#2. Jessica Walter
I love Arrested Development, and my favorite part of Arrested Development is Jessica Walter. In arguably the best written, best acted comedy of all time, I put her performance at the top of the heap. And she's in Dr. Strange as his archnemesis, Morgan LeFay. And guess what else? She's young and hot.
"YOU'RE A HOT JESS!"
Guess what else? After watching Dr. Strange, I realized that I missed a joke in Season 4 of Arrested Development where it's suggested that Morgan LeFay should be the villain in the musical production of Fantastic Four -- a production Jessica Walter auditions for. Does she do anything particularly memorable in this movie? No, but she's pretty evil and you want to have sex with her. That is exactly what the role requires. Jessica Walter FTW.
#1. It Makes Decent Compromises When It's Not Being Faithful
Even when the show messes up, it sorta gets things right. First off, the over-the-top opening credits make clear that this is a high-stakes show. Dr. Strange doesn't foil bank robberies like TV Spider-Man or help battered children confront their abusive dads like TV Hulk. He is battling the very forces of evil. That's probably why it can't be a successful TV show in the '70s. The only doctor from that decade who could pull it off is the one from Doctor Who, and that wouldn't work on American prime time then.
So what did they change? Well, in the comic, Dr. Strange is an arrogant, selfish surgeon who loses his skill after an accident and turns to alcohol. After losing everything, he goes on a pilgrimage and studies with an ancient mystic who imparts wisdom to him through training and study. Only then does he care for humanity and seek redemption by doing battle with evil. Too much for TV. Instead, they did give him a love for humanity, but made him a bit of a womanizer, arrogant, and someone who did not believe in the existence of pure evil. Accordingly, his character still has growth by ultimately accepting his position as a defender of humanity and recognizing that there are powers greater than he.
Also, in this version, rather than going to the Himalayas and studying with a mystic for years, he kind of just gets in a mojo transfer machine. That's pretty stupid, but (jump to 7:30) ...
... it's not so bad because the audience then learns that while Strange has obtained additional powers, he still needs study before he can learn how best to use them.
Look, is Dr. Strange a quality show? No. But I get why Stan Lee didn't hate it. They made a lot of decent choices, and most of what sucks about it is defined by the limited budget and taste of a mass-marketed '70s television movie. Or maybe I just have a soft spot for '70s porn staches.
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