9/10/16

COMIC BOOK MEN: SEASON 1 - REVIEW


Led by Kevin Smith, Comic Book Men was AMC's geekier version of a Pawn Stars-style reality show with Red Bank, New Jersey comic-book store Jay & Silent Bob's Secret Stash as the central setting.

Cleverly using a podcast recording as a framing device, the show would include goofy comics-themed conversations, transactions with customers selling or purchasing all kinds of items and a mini-storyline involving the main cast. A sort-of spin-off from popular Smodco podcasts Tell 'Em Steve-Dave and I Sell Comics, the cast in question was a mix of both with Walt Flanagan and Bryan Johnson joining Ming Chen and Mike Zapcic behind the Stash's counter. Season 1 is a short one in that it only has 6 episodes but each of them is about 45 minutes long, a running-time that would be reduced by half soon enough. And this is why this first season remains the best of the bunch: by giving us more time with the cast and having more space to develop the main stories, the show allowed for a more natural pacing and an even blend of transactions, jokes and plot. After that season, the episodes would be severely edited down and feel disappointingly rushed at times.

Another thing that would change the show radically from Season 2 onwards is the reliance on having a special celebrity guest stopping by every week (only Jason Mewes shows up in S1) which not only made the show more unconvincing and often felt forced but meant less interaction between the Comic Book Men themselves, which was easily the best part of the first Season. Highlights from the opening 6 episodes include the cast dressing up like zombies after another misguided advertising idea by Ming, everyone showing up at a con that isn't even there and competing to sell some stock at the nearby flea market. Fans of the podcasts will have a great time watching Walt narrow down customers' expectations ruthlessly and bring his unique brand of cynicism to the show and seeing Ming agree to all kinds of crazy ideas from tattoos to dressing-up in silly costumes as Bryan brings the sarcastic comments and Mike delivers the comic-book knowledge. These guys are a really fun bunch and it's always entertaining to see them talk about... anything.

While the show would remain entertaining to watch long after this first Season, it's a shame that Comic Book Men didn't keep its original format. These first few episodes should definitely please fans as well as reality TV aficionados and the nerdiest viewers, though, so I would suggest checking them out if you haven't already.

Tell 'em, Walt!

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