Making the Grade: Real-Life Superhero TV


Oh, come on, you do so remember this gem from the ’70s. You’re just trying to forget it along with all the other painful memo ries from that era: ABBA, lime-green lampshades, getting your bell bottoms caught in revolving doors, etc. Peter Parker (super-powers courtesy a radioactive spider, haircut courtesy Parker Stevenson) wears a costume and fights criminals, just like in the comics. But don’t expect Dr. Octopus, Electro, or any of Spidey’s usual classic baddies to show up. No sir, who needs those losers when we’ve got… Gangsters! Extortionists! Criminal masterminds! And other evil types we can outfit on a $2.95 fashion budget! Yawn. C-

The Incredible Hulk
“Don’t make me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.” Yeah, I used that line, too, but somehow my school’s resident ass-kicker never believed me when I
used it. Just like the comics, this TV show features a wimpy scientist who turns into a mean green fighting machine whenever he gets mad, so he wanders the country searching for a cure and helping others along the way, just like The Littlest Hobo. Weird fact #1: Urban legend has it they changed Banner’s first name from “Bruce” to “David” because the show’s producers wanted a more masculine name (alleged pansies Springsteen and Willis weren’t available for comment). Weird Fact #2: Comic-book Hulk gets chased around the country by the entire U.S. Army, but TV Hulk gets only one reporter on his tail, a guy who’s desperate to prove the Hulk exists. Yeah, ’cause it’s real hard to prove the existence of a SEVEN-FOOT-TALL GREEN BODYBUILDER WITH THE MIND OF A TWO-YEAR-OLD, especially one in the habit of leaving holes in buildings, saving nuns from burning cars, running for state senator, etc. B-

Wonder Woman

Let’s see. Wears high-heeled go-go boots and a bustier… uses a magic lasso to make naughty men tell the truth… and comes from a tribe of Amazonian women who all live on an island where no man has ever set foot. As shocking it may sound, Wonder Woman was in fact created by a male psychologist. Think Niles Crane outlining his fantasy weekend with Daphne. Anyway, the nice TV-show touch I always admired was Wondy’s ability to change from her everyday workclothes to her superhero outfit just by spinning around in one spot. Show me a husband whose secret fantasy isn’t a woman who can change her business outfit into a shiny bustier and boots in less than five seconds, and I’ll eat my golden lasso. B+

Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman

Ah, yes, I said as I slapped my forehead in amazement. Just what the Superman comic books, movies, TV shows, Broadway musicals, cartoons, novels, board games, Underoos and jars of peanut butter were missing all these years: frog-eating clones. I’m not kidding. One of the actual plotlines from this series involved an evil scientist with a mad-on for Lois Lane who kidnapped her and replaced her with a clone whose only telling feature was that she craved frogs for food. THIS ACTUALLY HAPPENED, DAMMIT. The “will-they-or-won’t-they” striptease and Dean Cain taking his shirt off once every episode I could handle, but I draw the line at abusing amphibians, even in the name of making Teri Hatcher reconsider her career choices. D

You know, I could come up with million reasons why this show was a blight on
the land: the Batusi… “Holy Overused Catchphrase, Batman!”… Chief O’Hara’s “Faith and Begorrah” accent setting Irish rights back 200 years… a Batman who looks like he’s bulking up for an undercover assignment as an opera tenor… but I can’t do it. It’s like poking fun at the World Wrestling Federation — you know it’s fake, they know it’s fake, and they know you know it’s fake. So why not enjoy it for what it is? The Day-Glo colors make it an acid-head’s dream come true, the death-defying traps were always a hoot (“Robin! I need the Bat-Anti-Shark-Repellent!”), and the guest-star villains were clearly having a blast. Plus, where else are you going to see “ZORF!” and “OOOF!” as part of your regularly scheduled programming? B+

The Flash

When you consider how this show was on the CBS schedule opposite NBC’s The Cosby Show for just one season in the early 1990s, it’s no surprise if you haven’t seen it. Too bad. I never thought the Flash was one of your more telegenic heroes, what with his often-faster-than-the-eye-can-follow shtick and all, but this was actually one of the cooler real-life shows. I really liked it. In fact, I liked it so much my girlfriend at the time called me “the fastest man alive” because of my deep appreciation of the show. At least, I’m pretty sure that’s what she meant. B


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