Thursday, December 29, 2011

Writing Checks Your @$$ Can Cash - New Year's Eve Special #1

I will not make a New Year's Eve resolution. That's like a morbidly-obese man swearing off gummy bears. Well, that's a start...

No, no, no, - I'll still be reading comics - which means the collection lives.

Has anyone ever seen a storage bin full of comics? It's like the elephant in the room walked out of the closet/garage/basement/attic/trunk/house (house? Yikes!) and snuggled into a bolt hole. In fact, these collections found in storage bins are more like bears than elephants - they found a cave to settle in for the winter - or at least swapped places with the Christmas stuff.

Two months ago I went to a storage bin that the owner stopped paying rent for (he resolved to forget about it). I found a "The Batman" action figure still in its packaging (more like a dust jacket than a display case) and a copy of All-Star Comics featuring the Justice Society with the Super Squad - Power Girl, Robin and The Star-Spangled Kid. It was a good comic, but it was mangled and it had been bagged with a pack of temporary tattoos - I sold it for five bucks. Eh. Seriously, they should do a revival of the Super Squad. The comic I read looked like DC's equivalent of Marvel's The Defenders, where you had alternating teams, but Power Girl's still around, so is Robin (well, Red Robin - the character, not the fast food chain), and Stargirl is Star-Spangled Kid's replacement...that could work...

Top 10 of 2011 - no rules, here, just comics that are/were available this year:

1. Doppelganger - Inspired by an old Dell comic, Tom Neely gives Popeye a little existential angst in this indie mini-comic. Is what he am all that he am and therefore, all that he is?

2. Savage Dragon #175 - Erik is firing on all cylinders, here. You could argue that this is a comeback after  an offkey decade.

3. Ducktales #1 - never mind the inside - what's outside is a surprise for a show that's been gone for over 20 years.

4,5,6,7 - Ducktales/Darkwing Duck: "Strange Currency" - The crossover and climax may remind you of Spider-Man: Maximum Carnage... or not. Worth a look, warts and all.

8. DC Retroactive: Justice League International Special - One more shot by Keith and J.M.. This one is better than the two "Formerly Known As/I Can't Believe It's Not" reunion mini-series.

9. Spider-Man: Spider-Island - What on Earth made this work? Dan Slott, that's who. Take a bow, Dan.

10. Batman Inc. #7 : This self-contained, Tony Hillerman-esque remake of "Batman: Indian Chief" stands out from Morrison's concept-heavy material of late. And it all made sense on the first read!

Oh, why not?...My resolution is to continue and keep writing. Stick around. Happy New Year, Everyone.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Christmas Playlist

Christmas Specials for 2011:

1. How The Grinch Stole Christmas

2. A Charlie Brown Christmas

3. Mickey's Christmas Carol

4. The Simpsons Christmas Special

5. A Flintstone Family Christmas

6. Doctor Who: The Next Doctor

7. The Proud Family (this Kwanzaa special is the best episode of the series - never mind that the holiday has been debunked - the meaning comes through very clear, here)

8. Winnie The Pooh and Christmas Too

9. Bugs Bunny's Christmas Tales

10. Yogi's All-Star Comedy Christmas Caper - just for all of you to stare and compare with the movie Elf and see what I mean. Wally Gator cameo!

Christmas themed episodes:

1. Married with Children

2. Darkwing Duck "It's A Wonderful Leaf"

3. Merry Christmas, Doctor Who (this is actually an outtake that has Tom Baker, Mary Tamm and K9 getting frisky with liquor bottles waved around) "What do you desire most for Christmas, Doctor?", asks K9. And Tom immediately glances at Mary Tamm. :) It's an extra on The Armageddon Factor-special edition DVD and on YouTube

4. Family Guy "A Very Special freakin' Christmas"

5. American Dad

6. Batman - "Holiday Knights" and "Christmas With The Joker"

Christmas Movies

1. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

2. A Christmas Story

3. Santa Claus: The Movie

4. Love, Actually (actually, this is just one for the ladies - so that's where Garry Marshall gets his ideas!)

5. Home Alone

Merry ChrismaHanuKwanRam3Kings Eve Everyone!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Comic Book Rehab Carol - Part 3 (Behind The Scenes)

Yes, Virginia, I do have deleted alternate scenes.

I had a different intro in mind for the ghost of Christmas present - then I realized that this was not Caitlin Fairchild, this was Abbey Chase in the bathtub from Danger Girl. So , I started over, but I kept this set-up. Enjoy!

I heard a noise in the bathroom. Water splashing...

My bathroom was no longer just a bathroom - it had become a luxurious, glamorous, magnificent marble and gold palatial bath, offering a 360 degree panorama of Aspen's mountains at sunset. This explosion of warm orange, amber and violet color made this palace rich and...where the heck am I?

Monday, December 19, 2011

A Comic Book Rehab Carol - Part 6


 A draft made the window blind slam the window with such a clatter, I had awakened  to see what was the matter. I had slept on the couch, fully-clothed and with cap, as if I had not taken a long winters nap.

I opened the window and shouted out into the streets, "What day is this?"

An old woman walking her toy dog replied, "huh?"

Never mind, I thought, returning to my couch. I found the remote, turned on the tv, searched the program guide, and what did I see?

December 23.

I had not missed it! Well, actually, I missed the 21st, which was the day the new books arrived at the comic shop, but that means I had not missed the 28th! There was time! Time to check for holiday sales and new comics, if any! And I will be looking forward to it this time! For this time, I know the spirits will have a surprise in store for me...

You see, that night I spent was not a mere fool's errand - I had made the universe of comics and the comic book marketplace a BETTER place. The spirits took stock of the error in their ways and change would trickle down from within.

And then they will come back. Not today right away, but in the days, months and years ahead, a new joy will be found in the now-happy medium, one built on solid entertainment, honesty, and care.

And Big Boobs, of course.

And as I joined the grinning old man wearing enormous sunglasses in riding with him in his Ferrari to enjoy the fine Burbank sunset that day, we shouted,

"Merry Christmas to all! Excelsior everyone!"


Friday, December 16, 2011

A Comic Book Rehab Carol - Part 5

I felt something slithering across my feet - his cape! It had grown so long that it had flooded the floor like a red carpet - the corners of it crawled up and tied me up and lifted me off the floor and held me in the air, making direct eye contact with its host.

"Now, you will see what it feels like to be trapped in a world you never made!"

"Al?...go right ahead, but have you ever wondered why you never tried it before, or why you would need me to do it?"

He seemed to tilt his head just a bit, as if to pause and reflect on that was hard to tell with that expressionless face what a brown study should look like.

"I don't have much time," he admitted, and held out his hand. An unusual rectangular object appeared out of thin air above his palm. It was his power chronometer - the eternal countdown/gauge that measured how much power he had spent, how much was left, and how much time he had left. It was unreadable to all but him. "There's so much I have not many things I should have done in the time I had and wasted...just wasted...marking time.

"I discovered a way to change my fate - by trading universes,  I won't have to endure this shallow status quo. I will change."

"It won't work. Your plan is built on a false premise. You think you're all out of time, but that's what you've been made to think, so that you think you can't go anywhere because of this pathetic weakness, and as a result of this, you've ALL become Brand ecch."


His cape released me, and I landed on my feet. "No, it's true. You're blaming the faithful readership, chasing after a phantom demographic all these years - one that does not respect you. This plan of yours won't work because your energy does not exist in our world - your stuff is always the stuff of dreams - constructs of someone else's imagination - we think, therefore, you are."

"I'm doomed." His cape seemed to shrink back to a more standard size, his glowing green eyes dimmed, his body began to hide within the folds of the red cloak.

"No, you're not. You'll be fine, I'll be fine. But you know what you have to do. You and all the other spirits go back to where you belong and start the change from there. Change happens from within. AND I'M GIVING YOU JUST 10 SECONDS! SO, COME ON! CHANGE!!"

The whole room went fuzzy... I started to black out...

To be concluded...

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Boy Who Helped Make Good Batman Movies

I just read Michael Uslan's memoir, "The Boy Who Loved Batman," and maybe a more apropos title would be "The Boy Who Dreamed About Batman"...actually, that doesn't sound right...on with the review..

I came out of reading the book thinking that Uslan was portraying himself as a fan who made it - this is the guy who grew up loving comics and was never tempted to move on and managed to successfully parlay his hobby into a career as a Hollywood producer. And he wants to tell the story of a pop culture guru/whizkid who anticipated everything and saw it all coming years before everyone else. And the story of an average supernerd who gets lucky and lives out the fanboy fantasy of authenticating, validating, and vindicating the stuff of his youth and young adulthood, hitting paydirt via luck, social networking savvy and spunk more than anything else.

Uslan's greatest contribution as an executive was as a catalyst and support system - if any director had grand ideas for a Batman movie, it was Uslan who could step up as the happy warrior and fight for him, but only if those ideas appealed to his own reasoning. In Hollywood, if you don't have the support of SOMEBODY, a "warrior" behind one of those desks to push an idea, it can stay in "development hell" long after you're gone.  He had been championing the concept of doing a serious Batman film for years, but in my opinion, could never articulate it well enough for it to be realized until the arrival of Tim Burton. It was not a perfect union - Uslan hints that this relationship got ugly when Burton chose Michael Keaton for the title role. It took a hell of a lot of convincing to get Uslan and the other executives to see otherwise, and by that time so much money and energy and resources had been invested in the project, they had to go along with the decision if they ever hoped to recoup.

Uslan should be a familiar face to fans of superhero movies who watch DVD bonus features and documentaries on superheroes and comic books. He's one of the guests who offer socio-psychological-historic rhetoric on the enduring popularity of these characters - all of which falls apart the moment you actually get in the habit of reading the books or walking into any comic shop, unfortunately. I always wondered how marketing and collecting hoopla, large balloon breasts, promotional gimmicks, stunts fit in with all that talk of "Modern-day Folklore".  Uslan often drops numerical values of old comics throughout the book. Money gets mentioned a lot here, and it goes against the grain when he talks about passion and fidelity to portrayals of comic book characters.

Ironically, I  found that I could relate to Uslan in the sense that the love of Batman that we get from the book is of a Batman that exists in Uslan's imagination - he can point to Christopher Nolan's Batman and Tim Burton's Batman and Dennis O'Neil's and Steve Englehart's and say, "That's my Batman!", and he could point to an inconsistent sampling of 20 comics through the decades and say that his Batman is there, too. That list appears in the last third of the book, and it reads like a blog entry than what it should have been: a book itself, offering commentary and analysis as to what he finds in these choices a distillation of the Batman of his dreams. Then, we would have a more powerful book, and not a "The Kid Stays In The Picture"/"Field Of Dreams"-esque mish-mash. We also get invited to peek at his collection of boilerplate correspondence, autographs, memorabilia and false career starts and comics - can you imagine what it would've been like if he hadn't made it and this stuff was just rotting away in his house (or his parents house)? We would've lost a warrior.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A Comic Book Rehab Carol - Part 4

I wasn't aware of the fact that I did not arrive back home - I was paying more attention to the large man with his back turned. The white tunic, light blue cape and large, turnip-shaped head made him all too easy to identify.

There is a time for action and a time for reaction. A time to object and a time to interject. For this creature, it is never one of those times. He never interferes. He simply and only watches.

So they say...

We were standing in what appeared to be a massive control room of sorts, with a clear high-domed ceiling that offered an uncharacteristically busy view of outer space. we were on the Moon. He was preoccupied with a massive wall of monitor screens - each appearing to offer distinctive images he requested.

He was a cosmic couch potato without a couch.

"Are you...the ghost of Christmas future?," I asked.

He turned to face me. his eyes were pools of glowing, firey amber. He turned to face the screens and pointed at a group of images with a lone finger...images...of me...

There was I, a decade older, drunk bidding a small fortune on an Adam West bust - the fourth in my collection...  )  ;P

There I was, 11 years older, picking up a package from the post office - 50 issues of Jughead featuring Trula Twyst...

Was I there? - 12 years older, paying 200 dollars for Mark Hamill's autograph for a photo of him from ...Corvette Summer ?

There - 13 years older, selecting the 4th, not the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd copy of a new issue offered on the shelf at a comic shop.

Was That me? - 20 years older, watching someone select the 5th copy of a comic offered on the shelf, then walking over and resetting that stack...why am I bothering to do that?

I...think I'm working in a comic shop...

I...think I'm in charge of a store I own...a dead comic shop...



" Yes, you, " the spirit spoke. He began to change. Transforming...becoming leaner, meaner, darker. The demure blue, yet quietly confident cape grew outward and expanded into bloody crimson red. The turnip-shaped head shrank into a narrow oval and the eyes outsized it - those firey amber pupil-less corneas glowing a bubbling, steamy green. Spiky studded chains and collars tore through the modest tunic - the long chains landing on the floor with a resounding clang that could wake the dead.

He became a darker shadow of his former self, literally and figuratively. If the former made a crow's nest among the stars, the latter was more likely to find a comfortable vantage point in a shadowy corner of a dank dead end nowhere - an alley, perhaps?

"You're the first spirit I've encountered with an identity crisis : a marvelous two-in-one. The 1st spirit wanted to stay relevant, the 2nd was an armchair spectator of the past, the 3rd wanted depth and recognition in the present day. What do you want?"

His voice was a low smouldering roar, his posture that of a sleeping giant finally awake. "I want to use my powers. I'm going to save my universe by destroying yours."

To be continued...

Friday, December 9, 2011

A Comic Book Rehab Carol - Part. 3

La, da, dee, da, da, da, da, daa - heaven must be missing an angel ... look what Santa left under the tree for me!

Lying on her stomach naked - with a long, long, wide red ribbon wrapped around the naughty bits - a tall, voluptuous, statuesque, red and gold highlight-haired goddess, with a perfect come over here stare, eyeing me up and down as I did likewise.

"There must be an angel playing with my heart."

She giggled. "You're sweet. But there's another song - 'Too Much of Heaven'. Do you know it?"

The voice did not go with the body - it was that of a haughty, insecure introvert, not an amazon extrovert - but it didn't turn me off. "Eiffel 65 - Europop. I used to have the album. What's your name?"

"Ghost of Christmas Present. I like to use code names, though. I'll be Number One and you can be ... Number 6. I had hoped you wouldn't mind if I unwrapped  a little early, but I kept the bow on. You can keep the wrapper." She tossed a piece of cloth to me and I caught it. It was a green and purple pleather one piece, with a "13" insignia stitched along the shoulders on both sides. I recognized her.

"My reputation and representation have been as good as stale egg nog for a long time, but I feel like trying again. Want to come with me?"

"You don't need to ask."

She smiled. "Great! Wrap me up."

She stood up and instructed me to grab layers and layers of ribbon that she had laid on top of and wrap them around her body until I could tie a large, comfortable bow across her bosom. The ribbon had blocked my view. When I finished, I found we had transported to another place - a busy comic shop.

She waved her arm across the crowd in the store. "Look at this crowd. They're here for a sale - all items in the shop up to 40% off. Do you know what this is?"

"Well, 40% off a four dollar comic book is -,"

"Is sad. These people don't come here every week. The stuff is not really in high demand, the supply is low to create demand, then the store has a sneaky sales gimmick to balance the profit."

"Comic shops always had sales - like 50-cent bins. Publishers always had gimmicks, like relaunches and re numberings."

She frowned. "50-cent comics - plus tax, muddled relaunches and numbers games...Look at that."

She pointed at a comic - Red Hood and The New Outlaws. "I can't believe people fussing over this lime-eyed Oompa Loompa and her teardrop-perfect -,"

"Spirit, why are we here?"

She snapped out of her funk, but her expression did not change. "If these shadows go unchanged, I see profitable drinking pubs where many comic shops once stood."

"But...that means...this medium will...die?"

The spirit seemed distracted by a particular comic on the shelf with the new books.

"Spirit? Number One? Cait -,"

"Look, a white sketch cover variant! There wasn't time for me to have one! But I can change that! I'll do a self-portrait! That'll keep me out of the half-dollar bins for sure! I've got the confidence now! No contrived rips or tears this time! Unwrap me and wish me luck!"

I did what she asked, and no sooner did her nude form fade out and appear on that blank cover...the whole setting began to go out of focus again.

"Good luck, Caitlin."

To be continued...

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A Comic Book Rehab Carol - Part 2

I heard a light tapping on my window. I saw a gloved hand creeping along the side of it, then a full figure slowly emerge as it leaned sideways, asking me to let him in. He was wearing a bright blue suit, with a matching fedora and a domino mask over his face.

I opened the window and he climbed in.

"Thank you," he said, and removed his hat to wipe the sweat off his bald head."I never feel too old for climbing. Anyway, The Man left your address on this matchbook  I scooped up."

"You're the Christmas spirit of the past?"

"Yeah, - The Christmas Spirit. How are you?"

"I'm fine. You look familiar. Have I seen you in the movies?"

He leaned forward. "You didn't see me in any movie."

"Fine. Where are we going?"

He walked to the window that had the fire escape. "Fire escapes are not my style. I prefer using my hands and feet and grabbing a hold to get where I'm going, but not when I'm a guest. We're going down - back to where it all started."

We climbed out the window and onto the fire escape, where the spirit led the way down to the ladder leading to the street. Just when it looked like we were about to climb off it, the spirit stopped me.

"Right here. This is the right spot to look in on the action."

What used to be a laundromat on the ground level had now become a store with a sign that read USED BOOKS. In that short walk I had been transported to another time and place.

I looked in on the action. a few people were lined at the register buying some old hardcovers and paperbacks. At a far corner, I could see two teenagers digging through some long boxes.

"This is the germ of the idea for the comic book store. Old copies of comic books were sold in used bookstores. This activity did not go unnoticed, as publishers were interested in new venues beyond newsstands."

"Wow! Tell me more."

"No. Less is more. Now follow me. Take this."

He instructed me to tie rope around my waist using carabiner rings as he did to his waist. We hopped off the fire escape and climbed the wall of the building two stories and stopped as comfortably as you could imagine on a window ledge. He pointed at a wide window. We were again transported to another place.

"Look. In twenty years time, comic shops are everywhere. This is the back room of one store. It's crammed with overstock."

"What happened? Nobody's buying comics?"

"They are - but not enough to match the number of copies being printed. The supply has outweighed the demand, and this store is about to be closed. Some of the stores facing this problem will survive, but only because their owners own the building."

"This is silly - you would think they would know not to buy too much of an item that's not in demand."

"Remember - comics were seen as an investment. Their ambitions and hasty decision-making was no different from yours - you all fashioned these memories yourselves."

"Wasn't there anything you could've done to change these events from happening?'

"Nah - I never faired too well in the shops. I fared better on the streets, in the papers. That bailiwick was my section."

He smiled at me and tipped his hat as he and everything around me fell out of focus...

To be continued...

Monday, December 5, 2011

A Comic Book Rehab Carol - Pt. 1

It was a very unseasonably warm night in December. I had turned my home into a counting house - for counting comics. I was tweeting about how my doorbell looked like an old man wearing sunglasses. I was just about to tweet a joke about stoking the fireplace with an unread stack of Gen 13's and DV8's when I heard a clatter of chains and an eerie draft entered the livingroom. The draft had the smell of browned comic book pages and Old apparition faded into view...

"A proton pack! A proton pack! My kingdom for a proton pack!," I howled.

"Face front and at ease, true believer."

I realized who I was looking at, or who the apparition had taken the form of - Stan. Stan "The Man". He was covered with mildewed patches labeled, "Pow", "Stan Lee Media", "The Governator", "Ravage 2009", "Stripperella", "Just Imagine", "NFL Superpro", "The 7th Portal", "Lightspeed", and "Mosaic".

"Do you remember how I looked when I was young and looked like Bea Arthur's husband on Maude?"

"Yes, I do. You know, if you were to watch that show and Jon Pertwee's Doctor Who back-to-back, you wouldn't know the difference."

"Hmmph...Odin will get you for that one, effendi."

"You think I'm hindu?"

"It's just an expression."

"Oh, sorry. Go right ahead."

"Do you remember when I presided over the wedding of Spider-Man and Mary Jane Watson at Shea Stadium and wished them a long and happy marriage?"

"Oh, yeah, sure - and when that marriage ended, you said that 'change is good' or something or other...who lives to keep track of quotes, anyway?"

"Silence!...Do you remember when I hosted Who Wants To Be A Superhero?"

"Yes,...all those poor, deluded, misguided fools..."

"That's enough! Listen - I'm here to warn you! You are doomed into wearing more patches than I! You may even end up as something much more horrendous - an Autopen!"

"What do you want me to do?"

"You will be visited tonight by three spirits. Listen to them, learn from them - or you may wind up trolling the halls of  next year's Comic Con in ill-fitting karate gi and claiming to be a Jedi Knight." 

"You can tear up my ticket right now."

"Oh, no, just wait...wait for them. Believe that, true believer. Believe that."

"Isn't there anything you could teach me?"

"Stay away from Brand Ecch. Excelsior!"

He faded away...

To be continued...

Thursday, December 1, 2011

No $#!+ Sherlock - Part. 3 of 5 - Comic Book Rehab

I finally got to see "Sherlock: The Great Game", or as I call it, "Doctor Who: The Two Doctors". Let me explain:

Cartoons produced by Hanna-Barbera are famous for capitalizing on the same idea over and over - Yogi Bear and Huckleberry Hound were their first big stars, so the following decade (this would be the 1960's) saw a large assortment of bow tie and porkpie hat-wearing anthropomorphic funny animals with similar vocal patterns. The Flintstones was their first successful half-hour length show, so they tried others, like The Jetsons and Roman Holidays. And every cartoon in the 70's was Scooby Doo in disguise - even The Superfriends! I actually thought Wally Gator was funnier than Yogi, and some people love Quick Draw McGraw over Huckleberry Hound, and some people prefer Superfriends over Scooby, and some (like Chuck Dixon) only enjoyed The Jetsons, but this goes against the grain - it's not asking whether the chicken or egg came first: we're just comparing eggs. It's like that picky shopper in the film "Clerks" who was picking a dozen eggs out of different cartons - is this madness? If we can tell the product is the same, why not move on or just stay with the one product? Why don't I find Yogi as funny as Wally?

I can answer that question easy - I don't like Ranger Smith, and the food-related storylines made the cartoon seem limiting - why would Yogi want to compete in a space race or solve mysteries in Jellystone Mall? He's just a bear who wants to snack on human food. Wally, on the other hand, was bored , and was eager to go anywhere, do anything , to break out - that speaks to anybody! Sure, the cartoons would end with Wally running back home, but after 7 minutes of "Next stop, anywhere," home is where everyone thinks of going back to.

Now... if you don't watch the BBC or BBC America, are not a fan of sci-fi and fantasy, and only surf the internet to swap recipes for rhubarb pie or see upskirt photos, than you're not reading this blog and I'm talking about Doctor Who and Sherlock Holmes, anyway. Doctor Who has had a very successful revival in the last few years - it used to known as "That British show with the worst special effects ever with the tall guy that looks like Harpo Marx with a long scarf and written by the guy that wrote The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy", and there are worse ways of becoming a pop culture phenomenon. Sherlock Holmes has had a big revival on film and television, beginning in disguise (CSI, House) then in an official capacity, with Robert Downey jr. on film, and Benedict Cumberbatch on television.

I've been paying more attention to the TV version in this blog, largely because I can kill two birds with one stone - Cumberbatch's performance has fans online saying that he would make a great Doctor Who, even better/equal to current Doctor, Matt Smith. But why are they so surprised? This new show, Sherlock, was conceived and written by Stephen Moffat and Mark Gatiss - two veterans of Doctor Who. I've already mentioned in Part 1 of No $#!+ Sherlock how much the character of Holmes and the actor's performance are very in sync with modern Doctor Who productions.

And now...the finale. I got to see the third episode, which sees the introduction of a modern Professor Moriarty. Moriarty is a wild card - he only appears in flashback in one story by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - "The Final Problem", and is referred to in "The Adventure of Empty House" and "The Valley of Fear". Like Ernst Stavro Blofeld, much of what we think we know of the character is the stuff of pop culture osmosis. Was he a 19th century mob boss? Was he a mad scientist? Did he have two brothers? Was he just a simple math teacher that slept with Sherlock's mom and inspired a series of drug-induced hallucinations thereafter? Was he Sherlock Holmes in disguise? Everyone has fun guessing, but Conan Doyle was happy to see the back of him - he only existed as an not-so-fully-realized means to an end that didn't quite work out.

Andrew Scott plays the new Moriarty, presented here as a "Consulting Killer" - you hire him for advice on how to commit a perfect murder. Not everyone knows what they wanna' be when they grow up... Sherlock has obviously been cutting into his bottom line, and he decides to send his version of a friendly warning: tips on several murders that he helped fix and the one that got him started, leading to a showdown at a an indoor pool that's a rip-off of a showdown between David Tennant and Anthony Stewart Head in the Doctor Who episode, "School Reunion". Aside from a brilliant inside joke that only British fans are likely to get  (the reality show "Jim'll Fix It"), we get a "Lady or the Tiger?" cliffhanger ending - or not. I guess they wanted to end with Holmes and Moriarty taking turns at smoulder acting.

This stand-off/smoulder was the kind of thing they perfected with David Tennant on his Doctor Who and continue with Matt Smith- but here, it's with Andrew Scott and Benedict Cumberbatch. Watch a marathon of Tennant-Who episodes, then go back and watch this episode - Moriarty is clearly written as a kind of psycho Tennant. Now, watch a marathon of Matt Smith-Who episodes and repeat the same viewing steps I described. Cumberbatch's Sherlock is very Smith-ish, isn't he? Yes, you won't see the Doctor unload his revolver into the roundels of the Tardis, but the Doctor has always been viewed as a Holmesian character from the start.

Is ignorance bliss? I can still enjoy both programs (actually, I enjoyed Who because of Tennant's performance, not necessarily because I thought the show was perfect - plus, Smith's Doctor is a bit of a poser) knowing that one is taking ques from the other, but there is a sense that neither is as original as it wants to appear. And then there's the cartoons I mentioned earlier - do I need to like Yogi Bear to enjoy Wally Gator? Can I watch Wally and not acknowledge the fact that he wouldn't really exist without Yogi? I find that I can watch Yogi and wonder why he can't be as funny as Wally Gator.

You know, if it weren't for Hong Kong Phooey, The Hair Bear Bunch and the Smurfs, every Hanna Barbera cartoon in the 70's and 80's would be Scooby Doo in disguise. And I like Scrappy Doo, but that's a subject for another time...and the fact that every cartoon tried to be the Smurfs in disguise when that took off...

Which came first? The Egg? Or the other Egg?