Wednesday, February 15, 2017


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 used to like to call a dumb pun kind of title, but I've run out of those, so I just call it ...

If You See Swamp Thing, Say Swamp Thing
Season Two / Episode Fourteen : Dead and Married

Every now and again, the Swamp Thing television show acknowledges the character's horror comic roots (and, for that matter, how Alan Moore transitioned the character into his expanded consciousness plant god by way of apprenticing him to John Constantine, who was sort of a sexy version of the Crypt Keeper, unless you already thought the Crypt Keeper was sexy). This isn't a guarantee of taste and glory. After all, it gave us the moralistic (and, for that, wonderful) "Smoke and Mirrors," an episode I enjoy solely because of its runaway awfulness. On the other hand, it gives us "Dead and Married," a pretty good horror story in which Swamp Thing exists primarily to move the action along.

Guest-star Phillip Michael Thomas and Sheila Wills play Barry and Daphne Scott, a bickering married couple who are introduced to the audience with their car buried halfway in the swamp. Apparently stranded, they're stumbled across by Will Kipp, leading some sort of Swamp Scout tour of the Universal Studios backlot (maybe that's how he makes his spending cash, since I can't imagine that the USA Network paid very well. Golbert Gottfried was paid for Up All Night in meal vouchers. True fact, you can Ask Jeeves).

Google Maps is probably to blame.
The mixed blessing of being apparently rescued from being bogged down in the swamp (yay) and having to deal with Will Kipp (boo) becomes a total non-mixed non-blessing, i.e. a plastic bummer. Turns out, you see, that the Scotts are actually a married couple who were deliberately run off the road after attending a high school reunion, and whose spirits have hung around their demolished car all these years! SEE? A GOOD PREMISE!

Will finds the corpses inside the car and calls the cops, giving Swamp Thing enough time to interview the Scotts like some sort of vegetarian Katie Couric. From them we learn their backstory, that Barry Scott is an awful jerk and probably someone murdered them because they hated him a whole bunch. If that was a good enough reason for murder, Will Kipp would not be wandering around and stealing dead peoples' cars.

Still waiting for the seat warmers to kick in. 
Yep, that's Will's big role in this story -- he drags the car out of the swamp and cleans it up, it's his now, dead people funk or no dead people funk!

Actually, this is the first time wherein I found Will Kipp to be valuable in a story-telling sense. Swamp Thing has filled Will in on the Scott's condition, and instructed him to rebuild the car as part of a Scooby-Doo-esque plot to solve their murders. Will also acts as liaison between the Scotts -- whom he can see and talk to via the rear view mirror of the restored vehicle -- and Swamp Thing, a guy who stays away from cars even though he could easily pay for a ride with copious amounts of grass, if not the ass or gas.

I never noticed it before, but Will has kind of a Dean Cain vibe going on.
As an aside, there's some effort made this season to establish Will as some sort of local lothario, possibly to make up for the absence of Abigail in these episodes. In this case, the sexual energy manifests itself in the form of one of Will's girlfriends getting all horned up because Will restored a Buick Skylark that had dead people in it. I won't kink shame.

By chance, the NEXT school reunion happens to be taking place just as Will finishes fixing up the car, which leads to the daffiest part of the plan: Will takes a job as a bartender at the reunion, brings the car, sets it up as a raffle prize, and then tells everyone that it used to have dead people in it just to see if anyone freaks out in a telling fashion. Will? EVERYONE WILL FREAK OUT, you freak. It's a freaky thing to tell people.

Wanna feel old? This is the cover to Parallel Lines today.
It sort-of does and sort-of doesn't work, this plan. A quintet of characters -- Barry and Daphne's former classmates and people who are incredibly bad at acting drunk on camera -- have no measurable response worth mentioning, but that's probably just the acting. As it is, they're all suspects, if just because they don't introduce any other characters.

(The worst of the fake drunks get a scare put into them by Swamp Thing, and they decide not to drive drunk. The shadow of Smoke and Mirrors looms large, polluting everything with public service announcements).


It does turn out that two of the former classmates did indeed murder Barry and Daphne -- but not because of Barry. They were out to get Daphne! AWWW SON IT'S AN IRONIC TWIST, way to go USA Network's late-night syndicated Swamp Thing television show! Today, you are a man.

Turns out that the Scott's lawyer murdered them to claim some stock that Daphne had been buying on the downlow for years. How he gets it, I dunno, but he needs it to offset his wife's expensive buying habits, and the two collaborated on the murder. What that gets them is -- and please, prepare your chef kiss fingers to properly celebrate this primo grade-A classic horror ironic twist ending -- they also crash their car in the swamp and their ghosts hang around and think they're still alive, just like Barry and Daphne in the beginning of the episode! Bad-ass! Someone wrote something like an actual story for this show for once! I love you once again, USA Network's Swamp Thing television series! Never let me down again.

"I can't get a signal."

1 comment:

karinations said...

Haven't finished reading but the gas/ass/grass and Parallel Lines bits, wonderfully done sir.

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