Users’ Guide to ANIMATION on TVWriter™

Redundant but necessary verbiage:

TVWriter™ is more than just daily posts about TV, writing, and the collected obsessions of those of us who work here? It’s also the longest running, most complete site about the ins and outs, both creative and economic, of television writing on the web. We’re talking contests, workshops, and page after page of info based on Larry Brody’s 30+ year long career.

New verbiage:

On other posts, we’ve talked about the People’s Pilot and Spec Scriptacular TV and screenwriting competitions, the various online workshops at what we call TVWriter University, our THE BASICS OF TV WRITING mini-site, and LB’s experiences working on various versions of STAR TREK with (and, sadly, without) Gene Roddenberry. Now we want to officially call your attention to another mini-site about a little phenomenon known as:

After a short retirement in the early ’90s, LB went back to running TV shows, trading in primetime network broadcasting (been there, done that, you know the drill) for children’s animation. Among the shows he wrote or ran are SUPERMAN, THE SILVER SURFER, SPIDER-MAN, SPIDER-MAN UNLIMITED, and (the cult classic and very adult animated show) SPAWN. We hope you’ll take advantage of the info here and also that you’ll send in any questions you have on the subject so the boss can answer them here on TVWriter™.

You can find the ANIMATION mini-site by scrolling down the index to the right of this post. Or, if you’re in a rush, just place your cursor here and, you know, click.



Just your average ordinary superhero

Full disclosure—I’m not a fan of Spider-man. Not because I’m arachnophobic.  I don’t mind spiders at all. Spider-man simply wasn’t one of my go-to superheroes. You know how you don’t like something just because? That would be me and Spider-man.

Now I’m a little more partial to the crawly dude since I saw THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN. Overall I found the movie enjoyable. The cast was good, the CGI wasn’t overwhelming or obvious, and as with all Marvel movies of late, the sequel set-up was there and not too ham-fisted. I might even watch this movie again, which I can’t say about too many other films.

And yet, there are a few nits to pick. The main one is the issue of backstory, aka the writer’s bane. How much previous information is too much? How to decide what is germane to the story you’re trying to tell? If you leave anything out, will the audience be confused? If you add more than you need, will the audience be bored?

In this case, a good half hour could have been cut from the first act without taking anything away from the story, and the tighter edit sure would have helped with the pacing. The movie starts off quick—Peter Parker’s parents disappear and no one knows why. Of course we the people know they know why, they’re just not telling. Then the story delves into the family drama of Peter as a gawky teenager still dealing with his parents’ disappearance, and the beginning of a crumbling relationship with the aunt and uncle who selflessly raised him. All good stuff—except it has almost nothing to do with the second and third acts. PP’s/Spidey’s vigilante revenge grinds to a nub once he realizes he’s causing problems for the police. Because all superheroes cause the po-po headaches, don’tcha know. And since he’s carrying a web-wrapped torch for the police chief’s daughter, this gangly, brilliant, agile, spandex-wearing emotional mess of a spider-bite-gone-wrong has to do the right thing—forget about catching his uncle’s killer and, uh, chase the big dinosaur.

An argument can be made that the family angst is pivotal to Spider-man’s development as a superhero. True, if that had been carried throughout the story. Instead it seemed like a chance for stunt casting Sally Field and Martin Sheen, who, while excellent in their roles, could have easily been five minute cameos and the message would have been the same: Spider-Man becomes the reluctant hero because of his uncle’s tragic death. It would have been better to use the first ten or fifteen minutes to show the backstory, then on to dinosaur chasing, web flinging, air swinging shenanigans. And don’t forget the impossible romance that must end in tragedy or the sequel will. not. happen.

Despite all that, I’m looking forward to Spider-Man 2, which according to imdb is happening in 2014. I’m just giddy about all these superhero movies, because for the most part, they are a blast to watch. I just hope the sequels to all the sequels that have been already sequelized don’t let me down.

‘Phineas and Ferb: Mission Marvel’

Remember how comic books fans were all furrowed brows and sputtering talk back in ’09 when Disney absorbed Marvel? How the fans were worried that Disney would dilute/sully/demean/cheapen/totally screw the Marvel brand?

Remember how relieved fans were when the Marvel feature films stayed as fresh and exciting and authentic as the first IRON MAN had been after the new regime was in place?

How they/you/we heaved big sighs of relief and went back to cursing more important things, like the economy, Microsoft, and health care in the U.S.A.?

Well, it just might be time to start worrying again:

Or, in the words of MTV Geek’s Charles Webb:

Worlds collide as Dan Povenmire and Jeff “Swampy” Marsh’s kid characters cross over with the Marvel U…

Phineas and Ferb co-creator Marsh is providing redesigns to the Marvel Heroes and villains so that they’ll blend into Danville. No word on if the Avengers and Ultimate Spider-Man voice cast will be reprising their roles for the special event.

Now that Disney is embracing the inevitable collision between their stable of cartoon characters and the Marvel catalog, how long is it until we finally get a Disney/Marvel game mashup in the vein of Kingdom Hearts? Get on that, Disney.

As Jack Kirby’s mom might have said, “Oy!”

If I’d Known Don Glut was Spider-Man We’d Be BFFs

by Larry Brody

Back in the day when I was a kid writer hanging at Harlan Ellison’s house and  being amazed not only by his talent but also by everything he got away with in everyday life that would’ve gotten me, at best, a punch in the face, there was this guy named Don Glut who also would show up every once in awhile.

I remember being told that Don was a writer when we were introduced. And that he was a huge comics fan. But I never got any details because he was, quite simply, the most abstracted human being I’d ever met at that point. His head was – well, it was somewhere beyond the clouds, in a very special place. Which, I thought at the time, must have made life hard for him because Don also seemed to be the most eager-to-be-loved human being I’d ever known as well…and if there’s a trait more opposed to living in your own head than that I can’t imagine what it is.

Over the years, Don and I would encounter each other at various science fiction, television, and animation-oriented events, and I was as cordial as I could be for an arrogant mess who was much more interested in which overpriced foreign car to buy next in order to best flaunt my television writing success than I was in anything – and I mean anything – else.

(The highlight, if you can call it that, of this phase of my life was buying a new Jag and giving it the custom California plates, “TV PAYS.” I realized just how dumbass I really was one day when I went out to the Samuel Goldwyn Studio parking lot to drive home and found a note on my windshield: “Schmuck! Movies pay more!”)

After I returned to earth, as my mother probably would’ve put it, s-f, TV, and comics stuff took a back seat to new interests, and I never had the chance to glimpse Don Glut at the other end of convention halls again. Recently, though, we reunited on Facebook. (Yeah, yeah, I apologize, but it’s the truth.) And since then I’ve done some poking around, seeing him change from this:

to this:

And learning, just today, about this:

If I’d known that Don Glut was the creator of what possibly was the first appearance ever of The Amazing Spider-Man in a live action film, as well as creator of the most incredible oevre of written work, and The World’s Absolutely Biggest Fan of Everything Pop Art That I, Larry Brody, Also Love, he and I would right now, this minute be celebrating at least 40 years of genuine Best Friends Forever Friendship.

Don Dood, I’m really sorry I missed you. Salutations from your new Biggest Fan.

Don Glut’s Glorious Website