Read Part 1: Life
Read Part 2: Fighting
Ultraman teaches many and asks for nothing in return. A figure like that is Santa-level inspiring and should be copied more often. So far we’ve seen how he’s used his kick ass methods for lifestyles and kicking ass. Now, in the final part of this series, we’ll see how the Tao Of Ultraman applies to television itself.
Why Ultraman can’t have his own American channel or at least a show where he yells at fat people is beyond me. However, even though he doesn’t have everything he obviously deserves, the way that his television show was presented should provide a moral compass. Everyone can stand to learn a thing or two about television production from Ultraman. Especially you, “Dancing With The Stars.” And you too, “New Girl.” Don’t think that I didn’t watch your pilot and think “This is okay. Could use more submarines exploding, though.”
So, here’s a list of what could be done to improve most of TV, through the use of Ultraman-style tactics or “Ultra-TV-Tactics.” And when I say improve most of TV, I mean all of TV, except Ultraman itself. Because pumpkin pie can’t be improved by adding the same flavoring of pumpkin pie.
Ultra-TV-Tactic 1: Call your series exactly what it is. This series was about a hero named “Ultraman.” Thus, Ultraman. Hell, even the name, Ultraman, is blunt. He’s sort of a man, who’s pretty ultra. Shows following this formula would see their ratings spike and, though I’m no Nielsen scholar, would become twice as popular. For example, if they stopped calling it “House” and started calling it “Sarcastic Crippled Doctor,” lunchbox sales would go through the roof. And if they quit with this “The Walking Dead” nonsense, and labeled it “Zombies And Awesome,” the production team could send their kids to college on action figures alone.
Ultra-TV-Tactic 2: Suspense is unnecessary. In Ultraman, things just tend to happen. Take this example: There’s an underground monster causing earthquakes. Normal shows would waste time with minor quakes and scientists ominously examining the aftershocks. Ultraman eliminates the first and middleman and goes right for the pay off. That earthquake beast is going to appear without warning or explanation, and Hayata better be ready to make it explode. Sure, this might deprive the audience of “drama” or “tension,” but they’ll forgive you by the second time the protagonist grapples with a spiky porcupine-dolphin.
Ultra-TV-Tactic 3: I’m completely convinced that there were only two men designing the miniature buildings on the Ultraman set. One had seen buildings before and was familiar. The other faintly remembered being shown a picture of a house as a child, and was forced to go off that. The buildings in Ultraman are either standard and economical or outlandish and impossible. Look at the Science Patrol Headquarters. It’s a mismatch of geometry, which, under any physical law, would collapse before the plans had even been drawn. The people watching won’t care though. They’ll be too busy waiting for a monster to appear. Which, from the pacing of this show, should happen at least four times by the time you finish this sentence.
Ultra-TV-Tactic 4: The same applies for special effects. Whether it’s a ship flying or an explosion, they don’t really need to look realistic. And by realistic, I mean plausible. If a giant red orb has to explode, just pop a balloon filled with firecrackers, and expect positive comments. Ultraman doesn’t concern itself with petty details like “actual” or “respectable.” It’s much more busy dealing with important things like “fucking sweet” and “seismic toss.” And so you should be too.
Ultra-TV-Tactic 5: Make none of your characters likable. I swear to god, by the time a single episode ends, you’ll hope the entire Science Patrol is being slowly tortured to death in a soundproof room. There is no one on the show that you would even want to hang out with, and that is what makes it so engaging. Filling your shows with characters that the audience would want to strangle is the best way to create repeat viewers. They won’t be coming back because their engaged. They’ll be returning to see if maybe, Captain Muramatsu will have a surprise heart attack when no one is around. Or to see if maybe Hoshino, the devil imp illuminated in Part 1, gets attacked by a wolf. There is no stronger uniting factor then hate, and all producers should take note.
Ultra-TV-Tactic 6: If you have a joke, beat it into an unrecognizable death. A character slips once and it’s funny. By Ultraman law, this should happen at least thirty more times before the first commercial break. Ide, the show’s “comic relief,” is the number one offender of this. If he has a punchline about being scared of a monster, guess what public? You’re going to listen to it, again and again and again, with little variation at all. That way, one can make sure that all the laughs have been gotten out. If I see someone fall down a small flight of stairs, I’ll probably chuckle about it. But if it’s done ten more times, I will certainly be laughed out on the whole “break collarbone on the steps” gag. Wring the audience dry of their comedic senses.
Ultra-TV-Tactic 7: The opening should play twice. Watch it.
It plays again. You think it’s done, but the composer has decided that it’s so good, there’s no way you wouldn’t want to listen to it twice in a row. This is the only suspense that the entire show creates, waiting for the opening theme to end. It’s better this way, as it gives the people on the couch time to settle their nerves before Ultraman proceeds to wrestle some foreign lizard to death.
Look how far we’ve come. We’ve learned about life, we’ve learned about fighting and we’ve learned about what makes a good TV show. I’ve even learned a little bit about myself, mostly that I really need to invest in a silver and orange jumpsuit and that I need to be ready to punch a lot if I want to be cool.