Hackman doing any script from the Dini-Timm animated series. I’m telling you, as beloved as the Reeve Superman is, Gene Hackman was robbed.

I could go on. But now I’m depressed.

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On the Radio. We’ve been so busy here the last few weeks, I forgot to mention that I was recently on Radio Vs. the Martians a couple of times.

The first was a discussion of Highlander, the franchise, which left me as something of an outlier; I don’t really care for the original movie that much, let alone its various sequels and spin-offs. Still not sure why the guys asked me to be on that one, except I know they like it better when not everyone on the panel agrees on something.

Even so, I enjoyed the discussion a lot, though I don’t think David Gutierrez is ever going to forgive me.

The second one was the “Fun Size” episode Mike put together from our various ancillary discussions… mostly just Casey and I finishing the argument we started at the “Captain Picard Day” party the previous December about Star Trek: Discovery.

I doubt anyone’s mind got changed in the course of that conversation either, but it was still fun. Check ’em both out.

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Timeless Plea Pays Off! and other TV stuff. Well, kind of. Though Timeless wasn’t officially renewed, there’s going to be a special two-part finale wrapping everything up.

Unfortunately, it’s not going to be included in the Season 2 DVD set, because that just went on sale.

We are in for that set, of course. I just hope the finale gets a DVD release of some kind as well.

I’m okay with this outcome. I think, on the whole, I approve of TV shows that get to END. I much prefer a finite well-designed arc to the endless episodic model; sooner or later, with the latter, you reach a point of diminishing returns.

The only downside is when the show has a cliffhanger but doesn’t actually get to end. There are a few examples out there but the one that is on my mind at the moment is Take Two.

Julie and I accidentally stumbled across this fluffball of a detective show a couple of weeks ago and thought it was cute fun, although after about ten minutes I said, “Oh, for crying out loud, this is just Castle with the genders reversed. It’s good, sure, but it’s all stolen.”

But then I saw the credits. It was written by Andrew Marlowe and Terri Edda Miller, the creators of Castle. At that point I just had to shake my head and laugh. Is it really plagiarizing when it’s your own show you are lifting everything from?

But here’s the thing. We just finished watching all thirteen episodes and we realized that it’s not a retread of Castle, but rather, it’s the second draft of Castle.

The flaws in the original have been addressed and fixed here: The setup is funnier (a hot-mess actress fresh out of rehab is inherently funnier than an arrested-adolescent best-selling author) and the cast overall is better. The private-eye premise is more flexible than a homicide-detective premise. The reason the two leads end up together, and the romantic tension between them, is MUCH more plausible. And so on.

The bottom line is, at least so far, we like it better than we did Castle, and we liked Castle quite a bit. (At least until it went to hell somewhere in the fifth season; see my earlier remarks about diminishing returns.)

The trouble is, I don’t think Take Two is doing that well in the ratings and the season ended on a real nail-biter of a cliffhanger. So we get news of one finale resolving everything and in the same week we are denied another. Such is the life of a genre fan, I guess. We don’t feel nearly as strongly about Take Two as we did Timeless, but we do have our fingers crossed for it to succeed, at least long enough to finish what they started.

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And there you go. Back next week with something– or maybe another set of smaller somethings– cool.

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7 Comments

  1. tomfitz1

    I agree with you that some tv shows that are cancelled should have proper send-offs.

    Shows like FLASHFORWARD, CRIMINAL MINDS: SUSPECT BEHAVIOR, DARK MATTER, TWIN PEAKS could have used a send-off to tie-up loose ends/cliffhangers.

    Although, TWIN PEAKS got a third season 27 years later doesn’t really count as much as the third season didn’t tie up all the loose ends of the first 2 season. Still, it was fun to watch and frustrating at the same time.

  2. Edo Bosnar

    Going on a bit of a tangent, sorry – but I have to say on the Reeve Superman movies (the first two, I really don’t even count the other two as existing) were seriously flawed in more ways that one – to the point where I often wonder why they still get so highly-ranked on lists of the best superhero movies of all time (being better than the current crop of DC movies is a pretty low bar to clear).
    Besides the Luthor-as-comic-relief aspect you mentioned, there’s the cop-out changing history resolution in the first one, and then the contrived plot-point about Superman having to give up his powers if he wants lovin’ in the sequel (and don’t get me started on the cruel way he roofies Lois in the end). Sorry, man, had to get that off my chest…

  3. Edo Bosnar

    Otherwise, though, everybody should give those two episodes of Radio v. the Martians a listen – and all episodes for that matter.

    Take Two sounds like it’s fun – I like light-hearted detective shows like that, but if it does continue I hope the show’s creators have an end in mind and cut it off before it can go off the rails. You mentioned Castle, but I’d also add the forerunner to most of these types of shows, Moonlighting – that was a show/concept that had maybe two seasons worth of stories in it, and they stretched it out to five.

  4. I’m not as big a fan of Timeless as you or others on this blog, but I am glad it’ll get wrapped up. My favorite example of a show left hanging was Reunion, which opens with a murder at the characters 25th high-school (college?) reunion; after that each episode goes one year forward. After cancellation the show-runner said he couldn’t possibly have squeezed in a last-ditch ending because the killer hadn’t even been introduced yet.
    Big agreement on Hatcher and Luthor (though like Edo, I’m not the franchise’ biggest fan). One of my favorite “corny” moments was in All-Star Superman where Superman tries to convince Luthor to spend his last week of life using his genius for good.

  5. Louis Bright-Raven

    I’ve never liked any live-action portrayal of Lex Luthor other than Michael Rosenbaum’s on SMALLVILLE, so there you go, Greg.

    Yep, you nailed exactly why I don’t like TAKE TWO. It’s CASTLE (which I long ago got bored with, and I rather loathe redundant product), starring two co-leads whom I cannot stand as performers (honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever watched anything with either Eddie Cibrian or Rachel Bilson that I actually liked, so there’s that, too). So with that double whammy I guess it makes sense that I would not have any interest.

    Speaking of CASTLE, am I the only one rolling my eyes at Nathan Fillion’s upcoming ABC gig, THE ROOKIE? “Yes, I just finished playing a best selling author who basically wants to be a cop, and so now I’m just gonna be a rookie cop at age 40 (even though I’m 47 in real life).” Seriously, ABC- you couldn’t find a better vehicle for him to satisfy your contractual obligations?

    As for TIMELESS… let’s face facts, Greg – NBC just sucks with marketing their SF shows. At least TIMELESS will get a conclusion. Personally I wasn’t into the show at all, but seeing as how everything I like gets canceled without a conclusion it seems (comics, TV series, you name it), I feel your pain and am glad that you at least get a conclusion.

    Now just you wait, NBC likely won’t renew REVERIE after the first season concluded (which is the only NBC show I currently watch and the only non-sports show on NBC I’ve watched since CONSTANTINE in 2014-15), because it had only *half* of TIMELESS’ ratings. Ugh. My guess is the show wasn’t “white” enough for America or something. (Honestly, the lead Sarah Shahi is of Iranian & Spanish descent and considers herself Iranian-American, and the other main cast members are either black (Dennis Haysbert), Asian-American (Jessica Lu), or India-American (Sendhil Ramamurthy), and of course the only white cast members play the evil ex-company partner and the governmental representative who works with the company and ‘cannot be trusted’, so in Trumperica, that’s probably considered too offensive / triggering or some other nonsensical crap.)

  6. jccalhoun

    While I agree that Luthor should hate Superman and I hated Hackman’s depiction, the one thing I also hated was Luthor physically fighting Superman – especially in his powersuit.

    While I didn’t like everything that came along with Byrne’s reboot of Superman, the one thing I really did like was Luther as respectable businessman. In my opinion, the fact that Superman can’t convince the authorities that Luther is a criminal works much better than Luther publicly breaking the law.

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