Krypton: The Spooky Stories Version

Well, the show Krypton was finally cancelled, so I was finally willing to sit through it all at once. The show was not what I wanted, but I knew that going in. I considered it a chore to get through. But it wasn’t without its successes. I’d say the show’s General Zod was definitely my favourite live-action Zod to date. The special effects gave us the best looking Brainiac or Doomsday we’ve had. There is also some (maybe not enough, but some) stuff in there about how the rulers of Kryptons are jerks and there is a whole oppressed class of people who need help and that’s important for the Superman franchise. And I remember laughing at at least one or two jokes. So with that out of the way, the rest of this post will be about the stuff I didn’t like.

First of all, it suffers from the same problem Smallville did (and which I assume most prequels do) in which everything is about how big and important things in the future are. Man, I hate that. When I worked my way through Smallville (similarly a chore), I decided that my enjoyment of the show would have greatly improved if they were not ever allowed to use the word “Destiny”. If a prequel is going to work, it needs to be a story, not just be about how great the story that comes later is. With that there comes the time-travel that this show used to make sure all the characters knew how important the future was. If the show NEEDED to have a time-traveller from Earth to help the audience relate (I’m not convinced it did), I definitely would not have used a non-Superman-related DC character like Adam Strange. For me it would have been Kristin Wells, not in her Superwoman identity, but just as a researcher who maybe gets trapped there or something.

It’s also very clear that the show was trying to tap into the Game of Thrones type of scene. It had a lot of characters whose names and motivations I had trouble remembering and they’d stand around having big vaguely-British-accented conversations about the various factions vying for control of the land and their words would be dripping with hints of importance and betrayal and haughtiness. I get that that was intentional. That was what the show wanted. So they did that. But it’s definitely not the way I would have gone with it. The Krypton show as created by PDR would have been 75% less Game of Thrones and that space would have been filled up with an X-Files sort of scene.

My proposal is thus: We make Seg-El a paranormal investigator. I’m assuming we still need to base the show on Superman’s grandfather specifically, so we go with an older Seg-El, already raising a young Jor-El. This would place us closer to Krypton’s destruction. My Seg would not be a high-ranking member of the Science Guild, but his work would involve wandering the planet investigating strange seemingly-paranormal things. There are plenty of tales of weird stuff on Krypton that could be adapted to play as spooky occurrences. Things like Lar-On becomming a werewolf-style beast or Nam-Ek making an immortality serum that turns him into a monster. Before the Phantom Zone is officially discovered, it could be the cause of various phenomena. What about the Juru Wizards. The coming of Brainiac. The lost history of the Vrang invasion. The aforementioned time-travel. At least one visit from Mxyzptlk. All of this adds up to enough weirdness to sustain a paranormal investigator’s career.

And, over the course of the show, he might notice that the strange occurrences have a common thread: a chain reaction of some kind is beginning in the planet’s core. I wonder what that’s all about? Oh well, I guess we’ll never know.

We May Have Almost Had A Good Superman Cartoon

Gonna bring Superman Thoughts back for a bit, I think. Maybe not weekly, but more often. Gotta be getting something up here.

The reason for today’s Superman Thought in particular is the news that we almost got a Superman cartoon that looks like it would have been very close to what I’d want from a Superman cartoon.

As reported in this article, there was a proposed Superman Family cartoon. It would have combined Silver Age sensibilities with the diverse cast of Superman characters that have been introduced since the Silver Age. It probably would have been pure gold.

Beekeeper Review: Goronwy

“Never underestimate the powers of nature”

Today’s Beekeeper comes from an old-school episode of Doctor Who called Delta and the Bannermen. Goronwy Jones (using the surname that only appeared in the script because I like to be thorough) is a Welsh Beekeeper who gets caught up in one of the Doctor’s wacky adventures and doesn’t bat an eye. That’s the main thing about Goronwy: he is not surprised by much. In this story a time-travelling alien asks Goronwy to help protect some other aliens from an army of still more aliens. During none of this does Goronwy question anything, he just happily lends his home and beekeeping supplies to the cause. During the tense confrontation, Goronwy takes the time to explain beekeeping stuff to anyone who will listen and can be seen casually reading a book. The only explanation is that Goronwy has seen weirder stuff before.

Am I suggesting that Goronwy may even know the Doctor before this in some time-travel sense? Am I suggesting that he may even have been, in his youth, a companion to some version of the Doctor that we have not yet seen? Am I suggesting that he may be the most important character to ever appear in Doctor Who and even the Doctor doesn’t know it yet? Of course I am suggesting all of that. That’s what these Beekeeper Reviews are about, aren’t they? But actually, the episodes do make the case that Goronwy has a history, if not with the Doctor, with weirdness at least. When some Americans looking for a fallen satellite ask if he’s seen anything strange fall from the sky, Goronwy says “I’ve seen many things fall out of the sky, but nothing that could be described as weird” and he talks of strange lights (presumably UFOs) that he’s seen around the area. And does his own history with the bees seem supernatural? Well, it’s certainly mysterious that he can’t even say how long he’s been doing the job (because of time travel or old-person memory? Who can say?) and he suggests that he can talk to his bees, saying “They know everything that happens.” Even without my bias, we’ve got hints that this guy is far from an “ordinary” beekeeper.

At the end of the story, Goronwy gives the Doctor some honey and, as the Doctor furtively slips away from the Americans in the Tardis, Goronwy gives the camera a knowing wink. There’s definitely something up with this guy, everyone.

Three Honeycombs out of Five.

Beekeeper Review: Dr. Lorenz

“You see, my friends, through the centuries, man has sought to master the bee. And although she has shared with him most generously her produce, the bee went about her daily toils obeying not the commands of man, but the laws of her own civilization and culture.”

In 1955, an episode Science Fiction Theatre titled “The Strange Doctor Lorenz” introduce a strange doctor, named Lorenz. Dr. Lorenz is a beekeeper.

Dr. Lorenz (portrayed by Edmund Gwenn) is an elderly chemist who, with an assistant named George, lives in a house in a swamp near some small town called Dexter. There, in addition to farming honey, he conducts experiments with the help of his bees. The primary invention that benefits Lorenz’s work is a method for communicating with bees via “controlled use of artificial ultra-violet rays” that has allowed him to completely understand the bees’ language. Lorenz has shown nothing but respect for the bees, and they in turn like him and are happy to help him out.

Beyond that his experiments have been more along lines that one would actually expect from a chemist. He is working on a curative form of royal jelly which can heal even the most serious of wounds. While Lorenz is not a medical doctor, the townsfolk around the swamp apparently are confused by his “doctor” title and often summon him for aid in times of medical emergency. Lorenz is happy to help, but will only use his special jelly in cases of life or death. But why doesn’t he use it to heal everyone? Why doesn’t he go public with his discoveries? Well, the tragedy here is that the jelly is still not perfected. Its healing effects are only temporary, and continued use of the jelly makes the subject deadly allergic to bees, a single sting being enough to instantly kill them. Until this can be improved upon, Lorenz will only treat those who would be otherwise doomed, and whom he can keep a watch on. (Lorenz himself would seem to be at risk, but the bees would never have any reason to sting him.)

What else? Lorenz is not a fighter, but when a man breaks into his home and tries to steal from him, he does release the bees, which is an accepted beekeeper combat technique of course. Furthermore, he is a quirky fellow and, for some reason, he goes to bed at 8:30 on the dot every night, even if he has to leave a conversation unfinished to do it. We’re never given a reason for that, so I could easily claim this routine is his way of keeping his Beekeeper Rage from flaring up. It is, if nothing else, impressive how he can apparently tell the time without the need for a clock.

3 Honeycombs out of Five.

Eventually, knowing that he is getting too old to see his research to the end, so he leaves his work to a doctor named Fred Garner. Let’s hope that Fred is able to perfect the curative jelly one day.

Beekeeper Reviews: The Littlest Hobo’s Beekeeper

Today’s beekeeper appears in the Littlest Hobo episode called “Dragonslayer”. He doesn’t have a major role, the story is actually about some children that the protagonist doggie helps through some dangerous woods, but he the episode’s climax still focuses on the beekeeper.

The beekeeper is not given any name, but he has a cool black beekeeping outfit and carries a big stick. His land, which the kids wander through, seems to be rigged full of traps that he probably set (there are many dangerous animals in his woods too). Those are all pluses for a beekeeper’s score. Also, when he comes across a bear breaking into his hives, his instinct is to attack it.

Granted, the bear beats him up and he has to be rescued by the star of the show, but still. He charged a bear. That’s pretty cool. If his loss to he bear was the only strike against him, that’d be a pretty good beekeeper score. Sadly, another concern is the scope of his apiary operations. It is probably a result of the show’s Canadian Television budget, but within the narrative, those boxes we see the bear attacking at the extent of this beekeeper’s honey farm. In spite of all the land he seems to own, that’s all he’s got.

It is also worth noting: when one of the kids asks why he didn’t just shoot the bear, the beekeeper says “No crime in a bear wanting honey, even if it is the best wild honey in the country.” There’s so much to unpack there. He holds no grudge against the bear, so he’s doing well for the Beekeeper Rage. But he also calls it “wild honey” which isn’t what a beekeeper’s stock would be. I don’t know what to make of that.

I wish I could go higher, but with the evidence we have there just isn’t enough to justify a higher score.