Tuesday, June 14, 2016

IF YOU SEE SWAMP THING, SAY SWAMP THING: DEATH OF DR.ARCANE

With superhero television programs blowing up in the last few years, recaps of superhero television shows have become all the internet rage. Other sites, however, are hobbled by the need to cover shows which have been "recently broadcast" or which are "any good at all." But who covers the uncoverable? That's why Gone&Forgotten chooses to cover the 1991-1993 USA Network live-action Swamp Thing television series in a feature I like to call "Is There Swamp Thing I Should Know" or...

If You See Swamp Thing, Say Swamp Thing
An avenging iceberg lettuce brings justice to the swamps.
Season One / Episode Eleven : Death of Dr.Arcane

In which Dr.Arcane suffers a toxic shock reaction to all that mousse and the carcinogenic fibers contained in his shoulderpads.



Arcane has grown increasingly tired of his enemies amassing against him, so he arranges for black-suited ne'er-do-wells to do the only honorable thing and abduct the worst of them -- Jim! This is a fine tactic, I support it a hundredfold.

While riding his bike along the alkali salt flats like all the normally-adjusted kids do, Jim is knocked off the road and thrown into the back of a van by a couple of Arcane's hired thugs (Kevin Quigley and Andrew B Clark), one of whom looks like Brian Baumgartener from The Office. They aren't all that good at putting a flour sack over a child's head, but they at least manage to get him the van and drive off before the next scene comes along.

All that remains of Jim.


Arcane, in the meanwhile, is depositing his latest creation into the swamp; a meatloaf that looks like one of the Muppets on that episode of the Muppet Show that Vincent Price hosted. The creature consumes and kills everything it sees, which is pretty smart on Arcane's part considering that he likes to hang around the swamp, kibbitzing with Swamp Thing. It certainly will not come back and literally bite him on the ass or anything later on.

So while Swamp Thing pursues Evil MeatLoaf Muppet and Jim wanders around the cave where he's been deposited (with a Yankee Candle, thanks conscientious kidnappers!), Tressa blithely calls all of Jim's friends -- i.e. Obo -- looking for her missing son. This is a wasted effort, and I only really say that because I've already seen the entirety of season one and I know what happens to Jim in the long run. No spoilers, but probably they should have left him to eat it when he got bit by the lip-smacking fly.

Inspirational, muppetational ...

Arcane does indeed get bit by his ravenous sock puppet, so badly that he just up and diieesss. This is a problem on account of Arcane being the only person who knows where Jim is hidden -- and if Jim isn't rescued, he'll run out of air and die! Unless he also has a library book of mine which will rack up abominable late fees if it's not returned in time, I have a hard time caring about this.

A search party is ultimately organized, possibly by people who didn't know Jim personally I presume. What they end up finding is Arcane's corpse in the swamp, Any one corpse is as good as the other, I suppose, so they collect Arcane and fuck off, leaving Jim to eat dirt in a hole.

"Mm-hm, my son's been abudcted. Mm-hm, probably dead. Anyway, can I get double cheese on one half and olives on the other?"

Swamp Thing puts aside his differences with Arcane and heads into town to revive the dead lunatic in the coroner's office. Remember how leaving the swamp was supposed to weaken and eventually kill Swamp Thing? That doesn't happen here, again. Swamp Thing has such an ability to move freely in his world that he ought to maybe pick up tickets to Amsterdam or something.

Streets of Swamp Francisco


Anyway, Swampy revives Arcane using his bio-restorative power (we know from Alan Moore comics that this should have resulted in Arcane bringing something back from Hell with him, but we're on a budget here). Saving the scene is Mark David Chapman playing casual, insincere evil with some aplomb, despite having been sent on-camera with a hairstyle like a bird's nest.

This is probably a good point to make mention of the fact that Dick Durock, as Swamp Thing, and Mark David Chapman as Arcane do a pretty damn good job in their scenes together, and I could probably live with a show that was just the two of them sparring in a poorly lit room, a la Frost/Nixon. "Did you ... fornicate ..." asks Swamp Thing, rampaging around the intimately darkened studio.

This will be the last time he tries to chug pomegranate juice while lying on his back.


To give additional credit where credit is due, Jim does a pretty decent job in extricating himself from his grave -- except the sock monster is waiting for him at the other side. Timely as fuck, Swamp Thing shows up to reach his hand into the filthy hole and choke the spitting tube before it can cause any damage. I have no idea what I'm trying to imply, but it's gross.

Jim goes home, Tressa has a creepy-peepy moment with Arcane -- whose throat is wrapped in bandages, giving him a sort-of very-cautious Isadore Duncan look -- and the doctor then goes on to burn the other five sock-monsters he'd been keeping in reserve alive in their tanks. It's all business back to normal by the end of the episode,and we've at least gained a couple episode break before Jim gets abducted for real. Oh wait, spoilers, sorry. But Jim gets abducted forever, sorry.

"And now ... a pickled egg!"

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