Friday, July 12, 2013

Loonatics Unleashed - I Am Slamacus (Snark)

We’re jumping right into the action this time, with the Loonatics zipping around trying to catch a bunch of escaped zoo animals. To prove the show was trying just a little, though, these are actually cloned prehistoric zoo animals!

Only we’re not really jumping right into the action this time, as the Loonatics take a second to hover around and explain all this to each other, giving the animals time to wreck some more property and leave more Acmetropolisians without transportation and no way to support their families.

Oh yeah, one other thing. Lexi explains that these beasties are from a petting zoo. Yes, in the future cloned animals capable of rampant property damage and loss of life are also ones marketed toward close contact with tourists’ children. Good to know.

Petting zoo animals. Right.

One of the animals is a pteranodon and Lexi traps it with the jello gun from “The World is My Circus.”

Amazingly, Bugs does that aggravating thing we just saw him do again, where he hovers making pseudo-witty quips while the rampaging animal he’s bent on capturing rampages.

Wile E. even gets in on it, correcting Bugs that this beastie isn’t an elephant but “a genetically-created miniature mastodon from the Mesozoic Era.” No, stupid. Mastodons were around in the Pleistocene Era. I found that out in five seconds. Maybe the writers were getting their prehistory lessons from Zyuranger or something, which isn’t even a good way to get an impression of the Sentai series, never mind history lessons.

When Lexi drops off the pteranodon (still in the jell-o cube), who should she run into but Pierre Le Pew, who starts hitting on her. But that’s the last we hear of that. He doesn’t try to seduce Lexi or any other woman again. The usual schtick of a Pepe Le Pew cartoon’s already starting to wear out its welcome after seven minutes, and this show can do neither humor nor character interplay well, so that’s probably for the best.

You’ll notice I call this character by the name he has in this version of the show and not the original. That’s because, like Mr. Leghorn, if I go along with the show’s idea that the characters descended from the originals, Pepe Le Pew’s genetic line intermingled with humans at some point (even if his unique odor comes from dubious taste in cologne this time around) and I really don’t want to dwell on that in something supposedly aimed at young children. So, Pierre it is.

While we’re on the subject of names, in this version Taz’s “real” name is Slam Tasmanian. Now you understand the title, and we can get back to the recap.

Bugs assigns Taz to catching “old tusk-face” while the others split up to capture other runaway animals. And I know Roadrunner’s supposed to be staying airborne by flapping his arms so fast you can’t see it, but does it look instead like he’s staying up by the power of his noxious underarm odor? Which come to think of it a super-fast hero probably would have problems with.

Anyway, Taz does promptly bronco bust the mastodon, which gets Pierre to thinking the beast’s perfect a little show he’s putting on, which he punctuates with an evil little chuckle…

The round-up continues, with Wile E. at the zoo and determining the beasties didn’t in fact all serendipitously escape at the exact same time, somebody deliberately let them out. Bugs instructs Daffy to get Taz, allowing Daffy to be nearby for this next part.

Pierre introduces himself to Taz, and extends his sympathies that Taz never got to win the wrestling championship before the meteor hit and he presumably was no longer eligible because of having superpowers (but like the show’s going to explain how that works? Ha!).

Not that it would’ve meant anything anyway, because the episode remembers his back story but manages to forget the reason Taz never got the chance to win the championship had nothing to do with his martial abilities (which didn’t look that great either), but because wrestling is fake. He never got to win because he wasn’t popular enough.

Pierre runs a fighting federation of his own, and promises Taz the chance to be a champ there. But it’s the promise of lots of prize money that gets Daffy’s attention (“comically” causing him to stop his vehicle and let the saber tooth tiger chasing him to knock itself out in the process). Daffy presents himself as Taz’s manager, and says he’ll only be taking a ridiculously huge percentage of the winnings. And they kill another ten seconds of run-time ramming it into our skulls that what’s really important to Taz is getting to be the champ, and what’s important to Daffy is all the money they’ll make.

This is what the makers of this show think of your attention span.

The other Loonatics lock up the rest of the dinosaurs and whatnot, saying “that should do it.” Except for how they don’t know where Taz and Daffy are and that means a mastodon and saber tooth tiger are still unaccounted for. Have I mentioned lately how these guys aren’t very good at being superheroes?

They do realize they’re a couple idiots short, and thanks to (you guessed it) one of Wile E.’s handy whatever devices, they’re able to pinpoint Daffy and Taz’s location. Not that it matters, because having put their thumbprint on a holo-contract, Pierre then teleports the three of them to his wandering arena.

The Loonatics left behind make some stupid jokes about Pierre’s smell.

Bugs: “Something smells fishy.”
Lexi: “More like a skunk if you ask me.”

Stop reminding me of the species change, guys. You’re in enough trouble as it is.

Through scientific analysis Wile E. figures out that Pierre teleported away with their friends. That is, he ignored the fact that he and the other Loonatics were there to see the three of them disappear in a flash of light.

We then begin a training montage where Daffy’s dressed up like Mickey from the Rocky movies, and is comically damaged several times by an oblivious Taz. And in doing so, once again negates Wile E. having instant regeneration among his powers for the primary purpose of enabling this kind of humor.

What's wrong with your baaaaackground consistency?

Finally it’s over and the tournament can begin in earnest. But as the arena reappears, you see the remains of this fallen statue on a desolate world and can’t help but wonder why you’re watching an ill-advised show about the Tasmanian Devil in a wrestling tournament instead of something that could've involved something like that.

And while I'm complaining about animation consistency...

Especially once the matches begin. Taz defeats all three of his opponents (a guy with three heads, a guy with a big mustache, and a multi-eyed slime monster) in five seconds each. The second by yelling at him really loud.

And the crowd eats it up. This is the most amazing thing they’ve ever seen, a wrestling match where a guy taps out in less than thirty seconds.

I get why Daffy’s cheering; all he cares about is how fast Taz can make him rich. Short matches mean less waiting. But imagine you’re one of the people who paid out the nose for a seat in the stands. Are you going to feel like you got your money’s worth in a match that short and unsatisfying? Since that’s exactly what the show’s doing, let me save you some time: no, you aren’t.

That’s why wrestling’s staged (ahem, I mean, why there are people who say wrestling’s staged), because the people who watch this want a spectacle. If he wasn’t just a dumb animal I’d say Taz should know that considering what he was up to in his pre-hero days. You don’t give the spectators something worthwhile (and based on what we hear in the next scene, you lured them in with the promise that someone was going to die), you’re probably going to be miles away with the ticket money by the time the first match starts because you know you brought them here with a pack of lies.

But no, people in Acmetropolis must just be the most bored people in the universe. They’ll shell out for competition this lame and act like this is the biggest thing in the history of ever. Idiots.

It would’ve worked better if they did show the first match, then did a quick montage of the ones that followed (hell, Arena, one of the cheesiest movies I’ve ever seen, knew to do that). They probably would’ve had to skip that dumb training montage they did make, though, and all the classic japes it contained. But really, if you’re the tough guy on a superhero team, you shouldn’t need to train to be ready for something like this.

The other Loonatics are looking at the security cam footage of the zoo for some reason, even though Lexi saw the same guy outside who they saw disappear along with Daffy and Taz. Then again this is the same team whose super genius needed a high-tech analysis to tell him they’d teleported.

In any case, they feed Pierre’s image into the computer to match it, and it cycles through most of the first season villains (And Sam. Whatever happened to him, anyway?) before pulling up his record. First off though, why do we see it trying to match him against Mastermind and Weather Vane? Pierre’s got long hair, but you’re telling me these ridiculously advanced wall-sized computers can’t filter out criminals of the wrong gender? They don’t try to match him against Adolpho…

Don't try to fool us, Tim's not coming back and you know it.

He turns out to be the manager of an illegal “only one fighter gets out alive” fighting league. Never mind that Taz’s opponents were all very clearly alive when the match was over. Even the slime monster was crawling away as Taz drank in his fans’ praise.

And if that’s illegal, what does that make those thousands of people in the stands? Some of whom are very clearly underage children. This is a deathsport they all came to see. Maybe somebody should’ve thought of that instead of just reusing crowd shots from “The World is My Circus.”

And look on the right! It's that lady from "Attack of the Fuzzballs" and "Stop The World I Want to Get Off" again!

And again!

Back to the arena for the final match of the evening, where Taz is taking on the “undefeated champion,” Gorlop from the planet Gossamer. And I probably don’t have to tell you that means we’re not getting just one throwback to the old cartoons this episode.

He not only manages the league, he also scouts the talent, and he's the MC? Wow.

Look, I know wrestling matches have pyrotechnics, but he's setting off fireworks that close to the spectators???

Gorlop’s presented as this hulking, mysterious figure, but then they pull his robe off and he’s really this tiny guy on a stand. And if he’s the reigning champion, the fans probably already knew that making you wonder what the point was. Does Pierre recruit all his fighters the way he did Taz?

The other Loonatics are flying around trying to locate the arena before their friend gets smashed, using Roadrunner’s inborn GPS powers. Powers that allow him to globally position other things, like when and where the arena’s going to appear next. Why didn’t they use that to locate the train after the homing device got broken last episode, you may ask? And are they zipping around to other planets fast enough to catch up to the arena station suddenly, or is this supposed to be on Acmetropolis? Shut up and watch the pretty pitchers, they’d tell you.

Because Taz is a superhero, he feels bad pounding on somebody so small, with both him and Daffy ignoring that if this guy’s the undefeated champion he obviously has something that levels the playing field. Taz gets tossed around, and when he does land on Gorlop (while rebounding off the ropes Gorlop threw him into), Gorlop gets a lot bigger and less cute.

This makes it okay to hit him, because Taz does that, but again Gorlop gets even bigger and uglier. And keeps doing so because Taz is too much of a mindless beast to realize what’s going on, resulting in him getting pummeled. And again, this is something the fans would already know about.

The rest of the Loonatics show up in what I think’s meant to be a nod to the tendency of the old cartoons with flimsy disguises that work. Even though Roadrunner’s wearing lederhosen. They also have no trouble getting to ringside even though they’re in the stands, which seems unlikely. And for all their purported desire to save Taz, none of them actually bother to join the fight until they’ve wasted most of a minute explaining to Daffy the loser goes home in a box.

Perhaps hoping to win the purse and get rid of his annoying teammates at the same time, Daffy fails to tell the other Loonatics about Gorlop’s power, resulting in their blasts and blows just making Gorlop yet bigger and stronger every time.

Really making me worry for the world of the future, even after Bugs sees his eye lasers making Gorlop more powerful he tries to press the attack, but it’s dumb muscle Taz who figures out that to reduce Gorlop to a manageable size they have to make him expend energy rather than giving him more. This, unfortunately for the show, is a lot like Sypher’s gimmick: he’d be a massive threat at first, but after a few battles (which he’s more than had by fighting his way to the top spot) he loses the element of surprise, and people would know about his singular gimmick and his threat level should diminish considerably. Accordingly, once they’ve figured this out all they have to do is stay out of the way of Gorlop’s punches until he’s a little shrimp again. Do the fighters not get to see the other matches? Okay, fine, but what if there’s somebody in the audience who’s seen Gorlop fight and likes the challenger more? What if he found some way of telling his favored contender what to expect? It already looks ridiculously easy to get from the stands to ringside…

Taz dodges around Gorlop until he misses enough times to make him shrink back to normal, but Pierre creates a force field to try to force the Loonatics to fight to the death once they’ve dealt with Gorlop. You know the show doesn’t have enough balls to follow through on that, though. Instead the Loonatics zap Gorlop until he’s big enough to touch the top of the force field and absorb it, which for some reason (the episode’s nearly over) causes him to expel all his energy and shrink back to normal.

Pierre promises revenge on the Loonatics, but he was never a threat which means Wile E. immediately pins him and Lexi tells him to “Cool it, Casanova.” No.  You don’t get to make that reference when you stripped that out of the character except for that one teeny tiny thing in the prologue.

Then Gorlop kicks Pierre in the toes and gets this smug smile on his face. Okay, what’s the story behind that? Shouldn’t he be mad his spot at the top’s gone? Was he forced into doing this somehow? Is it like that old Fantastic Four story where if the alien gladiators didn’t fight, their planets would be blown up? I guess it’s something like that, since when we cut back to Loonatics HQ Bugs is rattling off all they just accomplished, including returning Gorlop to his home planet. Noticeably absent is anything about the about the Loonatics arresting the people who bought tickets to the deathmatch.

Taz is down because he didn’t get to be the champ, even though doing so would’ve meant compromising himself as a hero because he would’ve had to kill Gorlop to do it (just how he would’ve done that, I doubt even the show’s makers know). Besides, his friends interfered in the match. Yet it turns out Lexi grabbed the belt on her way out, and having it is all Taz needs to be happy. So really, this episode could’ve ended with Taz stealing it from those divas before the final match and fleeing the arena.

That apparently makes Taz the champ after all, and Daffy tries to jump on board as his manager again, promoting him in all kinds of matches as the champion of Pierre’s (defunct, illegal) fighting league. They go out on the same ridiculously unbalanced share of the profits gag as before.

After all that you might be in the mood for something about wrestling that doesn’t suck, and I can always recommend this

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