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Friday, December 15, 2017
Article written by Larry D. Yablow

The Only Review You'll Ever Need of Blade: The Series (Part 1 of 5)

I must be the luckiest person alive I gloated silently to myself. I have just finished an important pile of paperwork and now I have some quiet time. No “honey-do” list, no car problems, no nothing. Finally, the chance to watch some television presents itself. And beer I dare wonder? Certainly, that can only enhance the television experience. The remote is missing so I'm stuck watching the channel that the TV is set for. Spike TV it is.

Spike TV (so named because Howard Stern owns the copyright to the names "Gonad TV", "Schlong-O-Vision", "The Boner Channel", and "Boob Tube") apparently hit the television jackpot when they somehow cornered the rights to make a television show based upon a Marvel comic book character. (It is a patent untruth that Howard won those names from Bob Guccione in a poker match.) On the surface that sounds like a good idea and I'll wager that some accounting major from a really expensive school spent a couple of weeks making out with his calculator to determine that there was a decent chance that a profit could be made in such an endeavor. I'm sure reverse Polish notation was never hotter.

Before we start out on this voyage of the imagination I believe that everyone should stop and reflect on the previous attempts by the television industry to realize the dream of a weekly superhero show. Anyone remember just how hideous the 1977 Spiderman was? They tied ropes to his hands with a bungee cord and pretended that it was webbing by shaking the camera. All they succeeded in doing was creating a generation of quasi-epileptics.

Remember the Incredible Hulk? Lou Ferrigno permitted the staff of Earl Scheib's $99 car painting emporium to hose him down with leftover green paint on a weekly basis as the result of some bad investments and a sickening penchant for three-card Monte. While Lou did a fantastic job of looking like a hemorrhoid sufferer being attacked by killer bees that alone hardly created the requisite suspension of belief required to watch a superhero show when everything he touched had green paint flakes left on it.

On the other hand I don't remember the plot of a single episode of Wonder Woman and I distinctly recall watching each and every one of them at least twice. But, and this is the important part, I really don’t care because it involved a half-dressed chick running around in cowboy boots with a lasso. Based on that, I could use deductive logic to determine that Wonder Woman was a western epic without the hat and I wouldn't have known the difference.

The staff at Spike TV seems to understand this demographic and possibly applied their superior educations and banks of supercomputers to tap into this collective gestalt of testosterone to bring us a television show par excellence. Perhaps they truly understand the minds of those that think Al Bundy is the patron saint of Middle America. Perhaps, I dare to hope, nay yet to dream of a return to a simpler time.

While I sit down to observe this program with a grand sense of hope, those old friends doubt and fear begin to creep in.

I can only imagine the "creative" meetings where the walls of the meeting rooms were crammed with concept art featuring "Spiked" versions of the classic Marvel heroes as they made their pitch to the Marvel staff. I think the meeting went something like this:

Attempt #1: “Spiked” Spiderman would still be like the traditional Spiderman but he would have to stuff his crotch with three calf-length 100% nylon crew socks and his organic web shooters would make a slightly more "splort" noise. Thanks to some revenue generating product placements, he would also be seen slurping Mountain Dew even when costumed. His girlfriend, Mary Jane, would be replaced by actresses which are basically replicas of the cast from "Sex in the City." Peter Parker, aka: Spiderman, would be dating all of them at the same time with the obvious hilarious results that can only come from watching a confused adolescent with the abilities of a mass equivalent spider try to keep four women happy at the same time he's fighting for his life against the likes of Doctor Octopus, Electro, and the Green Goblin.

The Marvel people probably found this pitch interesting, but wanted to hear some of the other quality ideas. What most of you do not realize is that the Spike creative staff has just basically described the plot to Spiderman 3. Marvel didn't really have the option to green light this project.

Slightly unnerved by having their best idea passed over, the Spike staff continues with their next pitch. Consider the possibility of a "Spiked" version of another favorite target of the bargain basement superhero bin: The Punisher. Instead of being your average ordinary homicidal sociopath antihero, the "Spiked" Frank Castle would spend an inordinate amount of time polishing his enormous pistol while at least three spectators in every episode would make the exact same comment about his potential overcompensation. For chuckles he would recite old Dirty Harry lines.

His costume would consist of a grubby t-shirt with skull shaped donut stains from his day job at a neighborhood bakery and a tube sock stuffed pair of leotards that he finds on a corpse in a dumpster in episode 2. He will awake early each morning heartily slapping his headless Mickey Mouse alarm clock that plays "It's a Small World" horribly off key. Sitting up and adjusting his Kevlar hair net, he slides his pistol into his pants and says "time to make another batch of justice."

Somehow, all crime would occur just blocks from the bakery and more lead would be spilled in each episode than the entire run of the A-Team combined. But, in a nod to television censors and the target audience of thirteen year-old boys, Frank and the bad guys never get seriously wounded. He also has to contend with getting back to the shop before he burns the donuts and outrages the shop owner, which will be played as comedy relief by Tom Bosley with Bea Arthur as his perpetually cranky but loveably wisecracking wife.

Quiet and unassuming, his next door neighbor Clyde would occasionally chat with Frank over the patio fence. Never being able to see each others faces in full view neither would discover that they were really each others arch nemesis. While a deep and moving exploration of the grey nuances of modern philosophical theory and spirituality, the “Spiked” Punisher just doesn’t capture the zeitgeist of what the Marvel execs were hoping for.

Intrigued by the Spike staff creativity, but not yet sold, the Marvel execs would then listen to the third at bat, which is the "Spiked" version of the Marvel classic character Doctor Strange. Initially the Spike TV staff became amazingly excited at the thought that this character was a psychic proctologist. Normally portrayed as some variation of an egocentric surgeon now in touch with the unseen forces of magic and sorcery, the "Spiked" version will instead be an egocentric dentist forced into sorcery due to an accident with the dental x-ray unit causing him to gain strange and eerie powers far beyond those of mortal men. Throw in a cleaning compulsion and an unexplained fear of ice cream and you have yourself a serious character. The good Doctor would divide his time between coping with the realization that his spit basin is haunted by the collective spirits of the Russian Tsars and fighting crime. Who would have thought that the ghost of Ivan the Terrible was an expert at dental fillings? The Doctor’s rough and in-your-face manner will alienate most of those around him except the few with sufficient insight to see the sweet interior surrounded by the crusty and often unwashed exterior.

While little is known about his methods, the number of criminals and evildoers found tied to lampposts by hundreds of yards of "magical" dental floss is increasing exponentially. Using his dental picks and a little magic, Doctor Strange always manages to get his criminal and still have time for the ladies. If only they had time for him. Oh yeah, his magical motorcycle or carpet or whatever he rides around on can talk too. It will sound a lot like Mr. Ed but have snappier one-liners and talk about chicks and other Maxim-like topical subjects such as testicular self examinations. The opening credits will feature an exploding toilet for no apparent reason. Doctor Strange does NOT stuff his pants with socks.

Grabbing their boxes of Tic-Tac’s and pretending that they are pagers, most of the Marvel execs excuse themselves. The few Marvel execs that are still in the room will then hear the Spike crew digging into their emergency material. The Spike TV creative staff finds the time to do some emergency research and development on a character they remembered seeing somewhere that reminded of them of that guy in that war movie. Asking around the office administrative assistant about "That patch dude”, they learn that Nick Fury was the character. One Spike staff writer quit the network in protest before learning that it was "Fury" and not "Furry" but that is another story for another day.

Not satisfied with the butchering that David Hasselhoff gave the role, the "Spiked" version of super spy Nick Fury featured bionic replacements for Fury's war torn body parts, lasers in both eyeballs, a shoe that doubled as a telephone and a talking car. Hasselhoff actually auditioned for this part and performed no less than three screen tests. Nike had signed on to supply the shoe phones but the entire deal was washed away in an instant when actor Anthony Daniels flatly refused to perform the talking car role for anything less than a "billion zillion dollars" and a lifetime supply of Turtle Wax. His longtime theatrical agent and friend, Margot Kidder, represented Daniels during the negotiations. Daniels himself never actually spoke or corresponded with the Spike staff directly. Puzzled by the strange demands, the Spike staff was unable to locate the required Turtle Wax and the project dropped into the dustbin.

Last but not least, Spike TV has the character "Blade." Starting from a safe position of being "about knives and stuff," the Spike Staff decided that the character made almost famous by Wesley Snipes is in bad need of "fine tuning" to make him more compatible with today’s modern audience and demographics. After getting a price quote for what it would cost to hire Mr. Snipes on a weekly basis they decide to go for the next best thing: Jaleel White. Now I know what you're thinking - how in the world can they afford Urkel if they couldn't afford Wesley Snipes? Fortunately for us it turns out that Mr. White is an unabashed fan of Marvel comics and offered to do the show for the opportunity to take home the leftover catering truck food. Now that is a passion for art and a love for the Earth if ever I heard it.

The lone remaining Marvel executive, which was actually a janitor who just dropped in for the free donuts, signs off on the paperwork and a television show is born. Ladies and Gentlemen of the audience, I give you: Spike TV's very own Blade: The Series.

Running with this puppy like an eight year old with a fistful of brand new scissors, the Spike staff scored a television coup d’etat by rounding out the cast by hiring someone claiming to be a relative of George Takei, the backup drummer for Wang Chung, a waiter from an Italian restaurant and 3 hot chicks from Club Hubba Hubba. With this unlimited imagination and an unequalled zest for life, the Spike writers got set for an explosive first episode.

I too, as your intrepid reviewer, got set for an explosive first episode. However, I'll wager that the Spike preparation for an explosive first episode didn't include checking to make sure the bathroom had adequate toilet paper. The stage is set. Light the lights and bring on the show.
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