Episode 140: Hulk: Turn Off the Smash

The Overthinkers tackle Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.

Matthew Wrather hosts with Peter Fenzel, Mark Lee, Josh McNeil, John Perich, and special guest Maddy Myers to overthink Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.

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44 Comments on “Episode 140: Hulk: Turn Off the Smash”

  1. Pasteur #

    Here’s hoping that Baz Luhrmann’s upcoming Great Gatsby turns out to be all a dream inside Spiderman’s head.

    Buffy having been briefly mentioned during the podcast- wouldn’t Whedon’s musical episode (see also: Scrubs) be a good example of recasting a familiar story in a self-aware musical style? Or does this method pertain only to more episodic storytelling like TV?

  2. Maddy #

    Well, ACTUALLY, my last name is spelled Myers. :)

    Thanks again for having me!

    • Tulse #

      It was great to hear you on, Maddy — you were a fine addition!

    • Howard #

      I came here from Pandagon too! I think the first podcast I listened to was the Scott Pilgrim one. I didn’t go back and go through the archive, though.

  3. lee OTI Staff #

    It’s not in the show notes above, so I should specify that I actually saw the show and we react to my descriptions of it, rather than just talk about the phenomenon in general like we did a few episodes ago.

    For additional plot synopses and insights (which I largely agree with) on “Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark,” I recommend the Slate.com review: http://www.slate.com/id/2284320/

  4. Timothy J Swann #

    I have loads of comments for this episode. Loads.

    But to get in swift on the superhero musicals:
    V for Vendetta: Turn Off The Hierarchy

    • Rob #

      Nice. Here’s another:
      The Legend of Zelda: Turn Off The Power, But Only While Holding The Reset Button

      • fenzel #

        Or Leisure Suit Larry: Turn Off the Not-Turned-On-Ness

        • Timothy J Swann #

          Y: Turn off the Chromosome. (This is basically Schechner bait)

          • Rob #

            I’m not Shechner, but I can’t resist:
            Well, actually, it’s the X chromosome, not the Y, that is routinely (near-)globally inactivated. So I’d go with X instead of Y. Unless you were making a musical about a scientist who discovered/invented Y-inactivation. (A musical about Y would be a lot of fun! It would have to make extensive use of palindromes.)

            Anyway, how about this variant of your idea?
            Vin Diesel is: XXX: Turn off the Chromosome.

  5. Hazbaz #

    I’m not sure it necessarily qualifies as a superhero, but my effort is:

    MODOK: Turn Off The Killing

    I’ve been wondering for a while if it possible that Julie Taymor’s overwrought storytelling in the Spider-man musical could be influenced by her recent work on The Tempest film. One of the Overthinkers or commenters who knows Shakespeare well may have to help me, but the last time I saw the play, it struck me as a mixture of standard revenge drama and overarching metaphysical rumination with supernatural elements.

    • Sylvia #

      I’ve yet to see Julie Taymor’s version of The Tempest, but it is possible that she’s trapped herself into an overly graphic and cerebral style. And the fact that her early instances of this (Titus, The Lion King) have been such commercial successess have trapped her even more. So, rather than having her real point of view be applied to a script, or any artistic project, she’s putting together a “Julie Taymore” version of the project and it’s all falling flat.

  6. Sylvia #

    And a question for the “Complete-ists” (I am one of you.) Because Netflix allows you watching a television series in it’s entirety, have you found it to be more difficult to watch show that are still airing because you have to wait for episodes? Or you feel like it’s not worth starting until the final season is relaased?

    • Matthew Wrather OTI Staff #

      There’s definitely a different rhythm involved. Compare bingeing on a whole season of Weeds in a weekend with watching the episodes as they’re parceled out one half-hour per week.

      I end up DVR-ing several episodes of shows I like so I can watch them all at once.

      FWIW, I tried to address the phenomenon here: http://www.overthinkingit.com/2010/08/09/television-snackability/

  7. Redem #

    Green lantern would probably make a pretty terrible musical if only because of the technical side

  8. cat #

    So many musical references…I am pleased.

    • cat #

      Also, OTI podcast musical episode. Make it happen. Only partially kidding. :)

      • Dan #

        If you do that, PLEASE call me – I’d love to be on that panel. :)

        • Gab #


  9. Chris #

    Matter-Eating Lad: Turn Off Anything That Takes Up Space and Has Mass

    The only Taymor I’ve seen is Frida, and I found it so obnoxious I walked out about halfway through. I also saw a couple scenes from Across the Universe, which were just as obnoxious. I’m just not a fan of her style greatly over substance approach. I did like the Taymor-esque Itchy and Scratchy musical on The Simpsons, however.

  10. Howard #

    According to Wiki, the One More Day storyline took place in the main Spider-Man comic book in the wider Marvel Universe. Apparently, there was also a storyline where they maybe touch on some mysticism in Spider-Man’s origin (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ezekiel_(comics)), ie the spider that bit Peter Parker was meant to give him powers anyway, regardless of the radioactivity.

    I think that part of the reason why comic stories get so convoluted is that they’ve just been running for so long. Spider-Man’s been running for close to 50 years now, and there are only so many times you can write Dr. Octopus kidnapping Mary Jane and Spidey overcoming the odds to save her.

    • Timothy J Swann #

      I seem to remember that people didn’t like the fact that it erased MJs and Spidey’s unborn child, but I don’t know if this makes it more or less significant. Moral of the story? Superheros should read Marlowe and Goethe’s Fausts.

  11. 0bs01337 #

    The Flaming C: turn off the… Too Soon!

    • petrlesy #

      Hosni: turn off the internet

      • fenzel #

        It could be a trilogy:

        Hosni: Turn off the Internet
        Egypt: Turn off the Hosni
        CNN: Turn off the Egypt

    • fenzel #

      Okay, everybody who bet Quaddafi owes everybody who bet Taymor five dollars.

  12. Gab #

    ‘Darkwing Duck: Turn Off the Battery.’ The villain would be Megavolt, of course, but an appearance by Negaduck would be kind of impossible to avoid. But I wouldn’t want to see it because it would likely destroy a fond memory from/ portion of my childhood. I used to act out episodes (myself, using dolls, or in combinations). (Although I can think of a really punny name, too. ‘Darkwing Duck: Launch the Pad.’ Eh? EH?)

    Glen Beck liked the Spider-Man musical, doesn’t that count for anything?

    For serious, though, Lee, given the vast amounts of negative reviews it has gotten, why did you see it? Candidly, I’ll admit I had hoped the critics were just being critics, but from what you said, I’m not so sure I’d ever make an attempt to see it if I went to NY. In other words, I had been hoping to visit NY for other purposes in the future but make a side-trip or work the show into the schedule of events somehow, and am now inclined not to. :(

    Add me to the list of “complete-ists” here. It’s why I haven’t read The Dark Tower series, for one thing, and why I still haven’t made the effort to consistently watch Burn Notice, among others.

    And well, ACTUALLY, Aracne isn’t a goddess, per say. She was a regular (albeit talented and arrogant) gal that pissed Athena off and got punished (perhaps a little wrongly- she DID win, after all). Sort of like all the women Hera, out of jealousy, had turned into stars or plants or whatever because Zeus got it on with them- she was morphed into another thing altogether, not deified, so I’m inclined to call her a mythological character/figure, not goddess. Oh, gods…

    • fenzel #

      The title they have for the Spider-Man musical would work pretty decently for a Darkwing Duck musical. Although I think I’d call it – “Darkwing Duck: Turn Out that Night!”

      Although “Let’s Get Dangerous!” is begging to be part of the title of a Broadway musical. The words are practically doing jazz hands.

      If Disney did a sort of jazzy, noir-inspired Darkwing Duck musical comedy, it would probably be pretty awesome.

    • lee OTI Staff #

      “For serious, though, Lee, given the vast amounts of negative reviews it has gotten, why did you see it?”

      That’s a good question, one that I didn’t address in the podcast. There are several: mostly, I went out of sheer morbid curiousity and a desire to be part of the moment. In my years in NYC I’ve never seen such a dust-up over a musical, and I both wanted to see what the fuss was all about and be able to say that I was actually there.

      The other reason, and I’m not making this up, is so that I’d have something interesting to bring to the podcast/site. In other words, I did it for you, the readers and listeners. (Cue the Bryan Adams: “Everything I do, I do it for you”)

      • Gab #

        So I should swoon, right?

        • Simber #

          OverthinkingIt, the Musical – Turn off the swoon

  13. thelonegoldfish #

    Hi, I wanted to thank Maddy for inspiring me to get out of my lazy rut and go and download some of the earlier episodes (which itunes doesn’t list sadly).

    Also, I found you guys though KoL as well (as they stole your opening a few times and spoke highly of you).

    I’ve also overcome my crippling laziness enough to post a comment. Possibly I might even be able to find some stars and click them… oh the places I may go.

  14. Timothy J Swann #

    Okay, lots of thoughts, most of them scatter-brained:
    There’s a point in the podcast where someone says The Amazing Julie Taymor. I spent the next five minutes trying to think of the other Spiderman books/continuities that she might appear in: The Spectacular Julie Taymor, Astonishing Julie Taymor, Ultimate Julie Taymor, Julie Taymor Noir and my very favourite, Julie Taymor 2099, who has just about got back into the black for Turn Off The Dark.

    The Clone Saga has some of the greatest bad science in recentish comic books: i.e. the degeneration of clones to goo and/or dust. It’s a great way to solve an existential dilemma. Incidentally, I’d love to see the tale told as a version of Blood Brothers…

    There are, of course, lots of Spidermen… would Taymor get more slack for her changes to the origins if it were clear this were a different universe – the Singing Spiderman etc. or is that the sort of thing that alienates ‘normal’ watchers, who aren’t as obsessed with canon/continuity as comic book readers?

    The only work on stage I’ve seen that attempted to portray something usually too fantastic to show on the stage was His Dark Materials, which was a terrific show that used puppetry not dissimilar to the Lion King for the bears, lots of lights to symbolise Dust and the pit, and sparkly costumes for the angels… there was some suspended flying for the witches, but it was a pretty stripped back performance compared to what you might expect from the source material. However, this actually worked in its favour, doing that theatrical thing of having us fill in the gaps that as you argue for Turn Off The Dark might have made it better than its attempt at verisimilitude (if that’s the right word when talking about Spiderman).

    Bad musicals do run and run if they hit the right audience. Mamma Mia in both film and stage is critically disliked but has made millions of pounds here in the UK, by having songs that are already popular and… little else. Maybe if U2 had thrown in some of their earlier songs (HMTMKMKM from Batman for extra confusion to the comics fans, perhaps) it would be even more likely to get its money back.

    • Gab #

      HMTMKMKM is for a DC movie, to boot, too.

  15. Peter Tupper #

    From what I’ve read, SM:TOTD sounds like the world’s most expensive Mary Sue story. And that’s what baffling. How did the people who sunk $50 million or however much into this let her create such a unconventional story for a familiar property? Why didn’t they insist on a fairly straightforward retelling of the Spider-Man origin?

    I suppose the director should get points for being experimental and not slavishly following established stories, i.e. not doing a familiar story that both Marvel and the fans probably wanted. That doesn’t mean it has to be a good story.

    Another point about trying to get guys to go to Broadway shows: when a business tries to break out of its traditional audience, this is a sign of a business in trouble. Tom Clancy is not losing sleep trying to get women to read his books.

  16. Timothy J Swann #

    @Rob – I was referring specifically to Y: The Last Man, where I somewhat assume that for all males of all species to die (except the hero), something must have happened to the Y chromosome. (Yes, I know some species have it reversed, but I don’t know if the writer of Y: The Last Man knew that).

    • Rob #

      Ah. I had no idea. That’s a fascinating story… A preemptive overthinking of its genetics suggests that such a plague would not work by turning off Y (which contains no essential genes, after all – females live without it!), but instead by targeting the unique sequences of Y for site-specific insertion of some lethal toxin. (This would probably require different target sequences for different species, though – even among mammals there would probably be massive divergence.) But I suppose that subsequent silencing of Y might force silencing from that toxin’s promoter; so the cure, but not the disease, would call for us to Turn Off the Chromosome.

  17. Squin #

    My experience with OTI is pretty similar to Maddy’s. Heard about it from Radio Kol over a year ago, first podcast episode I listened to was “Episode 75: No Cake But What We Make”, and the first article I read was Stokes’ Overthinking Cowboy Bebop series, I think that’s what sold me on the site, I listened to a couple more current (at the time) podcasts before getting hooked, at which point I went through the entire podcast backlog from episode one (only skipped a couple to avoid spoilers) in about a month (I was unemployed at the time).

    Since then I’ve looked forward to the podcast every week, and read the articles that catch my interest, which is a good amount of them. Also possibly of note: this is the only podcast on the internet that I actively follow.

  18. Dan #

    Oh, and what about:

    The Tick: Turn of the for justice!

  19. inmate #

    OK, a late Well Actually, but there is a bit of “flying” in Spamalot.

    It happens when they meet Tim (the mystical and magical magician) and it lasts for a few seconds.

    The quote is, I believe, “Look how he flies with no wires or other supporting devices!”