Friday, February 24, 2012
Review: Comic Book Men (TV series)
I wish I had waited longer.
It is a faux reality show set in the Red Bank comic book shop owned by Kevin Smith called "Jay & Silent Bob's Secret Stash". The show switches back and forth between Smith with the shop employees (Walt, Bryan, Ming and Mike, of which Bryan isn't even an employee but just a hanger-on) in a recording studio doing their podcast and either the comic shop or, in episode one, a flea market. And in each case the dialog is highly contrived and uncompelling.
When recording their podcast, there's mugging for the camera and Smith making references to movies. The cast are trying to be funny and it's just....not. And, coming from someone who's pretty unfunny, I know what I'm talking about here. Some of their insights were interesting, such as comments on Jack Kirby's artwork or the acceptability of hypodermic needles on comic book covers. And had the show stuck with more of this sort of discussion then I'd have been happier.
But that's not what they did. And that's pretty bad.
But what's more bad is the fake situations in the comic shop. The shop never has customers in it. Instead it's just a string of people walking in who are trying to sell some sort of collectible that's meant to appeal to the viewer. A Six Million Dollar Man action figure, an original movie poster for 1979's "Dawn Of The Dead" or an original signed piece of artwork by Bob Kane. But it's very clear that in each case the situation is completely fake.
And it's that phoniness that turned me off.
I don't want to watch fake, and poorly acted, scenes that try to make these four guys seem somehow witty, hip and ironic. I'm not sure who their target audience is, but as a comic book nerd who actually does spend every Thursday afternoon standing in a real comic shop talking comic book talk, I can say that I'm not interested at all. I don't like the type of series they're trying to emulate in the first place, so I don't know why anybody would try to adapt a bad format to something so specific that it would only appeal to a subset of a subset or a target audience.
What I wanted was a television show that was more like the conversations I have with Rob, Casey, Kasey, Steve, Ethan, Daniel, Rick and the others at my comic shop, Foundation's Edge. But with people who make US feel like the cool kids. I wanted to see in depth discussions of story arches, the changes of characters over the years, insights on the New 52 or the upcoming Avengers Vs. X-Men story arch. Something. ANYTHING like that.
But this pilot episode at least was a total disappointment. So bad that when my DVR failed to capture the last few minutes I wasn't disappointed at all. I was actually relieved that it was finally done.
And, for me, I don't know that I'm going to add to my displeasure by watching the second episode. But I will just to see if all the things I disliked about the episode were the result of a bad pilot. But I'm not holding out much hope. And if it doesn't dazzle, I won't be back for the third.