Wednesday, June 7, 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 ...

As the series progresses and either I am having the subtle genius of the program shown to me OR I am losing my mind at an alarming rate, I think I have really come to love Graham. Any Arcane-centric episode is already a winner, thanks to the theatrical scene-chewing of master thespian Mark Lindsay Chapman -- a man who dances like no one is watching. But Graham was a tougher sell. Actor Kevin Quigley is, either intentionally or otherwise, doing a sort-of Jack Nicholson impression combined with the physicality of a loping chimp, plus also he's sometimes horny. That's a recipe for a disaster or a must-watch drama, I couldn't say which.

In this case, Arcane is a feature of the episode, but he's lab-bound for the most of it. This means: It's Graham's time to shine!

Weird yearbook photo, Anton.

Arcane acquires the brain of his recently-deceased mentor, Dr.Karl Mirador (played in a mirror, for the most part, by Harold Bergman). What's he gonna do with his old boss' brain? Well, he's gonna hook it up to what appears to be a giant plastic gumball machine and/or the Slurpee machine which Jabba the Hutt sucked frogs outta, and then he's going to shove it into his own brain! Figuratively! Or literally, it's hard to say, they don't really go into the procedure here.

Arcane is desperate for the transfer of knowledge, owing to the fact that Mirador was "the most brilliant scientist since Einstein." Which, I guess, explains why I've never heard of him. These fictional geniuses are always smarter than Einstein and you never hear about them until one of their experiments is about to blow up the moon accidentally or something. 

There are risks to the procedure, which leads Graham to openly cruise for a whupping by trying to be reassuring and supportive. "Rome wasn't built in a day" and "But youve only had success with animals last year." Man, that last one ... leave the man's love life alone, Graham. 

To prevent the worst from coming to pass, Arcane has invited Mirador's granddaughter Dana (Jill Whitlow) to come reminisce about her beloved peepaw and possibly also have her spinal fluid sucked out of her when she's not looking. Who's the right man to lope into town and charm Dana into fluid donation with all the charm of a balding Christian Slater? Graham, that's who!

"You make me want to be a better chimp."

Unfortunately, Graham is creep-blocked by Will, who's dressed like a made-for-TV Indiana Jones. That's apparently Dana's "thing," because they're off canoodling in the swamp within four minutes of meeting each other. There they share important revelations, like how Dana's grandfather sometimes did grandfather things, and that Abigail is dead. Abigail is dead? Did I know this? I think we did. The messed-up order of these episodes is taking its toll on me.

Meanwhile, taking its toll on Arcane is the fact that the transfusion of brain power is driving him mad. This is a plus for us because Mark Lindsay Chapman chewing the scenery is the best part of this show. Him hopping around and scribbling on walls and bellowing is good. You know how sometimes someone says an actor is so good that you'd pay to watch him read the yellow pages? I'd pay to watch Mark Lindsay Chapman chew the yellow pages. It'd be masterful.

So, the brain is driving Arcane insane ("insane in the arcane/got two brains/gone insane") and giving him crazy forehead brain lines, like he fell asleep face-first on a plate of noodles. This madness comes about not just because the whole idea of inserting someone else's brain into your own is fuckin' nuts, but because Mirador was ... SCHIZOPHRENIC! You have to assume I wrote that in a Haunted House  kind of voice, because they use a lot of reverb when Mirador says it in the show.

He looks like an evil Worzel Gummidge
Just as a serious aside, I think maybe they should have left Mirador's actual medical condition a little more vague. Actual schizophrenia is a serious mental issue which makes life difficult for a lot of people and their loved ones. Treating it like shorthand for "evil" is frankly irresponsible, particularly when it's conflated deliberately with multiple personality disorder, and is coupled with lines which shit all over the idea of medication as a treatment. It's unfortunately typical of fiction to treat mental illness like an eternal sentence of violent insanity, and I just hate to see it. Mentally-ill characters so rarely get better or learn to manage their illness, and the cure is so often depicted as worse then the illness (I'm looking at you, Law and Order). Anyway, it kind of put a damper on how generally fun and stupid this episode is.

And yes, I know I'm saying all the above despite having frequently, blithely described Jim Kipp as a sociopath, but I stick by that.

Come enjoy our scenic SWAMP TOURS
Back in the swamp, Dana is boring Will to death, which is impressive. I mean, this is Will Kipp, for someone else's life to bore him it must be a real snoozer (it is). Swamp Thing, for his part, watches all of this from behind a fern, which isn't creepy at all. This means he's watching when Dana, later that night, is abducted and taken to Arcane's lab. Swampy manages to short-circuit the bad guys' plans by mentally commanding the van carrying Dana to crash and then making a big windstorm to knock out the bad guys.  

Another fun part of the episode happens right here, where Swamp Thing spirits Dana away to safety in the swamp and she is. Not. Having. It. Swamp Thing tells her that she was in danger, she replies "I'll take my chances, thank you." He says "But you don't know these men," she replies "I don't know you either." Where was this when she was introduced? The girl is a firebrand.

Gon' shoot me the MOON!

Meanwhile, Arcane is fully mad now and grabs a machine gun from one of the guards. I will never not mark for Action Anton Arcane. Holding a hostage in the middle of town, this causes Will to get deputy sheriff Jensen (Bob Barnes), who could not care about fucking anything. He goes out of his way to not do anything if he can help it. When Arcane is holding a hostage and firing wildly in the air, he's like "Oh for fuck's sake, not this again." I like this guy. I like his moxie.

In the end, Swamp Thing ends up having to save Arcane again, dousing the evil scientist in green rays that set everything to rights. Swamp Thing's green light is Superman III's "Fix the Great Wall of China vision."  I guess this means Arcane is liberated from Mirador's schizophrenia, but he still has the dead man's brain which I'm fairly sure is a criminal act. Swamp Thing oughtta fink to the AMA, at the very least.


James W. Fry 3.0 said...

It--it was SUPERMAN IV. That was the one in which he had "Great-Wall-Of-China-Vision". SUPERMAN III had its own sins to atone for. It kills me a little bit that I know that. And it kills me a little more that I felt I had to correct you. Because nobody else had. Because they're adult human beings with lives and purpose and people who care about them and active bank accounts. And so I hate them. But I love Superman. Which is, after all, how I got here. Gonna go now....

Calamity Jon said...

I honestly could not be more embarrassed. Um ... maybe it was the evil me! Yeah, split off from me because of Tar Kryptonite! That's it!

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