CLOVIS: Have you seen the cartoon that mocks the Game of Thrones scene where Daenerys eats a horse’s heart by combining it with My Little Pony?
MONKEY SRI: You are a horrible, heartless human being and I’m ashamed to be seen in public with you.
CLOVIS: …So, is that a no?
That may not have been a literal translation, but I assure you the subtext is accurate. By way of context, it’s fair to mention that Monkey Sri is a big fan of My Little Pony whereas I am, well, not. For my turn, while I wouldn’t describe myself as a huge fan of Game of Thrones, I have really enjoyed watching it and find it to be pretty close to the exact kind of television I enjoy watching whereas Monkey Sri may have a different perspective on the show. The point being that we were both approaching this horrific image from opposite sides of the appreciation gap and I think I bridged it a bit further than she did.
Laugh with me, fellow heartless humans!
But Monkey Sri’s distaste (Disgust? Revulsion? Abhorrence? Sri, please weigh in on how accurate or inaccurate my read on this is in the comments) got me thinking about a bigger issue. Shows have to put forth a lot of conscious effort to “manage the brand” of what they are. It’s the reason why some shows have product tie-ins and others don’t. It’s also at least part of the reason why producers are so careful to manage the promotional materials for their show so that the look and feel of it doesn’t get too altered. On the other hand, removing characters and putting them in new context can bring you attention you didn’t have before and it can allow you to appeal to viewers who may not have originally thought to give your show a chance. So with all those arguments, are television mashups like the one above a good or a bad?
Different from a crossover, where characters from two different properties interact in the same story for whatever reason, mashups involve purposefully putting characters in situations they wouldn’t, shouldn’t or couldn’t exist in. Basically imagine a Saturday Night Live sketch, only done by the actual show creators and not necessarily to exploit a funny pretense that will quickly get old after 30 seconds.
And to think, I once believed I couldn't find Tim Tebow any more boring than he already was.
Personally, I enjoy mashups. I like considering how my favorite characters would behave in utterly different circumstances. My favorite episode of The Simpsons remains the one from the late 90s where Mulder and Scully, voiced by their live action counterparts, came to Springfield to investigate Homer’s claim that he saw an alien. Likewise, anyone of a certain age will likely remember watching old Scooby-doo cartoons and how exciting it was when our teenage crime solvers got to occasionally run into someone from a different world, such as the Harlem Globetrotters, The Mamas & The Papas or even Batman and Robin.
Unfortunately, mashups can also really damage the television property. Mashups done right give us humor or a new understanding of the characters. Mashups done wrong just feel painful. For every enjoyable Star Wars Muppet Show there’s always a Star Wars Holiday Special.
So what do you think? Do you want to see your favorite characters and places put into different contexts or do you feel like that harms the story that you are trying to enjoy?