Friends who know that I am a Kevin Smith fan as well as a bit of a comic book collector inundated me last fall for my opinion of the writer/director’s reality series Comic Book Men on AMC. I had to admit that I was disappointed to find the show a bit of a mess. Some parts were entertaining, like when the show turned into a riff of Antiques Roadshow with collectors bringing in to Smith’s New Jersey comic book shop items that they hoped to sell. But segments where the store employees had to go off and do some sort of almost game show-like task were just painful to watch.
Thankfully Spoilers, Kevin Smith’s second stab at a reality-based television series, is markedly better than Comic Book Men, though it is not without a few problems.
On Spoilers, whose first episode premiered on streaming service Hulu yesterday, Smith and his 50 member studio audience watch a newly released film and then they chat about it for half the shows 24-minute run time. The balance of the show is filled out with a celebrity interview, in the premier show’s case it was Carrie Fisher, and a “cartoon” which is actually just an animated segment from one of the podcasts on Smith’s self-built network.
It’s hard not to view this show with it’s animated opening touting that “Just like normal people we all bought tickets to see the show,” and not see Smith’s intolerance for film critics permeating the concept. It is obvious that he is putting his money where his mouth is and backing up his claim that anyone can be a critic that he started to espouse after the scathing reviews he received for Cop Out.
But you know what? Giving the idea of movie reviewing over to the vox populi works on a certain level. Filmed in Los Angeles, it is obvious that some of the members who offer their comments in this week’s film, Snow White And The Huntsman, are more than a little movie savvy. (Witness the one guy who refers to the film’s three-act structure.) And Smith’s interaction with the audience members is relaxed and breezy, a by-product perhaps of his now many years of touring the country and doing personal appearances.
But despite Smith’s declaration that the show will be a “no holds-barred gabfest,” it is fairly easy to see where there was some editing o shorten down various audience members remarks. And while some participants do have some insights to offer, there are a few who don’t contribute much in the way of substance. (Though I do admit to laughing at the guy who said he counted the number of times that normally mouth-agape Snow White star Kristen Stewart actually had her mouth closed. By the way, he said it was only two times.)
I do have to dig the feel that Smith seems to be going for though. The show has an almost Playboy After Dark for nerds vibe to it between him moving through his audience chatting and the celebrity interview. These are really the two sections that he should be concentrating on and expanding as the show goes forward. While amusing, the animated podcast segment does not really add anything to the proceedings and could be jettisoned fairly easily.