A Station Eight Fan Web Site
I've been trying to answer at least five questions a day here, every weekday, for quite a few months running. I'm still nowhere near coming close to emptying the queue.
But, as I'm certain some of you have noticed, the questions are, well, starting to grind on me. To get on my nerves. To tick me off.
Sometimes it's folks asking questions that are clearly answered by the material itself. On screen or on the page.
Sometimes it's folks asking for story spoilers, when that's clearly something I'm not going to reveal.
Sometimes it's folks ascribing motives for what I do that they can't possibly know.
Sometimes it's folks demanding that I acknowledge that my show sucks, with intense explanations for why I should do that. I'm okay with people not liking my stuff - wish they did, but you can't please everyone, all the time - but I resent people trying to convince ME that my stuff is bad. Maybe it's all in the phrasing, but it is, frankly, infuriating. Besides, I like my stuff.
I don't know if I've just hit a bad batch recently, but I think what's more likely is that I'm just burned out on it. That I'm reading negativity into perfectly innocent or at least neutral questions and statements. It's very possible I'm over-reacting.
Either way, my responses recently have been ire-filled, and I don't like that. It's not what I want ASK GREG to be. It's not, generally, what I think it's been for the last couple decades plus. (Give or take a tirade or smart-ass response, here and there.)
I took a few days off, posting Hercules premises, and thought that might help. And it did, a little. But clearly not enough. So I'm going to take an extensive break.
I'm tempted to close the question asking function for a time. But Young Justice: Targets is still coming out. And the new Gargoyles comic launches in December, and I want folks to be able to respond to those. So I've decided to leave the function alone for now. I realize that means that the backlog is going to continue to grow. But such is life, I guess.
I'm hoping that in a month or two, I'll be ready to come back. But for now, I need a break. Thanks and sorry.
This last HERCULES springboard I can recall must have only been a verbal pitch, as I don't seem to have a document to cut and paste here. So, I don't remember too much about it. But it was a Western pastiche, based on the television series BONANZA, called "Hercules and the Sons of Poseidon".
The idea was to treat Poseidon like he was Lorne Greene/Ben Cartwright.
And he had three sons:
THESEUS (Pernell Roberts/Adam Cartwright)
POLYPHEMOS (Dan Blocker/Hoss Cartwright)
TRITON (Michael Landon/Little Joe Cartwright)
Polyphemos, of course, is the cyclops from the Odyssey. Triton was going to be the youngest brother, but he was going to be the Triton who would someday grow up to become Ariel's father in THE LITTLE MERMAID.
And that's about all I can remember about the idea. Mark and Bob didn't go for it. But somehow, we took Theseus and found our way to making him the Grim Avenger for the one episode I DID end up writing for HERCULES.
"Versus the Volcano"
THE SET UP
CASSANDRA's twin sister POLLYANDRA is in town for a visit. Polly also has the "sight," but sheâs the complete opposite of her sister. Where Cassandra predicts gloom and doom, Pollyandra predicts sunshine, lollipops and rainbows. Her perky personality (she even thinks Icarus is cute) drives Cass up a wall, but everyone else seems to like Polly a lot. Worse yet, they believe her predictions and completely ignore Cassandra's. At the peak of her frustration, Cassandra's struck by a massive vision revealing that the local dormant volcano is about to blow. Everyone turns to Pollyandra. She pauses then cries out: "Weâre all getting free food processors!!" The crowd cheers.
HEPHAISTOS, GOD OF THE FORGE, just doesn't get enough respect. So he decides to change his name to VULCAN and become the VOLCANO GOD. Unfortunately, he does this right after Cassandra's prediction. With everyone in full-out scoff mode, no one believes that a guy as creative and productive as Heph-- sorry, as Vulcan, would ever destroy a whole town. Well, Vulcan's gonna prove them wrong once and for all. He blows his stack. HERCULES and PEGASUS have to hustle to contain the boulders and lava that the volcanoâs spewing. That leaves Cassandra, Icarus and Pollyandra to deal with Vulcan before his volcano destroys all of Greece.
IN THE END
Cassandra and Pollyandra have to work together to both reach Vulcan and calm him down. Each one learns a bit from the other. Vulcan sees the error of his ways, stops the eruption and helps Herc to contain the damage. In fact, Vulc -- I mean Hephaistos -- feels so guilty he gives everyone a free food processor. The crowd cheers!!
Some people are glass half-empty types. Some are glass half-full types. It takes all kinds to keep the world spinning.
Just as a change of pace, here's a [rejected] premise that I wrote for Disney's HERCULES animated series:
âClean & Jerkâ
HERCULES is doing his strongman/hero-in-training thing. Heâs showing off a bit for this new girl in town. A very pretty young lady named DELILAH. Delilah seems impressed, and Herc is fairly pleased with himself, until Delilah says, âThat was great, Hercules. Youâre almost as strong as SAMSON.â In fact, no matter what Hercules does, Delilah continues to damn him with faint praise in comparison to Samson.
Hercâs had all he can take, and weâre off on a road trip to JUDAICA to prove once and for all whoâs stronger, Herc or Sam.
Samson, whoâs just finished holding off the PHILISTINES with the jawbone of an ass (and thereâs a running joke in there somewhere), is a good olâ boy, happy to oblige in a contest of strength. But the boys are pretty equal, and no clear victor emerges. The contest culminates with a bit of arm wrestling: the combatants wind up holding hands all weekend, uh... that is theyâre locked in conflict for three days and three nights. And still, no winner is declared.
Finally, Samson gets word that the Philistines are attacking again. He has to break off the contest to stop them. By this time, Herc is pretty worked up (thanks at least in part to Delilah). He wants to prove once and for all that heâs the top dog. He insists that Samson fight him, really fight him. Samson refuses. Heâs a Judge. Not much of a Judge, heâll admit, but at least he knows enough not to waste time fighting a buddy when there are real enemies to do battle against. He departs. Hercâs fuming, and Delilah gives him a tiny little ânudge.â
Samson prepares to do battle with the Philistines. The guy Samâs most worried about is this new kid, a nasty punk GIANT named GOLIATH. But Goliath isnât alone. Heâs got a new partner. Hercules.
Herc and Samson fight, but eventually Herc realizes what a jerk heâs become. He switches sides and helps Samson defeat Goliath and the Philistines. In the end, it doesnât matter whoâs stronger, as long as they work together.
Oh, and Delilah, who turns out to be a Philistine herself, gets her comeuppance from Herc. Although as soon as Herc departs, sheâs already working on getting back in Samsonâs good graces. She particularly admires his gorgeous long hair.
I'm attaching a ramble J. Michael Straczynski posted back in 1995 on usenet in response to a very negative reaction to even a hint at a same-sex tryst on an episode of "Babylon 5". The point of Greg Weisman posting this is not to get into a discussion of religion or LGBTQ+ issues. Or even to get into a discussion of "tolerance," which was a big buzzword in the 90s, but which, as I've stated before in many ways, I find insufficient. The point of me posting this is to show that just because SOME FANS don't like something doesn't mean EVERY FAN feels the same way. And so, be careful what you wish for, right? Because if people start telling creators what they can and can't put into their shows, you may not like what ELSE they remove.
See, here's where I start to have a problem. For starters, I don't do any thing to be politically correct, or politically incorrect, I do what I do in any story because that's what the story points me toward. Anybody who says "It's not necessary" isn't entitled to that judgement, frankly; you don't know what's necessary to the story. And by framing it in the "is this NECESSARY?" way is designed to make you defend your position when such defense isn't the point; is it NECESSARY to have humor? to have a romance? to have correct science? No, *nothing* is NECESSARY. It's what the writer feels is right for that scene, that story, that character.
"Oh, well, I saw it, but was all that violence NECESSARY?" This is, frankly, a BS observation usually offered by someone with an agenda, who wishes to invalidate the notion of an artistic view and impose some kind of quota, or objective criterion to what is and isn't necessary for a movie or film. As far as I'm concerned, the first person to throw this into a discussion has, frankly, just lost the argument.
Point the second: one of the most consistent comments I get, in email and regular mail, is the spirituality conveyed in the show, that we have shown, and will continue to show, tolerance toward religion, even created sympathetic religious characters. "Thank you for your tolerance," they say...until we show somebody or some action THEY don't like...and at that point suddenly it's a lot of tsk-tsking and chest thumping and disapproval; so okay, how about I just stop all positive religious aspects of the show?
It seems to me, that if I do *all that* with religion, and with thje (the) simple act of showing maybe ONE PERSON in all the long history of TV science fiction across 40 years has a different view of life, that the show is somehow degraded, or downgraded, or dropped in opinion...this simply reinforces the notion, held by many, that a lot of folks in the religious right wish to make sure no other perspective or lifestyle is ever shown on television, at any time, unless in a negative fashion.
The thing of it is, while on the one hand I'm getting praise from religious folks for addressing spirituality in my series (speaking here as an atheist), I've gotten flack from others who think it has no place in a SCIENCE fiction series, and why the hell am I putting something in that goes right against my own beliefs? "Because," I tell them, "this show is not about reflecting my beliefs, or yours, or somebody else's, it's about telling this story, about these people, with as much honesty and integrity as I can summon up. That means conceding the fact that religious people are going to be around 260 years from now." Well, fact is, all kinds of people are going to be around 260 years from now. And what did the anti-religion folks say specifically about including spirituality in my series? "It's not *necessary*," they said.
Translation: they didn't like it. Well, tough. It was right for this story, and this show. And it seems to me rather hypocritical for some folks, who applaud the show for tolerance, for my standing up to those who want to exclude religion from TV, to then turn around and say the show is diminished because it showed that same tolerance...to another group or perspective. I guess tolerance is only okay as long as it's pointed one way.
You say that as a christian, you think any sex except that between a husband and a wife to be wrong. Well, as I recall, the bible also speaks against murder. We've depicted deaths by the hundreds of thousands. (And we're talking here about the *depicting* of the act, simply showing it, not the value judgements made after the fact.) Why does the one (which is so barely hinted at as to be almost invisible) cause the show to be diminished where the other does not?
My job is not to reinforce your personal political, social or religious beliefs. My job is not to reinforce MY personal political, social or religious beliefs. Then it isn't art or storytelling anymore, it's simply propaganda. My job is to tell this story, about these people, AS people, as mixed and varied as they are today. And there is no outside objective criteria as to what is, or isn't *necessary* in a story; that is the sole province of the author. You may or may not like it. You may or may not choose to watch it. Just as people who don't like to see religion and god discussed on TV may dislike it or choose not to watch it.
But you'll excuse me if I see complaints about this one little thing from the religious side, after all I've done to present religious characters and the religious life in a positive fashion, to be hypocritical and frankly somewhat ungrateful. It's as though all this means nothing because of one thing, one outside-imposed litmus test that disregards anything and everything else that has been done.
So straight up...if I should stop tolerating or showing viewpoints that are not my own (spoken as someone who is absolutely straight), then should I now stop showing religion as well? Because that's what this comes down to. Is that what you want? Because religion is included at my discretion as well as anything else on this show. You want me to be less tolerant? Just say the word.