You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Comic Book Men

Taking the plunge into unscripted TV, AMC gets almost everything right with "Comic Book Men" -- the time-slot, the tone, the surprisingly fertile collectibles/pawnshop genre -- except for the production of the series itself.

With: Kevin Smith, Walt Flanagan, Michael Zapcic, Ming Chen, Bryan Johnson.

Taking the plunge into unscripted TV, AMC gets almost everything right with “Comic Book Men” — the time-slot, the tone, the surprisingly fertile collectibles/pawnshop genre — except for the production of the series itself. Static and disjointed, the show yields amusing moments (many courtesy of director Kevin Smith, who presides over it), especially for anyone who has frequented a comicbook store and noticed its quirky denizens. Still, as constructed, any appeal beyond committed nerds who can appreciate drooling over a “Six Million Dollar Man” action figure is likely to be limited.

Smith, helmer and patron saint of fanboys whose passion for such material has made him Comic-Con’s de facto king, produces the show, which is principally set in his New Jersey comicbook shop, Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash. Yet most of the encounters with patrons hinge, “Pawn Stars”-style, on people bringing rare items into the shop looking to sell and the negotiations that follow.

“Do people ever come in here to buy anything?” asks Bryan Johnson, a bearded pal who resembles Martin Mull if he were stranded for several months on an island, a la “Castaway.” Johnson hangs out at the shop to provide comic relief, but doesn’t actually work there; still, based on the premiere, he poses a good question.

As if recognizing the shop isn’t enough to sustain a full episode, the series also incorporates a podcast Smith conducts with the denizens: manager Walt, Bryan, and employees Mike and Ming. What ensues is occasionally funny — when discussing crushes on female superheroes, someone asks, “Which version of Catwoman?” — but as TV goes, it’s essentially the equivalent of watching radio. Couldn’t the producers have at least cut in shots of the comics being discussed, if only to provide an idea what they’re talking about for people who don’t automatically know who Green Arrow is, much less his sidekick, Speedy?

“Comic Book Men” also tries to have it both ways, in terms of gently mocking and simultaneously embracing those who pass through its doors, from the woman peddling a “Chucky” doll to a guy with a briefcase handcuffed to his arm. “Can we make money off the mentally ill?” Walt asks at one point.

AMC is clearly looking to make a little money off those with the collector’s gene, and considering the low cost of this six-episode exercise relative to its dramas and the hefty lead-in “The Walking Dead” should provide, those plans might modestly pan out.

Given the lofty place comics, sci-fi and fantasy occupy in movies and pop culture, it’s overdue to have a show for devotees, and from afar, Smith appears to be the guy to do it. It’s only too bad this series about collectibles is so, well, disposable.

Comic Book Men

AMC, Sun. Feb. 12, 10 p.m.

Production: Produced by Original Media and Snoogans. Executive producers, Kevin Smith, Charlie Corwin, Jay Peterson, Elyse Seiden; co-executive producers, Patrick Reardon, Brian Nashel; line producer, Christian Palladino; senior story producer, Robert Palumbo.

Crew: Camera, Jeremy Schneider. 60 MIN.

Cast: With: Kevin Smith, Walt Flanagan, Michael Zapcic, Ming Chen, Bryan Johnson.

More TV

  • Front row: CBS THIS MORNING co-hosts

    CBS Hurls New Anchor Team Into TV's Morning-News Wars

    News Team: Assemble. CBS News plans to hurl a new anchor squad into TV’s morning-news wars Monday when a different trio – Gayle King, Anthony Mason and Tony Dokoupil –  takes the helm at “CBS This Morning.” The A.M. effort that has won critical plaudits by focusing on harder news topics, like international affairs and [...]

  • Dutch FilmWorks Moves into International Sales

    Dutch Film Works Moves into International Sales (EXCLUSIVE)

    A major new international sales outfit is coming to market. Dutch Film Works (DFW), one of the largest movie distributors in the Benelux region, is moving into film and TV sales. DFW general manager Angela Pruijssers will spearhead the sales effort alongside Charlotte Henskens, who will join from Amsterdam-based Fortissimo Films, where she is director [...]

  • 'Game of Thrones' Series Finale Details

    'Game of Thrones' Series Finale Details Reportedly Leak Online

    Who will survive the finale of “Game of Thrones”? Some savvy watchers of the HBO series might have a clue heading into Sunday night’s episode after a detailed description of the final installment reportedly leaked online. [Note: This post does not contain any “Game of Thrones” spoilers.] A spokesperson said HBO had no comment. While [...]

  • ‘Hitsville: The Making of Motown’ Acquired

    ‘Hitsville: The Making of Motown’ Acquired by Showtime for U.S.

    Polygram Entertainment, Universal Music Group’s film and television division, along with Capitol Music Group, Motown Records and Fulwell 73 announced today that “Hitville: The Making of Motown” has been acquired by Showtime for release in North America with plans for a fall premiere, and Altitude for theatrical release in the UK and Ireland. The feature-length [...]

  • Game of Thrones Cast

    What's Next for 'Game of Thrones'' Cast Members

    Eight years and eight seasons later, the “Game of Thrones” cast finally has some downtime to relax or move onto other projects. Some stars, like Kit Harington, who told Variety that he doesn’t plan on taking another role as physically demanding as Jon Snow, certainly deserve a break, but others have wasted no time getting back on [...]

  • 'Fleabag' Season 2 Review: How Its

    'Fleabag': Season 2’s Top 10 Breaks From Reality, Ranked (Column)

    The searing first season of “Fleabag” felt like a complete story in and of itself. As adapted from Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s one-woman show, the series expanded on the world of a woman wild with lust and grief with such expert ease that by the time it ended, even Waller-Bridge herself was sure that it was the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content