Episode Eleven - Media Tie-Ins: Legitimate Literature or Canon Fodder?

John S. Drew's picture

Did we resolve the issue?  Hardly, but we did offer a look at both sides of this issue over the legitimacy of the form.  Leave your thoughts on the episode here and make sure you rate the episode as well.

Basic Thoughts

An enjoyable episode, although as others have noted, it could have been better.  You might have gotten some major fireworks if you had brought on someone vehemently opposed to tie-in works and created a real argument.


Also, what happened to Andrea K. Lipinski?  Her fan club was disappointed at her lack of participation in the episode. :-)

Michael A. Burstein

re: Basic Thoughts

While I'm flattered by the attention and appreciate my fan club (uh ... I think), we're choosing which episodes we host by our interest and expertise, which is really better for the listening audience.  Because that way you'll get to hear hosts who actually know what they're talking about (my knowledge of tie-in books would fit in a thimble, which is why I wasn't the best choice for this episode).  Plus, it's nice for us to be able take a break once in a while.  Anyway, I'll be participating in many review episodes in the future, and I've suggested some topics based in "classic" literature for future episodes and would probably be co-hosting those.

And who knows? I could always show up in a future Quickie episode (or whatever we're going to call them) ... unless it's that "ending of Knight Rider" Quickie I've heard whispering about.  Because I categorically REFUSE to participate in that one.  Lord knows, we have enough experts here on THAT topic!

Alternating Hosts

I was wondering how you decided who would host which episode. (I missed hearing Orenthal as well.)


I'm looking forward to episodes about classic literature.


On a slightly different topic - for some reason, I keep watching Smallville and so I understand why it was cited as a guilty pleasure this episode. There were years when it was really bad, and years where it got better. But it should have ended years ago. Why do I keep watching?

Michael A. Burstein

Host Rotation

Jay_Smith's picture

I really like listening to all of them, but I agree with you that Andrea brings a balance to the show and has a great sense of humor.

It's been a while (college) since I did any interviewing, but it is a lot of fun and keeps the focus on the guest.  I'm thinking this is the direction we're heading which will allow pretty much anyone cover any particular show.

As for Smallville - I keep watching because of stuff like "Legion".  That was pure fanboy squee.  I love when they leap forward toward the Superman mythology with shows like that and "Justice".  I'm not even missing Lex this year.  I mean, I know he's there pulling strings, but the whole business about storming Lex's office to have a long awkward chat was getting really old and I can only imagine Rosenbaum tired of having weekly sinister, vague conversations in monotone laced with veiled threats.  It gives Clark a chance to grow.

I agree with you that the show really sucked there for a while.  Chloe needs to move on and Clark needs to move away from the Barn of Solitude.

Good, but should have been better

Ok, just listened to the listened podcast and as usual, here's my thoughts

The opening music went on way too long and drowned out a lot of what Keith said. It distracted from what John was saying, but because his sound system is more distinct and louder, it didn't kill it.

Keith's sound seems to have dipped in quality this time. I know I've bitched about it before, but it's something that needs to be resolved sooner or later if you want the GOOD reviews. It's especially noticeable this episode because of the extent of his involvement.  At times, it even cut out.

The subject is one I have an interest in.  I'll drop the Canon bombshell early so you all know my feelings on the subject.

I consider any novel/comic/game etc to be canon (note the lower case c).  Unless it directly, obviously and irreparably clashes with Canon (Upper case c)  Canon is the TV show/Movie, books or comics written by the creator/s of the show/movie or has been explicitly produced to be part of the show/movie.   Examples of this are the Babylon 5 novels (Technomage/Centauri & Psi Corps trilogies and a couple of the later original series).  Other examples are Buffy Season Eight & Angel AFter the Fall. Those to me are Canon.  The rest are canon.  I can read one of Keith's Buffy novels and as long as it fits within the universe I love, and doesn't contradict (in a bad way) something already published or described in the series/Movie etc.   To his credit I don't think I ever noticed anything along those lines, (although I did have issues with his attempts to write in a English accent.)

I love tie-in novels.  Often a movie or show is restricted in what they can do.  Either because of time restraints, budget caps or simple physics.  (There's very little that can't be done now, either by practical effects or with computer generated effects, but in a book, you're only limited by the author's (and your own) imagination.  In a TV episode, you've got 40-60 minutes to cram in storyline and often character interaction takes a back seat. In a novelisation, you've got the ability to tell the reader what happened when Talia Winters got to Ivanova's quarters in Divided Loyalties, or how Willow told Angel about Buffy's death.  The nitty gritty detail. 

Novelisations & tie-in should never be seen as replacing a movie or TV Show, but adding to it's richness and depth.  Granted, that the rate of tie-in media is accelerating, and tie-ins that probably shouldn't happen are happening because of the explosion in recent years in studios marketing interest in this area.  Batman (Tim Burton/Michael Keaton) was probably the first film I saw where this was noticeable. T-Shirts, Magazines, Comic books and toys werre pumped into the market, but Babylon 5 was the first time I got hooked into the merchandising.  I bought things that probably most people would boggle at.  I've got action figures, a bust of G'Kar, a dozen Starfury model kits, videos and\ autographed photos, and it was due to a similar level of interest in Buffy that I met Keith.  So, in a very roundabout way, Tie In Media is responsible for me listening to the show!

In a admission that's sure to draw criticism and maybe even sharp intakes of breath, I've written the lowest form of media tie-in.  The fan fiction.  Ok Ok, Don't shoot me. For me, and for many, it's a way to start writing.  Pre-existing characters, locations and situations leave you free to actually "just write a story".  I have never, and would never, attempt to pass these off as anything more than writing exercises, and I've always taken great care not to contradict Canon.  Both stories were based on the Buffy universe. Since then, I've stayed away from other people's sandpits, and I'm working on my own little play area.

In my opinion, without tie-in literature, there would be less published writers, a gaping void and many of the movies & TV series that people take to their hearts would be quickly forgotten.  I'm GLAD that there are Star Wars novels that build on that universe, I'm glad there are Star Trek, Buffy, Babylon 5 and other books that expand the settings of the shows I love, even if it's just by a tiny amount.  Now, if only the events in tie-in novels can be mentioned in ongoing shows, that would really make it worthwhile.  It's happened once to my knowledge.  Babylon 5's Third season episode "Messages From Earth" had the character of Garibaldi mention an incident on Mars years before, and showed a Psi Corps badge that he had found there. The story of the badge, and the incident had been published previously in the Babylon 5 comic book from DC.  More of that would be welcomed by me.

Back to the episode..

Both guests came across clearly, and it was interesting to hear from them.  John did a good job of being devil's advocate. 

My Guilty Pleasure hit a show I love.  Smallville.  After 8 years of Lana-Angst, we've started to actually move forward with the story. Again in Jay's segment, the music was too loud and verged on drowning out his voice.  I've never heard the music intrude in this way, but this episode was littered with it. 

Smallville had 2 or 3 really rank seasons, there were interesting stories badly handled, and even I got tired of Tom Welling's acting eyebrows.  Now in Season 8 it's stepped up a gear and is moving into a new era. Hopefully, this last season.  To comment on John's comment about donning the suit.  My opinion is that the last scene of the last episode is him opening a box and finding a folded costume with the Big Red S uppermost. 

In finishing, it was a fascinating subject, but the show as a whole took a step backwards in quality, mostly because of the poor choice in background music.

Striking a balance...

Jay_Smith's picture

Talking for 6 minutes required something to accompany the voice.  Of course, the obvious fix is not to talk for 6 minutes.  I listened to the track without music at all and thought it a little too sterile.  I tried to keep the energy up this time and speed up the delivery, but it still felt like it needed something.

The next segment will have more sample cuts from the topic and the plan is not to use a music bed at all.

Thanks once again for the feedback.

Sample cuts

are good, as is music.  However, in my opinion, the music that played during your speaking tended to drown out what was being said.  However, your segment was improved from last time, you seemed a lot more at ease.


I think a lot of being at

Jay_Smith's picture

I think a lot of being at ease was I'm off the cold medication.  During zombies, I was at the end of a 50 hour workweek and half-dosing Nyquil.

Seriously, I'm experimenting, so I sincerely appreciate your objective opinion.


John S. Drew's picture

As always, thanks for the comments.  The music was experimental and it looks like the experiment failed.  ;)  As for Keith's sound, it's an issue we're trying to work through.  We record everything over the Skype system on the internet and Keith's computer's sound card or his internet connection doesn't appear to want to work with us.  As a result, we call him on his cell phone to include him.

The call cut out, it happens a lot more than you realize, but I'm able to edit it in a way that you can't tell.  There was no way of saving a particular piece that Keith was saying unless I removed the whole thing and the point he was bringing up was good, so I decided to let the lag stay.

It would be so much easier if we could do this in a settting where we're all gathered, but it's not possible given our busy schedules.  I've been doing a great deal of research to improve the quality and I was hoping that this episode was actually the first such step.  Jeff Mariotte was on a phone too, which I find interesting.  Andrea suggested we try Keith on a land line.  I don't know if that's what Jeff had, but he was much clearer.

Creator, Producer, All Around God-Like Being
"What?  Too much?"

I know that Keith's a busy

I know that Keith's a busy boy, and fixing his sound system is probably the last thing on his mind.  The landline suggestion would probably be the way to go in my opinion.  If he had the time, I'd be willing to help him figure out what was going wrong on his PC  (could be a driver issue, or he may need to play with the SKYPE settings a bit)

The music thing wasn't a bad idea, but I think the sound levels were too close together and it seemed to drown out the voices.  The guests levels were fine for the most part.  Keith's voice quality was noticeably poorer and as you said, the disconnections were probably just down to the mobile phone connection.

You guys are moving forwards overall, and you're covering topics I find interesting, so I'm going to keep listening, besides, I've got most of you on LJ and if I stop, I imagine I'm going to get shouted at  :)

Hey Kids!

Guess who's dropping the first comment in this topic?

I have to say, this wasn't as painful an episode as I thought it would be. I have to give credit to John for not talking up his own experiences, but rather trying to be on the "devil's advocate" side. I do have to take him to task though for being a little too softball in his questioning of the guests, which was clearly stacked in favor of the topic. You focused more on the fans of the series who cry about canon rather than the overall legitimacy of the form.

Keith was incredibly subdued, for Keith, that is. I will give him credit for all but coming out and saying that he can be mercenary in his writing which is what I've been trying to say from the very beginning.

I was impressed with Jeff Mariotte. His responses to your questions were fair and gave me pause to think. I definitely would like to try his original trilogy and am looking into purchasing the first book.

Overall, this was better than I thought it was, but didn't reach what it could have as a topic.

Kudos to both John and Keith.

Funny, that you as the "Anti

Funny, that you as the "Anti - media tie-in guy" are kind of complementing the episode, and I'm, as a media tie-in fan, was disappointed about the episode.

Mainly because it pretty much glanced over the title-giving question, and kind of ended in a discussion about Keith's and Jeff's careers, rather than really talking about the topic IMHO.

I think it would have helped if there actually had been someone from the other side of the fence - someone critical of media tie-ins - to really have a meaningful discussion. John may planned to be the devil's advocate, but I have to agree with Nickel'n'Dime here, in the end he was a bit to soft to fill this role.

I just feel that a real discussion about "Legimate Literature vs. Cannon Fodder" , where both sides where truly represented, would have had a bigger chance to really make a difference.

As it is, this episode was a fun hour to listen to for a tie-in fan, but when it comes to fulfilling the task of answering the title giving question, or at least give some food for thoughts about it, it kind of failed.

Would have liked to hear more from Steve, who I feel got a bit sidelined by Jeff and Keith.