One of my favorite shows that died too soon was The Grinder, which on paper was about a famous actor (Rob Lowe), whose long-running TV series in which he plays a lawyer (called The Grinder) has ended, and who moves back home to Boise to live with his brother (Fred Savage) and father, who are actually lawyers; he then decides to help with the family law firm, despite lacking any actual legal training other than starring in The Grinder (the show within the show). This is a cutesy premise that becomes dizzyingly self-referential as Lowe’s character approaches all real-life legal problems as he would on the show-within-the-show, which almost always seems to work albeit in unexpected ways, because applying the logic of the show-within-in-the-show fits right in with the characters’ reality, which is of course also a TV show; Savage’s character becomes increasingly agitated over the course of the show’s single season as the universe seems to come unmoored around him. Anyway, one of Lowe’s character’s trademark moves, both in the show and in the show-within-the-show, was to reply to someone who told him that something was impossible by dramatically saying “but what if … it wasn’t?”, followed by a swelling music sting. Again, within the skewed world of the show, things usually work out so he turns out to be right; but what I’ve always appreciated about Newspaper Spider-Man is its gritty realism. Spider-Man can’t do the impossible, even within the context of his heightened powers, because he’s just some chump making it up as he goes along, and even when he wins, it’s mostly by accident. Spidey isn’t saying “or maybe he can!” with any of Rob Lowe’s preternatural self-confidence. He hasn’t figured out anything at all. He’s just stalling for time.
Mark Trail, 4/7/17
I was going to make some joke about these dudes trying to armed-kidnap Mark in the middle of a crowded airport in these security-crazed times, but then I remembered that time I flew into Great Falls Airport in Montana, which had more mounted animal heads than TSA agents and didn’t even have bathrooms available once you passed security, so I’m guessing maybe you could pull this off in Rapid City? Guess we’ll find out, and also find out if this bald dude is capable of cracking a smile!
Gil Thorp, 4/7/17
“But they don’t call me that anymore. Because if there’s one thing we know about volcanoes, it’s that once they stop erupting, they never erupt again and anyone who treats them as an ordinary mountain and builds a home nearby is never in any danger whatsoever! Say, what do you suppose this spring storyline’s going to be about!”