Superfreaks/ACRA: Superfreaks Season 2 Trade Etherback #1 (Collecting #'s 1-5)

Tom Russell milos_parker at
Mon May 21 22:51:06 PDT 2007

Ah, Superfreaks.  I love it, I hate it, I think it's great and I wish
it was better.  I will say this for the series that provokes such
contradictory and multivariate responses in me-- it never ceases to

The second "season" of Superfreaks starts very strong with a few
crackerjack ideas-- a sign-language chimpanzee eye witness, an
Atlantean murder, and renewed hostilities between the police and super-
folk (whom had gotten a little too comfy towards the end of the first

I especially liked some of the detail work re: Atlantean society.
(For example, they can't see well under water, and so have no way to
recognize faces.)  Details are what makes stories-- especially
detective stories and world-building stories-- interesting, memorable,
and rewarding.  Martin really outdoes himself with the first

The next four are not as inspired.  Sure, they have their neat moments
here and there, and some choice dialogue, but the things that provoke
the more negative response from me are more pronounced: a lack of good
detail work, an inability to deliver on the series' essential
premise-- resulting in more of a superhero-story-with-police instead
of police-story-with-superheroes, particularly in # 5-- and a cringe-
inducing transparency in character names (Richard Reed for Reed
Richards, for example).

And I think the problem is, if I can carry Martin's television
metaphor a bit further-- it's that Superfreaks is being produced with
syndication in mind.  Series produced for syndication-- or with an eye
towards it-- whether they be sitcoms or dramas-- often have 20+
episodes per season.  In a batch of 20-24 episodes, you'll have two or
three really great ones, a handful of decent ones, and a lot of

But British shows don't seem to have that problem, do they?  Sure, not
every episode of BlackAdder is a gem, but there are a lot more great
episodes than there are clunkers.  And I think the reason for that is
that there's 24 episodes of BlackAdder, _total_.  Across four
seasons.  Six episodes at a time, with a few years break in between.

It's not that British sitcoms are necessarily funnier than American
ones-- though they very well could be-- it's that because the writers
of British sitcoms have less stories to come up with, their good ones
stand out more.

Let's say you have a great premise and four really great story ideas
that deliver on that premise.  In an American program, you'd have a
great sixth of a season.  The other five-sixths are probably absolute

But in a British programme, you'd have TWO-THIRDS of a season.  If you
had a couple clunkers, you'd still have a perception of higher quality
because there's less filler/clunkers to detract from it.

Shows like the Sopranos or Rome, which only have twelve or thirteen
episodes per season, are generally better than day-time soap operas,
and it's for much the same reason.

So I think if there were _less_ episodes of Superfreaks per season
(or, hell, per week), those episodes that remain would be more likely
to deliver on the essential premise and thus, to my mind, be more
likely to be entertaining.

Now, Martin-- I know that you write, just as I do, because you enjoy
writing.  It's casual and fun.  (Your stance against editing is well
documented.)  And nothing I'm going to say is going to change that,
nor would I want to.

But in reviewing, I endeavor to provide an honest opinion, and I have
done that.  I think that if there were less episodes of Superfreaks
and if you spent a little more time editing them, we'd have more
wonderful ideas like chimpanzee witnesses and Atlantean murders, and
less bad ideas like Fusion and Devastatus.  I mean, I want very badly
now to write an Atlantean murder mystery and totally rip off your plot
about the king of Atlantis going to court-- but the whole Devastatus
thing, I could do without.

I also think it would enable you to focus your efforts on your
strengths-- namely the police of Pepperton-- instead of drifting into
straight-forward superheroics.  The point-of-view of the police, and
the theme of the super-encroachment upon their territory forms the
essential premise of your series.  Having the police concerned about
the suspension of rights in a secret anti-dimension prison delivers on
that premise.  Having Devastatus and Fusion attack the prison-- not so
much. :-)


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