Handicapping Everyone's Comeback

They say spring is the season of rebirth. How come everyone is trying to stage comebacks right now, then? So many high profile turnarounds are in the works: Mel Gibson, Michael Vick, butt rashes and more. Who will succeed?

Comebacks, like many of our favorite snack foods, come in clusters. Take 1994: We had John Travolta's comeback in Pulp Fiction; Marion Barry's improbable comeback from crack user to another shot at D.C. Mayor; 18 year-old Tiger Woods made an unprecedented comeback at the United States Amateur Golf Championship. Every few years, something in the universe shifts and a small window opens for the forgotten, the ridiculed, the outright pariahs to wiggle their way back into America's hearts and onto their forever-shifting screens. 2010 seems to be one of these years, and a lot of people are trying to fit in that window right now. Here is our scientific assessment of their chances:

Michael Vick

Handicapping Everyone's Comeback

The Stakes: Will impoverished dog fighter/quarterback ever be able to buy another obscenely huge mansion and stock it with outsized vehicles? Only if he gets some A-level sponsors. Nobody wants to sponsor Michael Vick these days except the American Humane Society. They will pay him zero dollars and he has to go around all the time telling people how bad it is to do dogfighting. Lame! Maybe Vick could stage a football-playing comeback independently of a money comeback, but we bet three jet skis would really help him throw footballs.


The Odds: 1:100. The 10-part Vick documentary "The Michael Vick Project" premiered tonight on BET. Vick clearly hopes this will be his comeback vehicle: "My fall from grace was tragic, but it was all my fault, and I'm on a mission to get everything back," he intones in the opening. Not likely, since Vick had to go screw with the one thing people like more than their football: Their dogs.

Mel Gibson

Handicapping Everyone's Comeback

The Stakes: With Edge of Darkness premiering this week, Mel Gibson will be seen in his first starring role since 2002's Signs. More importantly, it is his first starring role since 2006's brilliant performance as a drunk-driving anti-Semite. It's sort of weird to talk about an overall Gibson comeback, since his directorial debut, Passion of the Christ, killed at the box office, and 2006's Apocalypto didn't do too shabby either for a movie filmed in an extinct language. What's at stake is Gibson the actor, who is inseparable from Gibson the man. Nobody wants to pay $12 to see a certified asshole in a movie—even if he's playing an asshole. (Directors can do whatever they want, since everyone already knows they're assholes.)


The Odds: 5:1. We've got GQ declaring it the Second Coming of Mel, and our own Richard Lawson was scared enough by the possibility of a Gibson comeback he wrote a whole big post about it. What's more, Gibson just landed another major role. The machinery is in place, all Gibson needs to do is stay sober enough to strap himself in and motor down to comebackland.

Pee-wee Herman

Handicapping Everyone's Comeback

The Stakes: Oh, just the legitimacy of an entire micro-generation's childhood. Pee-wee Herman (aka Paul Reubens) has been the butt of lame jokes for so long that our own youthful obsession with his awesome TV show has become an undeserved source of embarrassment. Can Pee-wee finally crawl out of his pit of depravity and back onto the oversized talking loveseat where he belongs?


The Odds: 10:1. Pee-wee's got a new stage show, a script for a Pee-wee movie, and tons of great stuff from his old show making the rounds YouTube. It's been 20 years. The crime was indecent exposure. The man is a creative genius. We're ready to let Pee-wee do ridiculous stuff to entertain us again.

Katie Holmes

Handicapping Everyone's Comeback

The Stakes: Will Katie Holmes break the curse that seems to have descended on every former Dawson's Creek cast-member except Michelle Williams? She's basically been chilling out and doing Scientology stuff for years, except when she resurfaced in 2008 to suck in Mad Money.


The Odds: 2:1. Holmes got good press at Sundance for her performance in the dramedy The Romantics. But then who hasn't gotten critical buzz for their performance in an indie film at Sundance at one time or another? Oh, hi James Van Der Beek.

Toilet Seat Dermatitis

Handicapping Everyone's Comeback

The Stakes: The smooth, beautiful bottoms of all of America's infants. NPR reports on a new Johns Hopkins study documenting a resurgence of what is known clinically as 'poop-on-the-toliet-seat dermatitis' (seriously!). As you may be able to guess, this is when poop on a toilet seat makes your kid's skin itchy. What's at stake here is really no less than the sudden, horrible realization by millions of American parents that their children are filthy wormlets.


The Odds: 100:1 Poop on the toilet seat is back, and it's here to say. That's just science. Compared to this, we'd almost rather have another Mel Gibson movie.