SO, this arrived at my Inbox through unidentifiable but guaranteed legitimate sources. The dutiful entertainment insider that I am, I serve my readers, even the comic-book, super-hero, leotard-loving nerds. (I am one, myself.)
This is exciting. The nerdier among us will know of Super President, DePatie-Freleng’s critically acclaimed and largely unnoticed Saturday morning pleasure. If this e-mail is anything to go by, Malaysia is set to receive her own cosmic butt-kicking commander-in-chief — suitably grimmer and darker, according to current tastes.
-——— Forwarded message ————
From: X X Xxxx
To: ‘Xxxxx Xxx Xxxxx’
Date: Saturday, 13 Dec 2008 10:29 AM
Subject: Agongman Concept Draft
Brand Title: Agongman
Tagline: By the Power of Constitutional Monarchy!
A bilingual cartoon series consisting of 13 half-hour episodes, designed for Saturday morning or 4pm weekday slot, for both terrestrial and satellite television. Modelled after the hit late-1960s cartoon Super President, it features the ongoing adventures of Agongman, a superhero of limitless potential who is trying to regain his powers.
Following the success of The Reformist dan Rakyatman, TV5 is looking to expand its original super-hero, alternate-history cartoon intellectual property. In terms of character design and plot, the most obvious choice is Agongman (first introduced in Se01Ep09: Demise of the Bogelists). It may also be an opportunity to educate schoolgoing kids on the history of Malaysian government.
The Spirit of Constitutional Monarchy is a cosmic force, a gestalt of Malaysians’ collective subconscious, whose powers wax and wane according to the public mood. It has to find a new host every five years, and only those of royal blood are suitable. Whilst taking a leisurely stroll one moonlit night, Tuanku Rahman Aladdin Shah, the Crown Prince of Penang, encounters the mysterious Ruler’s Fellowship and is imbued with the Spirit’s power.
The prince is now Agongman, Constitutional Monarchy incarnate!
Clad in yellow leotards with gold trimming, possessing the rugged good looks of an older man, Agongman wields many abilities, due to the nature of his power source, and the assistance of the enchanted kris Taming Sari. These abilities include:
- Super speed
- Force-field projection: “Shield of the Constitution”
- Immunity to disease, mind control, and civil/criminal prosecution
Yet it is precisely these formidable powers that cause a blimp in Agongman’s reign. Busy battling threats both extraterrestrial and supernatural, the Marvellous Monarch allows his kingdom to fall into disrepair, neglecting more mundane matters like the economy and racial strife. In the ensuing chaos, Minister Primus, the amoral and ambitious leader of the Executive Order, uses the nullifying effects of the Ayejeean Crystal to strip Agongman of his powers and imprison him in a stasis prison deep within a limestone hill.
Fifteen years on, the rakyat face unpredictable times and fluctuating petrol prices. An elderly man, passing the ruins of the Royal Palace, complains that the youth of today have forgotten about the good old days, when normal people toiled happily under the kind yoke and velvet glove of the Sultans. Suddenly, a rumble…
After a landslide destabilises the stasis cell in which he is imprisoned, Agongman awakes from his slumber, not knowing who he really is or the extent of his powers. The crusader is thrown into a battle between Yogic Gurus and the Fatwa Gang. Their conflict over the Thomboy Sutras creates cosmic imbalance and sends a meteor hurtling towards Kuala Lumpur. Agongman, by instinct, conjures a force-field and saves the day.
Hailed as a messiah and as a voice of reason, Agongman is crowned head of state. However, this places him in a difficult position. The Executive Order is the driving political force of the kingdom, and Minister Primus plots and drives events from behind the scenes. Meanwhile, revolutionaries stalk the land. The future is not certain.
Will the ambiguous Reformist, wielder of the Sword of Populism, be an ally or adversary? Will Agongman regain his memory? Will past events repeat themselves???
Agongman will invert the superhero trope of an Everyman gaining Ubermensch-ian powers: the Marvellous Monarch is already omnipotent, but has to regain his humanity. The prime source of this conflict is Agongman’s awkward (and inexplicable, to him) affection towards a Form Four student named Kejora.
As it is set in the Rakyatverse, the series will continue the shades-of-grey feel of The Reformist dan Rakyatman. The titular hero’s memory loss means that he is easy prey for the manipulative Minister Primus, who now realises that Agongman may be more useful as a pawn than a prisoner. Ditto the scheming anti-hero Reformist, who will see the real-political value of such a Darling of the People to further his own ends. Also, the motivations of the Ruler’s Fellowship are quite alien, as befits their inhuman nature.
Funding from the Ministry and Multimedia Development Corporation may be easier to procure if TV5 markets the series as educational. We can always work philosophical ideas (the 19th-century Hegelian concept of the monarch as an embodiment of a nation-state, versus modern-day figurehead-ism in parliamentary democracy, for example) into plot arcs about giant granite tapirs.
Zedeck Siew wishes he watched more Saturday morning cartoons.