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''Who Wants To Be a Superhero?'' (Expanded/Updated)

By RD Heldenfels Published: August 4, 2006

After two telecasts, Sci Fi seems to smell a hit, as this revised schedule for Aug. 10 and 17 indicates:

7PM    Who Wants to Be a Superhero (repeat ep 1)
        8PM    Who Wants to Be a Superhero (repeat ep 2)
        9PM    Who Wants to Be a Superhero (NEW - ep 3)
        10PM    SCARE TACTICS
        10:30P    GHOST HUNTERS

        Thursday, 8/17 the line-up will be:

        7PM    Who Wants to Be a Superhero (repeat ep 2)
        8PM    Who Wants to Be a Superhero (repeat ep 3)
        9PM    Who Wants to Be a Superhero (NEW - ep 4)
        10PM    SCARE TACTICS
        10:30P    GHOST HUNTERS
        11:30P    THEY ARE AMONG US

I've checked out the show. Some notes (better late than never):

Well, what a big ole piece of cheese this is! The contestants are kind of tacky -- even more so in real life than on TV, as I learned when I saw them roaming a press party in Pasadena in July -- and the challenges are cheap. The Stan-on-TV-screens effect is badly done. The ''improved'' costumes looked as underwhelming as the ones the contestants started in; the main benefit of the recostuming was that Lemuria no longer seemed in danger of falling out of her top. And the shift of Iron Enforcer from hero to villain wasn't all that surprising, since he was being presented as basically villainous already.

As TV so bad that it has a few laughs, ''Superhero'' is worth a tune-in or two. (And my 17-year-old has pronounced himself hooked.) But there are points when it goes from silly to creepy -- notably when the attack dogs were loose. Even when I reminded myself that those were trained dogs and conditions should have been fairly safe, there was some stomach churn in the biting and dragging.

I also think it's curious how old-school the show is about what constitutes a superhero. Stan's heroes-don't-kill mantra, for example, is more suitable to the costumed crusaders of the '50s than it is to the morally complicated figures of modern comics and graphic novels.  I'd say Stan doesn't read the comics these days -- but he shouldn't have to. He's one of the major figures in bringing human frailty and angst to comics, after all.

So I've watched the show, and I'll watch it at least once more, but it puts a lot of guilt into its guilty-pleasure status. 

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