Marvelous Mashups: Comic-Con Makeovers for 10 TV Series
Ray Richmond - July 21, 2009
So a couple of weeks ago, I was asked by the fine folks at Showtime if I would do them the honor of moderating a panel event at the forthcoming Comic-Con event in San Diego centering on its dealing-in-suburbia comedy series Weeds. Being a longtime TV critic and therefore lacking anything that might accurately be termed a "life," I immediately said "Yes" before a nagging question quickly took possession of my right hemisphere: what exactly does Weeds have to do with, you know, comic books?
The Showtime publicist who had proffered the invite replied, "Well, if you want to nitpick..."
I didn't, really. It was just a curiosity thing. I mean, you wouldn't invite Spider-Man to a gathering of the National Pest Management Association, would you? So what was Weeds doing at Comic-Con? It remains a valid query as the geek-encrusted comic book world descends this coming week (Thursday thru Sunday) on a show that's turning 40 but has over the past five years or so been hijacked by Hollywood and transformed into yet another showbiz marketing extravaganza.
It's clear from perusing the convention schedule that Weeds is hardly alone in its loose/non-existent connection to comix (or even animation or sci-fi). There are a collection of television shows slated for Comic-Con hour-long tributes this weekend that would seem to lack even the thinnest affiliation to the fanatical culture of superheroes or fantasy or vampires or character-driven fiction.
Call them the "Not-Coms." These TV projects will be on abundant display in San Diego as part of a big fat bubble of curious incompatibility. There is, for instance, the aforementioned Weeds panel on Saturday 7/25 at 8 p.m. (I'm participating in spite of my skepticism) along with several others including: the USA Network seriocomic spy hour Burn Notice and comedy Psych along with the Showtime serial-killer-with-a-heart-of-cold entry Dexter ; the CBS comedy The Big Bang Theory ; the Fox thriller 24; and Fox's subversive glee club hour Glee.
But here's the thing: It wouldn't take all that much to transform several shows that would prove a poor fit with Comic-Con to something downright perfect. We're not talking much. Just a little tweak here, a tuck there.
Take the following 10 examples, which I serve up gratis:
1. "Mad About Seinfeld": Mad magazine meets the Seinfeld gang in a sitcom dominated by the catchphrase, "Hello, Alfred E. Neuman."
2. "Casper, The Friendly Ghost Whisperer": A drama that features a gregarious, anatomically-smoothed ghost with an egg-shaped head who is found to have a knack for communicating with Jennifer Love Hewitt.
3. "How I Met Your Monster": With the liberal use of flashback, this comedy finds a normal man explaining to his freakish half-human, half-swamp creature children how he met and somehow mated in a drunken stupor with the hideous being who bore them.
4. "Breaking Bart": After discovering he has terminal lung cancer, Bart Simpson joins forces with his drug-dealing pal Milhouse Van Houten to make a quick killing selling Crystal Meth to provide for his jaundice-laden family after he's gone.
5. "Jon & Kate Plus Doctor Fate": A series focusing on the daily lives of a couple with eight children who are stunned to learn that their new 'manny' happens to be a fearsome masked sorcerer with mystical child-rearing skills.
6. "Dancing On the Stars": Transport ordinary citizens to floating dance floors on the gravity-free Sirius and Hydor and watch the prime time magic explode in this hoofer series.
7. "Superman Who?": In this wacky comedy, the Man of Steel suffers a knock on the head that leaves him struggling to regain his superhuman abilities and recall why he thought working at a newspaper was a good idea.
8. "Dirty Sexy Minnie": It's the role Minnie Mouse was born to play, depicting her as a New York City lawyer and devoted wife who is forced to turn tricks on the side after her husband (Mickey Mouse) gets laid off.
9. "I'm a Cyborg...Get Me Out of Here!": A group of beings -- comprised of parts both organic and synthetic -- labor to escape jungle settings that prove just beyond their level of metaphysics in this reality show.
10. "According to Spock": The Vulcan tries his hand at suburbia in a comedy about a Chicago father of five who persistently questions the logic of everything while obscuring his ears.
Ray Richmond is a longtime TV Critic and entertainment journalist who blogs at Man Bites Tinseltown. When not writing, he can often be found hustling quarters as a street mime in Spokane, Washington.