Monday, January 28, 2013

Loonatics Unleashed - The Menace of Mastermind

Seeing that name, I can almost think they were going for a parody.

True to form, our prologue introduces us to the villain du jour. The warden of some prison (bet it’s the only one for the entire planet) introduces some new aide of his to “the most insidious criminal in Acmetropolis: Mallory Mastermind!” Her power is to “turn any metal she touches into a dangerous high-tech weapon.” Hence the books they give her even have the staples pulled out before they’re delivered. Mastermind, by the way, turns out to be voiced by Mrs. Brady. As in Bunch.

And incidentally, the warden's the same guy who kicked Wile E. out of school in "The Comet Cometh." Helloooooo lazy character designers!

The aide notices his pen missing, but apparently doesn’t want his boss to find out he was responsible for a supervillain escape on his first day, and leaves along with the warden. Exactly as you’re thinking, Mastermind stole it and already converted it into a little robot. She can reach through the force field she’s in and steal something right from a guy’s hand without betraying herself in any way? If she can do that, why does she need any help getting out?

The little robot flies out of the prison, takes control of a construction robot that digs a hole through the ceiling and breaches her force field, then lifts her to the surface. And she makes a joke about “heading out.” Because her head’s really big you, see. Because she was mutated to be super-smart and she has a big head as convenient visual shorthand. It’s not very funny, is it?

Over to Loonatics HQ where Daffy’s blasting away at holographic ninjas with a pair of guns, something he never uses in actual combat with actual bad guys. Wile E. chides him some: “What I’ve created here is a state of the art virtual trainer, not a video game!” Wait, so when did he create this? Because they clearly already had something very similar in "The Comet Cometh." I’m not asking for complete floor plans of their base, but is a little background asking so much?

And there was how Wile E. asked last time, since when do they exercise. I dunno, that sorta flows over into, “since when do we train?”

Daffy brags about being the master of this game, and Wile E. “comically” ups the difficulty which leads to Daffy emerging from the trainer all laser-burnt. Which invalidates Wile E.’s own power being rapid healing so they can keep using him for outrageous physical comedy in a relatively serious action show.

Zadavia calls them and tells them about the breakout, but says Wile E. can fill them in on the way to the prison. If she’s in such a hurry that she’s leaving the explaining to someone else, why did she bother making them all come to the meeting room in the first place? I almost have to wonder if she’s putting him on the spot for some obscure reason, or maybe she’s just a really shitty hero team commander.

Seriously lady, you're going to be in charge of a superhero team, you gotta learn a thing or two about efficiency. Or at least things that are cool enough we can forget about efficiency.

Wile E. does give us Mastermind’s background, about how they worked together a machine meant to amplify brainwaves (to do what, hmmm?), but she had really created a machine to absorb other people’s knowledge. Meaning she’s copying the villains of a certain other Warner Bros. movie, which nobody should be evoking memories of.

Wile E. stopped her by shutting down the machine, but the feedback caused her brain to bulge out. Leading to lots of lame jokes about it in this episode.

Also, the police are right on hand to arrest the nascent Mastermind immediately after Wile E. thwarts her plan to absorb the minds of the heads of the university. Leading me to wonder why he waited until the last possible minute to stop her. Was it only then that the alleged genius realized the true purpose of the machine? How did he convince the authorities? Why did he risk the university heads like that? Such questions never occurred to the writer at all, methinks. Also, Mastermind has her own stupid running gag throughout the episode where she calls Wile E. a dog. Trust me, neither one’s worth paying attention to.

The Loonatics arrive at the prison and run off to where Bugs reports some “suspicious electrical activity.” Like what? What are they expecting to find? Mastermind just broke out, remember? As in she’s probably not there anymore.

Except when they get to the yard with the construction robots, Lexi hears “someone thinking louder than we are.” She can hear people thinking? How does she not go insane from that? I could ask the same thing of Edward Cullen, but then Lexi’s just a cartoon rabbit and not an incomparable sparklepire.

And actually Mastermind didn’t leave, knowing the Loonatics would come, and has the robots attack them. All right, if that’s the case how come the prison guards didn’t find her? They did at least try to send guys to stop her from getting off the premises, right? Did the Loonatics even check with the prison staff? What, exactly, did they come here looking for? And why are there construction robots there? What are they constructing? With how dumb this show is I honestly don’t know any better than to think somebody’s building an apartment building or office complex above area occupied by a prison for supervillains.

And I’m just assuming construction was what those robots were for. Not sure why some of them look to have laser guns installed. Maybe Mastermind added those, I guess.

The Loonatics make relatively short work of the robots. Except for Wile E., who spends the entire scene running away from the robot chasing him. Even though besides healing really fast, his power is magnetism. Meaning he should be the least threatened of any of them by a metal robot. Yet, he’s only saved when Taz drops the robot he and Daffy are fighting onto the one chasing Wile E.

Wile E. promises he’s got something “at HQ that will give her a headache, wherever she is.” You knew who you were facing before you even left. Why are you only involving this thing now?

Especially since it turns out that while the Loonatics were busy with the robots, Mastermind somehow got all the way to their headquarters and took it over. She sends out some flying saucers to blow their plane out of the sky. After an unfunny exchange between Lexi and Daffy where she tells him “now’s not the time to panic.” That suggests there is a time to panic. And I know they’re supposed to be superheroes, but being in a plane about to crash in the middle of a city seems like a pretty good time to me. But since this is a (lame) kids’ show, they do so without any loss except the plane.

The Loonatics attempt to enter base through the hangar, and Bugs honestly seems surprised that Mastermind changed the security codes so they can’t get back in so easily, the way he pushes the same button ten times without success. Nice leader, guys. In his place I’m not even sure I’d bother trying the direct approach. Mastermind has to be expecting them to try to break in, doesn’t she? The only reason she wouldn't lock the main doors is because she'd booby-trapped them.

Maybe it'll work on the eleventh try...

Taz tornadoes into the ground and comes up in the hangar, and the Loonatics grab guns off a rack, which seems kind of pointless what with how many of them have powers like laser vision or tornado blasts. It’s just to show how dumb the Loonatics are anyways, because the guns have all been booby-trapped so that as soon as somebody picks them up their hands get tied to the gun and they start firing randomly. Until they think to smash or blast the guns off with the attack powers that made the guns redundant in the first place.

Wile E. leads them into a room with no security cameras for Mastermind to spot them with because it’s got a hidden elevator there. The thing is, this room houses a “heat generator,” which sounds important. And thus, sounds like someplace you’d really want to include in your security system.

And when Wile E. feels around for the button to open the secret elevator, he, well, feels around for it. Even though it’s an extremely obvious blue rectangle when we see it in close-up.

This warrants a, "When did you last have your glasses?" Not a, "Nice going, Tech."

And again Mastermind’s one step ahead of them. She seals them in the heat generator room, then turns the heat generator up to the max to turn them into Kentucky Fried Loonatics. Then it explodes.  They escape, by climbing a rope out of the sealed room. I guess that’s meant to be the cable for the secret elevator they were trying to get to, but I’m pretty tired of how often this show makes me “guess” things.

Wile E. discusses that thing he meant could stop Mastermind before: an EMP device that can “temporarily knock out all power” in an area, stripping Mastermind of all the gadgets she’s sending against them. The Loonatics split up: Lexi, Taz and Roadrunner go to find the EMP thingy, while Bugs, Daffy and Wile E. sneak in through the Danger Room to take Mastermind by surprise.

Except she’s ready for both of them. The EMP team find themselves under attack by robots made from the vacuum, food processor and CD player when they try to get to the pool table where Wile E. hid the gizmo. What foresight.

Actually, that looks kind of like the one monster from Brain 17.

Meanwhile, as soon as the others are inside the Danger Room, it kicks on and they’re attacked by holographic ninjas.

After a little fighting they find themselves in even deeper trouble when hitting then ninjas just makes them split into two. Except when that inexplicably stops happening anymore a little bit later.

Double your ninjas, double your fun.

Wile E. escapes from the Danger Room while Bugs and Daffy keep him covered, and he chases Mastermind into a storage closet. She makes a joke that doesn’t work that well with my refusal to call the characters by their new names (“You’re proving yourself to be more wily than I ever expected.”). After the totally predictable (and predictably lame) dialogue about how Mastermind thinks Wile E. was jealous of her brain, and how her brain is fine, it’s the way she uses it that’s bad, she shoots at him with a laser gun. He responds by assembling his own laser gun from junk. Then she responds by building an entire robot out of junk.

Back to Lexi and her team. As you’d expect a bunch of household appliances are no match for a group of superheroes, even ones as lame as these. Although it would’ve been over even sooner if not for how often the Loonatics forget about all the lasers and whatnot their powers include. She destroys the food processor and vacuum robots by kicking them into each other instead of just making with her ear lasers.

They find Wile E.’s EMP thingy, but it has activation instructions that are simple…for him. For them, it’s apparently like reading VCR instructions, but they do eventually get all the programming done, hook up all the whatsamajiggahoozies, and then hit the mandatory big red button. I guess that’s supposed to be a joke that the instructions are complicated, but Roadrunner has no trouble figuring them out and turning off everything in the building. This leads Lexi to declare “Game over.” Then the Danger Room shuts down, leading Bugs to declare “Game over.” Then Mastermind’s robot falls apart, leading Wile E. to declare “Game over.” Which I guess was supposed to be another joke. Then he ties Mastermind up with power cables and hauls her back to jail.

Coming out on top once again, the Loonatics relax with a day at the beach. Daffy says there’s nothing more rewarding than that after a job well done, and Bugs is amazed that Daffy’s right about something for once. Oh shut the hell up, guy who was surprised a villain would lock them out after taking over their base.

Except it turns out this is their Danger Room again, but since the power’s still out, Roadrunner’s powering everything with one of those generators hooked up to an exercise bike. Which isn’t funny either.

Sorry if this one wasn’t one of my best, but I have to work with what I’ve got and in this case, it wasn’t much. Mostly some worse examples this little show has of its subpar humor, and honestly, is there anything about bad movies that can annoy viewers yet thwart attempts at amusing analysis like lame jokes? And I couldn’t just skip this episode, because Mastermind shows up as a member of the little Legion of Doom in the season finale.

To drag this out a little longer, I’d say probably the biggest problem with this episode is the wasted potential. Wile E. and Mastermind have a past together, but it seems he knew almost from the beginning that she was a bad egg, and that they didn’t know each other long enough to be proper intellectual rivals. Instead he’s a random dude who stopped her big plan in a confusing way, and she wants revenge on him for stopping her because that’s what supervillains always want. Talk about boring.

Sure, sure, I talked about how I enjoyed Massive’s simplicity as a villain. That episode at least had some semi-redeeming silly elements to make his appearance semi-memorable, aside from bad jokes about the villain’s head and her speciesism. Like something involving the Looney Tunes probably should. Hell, if this show had been more popular Mastermind probably would've been decried for mocking hydrocephalics.

Instead of the show’s usual confusion about when to be funny and when to be serious and not being particularly good at either, we just have a fairly typical and unremarkable episode of a superhero show. In most other episodes Loonatics Unleashed at least managed to seem like it was trying. Even if it was never sure what it was trying for.

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