Monday, March 22, 2021

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, CAPTAIN CRANE!

The great William Shatner turns 90 today!  (How is such a thing possible?)  If you want to know why I love the guy, read this.  And for a list of my favorite Shatner performances, click here.

I could have picked a Captain Kirk scene to post here in celebration, but the truth is, however much I love Kirk and Star Trek—and you know I do—Shatner will always be Denny Crane to me.

20 comments:

  1. By clicking on the link to your favorite Shatner performances, I was able to discover, in a roundabout way, that you wrote an episode of Twilight Zone around the same time you wrote Moonshadow and Kraven's Last Hunt! Somehow I hadn't known this, and I immediately began looking for where I can stream it. While researching, I discovered on the episode's Wikipedia page that it might not have adhered closely to the original script. Would you recommend the episode anyway, and is there anything you can share about what inspired it? The idea for the plot sounds terrific.

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    1. Here it is:

      https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x7xubys

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    2. It was my first TV script and I'm sure it needed the rewrite. And the talented Marty Pasko—who was on the TZ writing staff—had a hand in that, so I really can't complain. I'm sure, if I looked back at my original script, what they did was an improvement.

      My only serious bone of contention was a change in the ending that undermined my intent. But, still, it's a fun episode, with strong performances and direction. So, yes, I'd recommend it.

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  2. I watched it. I like how the episode concisely presents a timeless aspect of the human condition ("something precious lost, something precious gained"). It seemed to me like the ending was warmer to the older versions of the characters, whereas I would have expected the episode to be more open-ended, to allow the competing ideas and perspectives to resonate together.

    But it was fun. I agree it had strong performances and direction. As a slight digression, from my 40-year-old perspective, I rarely encounter something from that time period that doesn't have something of value to offer, something to latch on to and enjoy. And now I'm in the mood to watch more Twilight Zone episodes...

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    1. My version had a much warmer embrace of the younger selves at the end. In fact the youngers merged, very lovingly, with the olders, finding a new balance between the two.

      But, overall, I was very happy with what they did. And who can complain when your first TV sale is to the Twilight Zone? The only thing that would have been better would've been going back in time and selling it to Rod Serling!

      Thanks for marching me down Memory Lane. I may have to write a blog post about my experiences with this episode...

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  3. March 22 is also the birthday of the CHARACTER of James T. Kirk, as well as the former lead singer of the Yardbirds, and your favorite person in the world.

    Anyway, I still do not have DIsney plus, and don't plan to any time soon. However, I have heard about the Falcon and Winter Soldier story, and that they are seemingly using a lot of Gruenwald work as a basis.... which is great.

    Still, it has me wondering, are you responsible forthe creation of Flag-smasher? I KNOW, I KNOW, Gruenwald's creation, but...

    Look, Gruenwald was the writer right after you, and before that was your editor on the book.

    My theory is that you kept coming in, and suggesting to you make Captain America Captain world, or Captain No-Borders, or something. Maybe Mister-One-World. Carl maybe? doesn't matter.

    Gruenwald kept trying to explain why this was a bad idea, or that the names were bad, that Shooter wouldn't approve.

    To counter that, you just kept saying, "You've heard Imagine by Lennon, right? 'Imagine no countries, It isn't hard to do...'"

    And he was like, that isn't a good justification for changing an iconic character so much... or the terrible names. Still, you did this month in and month out. All the time Gruenwald thinking, "if he keeps doing this, I will break this dream of his, and by Stan I have the mustache to do it."

    Then your tenure on the book ended. He and you were handing out, and Imagine came on the radio, and you said "hey, remember that great idea I had, since you are the writer now..."

    And he was like, "this guy cant take a hint, but I don't want to be rude, so I will just turn his idea into a villain, he'll get the idea, and I won't have to be mean. Also a plus side, might crush some of the hippie out of him."


    And thus FLag-Smasher was born. And of course, it probably did not help that in every meeting with him you were ALSO sucking down oxygen right in front of him, while he was trying to have a professional meeting. AS you may recall Dematteis, last year you did confirm the stereotype that all Italians are addicted to oxygen... but, there is a time and a place.



    Jack

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  4. Yes, that's EXACTLY how it happened, Jack. Your psychic abilities are uncanny. But seriously...

    I don't have Disney Plus either, so I haven't seen the show.

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    1. Well, we are just going to have to claim a victory that out of the millions of people watching this show, there is a very slim chance, that maybe one or two... perhaps even three if that is n ot too crazy... will pick up one of the books that collect Gruenwald's Cap run.

      Jack

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    2. Apparently the current episode thanks Gruenwald, me, Mike Zeck and Paul Neary. Our whole Cap crew!

      I may have to get Disney+ for a month and just binge all the new Marvel content.

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    3. Of course they thanked you, Dematteis. Flag Smasher is in the series, and we just went over how your hippie nonsense drove Gruenwald to create.

      I guess you can binge all the Marvel content, but there are four more seasons of Marvel shows. So, at what point you do this binging is bit of a question.

      Personally, I would suggest that if you need a cap fix, read the mini series (also collected) Truth: Red. White, and Black and Ed Brubaker's excellent run on the book.

      Or do none of it. It really is your choice, Demtteis.


      Jack

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    4. Well, VISION & SCARLET WITCH is a complete season telling a complete story, so I think watching that all together is a good idea. Watching too many seasons of too many shows at once is overload!

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    5. Well, if it is comic book pros being honored, you may have to wait until Loki comes out. Word on the street, is that the Time Variance Authority will be in it, which if memory serves was designed to look like Mr. Gruenwald as an homage.

      I doubt that they will all look like him, but if they want to give the people what they want, they will digitally put his mustache on.

      Like I said, I don't have Disney plus, but I think we both know how this ends.. Sam, or less likely Bucky, becomes the new Captain America. Then a few months later, it happen in the comics.

      hat I have been wondering recently is... must there be a Captain America?

      OKay, I love Sam Wilson. And while I would greatly prefer they put some real effort into making Falcon work. However, if being CAptain America is the only way he will get the much deserved spotlight, and they give a writer that really gets teh characters...fine.

      However, what I have been thinking is, keep Steve as a hro in his own right, but no one is Captain America.

      I know the myriad of reasons why that wouldn't happen... now. I think in the 70s or 80s it could have worked. But I have a reason.

      I don't know if you know this, but occasionally... writers use Cap to make a point. This will shock you, but the secret empire and Nomad stories from the 80s, were inspired by Watergate. Did you know this well hidden gem... Captain America was punching Hitler, when America still had an isolationist stand. This you definitely don't know, but at a time when there were no visible comic characters who were gay, and AIDS was creating homophobia, Cap had a gay friend who he accepted without any conversation or needing to be swayed and promoted not silencing free speech with violence against Neo-Nazis, even though he despised every word he said. I know the last two are probably especially alien to you.

      And that all is great, and can very easily continue He would still be a golden age superhero and moral beacon of the Marvel Universe. Most stories would be transforable,

      The issue is the baggage that comes with the name Captain America. Three specifically.

      1. There is a trap even good writers fall into. They see a chance to make a point about America. GREAT! However, they get so wrapped up in the point, they forget about Steve Rogers. They see a good stand in for the nation's more honorable side, and how it collides with the less great realities, and they forget there is a character that it needs to be filtered through. An interesting character who has lived in this universe, is kind and decent, but nor naive. A character who has already shown an ability to have nuanced thought. Which would be more interesting than just stand in for America.

      2. Recurring stories. Specifically, the government goring against Cap, or the other way around. Since Secret Empire, it has happened every decade. Literally, every Decade.

      DON'T GET ME WRONG... many have been good stories. But since Marvels ALL about the continuity, it can only happen so many times before he gets sick of it. AND Steve always has the same kinds of Depression and disbelief, and search for identity. Then throw in that given the sliding time scale, in universe this has to be happening literally every other year.

      3. Nostalgia. It seems to me there are certain types of fans who just want comics to be exactly like they were before. Right down to the same impact. And because they may have been to young to get that sociopolitical comments were being made then, they can't now. And that causes a backlash, and sales get weird The internet gets weirder. You get it.

      continued...

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    6. I just think that maybe, Captain America is holding Steve Rogers back. And Sam Wilson deserves to be a hero in his own right.

      Maybe someone new entirely should be Cap, and these two guys get to be rich characters. I care far more about Steve, Sam, and Bucky that Captain America, and I am pretty sure And an ex-Captain America, who is still the symbolic heroes before would be a great idea.

      It gets to be about Steve Rogers in America.
      And that is not getting into the whole complicated mine field of the first mainstream African American superhero and forcing him into the title that belonged to an old white guy. Which is something I have no answers about.

      Sorry that was all kind of useless, but if you just want good Falxcon or Bucky stories, I can help there.

      Falc _ The Captain America and Falcon series by Christopher Priest, circa 2003, I think, did some really interesting stuff with the character. It is also unfairly overlooked.

      Bucky (Winter Soldier) - Brubkaer's Cap run. All of i. It is a love letter to the character, and Bucky is Cap for the majority, and very interesting things happen. Like being a trial for time as W Inter Soldier, and winding up in a gulag. And a really... prophetic.. story, where 50s Cap uses nostalgia for an America that never quite was to endorse a party of extremists.

      sorry for wasting your time.

      Jack

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    7. Maybe the answer isn't erasing Captain America, Jack. Maybe the answer is transforming him into Captain World. (Not really the best name, but you know what I mean.) A representative of the best in all of us, no matter what nationality or ethnicity or faith. This idea of "American Exceptionalism," that Americans are somehow better than everyone else, is a dated one.

      And, yes, I agree about the emphasis on the man behind the mask. If you're only relating to a character as a symbol, then there's really no human being there. You need to relate to a person, to their struggles and triumphs, their all-too human flaws.

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  5. Speaking of Captain America, I recently read The Life and Times of Savior 28 and I really enjoyed it. I liked Savior 28's progression from being a standard superhero trying to save the world by punching people, to trying to save the world by bringing about world peace, to his final realization that he could do more by just helping out in his local community.

    Also, it was sad to see The Daring Disciple become so embittered that he tried to kill his former mentor and ended up killing himself.

    Overall, it was a very enjoyable and thought provoking read.

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    1. Thanks, William. SAVIOR 28 is one of my all-time favorite projects, twenty-five years in the making, and I'm very glad you enjoyed it.

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  6. I remember having a conversation with a friend about how so few real world problems can be solved by punching a bad guy in the face. He even had an idea for a Superman story in which Superman realizes he can make better use of his time working in an office full-time.

    It's interesting what you can learn in the Comments section. I'm definitely going to check out Savior 28.

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  7. IF you don;t mind me interjecting... there actually is a Superman story called "Up, Up, and Away" where after a year without his powers, they start to return.

    IN the beginning of the story we learn he was able to do as C Lark what he could not as Superman, take down Lex Luthor, through the power investigative journalism.

    Though, last month he appeared in an anthology called "Truth and Justice" where he used a combination of powers and his career to free a wrongly accused man. So, I think CLark may s=use his time as effectively as possible.

    Bruce is the one that needs this talking to about priorities. He could do a lot mere to stop the spread of crime in Gotham by opening a factory and allowing unions to form. Then donating his money to campaigns that prioritize mental health reform.

    Same is true for Iron Man. Maybe worse since he is shown to have more of a personal control over teh company.

    Crime fighting is clearly a poor man's game. DO you think these kinds of critiques are why Superman was a bit more... enthusiastic (and anti-establishment)...and Spider-Man and Daredevil were portrayed as less economically advanced, with Cap and the F.F, as a spy and fought crazy-no-way Sci-Fi menaces beyond normal protection? Sort of like how you don't call in the military to stop a purse snatcher.

    Perhaps that is the genius of the secret identity. Not getting lost in one type of thought process, and seeing things for what they are. Bruce lives so removed from the world, it is no wonder he would not see these obvious solutions they can do.

    Gruenwald already showed what happens when you think of everything on a superhero level, in Squadron Supreme.

    Come to think of it, the more the comics sacrifice teh BAt for the man, the crazier or at least single minded he gets in his pursuits. Meanwhile Clark and Peter spend there work a day/personal lives often helping people either through the job or personal interactions.


    Jack

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    1. I think the best Batman stories are the ones where you find a balance between the Bat and the man. Where Bruce is a full-bodied, three-dimensional character and not just a guy waiting to put on his cowl.

      But you already know that!

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