Tuesday, April 12, 2011

BEHOLD! The Magic Galoshes!!!

I was discussing a show concept with a friend recently: Its about a hero who, when he puts on a helmet of supernatural origins, gains the power of ________________ <-- fill in the blank. And he fights evil...

To be honest, I didn't like the idea. "What happens when he's not wearing the hat?" I asked.
"He's just a normal guy - but WITH the hat - he's SUPERMAN!!!", said my friend.

I stopped him right there. THAT'S the problem. Your hero is only interesting when he's wearing The Magic Galoshes. Otherwise, who cares? The HERO of a show can't be an average, ordinary, normal guy. He's got to be extra-ordinary in his day-to-day life - because from a story standpoint, "What happens if he can't get to The Magic Galoshes?" What if he loses them? What if they're at the shoemakers? Without the boots - he's nothing.

Let's take a look at a "Magic Galoshes" premise that works - and works brilliantly: IRON MAN.

(Disclaimer: I'm a DC guy. I grew up on Batman and Superman. I've bought 1 Spiderman comic in my whole life - and I don't know those X-Guys from a hole in the ground. Point being - I come to the Marvel Universe as a Newbie. I don't know anything about them - so I have no preconceptions. But I like what I see!)

Tony Stark - billionaire, playboy, scientist - is Iron Man. And I'll be honest, Tony Stark as played by Robert Downey Jr. is a hell of a lot more interesting as Tony Stark, than he is as Iron Man. Iron Man flies. Iron Man makes things go BOOM! Big deal.

They could make a "Tony Stark" movie and I'd go see it - because Tony Stark is an interesting character (with a lot of flaws and vices) and I like him. He's a richly written character, with a troubled past and an interesting present. Put Tony Stark in a rocket-powered tin suit - BONUS!

Point being - 'gimmick' shows usually don't work. That doesn't mean they don't sell. They do - but they don't have the "legs" or richness of concept needed for a strong run.

Bottom Line: Your Hero has to be interesting WITHOUT the gimmick.


  1. I know this is an old post, but I just saw a rerun from a The Simpsons episode in which the Comic Book Guy had written a comic about a man callen Avery Mann, a regular John Smith who had the power of borrowing other Superheroes' powers when he touched their comic books -thus becoming EveryMan... And it made me remember 'The Magic Galoshes', since I really don't see how something like that would sell... What do you think?

    Thanks for your time!! I've learnt a lot from you...

  2. The Simpsons are The Simpsons. They're in another league. The can throw anything on the air and the fans will watch it. Thankfully, they don't just throw 'anything' on the air. No matter what you think of the show, they're still the Gold Standard for Prime Time Animation.

    That said (and the point of my post), "The Magic Galoshes" is a pretty lousy premise for a show. It's a crutch. MAD MEN isn't about advertising. It's about the PEOPLE in an advertising agency. I don't think they spend more than one minute per episode on real "ad work". It's the relationships that matter.