Wednesday, March 29, 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 Seventeen : What Comes Around

In which Houma's malicious Barney Fife has to come to grips with his manhood.

Sheriff Andy Andrews is one of Anton Arcane's factotums, and has been longer-serving in that role even than Graham (who has a character spotlight coming up in a few episodes, which is great news for all you major Graham-Heads). In his role, he's protected Arcane from prosecution or even investigation into his swamp experiments, he's intimidated Arcane's opponents, helped ship Arcane's mistakes into slave labor all around the world and, along those lines, he's even nearly-incompetently staged the apparent accidental death of Jim Kipp.

Apparently his final straw is "letting Arcane go full Most Dangerous Game." When Andrews stumbles across a desperate, frightened man in the woods, his efforts to save him are interrupted by Anton Arcane dressed in a leather duster and cowboy hat, armed with a shotgun and assisted by a couple of his science dorks similarly dressed. It's a very high-stakes make strip club review, is what it looks like.

Poor Andy.

The failure to save the hunted man haunts Andrews, which manifests itself in (a) grotesque sexual harassment, (b) Foster Brooks-level drunk stumbling and (c) getting laffed at by guffawing yokels. A man can only take so much! After this, it's the old-timey Western hallucination!

Andrews gets a lot of backstory in a short amount of time, considering that he rarely had more than three lines in any episode of the show and rarely one which contributed to the plot. We find out, for instance, that he has a fucked-up obsession with Tressa Kipp. That's indication enough of a man on the edge, to be sure.

His inappropriate behavior begins this episode with inviting himself to join Tressa at her table at Angelo's. It's lucky that he caught her in-between all those trips she keeps taking to Peru to find her dead son. Oh, also, I should mention that there's apparently only one nice restaurant in Houma, because whenever they need to shoot a restaurant scene, they end up here. Last episode, we learned that it's called "Angelo's," and it's a character in this show the same way New York is the fifth character in Sex and the City (That must really burn Chris Noth's biscuits, being ranked behind an inanimate object).

Andrews harasses Tressa for a while, until Tressa's vampiric best friends show up, summoned by the killing of a bird or by the pouring of blood into a salt circle. These two people are terrifying. Personally, if I had a choice between sharing my dinner table with an aggressive creep or the twins children of Nosferatu, I'd just eat wet cardboard behind a Circle K and go home.

Looks like if the Addams Family fucked a Century 21.

Following that rebuffing, Andrews is confronted in the street by the woman whose husband was earlier hunted by Arcane, and who gives the sheriff a right talking to. From that embarrassment, he returns to his car and complains bitterly about his fallen status among the town, grinding and fussing about in such a way that it absolutely looks like he's masturbating furiously. There's another law enforcement-type on car over, so that would make it extra sexy if the other law enforcement-type wasn't just parroting all the bad things everyone else says about Andrews, too. Maybe this is some kind of Cop-Dom I'd never heard of before. I don't mean to kinkshame.

"Ohhh yeah, that's an existential crisis, oh mama ..."

We cut to Arcane in his lab, forcing a dime to grope a beaker. This is the guy's Friday nights.

Andrews bursts in on an epic stage drunk, and proceeds to get savagely murked by an irritated and, one suspects, fully erect Arcane.  Complaining to Arcane that their deal has left him a laughingstock, Arcane replies "Then why aren't I laughing?" before telling him that he's "A ventriloquist dummy without the wit." Mark Lindsay Chapman is the best and this show suffers when he's not its everything.

Last thing Andrews does before the plot really kicks in is show up to harass Will and Will's girlfriend at the site of their broken-down car. It's not really a scene that anyone needs, since we already know what a drunk, corrupt failure Andrews is, but I mention it because Will has developed a shitkicker accent in this episode. He's from Philly, man.

"Son, y'all gon' go, I say, y'all gon' go down to Wawa, you pick me up a couple Tasty-Kakes, y'hear?" 

SO, in the way of the recent spate of episodes, we're about ten minutes in which means that it's finally time for Swamp Thing to show up. All he does this time around, though, is put Andrews into a phony baloney cowboy fantasy in order to show him the importance of cleaning up after yourself, or how drugs are bad, or whatever after-school special bullshit is moving this plot along. "Don't let guys get hunted for sport," got it, fine, sheesh, you don't have to lecture me about it.

If you thought what Swamp Thing was missing was everybody swanning around in old-timey clothes and being all Deadwood grim and cowboy-ey and stuff, then your prayers have been answered and also you were wrong. We end up in a legit frontier western town, which is weird because we're in Louisiana, but let's keep walking.

Andrews hallucinates that he's the new sheriff, while the rest of the town full of lowlifes and painted ladies lives in snide fear of Jake, a bad motherfucker who's recently rolled into town and has killed like the last eight sheriffs. Stop getting sheriffs, you guys, he keeps breaking them.

This trip to Trail Dust Town has been a disappointment all around.

Will is some sort of card sharp, Tressa is some sort of cathouse madam, Jim is still dead in Peru and so is nobody, and other lesser characters are equally lesser characters. Having mentioned Tressa, by the way, in regards to her now pretending to be a sassy lady of the Old West, I don't intend to be cruel, but I really hope I never see Carrell Myers performing in anything ever again. Besides some of the next forty episodes of this show I still have to watch.

Last episode of the show, the audience was tormented with the same five-second clip of Midnight Confessions played repeatedly throughout the show. This time, a bunch of showgirls and tramps hang around a piano where someone with a voice like an ashtray yelling at a foghorn sings "Blood on the Saddle" over and over. I'm pretty sure I've only heard that song at the Country Bear Jamboree, so my perspective on the whole scene is garbage.

"Ladies, let me hear you holler now for WESTERN .... THUNDERRR-RRR-RRR-RRRRRRR!"

Anyway, Andrews confronts Jake, played by Chapman using an incredibly fake but still just awesome cowboy accent, although I should mention the last line said to Andy before he goes to get himself hallucination-murdered: the undertaker, sizing him up for a casket, yells after him "WE SHOULD TALK ABOUT SEEPAGE!" We sure should, pal, don't leave it til too late.

So, Andy wakes from the hallucination with, maybe, some new sense of purpose. Or not, it doesn't really resolve. Maybe he runs through Bedford Falls yelling Merry Christmas to all the buildings and finds Zuzu's petals in his pocket, because basically this was Swamp Thing's "It's A Wonderful Life," but for a guy who has literally murdered and kidnapped people.

"Don't y'ken me, Mary? Don't y'ken me?"


Dave said...

You know that Arcane is played by Mark Lindsay Chapman, and that Mark David Chapman is the guy who shot John Lennon, right?

Calamity Jon said...

Already fixed, but thanks for keeping an eye out.

Bram said...

Have you run across ?

Recently got passed down to me; there's a piece on the TV/movie treatments of Swamp Thing that, while I don't think would really affect anything you're doing here, provide some interesting context.

Calamity Jon said...

Neat, I hadn't seen that -- but I'm off to order a copy...

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