Index Expurgatorius

I was bemusedly watching the trailer for the new live-action Underdog movie (seen at a post by Paul di Filippo on the Inferior Four group blog) and wondering whether a live-action Underdog movie is really needed at this moment in history (no conclusions on that), when I noticed that the background music was the same fakey-excited choral audiojunk that seems to be the background for every action movie trailer lately. (See the last 30 seconds of the Ghost Rider trailer for a recent example.)

I’m sure the producers of Underdog were using the music ironically because, as we know, every mode of human expression other than irony died in that terrible moment when Barney first mouthed the words “I LOVE you!” But it especially annoyed me because the old Underdog cartoon show had the greatest theme-music of any cartoon superhero.


If the producers had used some updated version of this it would have been at once more original and more nostalgic and it still would have been ironic (since everything must be, nowadays).

“That choral action audiojunk should be banned,” I muttered. So I put it on the list of things I think must be stopped.

Other items:

Use of the word epicenter as an emphatic form of center. In my view, no one has a reason to use epicenter if they’re not talking about seismology and if they do they should be fined in some ironic and suitably postmodern manner.

Movies that feature penguins. There may have been a time when movies about penguins could be justified; I won’t dispute that. But I think we have enough now, maybe even a few too many.

Strunk and White.

Spam. I’m not talking about the e-mail byproduct; I mean the meat byproduct. And it’s not because I’m worried about the endangered spambeeste. The sooner they’re gone the better: I’m tired of shovelling their droppings off my lawn or being awakened before sunrise by their bizarre mating calls. No, it’s spam itself I object to.

I would explain why spam is at the epicentric penguin, as it were, of my (cue the choir) hate trailer. But I’m pretty sure you’ve stopped reading by now, anyway.

About JE

James Enge is the author of the World-Fantasy-Award-nominated novel Blood of Ambrose (Pyr, April 2009). His latest book is The Wide World's End. His short fiction has appeared in Swords and Dark Magic (Harper Collins, 2010), Black Gate, the Stabby-Award-winning anthology Blackguards and elsewhere.
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12 Responses to Index Expurgatorius

  1. fpb says:

    About the Underdog theme tune, yes. I hate that kind of uber-cheap animation, and I never heard of the character, but the tune is better than Spiderman and even than Popeye’s – and heaven knows, the sound of “I’m Popeye the sailor-man” as electric centrals and armoured divisions went off in his bicepses after he had swallowed the routine tin of spinach in the unlikeliest circumstances are one of the happiest memories of my childhood.

    • JE says:

      I agree with you: the animation of Underdog never struck me as good even when I was a kid. The show’s strengths were in its deadpan humor and its serial format, as I recall, but I don’t know how it would hold up to rewatching. It must be thirty years since I saw an episode.

  2. burger_eater says:

    I’ll add to the list:

    Reality TV shows where an expert at something screams at contestants.

    The term “reality TV.” They should be called “situation game shows” (which is what they are) or “sitgames.”

    Carmina Burana. Under any circumstances.

    Newspaper or magazine articles about how comic books aren’t just for kids anymore.

    Editorials bemoaning the state of the culture because adults read Harry Potter.

    Whoever is making all those movies for the Sci-Fi Channel.

    The word “whom.”

    That’s quite enough, I think.

    • JE says:

      I’ll admit to a weakness for Carmina Burana and “whom” but I make up for it in my enthusiasm for your other items.

  3. davidcapeguy says:

    Speaking as one who once upon a time ran around the house with a towel for a cape, singing the Underdog song, I’ve gotta strongly object to the new Underdog movie — unless they can bring Wally Cox back from the dead to play the lead. (I also wonder if he’ll still be Shoe Shine Boy in his alternate identity, given that most kids have never heard of shoe shine boys, or for that matter, shoes that need shining?)

    As far as The List goes, on mine I have inserted overuse of the word “virtually” in cases which are at the least, unnecessary, and at the most, ridiculous. Ex.: “The left hand which Mr. Brilliant Artist uses to paint with is virtually the same left hand he uses in his everyday life.”

    I exaggerate to make a point, obviously. (Couldn’t think of a true example. I think most of this overuse comes from TV-news zomboids.)

    • JE says:

      This may sound incredible, but “virtually” virtually made it onto my original list. I realized I was getting up towards three screens worth of verbiage–pretty long for so flippant an entry–so I bit the matter off with spam. And now I wish I hadn’t said that.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Are you kidding? I haven’t seen an old cartoon in need of updating so badly since those wonderful Garfield movies.
    er
    I kid. What a bad idea this seems, and what an awful trailer.

    Here’s a swell version of the Underdog theme song, courtesy of the swingin’ singin’ group from my favorite modern show, Scrubs. This clip starts with another tune, but it’ll get you to Underdog, and it’s worth it.

    http://youtube.com/watch?v=gUO1kFs3tLc&mode=related&search=

    • JE says:

      That’s a great clip. I like the context-busting moment when Zach Braff’s character walks by the guys actually singing the Underdog song.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Now I have that song stuck in my head. I’d like to thank you for that. I loved that show as a kid, especial the song.(Now can you find a clip of the intro for Letter Man?)

    When I saw the movie trailer, I vowed not to see the movie.

    –Jeff Stehman

    • JE says:

      I’m not sure if I know what Letter Man is: an old cartoon?

      When my kids were younger their starry-eyed gazes of wonder might have morally compelled me to take them to the Underdog movie (or one like it). But now that they’re steely-eyed teens (a.) they can go themselves if they want to, and (b.) they don’t want to.

      • Anonymous says:

        Faster than a rolling “o”
        More powerful than silent “e”
        Able to leap capital “T” in a single bound
        It’s a word, it’s a plan, it’s Letter Man!

        He was a regular spot–and my favorite–on The Electric Company. He would neutralize a threat by ripping the letter off his chest (obviously a precog to always be wearing a useful letter) and hurling it at the offending word, thus changing it into something harmless.

        Ah, here we go…

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AXyVBxncIx4

        My bad, it’s Letterman, not Letter Man.

        –Jeff Stehman

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