Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Apropos of absolutely nothing...

but according to google, no one's really put this together before.

There was something grimly appropriate in the mid-career stall of former Lois Lane Teri Hatcher in those embarrassingly awful Radio Shack commercials with Howie Long (c. 1999, pre-Desperate Housewives.

Because Superman himself had an embarrassingly awful mid-career stall as a Radio Shack celebrity endorser.

Probably about twenty other people remember this, but in 1980-- in the doldrums when the only writer who could really handle the Bronze Age Superman, Elliot S! Maggin, was on hiatus writing novels instead of comics-- there was a Superman one-shot comic that was one big product-placement ad for the TRS-80, paid for by Radio Shack, and starring "the TRS-80 whiz kids!"

The comic centers on the ability of a couple of elementary-school kids sitting in their computer lab at school to do the fancy arithmetic that, apparently, Superman always did in his head before using his powers but was temporarily unable to do because he'd breathed in some special kryptonite dust courtesy of Major Disaster. He still had precise control over his powers, and could still calibrate them mathematically, so that when he was told to fly at a 44.28 degree angle to the ground at 6432.9 mph he could do just that. He could moreover measure things just by looking at them, so he could tell the TRS-80 Whiz Kids via walkie-talkie (or something) that a plane was crashing from a distance of 16,985.3 meters. The step that he couldn't perform was the super-calculation of his intercept path, in-between the super-measurement and the super-calibration of response.

No, it makes no sense whatsoever-- it's as ridiculous as any Silver Age "Jimmy Olson the gorilla-headed boy" plot, but with all the earnestness that came from combining late-70s enthusiasm for kids programming in BASIC with sheer commercial opportunism.

I'm deeply embarrassed by how much I liked this bizarre Cary Bates-written monstrosity when I was 9.