The Fearsome Doctor Fang was published by TKO Studios in December 2018. The title only recently came to my attention on the recommendation of a fellow member of The Sax Rohmer Society. As soon as I saw the hero was named Nayland Kelly, I was sold.
Writing new Yellow Peril titles in the 21st Century is understandably a tricky business. James Bond is a rare pulp-influenced franchise to have escaped unscathed despite Dr. No becoming the first of the series to reach the silver screen. The relatively understated yellow-face performance from Joseph Wiseman in the 1962 Sean Connery film never offends audiences the same way Mickey Rooney’s broad Japanese caricature does in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
Political correctness damns Rooney’s over-the-top and insensitive Mr. Yunioshi while ignoring Jerry Lewis or Vito Scotti doing virtually the same offensive vaudeville routines elsewhere in film and television in the same era. What triggers viewers or readers is often the perception of just how offensive a portrayal is; though some of course would prefer to banish all trace of Yellow Peril and yellowface as a matter of principle.
So I was immediately curious how TKO Studios approached The Fearsome Doctor Fang. I was surprised to see a white hero and heroine on the cover as mixing it up a bit racially seemed the easiest path to navigating through rocky waters. While waiting for the book to arrive, I read up on the publisher. TKO Studios is a relatively new comics publisher on the scene whose approach to distribution is akin to television binge-watching. Multi-part titles are published digitally and in print in their entirety at once. Trade paperback and deluxe collected editions are also immediately available.
The co-creator of The Fearsome Doctor Fang is TKO Studios co-founder Tze Chun. A professional television writer/producer for series such as Gotham and Once Upon a Time and an award-winning independent filmmaker in his own right; it is likely that TKO Studios have an eye on developing their properties for other media.
Miss some network fantasy over the last week? We’ve got you covered:
Once Upon a Time – “The Price of Gold”
The fairy tales diverge more and more from the traditional ones, as we learn the backstory of Cinderella. Just as her fairy godmother is about to help change her life, she is instead incinerated in a burst of flame … by Rumplestiltskin, who steals her magic wand. Cinderella, he says, is better off without magic anyway. But, of course, if she really wants to change her life, he’ll be willing to help out. For a price.
The “reality” tale is based around Ashley, a pregnant teenager who has agreed to put her child up for adoption, using Mr. Gold as the person handling the adoption. This brings up a lot of guilty baggage for Emma, in relation to her own decision to give up Henry all those years ago. …
Another week, another set of new television goodness from the non-cable networks. Seriously, after a year where there’s been very little mainstream science fiction and fantasy on television, it’s nice to see it coming back in such full force. I’m still divided on which of the new shows I most like (though I still probably lean, just a touch, toward Once Upon a Time), though, and both seem to have some potential.
Now on to the show recaps…
Grimm – “Bears Will Be Bears,” Nov. 4 – A breaking and entering goes bad, resulting in one of the intruders becoming a missing person. This bizarre case brings Nick face to face with an ancient race performing a violent rite of passage. (If you can’t guess the fairy tale being invoked from the episode title, you need to turn off your television and read a book of fairy tales. I mean now. Here’s a free one.) Meanwhile, the bludbad Eddie is enlisted to help Nick protect his aunt, but he goes beyond mere comic relief when he lets his inner wolf out on too long a leash.
The best thing about this show, in my opinion, is Eddie, and I’m glad to see that they made such good use of him so quickly out of the gate. I could care less about Nick, to be honest, but that isn’t necessarily a show killer. After all, I was a huge fan of Buffy: The Vampire Slayer, but the main thing that made 7 years of Buffy’s angst enjoyable was the quality supporting cast: Xander, Giles, Willow, and Oz. Still, Grimm is nowhere near Whedon-esque proportions yet, so I recommend they make Nick a bit more engaging. You can watch the episode online on the official NBC show page or over at Hulu.com.
Now that there’s actually more than one good fantasy show on network television, I’ve decided to step back from the detailed Supernatural post mortem (so to speak) and instead to provide a weekly update on the happenings of these fantasy television series all at once. So, here we go with the breakdown for last week’s shows:
Supernatural – “Slash Fiction” (aired: Friday, Oct. 28) – Sam and Dean are up against … Sam and Dean. The Leviathans take a different tactic in an effort to take down the boys, by shapeshifting into them and going on a killing spree (and making sure they get caught on video doing so). Meanwhile, Bobby tries to find a way to kill the Leviathan they took captive at the end of the previous episode. Turns out that decapitation and the chemical borax make for a potent combination. We also learn that when Leviathans touch the person’s body (or, apparently, hair from a shower drain) to shapeshift into their physical form, they also absorb the feelings and thoughts of the target. The two Leviathans are pretty disgusted by the dysfunction of the boys, and the faux Dean reveals to Sam that he killed Amy. The episode will soon be available for online streaming at the Supernatural website.
Grimm – “Pilot” (aired: Friday, Oct. 28) – Check out the review here, including links to places where the episodes are streamed online.
Once Upon a Time – “The Thing You Love Most” (aired: Sunday, October 30) – In my review of the pilot, I said that the show really needed to make the present-day plotline more compelling. The second episode does a much better job of balancing the fairy tale plotline and the real world one, in a way that is reminiscent of the excellent way that Lost handled their flashback structure. The flashbacks of this episode focus on what the Evil Queen had to do in order to enact the dark curse that trapped them all in this world … which included a deal with Rumpelstiltskin and a powerful sacrifice. The present day storyline begins to draw out some better characterization than in the pilot, especially among the local sheriff (not sure who he was in fairy tale world), Mr. Hopper (i.e. Jiminy Cricket), Regina (the Evil Queen), and Emma Swan herself, as Regina’s attempts to force Emma out of town begin to draw in more participants on both sides. It also becomes a lot more clear what sort of person Emma is and that she isn’t going to take attacks lying down. This episode is available for online streaming through the official website and on Hulu.
As I mentioned last week, there are two major series starting this fall that are based on fairy tales coming to our world. The second of those series is NBC’s Grimm, which comes across as an attempt to wed fairy tales to a police procedural, sort of like Supernatural merged with Criminal Minds.
The result is a particularly brutal program, leaning strongly toward the horror end of the spectrum. I’m not sure if something this dark will really make it as a success on NBC. Supernatural is a cult success, which is fine for the sort of ratings that the CW is aiming for, but NBC would consider the same ratings level a failure.
The concept: Nick Burckhardt is a police detective who begins to see strange visions, only to learn that it’s because he is descended from a family line of Grimms – those with the power to see supernatural creatures for what they really are. It’s his destiny to hunt down these creatures. …