Heroes of Cosplay had its season premiere Tuesday, May 27, at 9:00 pm on the Syfy Channel. It was followed by the series debut of The Wil Wheaton Project at 10 pm. I watched both live.
The Heroes of Cosplay episode - "Stan Lee's Comikaze" - is listed as the seventh episode of the first season. I’ve also seen it referred to as the first episode of season 1.5. At the risk of revealing so soon what I thought of the episode, I don’t care what they call it.
The episode is boring. Really boring. Gone from the cast are Becky, Victoria and Victoria’s fiancé Jinyo. Becky was one of my favorite cast members. She appeared to have a good heart and she also seemed to have fun with her cosplay. Victoria could be overly dramatic at times and even a bit unpleasant, but she grew on me as the season progressed. I was rooting for her at the end.
Holly, Jessica and Chloe are back. I like Holly and Jessica a lot. Chloe is wearing real thin on me.
New addition Indra Rojas wasn’t interesting to me. She was defined by her adoration of mentor Yaya Han, who represents what I continue to believe is precisely what’s wrong with this series. I’ll get to that in a bit.
Jesse is back and he comes across as pathetic in his desire to make some sort of name for himself. His work isn’t at the level needed to win these competitions...and those competitions being portrayed as the be-all and end-all of cosplay is the major element keeping this series from being fun or even watchable.
Let me take to parse the show into its good, its bad and its ugly elements...
I’m reaching for the good here, but I found Chloe’s “Women of the Internet” burlesque cosplay amusing. She and her fellow cosplayers dress as websites and are more than a little risque in doing this. It’s a funny idea, which would have been improved if the websites had all been identified and if the bit hadn’t come off as just some time-filling routine. But, for what little there was of it, it was fun...and Heroes of Cosplay is seriously lacking in fun. It’s also lacking in diversity and meaning, but I’ll get to that.
Heroes still emphasizes the faux-suspense of the cast making their costumes at the last minute. Since these characters all aspire to making a living from their work - and some of them apparently are already doing so - this inability to manage their time speaks very badly of their professionalism.
Jesse is the most absurd in this regard. He doesn’t think to bring the metallic paint he needs to repair his costume to the hotel and can’t find a store that has it. However, when he visits prop master Dragon Dronet - his idol - he doesn’t think to ask the nice man if he can borrow a cup of paint.
The series continues to ignore the non-professional cosplayers who are so much fun at conventions. I’m so bored with Yaya going on and on about her reputation. I’m so bored with the minutia of costume construction when it’s not any more interesting that cutting pieces of this material or that.
Think how much more fun the show could be if it spend time with the regular Joes and Jills of the hobby. Heck, if it even acknowledged that cosplay can be a hobby and not a career path. I want to hear from the mom who decides to dress up as Catwoman...or the kids who love the idea of Halloween when it’s not Halloween...or those fans whose cosplay honors their favorite characters or represents some hidden part of themselves. These are the people who make cosplaying fun and the show ignores them completely.
Think how meaningful the show could be if it addressed some of the serious issues that have arisen around cosplay. The harassment of cosplayers leaps immediately to mind.
The competitions. Every damn episode of the series builds to one of these desperate-for-attention, money-grubbing costume competitions, usually judged by faux-celebrities you never heard of. Oh, how very not exciting that we break for commercial just as the cast members are waiting to see if they’ve won.
Don’t get me wrong. I love to see great costumes. I admire all the effort and originality that go into them. But, for the most part, we don’t hear anything more meaningful about the characters who are being portrayed than “it’s cool.” It doesn’t even seem like there are interesting people inside those costumes.
Boring, boring, boring.
Heroes of Cosplay has its series head up its vapid ass. If the show ever gets around to including the just-doing-it-for-fun fans, let me know. Because I won’t be watching it otherwise.
Because of the soul-deadening thing that was Heroes of Cosplay, I almost didn’t watch The Wil Wheaton Project live. Then I remembered Wheaton was a funny guy who seemed genuine. I figured I could give Syfy another half-hour of my life. I’m glad I did.
To quote the Syfy website:
The Wil Wheaton Project is a weekly topical comedy show hosted by actor, blogger and champion of geek culture Wil Wheaton. The 30-minute show is a fast-paced, lighthearted exploration and celebration of all things within the realm of science fiction and genre entertainment. Each week, Wil provides his insider point-of-view, sense of humor and genre expertise as he dissects the week’s most popular and trending topics across science fiction film, television and pop culture, video games, viral videos and news. Wil is on his feet for the rapid-fire half hour, delivering witty commentary on the things he knows and loves in this golden age of sci-pop culture. The result is a fun appreciation and celebration of fandom and all things science fiction.
The show lives up to that description. Wheaton is clearly having fun doing this series and it’s infectious. He covered a whole bunch of topics with a nice combination of love, respect and snark. It was like attending a really great convention panel.
Did every humorous bit work? No, but I laughed out loud on several occasions. That was good enough for me.
My only real complaint is that Wheaton showed a brief clip from a Syfy movie and didn’t identify it. It showed some sort of glowing energy tentacle rising from a toilet and pulping the hapless fellow who probably just wanted to take a quick piss. Trying to identify this movie is driving me crazy. Please help me.
I’m down with The Wil Wheaton Project for as long as Syfy shows it. I hope that’s a really long time.
I'm taking several days off - there will be some short posts during that hiatus - but I will be back on Monday, June 9 with more stuff.
© 2014 Tony Isabella