Wednesday, December 19, 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 ...

In a fashion totally suited to the Swamp Thing live-action television show, this unusual episode simultaneously deserves accolades for getting the tone right, and then also deserves condemnation for ... being the Swamp Thing live-action television show.

"Stay down, big man. This is a job for  ... Will Thing!"

It seems as though there may be a few approaches to this show which work -- and going very very broad is one of them. This is, after all, a show about a mad scientist and his battles against a magical salad bar, plus the salad bar has many shirtless, profoundly confused and unendearingly confident teenage pals you have to occasionally kidnap and send to slave camps in Brazil. So, in this episode, Anton Arcane carving a kilometer-high cavern almost a mile below the surface of the Earth so as to manufacture a tiny biosphere for his rapidly-mutating army of malevolent murder-ferns which will, in turn, cover the planet and transform our antagonist into a living god is just about right.

The episode opens with Will impatiently sassing the swamp. It appears that Will attends regular "communicating with the swamp" classes, taught by Swamp Thing, and that he also has zero to little respect for it. "Hey swamp!' he hollers, "How's the missus -- I mean, the mosses!" he puns, adding "Aw, you're no fern -- I mean fun!" It only makes sense that he is almost subsequently murdered by a begonia.

Please enjoy this animated gif of the only thing I ever make animated gifs of: Will getting thrown around by plants.

Arcane has released one of his mutated murder-plants into the wild, and it nearly makes very short work of Will. Swamp Thing intercedes at the last second, receiving a face-full of dayglo-pink spraypaint in the face for it. He ends up looking like a variant exclusive sofubi.

Will and Swamp Thing decide to investigate the origin of the killer weed, which is also how I spent a lot of my time college. The neuro-toxin which Swamp Thing inhaled AND the underground biosphere (about which the duo is not yet aware) drain Swampy's powers, meaning that Will is going to have to investigate the origins of the deadly plant on his lonesome. That sounds like the opening line of his obituary, but it works out surprisingly well!

The Hunter S.Thompson look suits him.

Meanwhile, over at Arcane's labs -- Graham returns from vacation! And he brought Dr.Arcane a cool-ass tee-shirt! I didn't know that he was on vacation, but trying to foist a tourist-trap tee-shirt off on his boss is among Graham's finest moments and also possibly the high point of the episode. It's also preferable to what Graham almost did upon returning to the labs, which is to jam his whole hand into a terrarium full of dangerous murder-plants! "You almost achieved immortality" sneers Arcane, in a typically delightful Chapman delivery.

Down in the underground chamber, Arcane introduces Graham to his nursery of murder-plants. Mutating at "a thousand times normal"  -- which, I don't know what the standard amount of mutation is but a thousand times sounds good, so, that's cool -- the plants are also spliced with Arcane's DNA, making them his 'children.' They also grant him Swamp Thing powers, mostly, allowing him to control the weather using only his will (and also he shouts his commands so the crew knows when to turn off the sprinklers). This is also when Graham accidentally drops a box full of important electronics, or a box full of wires, whichever, we never get a very good look at it, but it plays a role later on.

Of COURSE I 'cappd the tee-shirt scene. I take care of you.

Will's efforts to infiltrate Arcane's lab are so awkward and inept that I assume they let him in only out of pity. He manages to play it cool while navigating the secure areas checkpoints of the high-security facility, as long as your definition of cool owes a lot to Steve Martin and Dan Akroyd's "Wild and Crazy Guys." He keeps SHOUTING his lines, like a really cool guy who isn't suspicious.

Some of the plants have managed to cobble together a huge, ridiculous robot body out of the dropped box of electronics, becoming "A plant that kills like a machine," according to Arcane. So ... it's a guitar.

"Beep Boop Give Me Chlorophyll Beep Boop I Guess"

"It feeds on metal, electronics and flesh" ponders Arcane, adding "-- Human flesh!" which is the prelude to Will getting tied to a tree as bait for the beast. This would be an easy fix for Swamp Thing, were he at full power and not wandering around the bog, puffy and confused, like if Steven Seagal were 100% chia.

Eventually, Swamp Thing and Woody Guthrie's guitar face off in the swamp. The machine has been savagely knocking people over, which appears to be its sole superpower inasmuch as I think it's just a refrigerator box with electrical tape all over it. There's nothing plant-like about the machine at this point, except that its eyes glow green. Like a traffic signal which, last time I checked, did not indicate "Stop / Caution / Plant Murder Machine Creature." And the fight scenes sound like a man passing a difficult stool while dremeling.

And Will? Will is ready for anything ...
Swamp Thing delivers the episode's killer line -- "You're not a plant. You're an aberration! You must die!" as he lunges into battle. Meanwhile, in a rare exhibition of cooperation, Arcane is destroying his own biosphere, so as to heal the swamp and return Swamp Thing's powers. With his murder plants growing out of control, Arcane has no choice but to rely on the aid of his old foe. Unfortunately, he finds that the plants have rebelled against him and are drawing power from an alternate source. Could it be -- love? No, it could not. It's a generator. He hits it with an axe.

The swamp indicates its return to robustness with stock footage of lightning and loads of air bubbles emerging from a deep pool. I assume the swamp is ... farting? Letting out some painful gas? Apparently that's all it required, because we end on Swamp Thing lecturing Will about how plant machines are bad, and ones that murder are worse, and even Will's expression seems to say "I never thought that they weren't." And ... scene!

It's sweet, he looks so excited.

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