We tuned into AMC yesterday to see “Comic Book Men” not expecting much. It’s a reality show about a comic book shop, which could be fun, but we thought the same thing about the last couple of series Kevin Smith wrote, and then we read them.
What we weren’t expecting was such a straight-up awful disaster it turned out to be. Seriously. You’d never know that Smith was once a respected filmmaker, or that he likes comic books. We guess that’s what happens when you’re reduced to strip-mining something you love for rent money.
Here are the five reasons you need never see this show.
#5) It’s “The Ricky Gervais Show” Meets “Pawn Stars”, Except Not Funny
The format is basically a mixture of Smith and his employees blabbering about comics around a table, shot in a method as non-dynamic as possible, and people coming in and trying to push useless crap on them.
Perhaps realizing this, about halfway through, there’s a contest between the clerks to sell useless crap at a flea market.
We know why this show exists: to glom onto the nerds watching “Walking Dead” and keep some of that sweet, sweet ratings action into the following time slot, and do it as cheaply as possible. This isn’t the way to do it, though.
#4) It’s Basically Kevin Smith Pathetically Dancing and Saying the Same Old Crap for Attention
Yes, we get it, you like “Star Wars”. The scene about the contractors on the Death Star in “Clerks” was hilarious. That was in 1993. Attaching yourself to George Lucas’ armpit like some sort of nerd remora is almost as pathetic as George making the biannual tour of announcing he’s retiring and making “personal films” right after he finishes doing something the fans don’t want to “Star Wars”.
It gets worse, though. This show is nothing so much as Smith trying to squeeze more blood from being a nerd, and not a particularly unique or dynamic one, because the film money has dried up and apparently this is all the guy’s got to feed his kid. So of course they’re all wearing colorful hockey jerseys. Of course he’ll be as profane as basic cable at 10pm on Sunday allows. It’s all exactly what you were expecting, except this time it’s a reality series!
#3) The Rest of the Cast Is Awful
You know that guy? The one down at the game shop where you get your D&D stuff and Magic cards? The one who will corner you while you’re looking at dice and lay out in loving detail everything about this totally awesome campaign he’s putting together under Second Edition rules?
This show is like hanging out with that guy. Except they’ve apparently never left New Jersey, gone to college, or developed a personality.
#2) It Feels Blatantly Staged
It could be a complete coincidence that on a show Smith stars in and is blatantly engineered to get people to love him as the nerd he is again, a customer walks in the door who happens to want to sell an action figure from “The Six Million Dollar Man”, which currently has a comic book written by…Kevin Smith.
The most damning thing to say is that even if we give the production team the benefit of the doubt on this one, it feels like they engineered it.
#1) It’s A Wasted Opportunity
Probably the most damning thing we can say about the Secret Stash is that it’s the least interesting comic book shop we’ve ever been in. Just an example, and to drop the royal “we” for a minute, the neighborhood I live in has no fewer than three comics shops. One of them, Million Year Picnic, is run by a cult filmmaker. Another, Comicazi, has a resident bulldog and a unique collection of guys with complex personalities who really love their job and their store and are working to keep it relevant. A third one, Hub Comics, is getting back on its feet after its previous owner committed suicide, and has managed to turn things around.
The point is, they’re all interesting in their own way. And they’re also all struggling, to various degrees. Keeping a comic book shop open in the twenty-first century is hard. Digital comics are beginning to eat into print sales, they’re reliant on Diamond to get single issues, and the vagaries of publishers can make life difficult for them. A good production company could make a dynamic and interesting story about American small business and what it takes to succeed in a niche.
This show isn’t it. This show is a C-list celebrity pimping out his hobby for money while he figures out how to fund his next no-budget comedy, or find some writing gigs at Image or something. It’s fake, and worse, it’s boring. Unless you’re into atrocity tourism, don’t bother.
image courtesy Shutterstock