Wednesday, January 31, 2018


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 ...

This episode of Swamp Thing turns out to be something of an endurance test, on account of how we spend most of the episode watching a pair of shrill, pampered Mean Girls fail to die in the depths of the swamp. Oh, and also Will learns a lesson about coddling up to the rich and powerful.

We're introduced to Hillary Matthews (Kimberly Stephenson) and Ashley-Dane Lansbury (Christie Lynn Smith), two characters who could change names with their performers and no one would even think twice about it. I have no idea what the quantitative difference is between a Hillary Matthews and a Kimberly Stephenson, either one of those could be the fictional character. This is some Black Mirror material we're onto here, folks, keep a hold of your hats ...

Settle down, ladies!
The young women in question are on a field trip with the rest of their academy of perpetually uncomfortable looking girls. They're on a trip to the scenic mud-waller of Houma as a reward for doing very well in a contest about Walden, I believe. Maybe "Wall-E." I heard "Walden," but it's a crapshoot. Anyway, what a prize!

The evening before they leave for their trip, Ashley climbs a muddy cliff in the dark so as to steal naturally-growing diarrhea daisies which she intends to stuff into the breakfast meal of their chaperone, Miss Bartholamew [sic] (Annabelle Weenick), and knock her down with a case of the green apple splatters. This causes Miss Bartholamew [sic] to become [sick], leaving the girls on their own. Most of the class bails on the exciting boat tour of Louisiana toilet plateaus, but Ashley and Hillary still want to go -- they have a SECRET!

Swamp Blossoms
The secret is that they're stealing into the swamp so as to perform a magical ritual called something like the Test of ... A Ball? Test of Shuballba. Shebulba. She-Bop. Kabong. Something like that. The ritual -- which has to be performed in the middle of a got-dang swamp for some reason that I'm sure these privileged suburban kids know -- grants the users their greatest desires. Hillary wants Jason Preistly, Ashley wants a Fulbright Scholarship. Well, start concentrating your education towards the promotion of international good will through the exchange of students in the fields of education, culture, and science, young lady! And as for you, Hillary ... look, we all want Jason Priestly. But does Jason Priestly want us?

At some point in the episode, Swamp Thing decides that he'd like to pull some pranks on these spoiled brats, so as to teach them about how you shouldn't trust a swamp monster or whatever. It seems that the young ladies are products of wealthy, influential homes. Hillary's dad is a Senator who gleefully takes advantage of the Unions. Unsurprisingly, they spend whatever time they don't spend complaining about the swamp insulting Will instead for being redneck trash. Yeah, well, The truth is, they could use a good scaring -- may I suggest a close-up view of a guillotine?

But Swampy is as much interested in teaching Will a lesson as the girls. He explains that the young women are the daughters of influential people, and will one day inherit those privileges, so they must be guided and shaped into responsible adults. "Terrifying them in the swamp" appears to be the primary pedagogical tool in hand, but he also keeps trying to get Will on board his tres Bougie after-school special.

Painstakingly capped at the moment of pretend vomit.

Will just can't see past his jealousy of the nice life those wealthy girls have and, in its way, isn't that just as much an injustice as ::literally opens any copy of any newspaper from the last twenty years to absolutely any page and randomly points to a lone paragraph which inevitably underlines a significantly and objectively greater injustice::, ne pas?

The means for scaring these nitwits straight is to taunt them with the story of a loose maniac named Bill Jo Tillman and a lot of wind, which I still maintain is Swamp Thing farting. They also do some grade-A Christian Haunted House gags, like dragging Will into the swamp by his feet and rustling bushes, probably to underline the dangers of, uh, hip-hop music or something. I am drifting off at this point.

Occult campfires!

Oh, I should mention that I think the actresses are fine, by the way. The script is a deep-fried turd wrapped in poop-flavored panko, but they're doing all right. Kid actors, you know, they do all right. As good as anyone else on this show.

So, after dragging Will through the shrubs and farting on them, Swamp Thing mostly just hovers in the bushes as the girls grow increasingly despairing and bedraggled. This might be a turn on for the perverted old turnip, now as I think about it. Maybe this is how Swamp Thing gets off. Will shouldn't have to get lectured by a kinky succulent.

The girls do eventually grow so disconsolate and forlorn in the swamp that they give voice to their greatest regrets. Ashley learns about not taking shortcuts and promises not to keep stealing vodka from the freezer and filling it back up with water which is a thing you cannot do because it will cause the contents to freeze solid. This is why we need to bring back Drunk Mentorships in America's high schools. Put an end to rookie mistakes like that. OH, and Ashley said something about hugging her brothers and sisters more often so, hats off, Swamp Thing, these kids are ready to run the nation!

Heather is such a huge idiot that she originally tried to use one of those trees as a weapon. 

Still, Swampy is really short-shrifting these girls. The last group of swamp wanderers he wanted to teach a lesson, he had holograms and time travel! These girls get gas and leeches. And when you think about the return on investment ... I mean, Ryson was still a killer, but these girls develop survival skills because they became maybe three percent less selfish? A hologram might've knocked 'em over to five percent!

Actually, we ultimately know that the girls have learned the lesson because, when Swampy and Will are making it seem like Billy Jo Tillman is approaching them from behind a bush, Ashley knows to use a branch on the ground as a bludgeon instead of ripping a branch off a live tree and using that as a bludgeon. Passed with flying colors!

I dunno. Will reveals it was all a gag, Ashley finds an opportunity to mention that her hero is Florence Henderson (???), then the episode ends with Swamp Thing deciding that Will didn't learn the lesson he was supposed to learn, so he starts using the Billy Jo Tillman laugh and the swamp farts on Will, cut to credits.

On the plus side, Will was doing his comedy sidekick routine with Durock's Swamp Thing, and that's been pretty welcome since "Dead & Married." And I guess this episode said something important about the Upper Class, which is "they don't learn much and who cares if they did anyway?"

"Alec, is that you? I can smell you."

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