Wednesday, February 28, 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 ...

Will has picked up a nifty new girlfriend, Justine (Donna Rosa), but her malevolent, hulking father (Peter Palmer) is having none of it. When Will shows up later to daddy's fine dining establishment -- SWAMP FISH GRILL -- with a conciliatory offering a fresh crawdads, the problem of the disapproving father solves itself. A nervous gunman runs in, swats Will stupid, murders the dad and, thinking fast, sticks the gun in Will's unconscious mitt. I like this guy, he knows how to treat Will.

By the next scene, Will is in jail being visited by his Prosecuting Attorney, the local DA or something, a slimy rat named Kingdon (Dennis Bowen). Evidently, the hateful, twisted Kingdon has a rep for faking or ignoring evidence which ends up sending dozens of innocent -- or nearly-innocent -- men to prison, or the electric chair. It seems harsh but, remember, this is Will we're talking about.

Kingdon and Will actually worked well together because they had equally shrill oafishness in common.

The man who shot Justine's daddy, by the bye, turned out to be in Arcane's employ, and was only supposed to have threatened the old man into selling his restaurant. I think Arcane wanted to build a luxury bait shop there? I dunno. Also, the guy with the gun is probably a mutant Un-Man now, I sort of checked out during that scene.

It's not the most dynamic episode of Swamp Thing, in part because it's sloppy and in part because Will can't carry a whole episode. And for once I'm not taking a shot -- Will has no appreciable backstory, no consistency, his role is poorly defined, and none of it is Scott Garrison's fault. The part where he shouts most of his lines kind of is, but he's innocent of the other charges. Uh, both in the story and metaphorically, I guess.

Liftin' them swamp-weights

But, for instance, when Justine asks Will if he misses anything from Philadelphia, Will says "Cheeseteak sandwiches." Just let that one sit with you for a moment, but also note that he didn't name a place. You name a place. When I talk about foods I miss from Tucson, it's "El Charro" and "Guero Canelo" and "La Indita," not "Burrito sandwiches" for crying out loud. I'm not Philadelphian but I visit enough and have enough friends there to know you're gonna say like "Jim's on South Street," which is also the right answer. I bet Will eats at Geno's. Not that he's racist, he's just been eating there since high school and he thinks "eh he's got a point, you know? Hey, can I get a wooder?"

Anyway. Will is hounded by this DA or whatever he is, despite the fact that there's exculpatory evidence out there, presuming I used "exculpatory" correctly. With a pickle like this in place, there's only one solution -- come on, Team Swamp Thing, let's do a smoke-and-black-soundstage MINDFUCK!

Flashdance (1983)

Will arranges to have Kingdon abducted, tied up in a darkened factory, and awakened by a splash of water to his face. This is either going to get unnerving or erotic. Ultimately, Will torments Kingdon with images of the innocent men he'd sent to the chair, stepping out of the smoke in turn, speaking their piece with a pinlight shining under their chins. It's like Reservoir Dogs meets a Christmas Carol.

It all comes to a head when the frustrated Kingdon rants explosively a defense of his bloodthirstiness and ambition, his lack of concern for justice or the living, for right or goodness, for puppies and kitties, for sugar and spice, for OH SHIT IS THAT HIS 6 YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER STANDING THERE LISTENING TO EVERY WORD oh daddy, you effed up.

"Hey pop."

So, the guy collapses, defeated, ready to confess to his crimes and betrayal of the public trust. And this is where this episode apparently was some sort of actual mindfuck for the audience, because it turns out to have been staged. We've had two other mindfuck sequences caused directly by Swamp Thing, another staged by Arcane's oxygen deprivation, and now ... there was literally a guy with a smoke machine. All the convicts were the sons and brothers of the condemned men. I mean, they actually did kidnap the guy and tie him to a chair and throw water in his face and terrorize him and oh I forgot THEY ALSO ABDUCTED HIS DAUGHTER. The media was also there to promptly interview the guy, which means maybe they were in on it too. Everybody's going to jail, except Swamp Thing and Arcane. That might've been the plan all along.

Look, they're bobbing for apples together! They're pals now!

No comments:

Popular Posts