Monday, November 16, 2009

Plastic Man Recap: Episode 1- The Weed

From out of the pages of DC Comics comes the world’s newest and greatest superhero: Plastic Man! He can spring. He can stretch. He can fly. He can bounce. He can change his shape. And he can even dance!

Each week Plastic Man will face the world’s greatest collection of villains.

There’s action. There’s comedy. There’s danger. There’s Penny! There’s bad luck Hula! There’s plenty for everybody on the Plastic Man Comedy/Adventure Show!

Depending on whether you like corny old cartoons, that little intro could either send a shiver of horror down your spine or cause you to grin in anticipation.  Since I have no taste, I'm in the latter category.  The Plastic Man Comedy/Adventure Show was on from 1979-1981, having a grand total of 61 episodes.

Which is funny considering that the first 35 were released as Plastic Man: The Complete Collection.  In fairness, the show's title changed after that, but I still feel gipped.  I paid for the complete collection.  Where's my Baby Plas and Plastic Man Family, darn it?

But enough of my whining.  Let's dive right into, shall we?  (Be warned: this recap is long.)

We open to a guard talking on the phone with his friend Herb. He reassures him that the job is not dangerous, and informs him that he fully plans to slack off and get some sleep while on duty. But an ominous figure is lurking outside. It’s . . . a green hobo in a trenchcoat?

No! It’s The Weed!

The Weed enters through an unlocked window and tears the door off a vault. He pulls out an orange soda which will apparently help him take over the world. He’s confronted by the lazy guard, and the guard assumes he’s a college kid.

“Boy the way these here college kids dress these days.” You know the only people I know of that go around in just a trenchcoat and fedora are flashers. Then again it would make sense if drunk frat boys were disproportionally represented among the flasher demographic, so maybe the guard isn't a complete idiot.

The guard, being not too bright, decides to simply pick up the phone to call for help, because that’s the bright thing to do when you’re confronting someone who just ripped the door off a safe. The Weed shows how truly depraved he is by interrupting the phone call and stuffing the guard in a closet.

The Weed joins his two henchmen outside. The Weed triumphantly announces that with his orange soda, he will be the RICHEST WEED ON EARTH! Um . . . why does the talking weed want money anyway? So he can buy all the fertilizer and Miraclo Gro he wants?

We switch scenes to find the Plastic Jet landing at a gas station to fill its tank. Yes, Plastic Man has his own jet. I actually thought it was him when I first saw the thing. I mean look at it.

Sitting inside the jet are Plastic Man and his two sidekicks: Penny and Hula Hula. It’s really hard to tell who is who, but I’m guessing that Penny’s the one in the skirt, and Hula’s the one with the Hawaiian shirt.  Don't quote me on that, though.

Hula goes to check one of the tires, and Penny uses the opportunity to offer Plastic Man two tickets to a rock concert. Being completely clueless, Plastic Man takes the two tickets and wonders whether the Chief will go with him. We are then introduced to the Chief on a viewscreen.

Plastic Man greets her. “Howdy, Chief. It’s me, your rubberband Romeo.” He attempts to invite her to the rock concert, but she’s all business.

The Chief informs Plastic Man that she called because of The Weed. (I love how they keep trying to make "The Weed" sound ominous.) Apparently the orange soda the Weed stole was actually the Atomic Cellular Regeneration Formula, a “super plant grow potion.” Or Miraclo-Gro for short. The Weed intends to blackmail the earth: either he gets all the world’s money and riches, or he’ll destroy the world.

Sadly, simple economics says that once he has all the money, it will no longer be worth anything. But, they can’t just let the Weed get away with his heavily-flawed plan, so Plastic Man, Penny and Hula go to the harbor where the Weed’s ship is.

They arrive as the ship is leaving, and Plastic Man forms into a gangplank so the others can board the ship.

They split up to search for the Weed. However, our villains saw them board. The Weed assures his henchmen that they will be “the only humans in my favor” once he has all the money in the world. The second they leave, however, the Weed calls them fools for believing him. I’ve got to agree. If they were smart, they wouldn’t be taking orders from a talking dandelion.

Rather than do the sensible thing and use actual weapons, the henchmen roll a barrel at Plastic Man, which flattens him but doesn’t actually hurt him. Hula Hula rushes to the rescue only to step onto a skateboard and knock himself and Plas overboard.

Plastic Man gives Hula a lift out of the water to avoid a truck. He then talks underwater - apparently he no doesn't need to breath - and tells the shark: “Trust me, Sharky, I’m impossible to chew.” Plastic Man then gets out of the water, to find Penny and Hula mourning his supposed death. They are delighted to find out he survived.  Penny is so happy that she attempts to kiss Plastic Man, who brushes her off.
We switch to the Weed, who is monologuing for about the fourth time, so he doesn’t notice one of his henchmen letting in a waiter with a tray. Guess who’s on the menu?

The Weed slams the lid back down, bangs on it with a spoon and then runs off with his henchmen.  The Weed uses the Miracle-Gro to block Plastic Man’s path with a giant grape, while he and his henchmen board a boat with seaweed on it. That can’t be good for their gas mileage.

Plastic Man turns into a boat and attempts pursuit, but the Miracle-Gro causes nearby seaweed to grow and entangle him.

Penny calls the Plastic Jet so they can follow the Weed to his destination: Peru.

We then have a very brief scene with the Weed as he brings a plant-monster to life with lightning.  It's a nice, short Frankenstein homage, but the scene ends before we get a glimpse of his creation.
Plastic Man, Penny and Hula Hula arrive in Peru, but have no clue what to do since they don’t know where the Weed is hiding. Hula comes up with a brilliant plan: “I’ll just find someone I know and get the local gossip.” While Plastic Man and Penny note how unlikely this is, within seconds, Hula runs into Sam Rodriguez, an old friend of his.

So now we know why Plastic Man keeps someone called “Bad Luck Hula” around. He may be unlucky, but he’s very well connected. Sam knows that the Weed has a plantation outside of Lima, so they take off in the Plastic Jet to find him. Plastic Man goes after the Weed, leaving Penny and Hula with the Jet. Plastic Man pole-vaults onto the roof and sneaks in through the chimney.

Back at yet another monologe, the Weed is being watered by his henchmen. He plans to destroy Lima as an example. Plastic Man is too late to stop the Weed’s creation.

The plant attacks the Plastic Jet, and Plastic Man attempts to cut them free, but is unable. He gets thrown through the air and lands hundreds of feet away in a bunch of mud. Thankfully, Penny is not your usual 70s love interest. Penny is actually intelligent. She turns the engines on full blast and breaks free of the plant without Plastic Man's help.

We then get what may be the only showering scene from a 70s superhero cartoon as Plas scrubs the mud off under a waterfall.

The plant comes after him, but turns away with no explanation, even though it has him cornered. Penny is relieved and prepares to land the plane so they can get Plas.

“Let’s pick up my fantastic, elastic lover boy.” Penny, are you sure you’re allowed to say that on TV? Oh, but it gets even better. Plas’s response? “Penny, you always give me a lift."

Excuse me. I think I need a minute to quit laughing.

After that little bit of sneaking crap past the censors, Plastic Man goes to the police so Lima can be evacuated. Strangely, they don’t believe that a giant plant created by a talking weed is coming to destroy the city. Sounds like a perfectly reasonable story to me, but I guess the police in Peru don’t read nearly as many comics as I do.

Back at The Weed’s plantation, the Weed is being trimmed by one of his henchmen while watching TV. He sees a news report of Lima’s destruction and Plastic Man’s defeat at the tendrils of the giant plant-monster. The Weed is overjoyed.

“Pete! Moss! Prepare my copter!” Hey, don’t blame me. I didn’t name the henchmen.

But what’s this? The city is still standing when the Weed arrives? Yes, apparently, the news report was faked by Plas and friends. Plastic Man tries to get the Weed to stop the plant since he’s now in the path of destruction, but the Weed refuses and bolts.

Plastic Man easily takes out the henchmen and goes after the Weed. The Weed goes to a construction site, but after a brief fight, Plastic Man drops the Weed into a cement mixer. Plastic Man again tries to get the Weed to tell them how to stop the plant, but he still refuses.

The Chief calls to ask if they’ve caught the Weed, threatening that Plastic Man will be all washed up if he doesn’t stop the plant-monster.

Penny again shows that she’s the sidekick with the brains, mentioning how the plant turned away when Plastic Man was washing up at the waterfall. Yes, apparently this plant-monster is weak against . . . WATER!

Plastic Man turns into a hose, hooks himself up to a fire hydrant and sprays the plant-monster. It melts the plant into a tiny puddle of green goo within seconds. Well, that was anticlimatic.

The Weed, Pete and Moss are taken into custody by the police, and Plastic Man is thanked.

The group prepares to leave, as Hula eats a salad. Plastic Man warns him to “watch out that the plants in there aren’t alive.” Hula looks down at the salad nervously before tossing it in the trash.  He asks if they can get a cheeseburger before they leave. “Cheeseburgers don’t attack you, do they?”

Penny and Plastic Man share a laugh, and the credits roll. Well, actually they don’t since I’m watching this on DVD and they cut the credits out . . . but you get the picture.

Tune in next time for Episode 2: Dr. Irwin and Mr. Meteor!

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