Secret Origin of the Super Friends

Producer: --thing on? Hello, testing. Testing. It looks like it's working. I see things spinning here. Anyway. Ah hem. Well, I just wanted to thank you guys for your work on that special, Scooby Doo meets Star Trek.

Writer1: Thanks.
Wrtier2: Yeah, that was fun to write.

Producer: I liked how, whenever the bad guy said, "Hey you, with the pointed ears!" both Spock AND Scooby Doo would look. That just never got old.

Writer1: I wrote that!
Writer2: I wrote the "Hey You" part.
Writer1: That's right, you did.

Producer: That was classic. Anyway. Ah hem. I've got a new assignment for you guys.

Writer1: Cool. Who does Scooby Doo meet this time?
Writer2: I think Steve Jobs would be a great idea. It's my idea.
Writer1: And Bill Gates! They could solve a mystery.
Writer2: Or they could both own a bakery.
Writer2: See, Shaggy and Scooby Doo like to eat. And a bakery has food.

Producer: Oh! I get it now. Well, uh, anyway, this new project...isn't Scooby Doo. It's...the Justice League of America.

Writer1: Oh my God, really?
Writer2: Superman, Batman, all those guys?

Producer: Yep!

Writer1: Oh wow, I love those comics!
Writer2: Me too, I'm gonna write the best scripts ever!

Producer: Also...the Legion of Doom!

Writer1: Who's that?
Writer2: Isn't that Marvel comics?

Producer: No, you're thinking of Doctor Doom.

Writer2: Oh yeah.

Producer: No, the Legion of Doom is some of the big DC villains. Lex Luthor, Brainiac, Gorilla Grodd, Solomon Grundy, Toyman, and so on.

Writer1: The Joker?

Producer: No, we couldn't get The Joker. Not sure why. We have the Riddler, though. And Scarecrow.

Writer2: Toyman is not a great villain.

Producer: Yeah, but the thing is, we've got a whole bunch of them, and they're always plotting to take over the world, and the Justice League has to stop them.

Writer1: This is just so awesome. I'm gonna write a scene where Aquaman punches Gorilla Grodd in the face!
Writer2: And I'm gonna write a scene where Lex Luthor punches Toyman in the face!

Producer: But they're on the same side.

Writer2: Well, I'll write a scene where Luthor says, "Sorry."

Producer: Great ideas, guys, but we can't do any of that.

Writer1: Do any of what?

Producer: We can't have any violence at all.


[Writer1 and Writer2 burst into laughter.]

Writer1: Oh, that was hilarious!
Writer2: Man, you really had me going!

Producer: I'm serious. See this? This is my serious face.

Writer1: So, we have super heroes, and super villains, vying with each other--
Writer2: --but they're not allowed to fight? How does that work?
Writer1: Yeah, where do you get any conflict?
Writer2: The two groups are against each other, right?
Writer1: What do they do, compete in bake sales?
Writer2: No, they vie in bake sales.
Writer1: Good word choice.
Writer2: You wrote it.

Producer: The Legion has to scheme things, and the League thwarts those schemes. Oh, and they can shoot rays at each other, or dispatch robots and stuff.

Writer1: Solomon Grundy can't scheme!
Writer2: Okay, so I'm gonna write a scene where Brainiac shoots a ray at Hawkman, and burns--

Producer: No, no, no, no, no! You can't have burning. The ray can immobilize them, or make them dizzy, or sleepy, or maybe--if you're careful--knock them flying a bit. They have to regain control right away, though. You should know this from all those Scooby Doo shows you guys won Emmies for--these shows are for kids, and it's irresponsible to show people using violence to solve their problems, to kids. Unless it's against robots or rock monsters.

Writer1: Then what's the point? Why not use Scooby Doo again?

Producer: Well, we just paid a lot to license these characters--

Writer2: Yeah, these characters, super-heroes from comic books! Have you read them?

Producer: No, but the name recognition among the target audience--

Writer1: --an audience who're going to kill us if there aren't any fights!
Writer2: When we read comics as kids, we loved all the violence!
Writer1: Even when we were kids, we knew it was all pretend. And we were just average kids.

Producer: Yes. But then you became adults. Adults with a job, and a measure of power. And with power comes responsibility. Wait a minute, let me write that down.

Writer2: Man, this...is depressing.

Producer: There's always Scooby Doo again. You're both good at that. I hear they're planning another Gilligan cartoon, Gilligan's Empire.

Writer1: No, no. We'll do it.
Writer2: Without fighting. We'll try. Justice League...it's still cool.

Producer: Oh. I forgot about that. That's not the title.

Writer1: I'm afraid to ask.
Writer2: I'm even more afraid than he is.

Producer: Well, we're hoping to sell this overseas, where "justice" isn't that popular a concept. Also, we want to foster self-esteem and good fellowship. So the actual title is "The Super Friends."

Writer1: What are they, Quakers?
Writer2: Man. That's not even a challenge.

Producer: Say, that's a good idea. "Challenge...of the Super Friends." What's that noise? Oh, I think it's time to change the ta--[screeeeee click]

[Whirr click]

Voice: Okay, I've put in a new tape. See you guys later.

Writer1: Thanks, Ramirez.
Writer2: Yeah, you're good people. Person.
Writer1: A people-person.
Writer2: Personally. Personality. Where were we?
Writer1: Did you drink all the beers?
Writer2: I didn't drink any of the ones you drank.
Writer1: Who drank those?!
Writer2: I don't remember. Some guy who looked like you, only shorter.
Writer1: That's a good line. Let's write that one down. Luthor could say it.
Writer2: Okay, what have we got?
Writer1: "Act one. Scene One. Luthor: Some shorter guy drank those beers."
Writer2: Golden. Just golden. What else?
Writer1: "Property Hanna-Barbara."
Writer2: Is that still Luthor talking?
Writer1: Doesn't say. I think you wrote that one.
Writer2: I bet I did.

Producer: Hey guys, how's everything go--oh my God! You guys are drunk!

Writer1: I'm not as drunk as he is.
Writer2: And he's twice as drunk as me.

Producer: This is terrible! I've got to get story outlines to the animators in less than an hour! [Pause] You guys better come up with something, or it's Gilligan's Empire for you. Understand?

Writer1: Sure we understand. We're writers.
Writer2: We write things so others don't have to.


Writer1: Did he seem angry?
Writer2: I wasn't paying attention.
Writer1: Well, let's work some more.
Writer2: Why not? We've still got some beer. Beer works.
Writer1: Okay. Here we go. Aquaman...in space.
Writer2: No, Hawkman. He has wings.
Writer1: Okay. Hawkman, Black Vulcan, and Wonder Woman, in space.
Writer2: But only Wonder Woman has a helmet.
Writer1: Yeah. That works.
Writer2: So, they're in space, um, fixing...
Writer1: A satellite. In space.
Writer2: Yeah. Because NASA forgot to call the repair people.
Writer1: And the warrantee expired.
Writer2: Brilliant!
Writer1: Okay, they're in space, and Brainiac...hides the earth from them, so they can't get back.
Writer2: How'd he do that?
Writer1: How should I know? You're the writer.
Writer2: Oh yeah. I forgot.
Writer1: He has...


Writer2: ...a cloaking device, but it's only the size of a hairdryer.
Writer1: Why would Brainiac have a hairdryer?
Writer2: He wouldn't. That's the whole point.
Writer1: Man. You sure earned that Emmy.
Writer2: No, you did. Anyway, your turn.
Writer1: Okay. So. Toyman disguises his voice--
Writer2: --man I hate Toyman--
Writer1: --disguises his voice like Superman, and tells the...three of them in space, that Earth has been moved a million--
Writer2: --a billion.
Writer1: --a TRILLION light years away. So they fly off back to where they think Earth is now.
Writer2: That should be a whole show right there.
Writer1: No, it's only...it's just a few minutes.
Writer2: This is taking forever. Let's just say they fall into a black hole. The end.
Writer1: Sounds good to me.

[Chairs scraping, door opening, door closing]
[Door opening, door closing, chairs scraping]

Writer2: ...what did he mean, incomprehensible?
Writer1: I don't know. You're the writer.
Writer2: No you are.
Writer1: No, you.
Writer2: You.
Writer1: Oh. You're right.
Writer2: I have to disagree with him. I don't think we're drunk enough.
Writer1: Not if we have to write more of this, no.
Writer2: Okay, so we have them falling into a black hole.
Writer1: And inside the black hole, Toyman has a whole planet full of toys.
Writer2: What's with you and Toyman? Geez.
Writer1: Toys means running time. Suppose Gorilla Grodd was in there? They'd punch him and go home.
Writer2: No punching.
Writer1: Oh. Yeah.
Writer2: So he has a giant pinball machine, and a doll house, with a doll and a stuffed tiger.
Writer1: Pinball isn't a toy.
Writer2: You want me to have no fun?
Writer1: Okay, fine, pinball. But Wonder Woman's in one of the balls.
Writer2: How'd she get in there?
Writer1: She fell in a hole. When she came out, she was in a pinball.
Writer2: Okay, I’ll buy that. Next, Black Vulcan gets put in the doll's bottle.
Writer1: He cuts his way out with electricity, though.
Writer2: Glass doesn't conduct electricity.
Writer1: What did you say?
Writer2: I wasn't listening, sorry.
Writer1: So, anyway, they all fly away from the black hole.
Writer2: Sounds good. Sounds like the end.

[Chairs scraping, door opening, door closing]
[Door opening, door closing, chairs scraping]

Writer1: ...how many other Super Friends are there?
Writer2: More to the point, what do we do with them?
Writer1: More to the better point, where's the beer?
Writer2: It's down here. Where I'm sitting
Writer1: Oh good. I'm going to sit there too.
Writer2: Okay, well, Black Vulcan, Wonder Woman and Hawkman can't get out of the black hole.
Writer1: Superman gets them out.
Writer2: Green Lantern could, too.
Writer1: Why not both?
Writer2: Why not both, merged together into one person?
Writer1: Even better. I bet this wins an Emmy.
Writer2: How did they get to the black hole?
Writer1: Hmmm...the Riddler!
Writer2: Where?
Writer1: No, no...in the story. The Riddler sends ALL the rest of the Super Friends clues, so they can find the others.
Writer2: Why would he do that?
Writer1: He's the ultimate evil, for everyone, even the bad guys. Where does he send them?
Writer2: An abandoned mine.
Writer1: A planet of Amazons.
Writer2: The mine first, I think.
Writer1: Depends on how much running time we need.
Writer2: Or beer.
Writer1: Beer, yes.
Writer2: Well. Eventually they all find the black hole planet.
Writer1: Yeah, well. And "Super-Green Lantern-Man" gets them out.
Writer2: With no punching.
Writer1: At all.
Writer2: What are the bad guys doing all this time?
Writer1: Do we have to write that?
Writer2: You know he'll ask.
Writer1: Umm...Luthor calls up the world on his viewscreen and demands money.
Writer2: And everyone from the world gives it to them.
Writer1: The money, that is.
Writer2: Of course. What did you mean?
Writer1: I don't remember.
Writer2: But the...Super Friends [starts giggling]...
Writer1: Stop it, you're going to get me doing it [starts giggling]

[Uncontrollable laughter for some time.]

Writer2: Okay, okay, enough.
Writer1: Yeah, we have to finish this.

[Uncontrollable laughter for some time.]

Writer2: ...the Super Friends defeat the villains at the drive-in.
Writer1: No, at the airport.
Writer2: Better! But Brainiac uses his cloaking device, and the Doom guys escape.
Writer1: Let's see if we're done.

[Chairs scraping, door opening, door closing]
[Door opening, door closing, chairs scraping]

Writer1: ...all right! One out of the box. Or the park. Or the airport!
Writer2: One of them DONE! Done on the stove. Well done!

Producer: Great job, boys. Careful, careful, here's the chair. You guys should really cut down.

Writer1: Cut down a tree.
Writer2: Cut down TOYMAN!

Producer: I noticed you didn't use Bizarro or Cheetah of the villains, and they're my favorites. Can you write something with them?

Writer1: Heck yeah, we'll write a whole world of Bizarros and Cheetahs.

Producer: Good thing this is all on tape. Here, I'll clear some space on your shelf for your next Emmy. First, I'm going to have one of these beers. I have to talk to the animators next.


Saga and Sagacity

It's been about a week since I saw Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. And I've come to the conclusion that I enjoyed it, but I didn't like it.

The distinction may seem indistinct, but I see it this way: I enjoyed it while I watched it, so it was enjoyable. However, that enjoyment faded and disappeared within minutes after I left the theatre. It was there only while I was watching the film.

I would consider something "likeable" that has some staying power. Days or weeks later, I should be able to think of something I liked and say to myself, Yeah, I liked that.

The distinction may seem slight, but it's meaningful to me, and it helps define exactly what I would say if someone asked me if they should see the film. I would tell them, "Well, I enjoyed it," which is the more important operand when dealing with pop culture. The theatrical experience is an ephemeral one anyway, so something that also fades is perfectly in tune with it.

Now, if someone should ask me, "Should I buy the DVD?" I'd probably say, "Well, I didn't like it." DVDs are there forever, man, and shelf space is limited (at least mine is). Looking back at Sith, even the special effects seemed crowded and frantic.

I had this same dual experience with the previous Star Wars film, Attack of the Clones. I enjoyed it while watching it in the theatre, and because I remembered enjoying it, I bought it on DVD. I watched it at home and again enjoyed it. Then it went on the shelf and I never even thought about watching it a second time. Not because of ill feelings toward it, but rather a lack of ANY kind of feelings toward it.

I watched the first hour and a half before seeing the new film, and I found Attack of the Clones to be a dreadful, awful film. I wouldn't consider watching it again, unless there was money involved or I was drunk.

Some of this may seem to be George Lucas-bashing, and thus colored by prejudice. Perhaps. But if ever a man brought on his own bashing, it's George Lucas. He took a remarkably fun and likeable film, Star Wars, and diminished and drained all the pleasures out of it. Is it any wonder people resent his abuse of power? (Note: He owns the films and can do what he likes with them, no one is arguing that he can't. The arguments would be over whether he should. A distinction between the legal and creative realms.) His "special editions" added nothing but stupidity and cheese. I can't think of a single improvement over the original versions. Oh, wait, that one scene where Han Solo ran into the troop quarters. The additional troopers made it funnier. I'll grant that. I'll just revise the letter grade right now from an F to a slightly higher F.

The other changes, such as the CGI Mos Eisley, just make the "Special" film perfect for a double-bill with a contemporary movie that the original film outclassed in every way: Logan's Run.

Lucas claims he made these changes to bring the films up to his "original vision" for them. This just sounds so sad. His original vision apparently stank on ice, and it was only budget constraints that forced him to make the films good. The success of Star Wars allowed the success of Glen A. Larson's cheesy knock-offs. But it looks as if that's where Lucas was heading anyway. It's the greatest argument I've ever heard for studio interference.

Star Wars and its companions in the original trilogy make for solid storytelling with interesting characters and cool special effects, and those three reasons (not just the last) are why many people, including myself, could watch them over and over and enjoy them (and like them). I saw the "Special Edition" versions once, out of curiousity, and can't really imagine watching them again. It's depressing to think that these will be the only versions children born today will see. I suppose it's the perfect accompanyment to action figure sales. It used to be more than that, but I suppose ensuring money flow and capriciously exercising power are more important than having fun and an imaginative vision. That's the lesson I'm taking, here.

I just have to shake my head, and wonder about something. In the new film, the Emperor seeks to possess ultimate power for no other reason than to possess it. There's something in there about controlling the universe, but it's not all that spelled out. Mostly, he just seems to want power because he wants it.

I'm sure the parallel I'm seeing was never intended, but it's sure there.