The inane ramblings presented here by Scott Foy (aka The Foywonder) are strictly his own opinions
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MY NAME IS SCOTT FOY AND I PAID TO SEE RINGMASTER
Before anything else, if you haven't seen the clip I posted on YouTube from last month's Foyeurism ACTION U.S.A. then you can do so now by CLICKING HERE. Has a little bit of strong language that may not make it suitable for work, but mostly it's composed of cars crashing, stuff exploding, Drago oddly adjusting his glove, and guys falling out of moving vehicles. One of the many great moments in ACTION U.S.A. Joe Bob says, Check it out!
As for this month, remember late last year when I kept hyping up a big Foyeurism I had planned that would really appeal to those that like it when I review really obscure stuff? Remember how I kept telling you it was coming next month and then next month came I said next month and then I finally just stopped saying next month? Good news: next month has finally arrived! You're still not getting the whole thing though due to it being enough material to fill two, maybe even three Foyeurisms. I've been on a little kick the last few months watching failed television pilots from Seventies and Eighties. We're talking really obscure stuff here. I remember back in my youth when a lot of these failed pilots would actually get one time only primetime broadcasts before fading into the ether. These days the failed pilots don't even get that much and only a few of them ever pop up on the internet.
PILOT ERROR is the first installment in what will probably turn out to be a miniseries over the next few months. In this one I spotlight a trio of failed pilots (a half hour sitcom, an hour long action series, and a feature-length family drama) that share the common theme of being set in a very inaccurate version of the future. The second installment won't be next month, more likely sometime this summer, will be about some truly screwy superhero crimefighter pilots that failed to launch. But that's yet to come. For now though we're going to go back to the future!
I'm sure most of you remember the catastrophic drought of 1995 that forced the almost complete evacuation of the American West. Oh, that was a terrible time for our country. The western portion of the US reduced to being a complete dustbowl again, water became more precious than gold, roving bands of outlaws It wasn't until 2005, just three years ago when the government began to encourage settlers to start going back and re-populate those deserted deserts, effectively becoming 21st century pioneers. Bad times indeed...
BADLANDS 2005 was a rejected TV pilot from 1988 that attempted to meld traditional Wild West elements with Mad Max-style aesthetics but still make it suitable for network television. They almost pulled it off too. Almost. The basic concept clearly needed some tweaking and the writing, needed to be a bit smarter, or at the very least, less dumb. The tone of the show is similar to the jocular tone THE ADVENTURES OF BRISCO COUNTY JR. would successfully pull-off years later. BADLANDS 2005, unfortunately, drifted far too often into being too dumb for its own good. The humdrum storyline for this opener certainly didn't help matters either.
I strongly suspect the answer as to why the writing suffered from an acute case of undercutting idiocy was that BADLANDS 2005 was created by and the pilot episode written by the co-writer of the bad movie classic A*P*E*. I know; hard to believe the makers of that movie actually worked again.
On top of that, this pilot episode was directed by George Miller. Not the George Miller that made THE ROAD WARRIOR, this is the George Miller that would go on to direct ZEUS & ROXANNE and the Sci-Fi Channel's ATTACK OF THE SABRETOOTH. Quite the b-movie pedigree this failed TV pilot had, huh?
Our hero is Marshall Garson MacBeth, played rather low-key by journeyman actor Lewis Smith. Some of you may remember Smith as "Perfect Tommy" from THE ADVENTURES OF BUCKAROO BANZAI ACROSS THE 8TH DIMENSION. With a name like Garson MacBeth and a hairdo that looked as if he started going for a mullet but changed his mind in mid haircut in favor of something curlier, Smith's character is obviously designed to be a 21st century lawman of the Wyatt Earp variety. Too bad he comes across more like your typical bland TV cop transplanted into a low rent post apocalyptic wasteland.
Garson MacBeth starts out the show speaking of having grown weary of his job and is considering leaving his post for something less wastelandy. The one thing he'd really like to do before moving on is take down his arch nemesis, an outlaw named Johnny Cantrell. Now that's a Wild West name! Of course, by episode's end he will have changed his mind about the first even after having accomplished the second. No surprise there.
BADLANDS 2005 also happens to be another one of those human paired with a cyborg partner deals where the two spend a good deal of time going through the usual human-cyborg movie quarrelling. MacBeth's partner in water-deprived wasteland crimefighting is the all-too-human cyborg, Rex. I say all too human because MacBeth keeps asking Rex how he'd feel about being assigned with a new partner and Rex naturally replies that he wouldn't feel anything because he's a machine; this rings more than a little hollow seeing as how Rex is portrayed as being quite emotional at times, often complaining about things like losing an arm - a running gag throughout the show - because it was his "favorite" arm. He won't feel anything if he's assigned with a new partner but he's unhappy about losing his favorite appendage and gets seriously annoyed when given an inferior replacement? For a cyborg trying to understand the human experience he really seems to have a heck of a head start, at least on the pouting, peevish side of the emotional spectrum.
The role of cyborg lawman Rex is played by Miguel Ferrer, who that same year played the murdered OCP executive responsible for Robocop's creation. Ferrer's a good actor and manages to make the most of a hokey character that's still nowhere near as interesting a mechanical lawman as Robocop. I personally think the show might have benefited from making Ferrer the human and Smith, or somebody else, the machine.
MacBeth, not surprisingly, has an affinity for old movie Westerns. Rex walks in on MacBeth watching THE PROFESSIONALS starring Jack Palance and Burt Lancaster and is perplexed by the sight of the train in the movie. Rex doesn't know what a train is? We learn that by 2005 trains had become a long lost relic of the past. Ill buy that for a dollar.
Marshall MacBeth and his cyborg sidekick patrol the badlands of New Arizona in the "Green Monster," a two-seater attack vehicle armed with a rocket launcher and Vulcan cannon. The Green Monster can also split into two three-wheeled attack vehicles. A lengthy detailed explanation from MacBeth will explain that he named it so after the infamous 37-foot "Green Monster" wall from Fenway Park, home to the Boston Red Sox baseball team.
I think it's a shame they didn't build the whole dang show around Green Monster because it is the best part of the program. Looking like a nifty second generation MEGAFORCE vehicle, had BADLANDS 2005 been picked up as a series, even it had been cancelled after a few episodes, it would still probably be remembered fondly by some just for the Green Monster alone. Alas, not only did that not happen, Green Monster doesn't even factor much into the action here aside from the opening action sequence where they use it to defeat some "water bandits" from hijacking a tanker truck transporting water - a sequence that looks like something straight out of an Italian ROAD WARRIOR knock-off. The villains even get to blow up Green Monster before the show ends. What the hell were they thinking? Thats right up there with killing the dog in TURNER & HOOCH.
THE GREEN MONSTER: MEGAFORCE certified, C.O.B.R.A. approved
I have a weird inkling that one major reason why the show got rejected by the CBS brass was because the name of the pilot episode was "Brides of Lizard Gulch". I kid you not. In this one and only opener, MacBeth and Rex have to escort two mail order brides to a settlers' outpost at Lizard Gulch way out in the middle of the barren badlands. It seems these two ladies would rather be mail order brides to two men they don't know and have never seen and live out in the dustbowl of the water-impoverished abandoned American West than live in the big cities of the East. One, a woman named Sue, will take a liking to MacBeth, who forsakes any possible romance with the (mail order) bride-to-be, opting instead to give her a speech on the importance of having dreams. The other will be razzle dazzled upon seeing food rations magically appear with a few drops of water. That instant meal will impress the other lady yet the realization that Rex is a robot will horrify her. To put that in Star Trek terminology: food replicator = cool, Lt. Data = abomination against God.
The women are dropped off to their sight unseen husbands at an outpost that as a potential homestead looks slightly more hospitable than a cave. Neither woman is especially taken with their spouses-to-be; bold sentiments from two ladies that aren't exactly lookers themselves.
But all is not as it seems. The outpost has been secretly overrun by Johnny Cantrell and his gang; the brides-to-be are kidnapped. MacBeth and Rex realize they've been had because the guy at the outpost told them the marriage licenses had been mailed out already only to discover that's not how the mail order bride process works in the futuristic wasteland of BADLANDS 2005.
Speaking of mail, looking at the landscape and the apocalyptic scenario left me wondering when Kevin Costner would show up to tell everyone how much getting a letter in the mail means you're part of something greater?
MacBeth and Rex don't really know where to go to find the ladies until they come across an aging hippie named Moondance, delirious from thirst. Moondance looks like Burl Ives after being lost in the desert for a week while wearing what appeared to be a Burger King tiara and the eye mask of a DC Comics' heroine. Asked if he knows anything about the kidnapped women, Moondance rambles on about Hell's Angels and speaks in cryptic beatnik song lyrics. Rex has no clue what is going on (Join the club!) but MacBeth reveals that his father was a hippie back in the 1960s so he fully understands the dehydrated hippie's hippie-speak. Somehow, in much the same way everyone knew Timmy was trapped in a well just by hearing Lassie bark, MacBeth manages to decipher this hippies mumbo jumbo to learn a motorcycle gang has taken the women to a nearby abandoned train yard.
Gimli goes to Greenwhich Village
Don't ask. Just don't ask. Dont even try to think about it. I guaran-damn-tee you that this stupidly bizarro scene is what single handedly led to TV execs passing on this show. It's a ridiculous scene - ridiculous in a bad way - intended to be tongue-in-cheek that perfectly typifies where BADLANDS 2005 went wrong. The show isn't meant to be overtly dumb but whenever it tries to be playful it crosses the line into annoying idiocy. If Stephen Sommers had been in charge of CBS's programming I bet he would've greenlit it for series though.
The rescue attempt goes badly when Sue reveals herself to be Sue Cantrell, sister of outlaw Johnny. The entire mail order bride routine was a scam to get the other woman out into the badlands and into her brother's clutches. Why? Because the other lady is the widow of Johnny's ex-partner in crime; the whole ruse was to get her to Johnny so that he could force her to tell him where the loot is from the big score they pulled off before Cantrell went to jail and the other got killed.
But that speech MacBeth gave Sue earlier about having dreams really got to her. She abruptly turns on her brother and helps the good guys escape via (Surprise, surprise!) a train. I thought those didnt exist anymore?
Rex loses his human exterior in an ensuing fire fight, clearly done so solely so that we'd get to see his second-rate Terminator endoskeleton. And hell get to help MacBeth engineer a train so you better believe this emotionless robot gets giddy.
Wink Martindale's endoskeleton
MacBeth has his one last battle with Cantrell that ends with Sue gunning down her own brother. Minor supporting guest starring character saves the day in a potential TV action-adventure show pilot episode - yet another good reason why BADLANDS 2005 did not get picked up for series.
Though I think one of the biggest obstacle BADLANDS 2005 could not overcome was simply bad timing. This was a pilot from 1988 that played more like it had been made sometime 1978-1983. Just something about the whole premise and how it's executed felt archaic even by 1988 standards.
One last little amusing bit about BADLANDS 2005: MacBeth had a hard-as-nails female boss named Alex who loved chiding him for costing them money every single time he damaged their equipment and for not following proper protocol, but you always got the sense that if the show had become a series she and MacBeth would have eventually become romantically linked. And the actress who played Alex was
It was still a better role than SLIVER and CATWOMAN
"Robots that don't work... Computers that fall apart... If you think things were complicated in 1977, just stick around" is the line used to set the stage for the futuristic shenanigans to come during the opening of the failed sitcom pilot STICK AROUND.
"And if you thought sitcoms set in 1977 could be lamer than lame then wait until you see how lame a sitcom set in 2055 can be" is the line that should have followed.
One need only sit through all 22-minutes of STICK AROUND to easily deduce why the execs at ABC made sure it didn't stick around. Even the title is terrible and only that set-up line at the beginning gives it any meaning.
Most of STICK AROUND takes place in the living room of a "futuristic" apartment that still looks more like a gaudy polyester era apartment. A little bit takes place in the husband's "retro" junk store (i.e. a business selling ordinary 20th century objects that are supposed to seem novel to the people of the future) that looks like it could have been a pawn shop run by Fred Sanford. For all the talk of computers and other futuristic devices we never actually see any of them, aside from robot butlers, the occasional sliding door, or sight of a keypad of some kind counts. But there is a mood altering contraption for quarreling husbands and wives to sit in that looks like a big toaster. The sight of that sit-in mood toaster is about as close to amusing as the show ever got.
I'd rather see them chopped up in a giant mood blender
Vance and Elaine Keefer are your typical 1970's sitcom couple transplanted to 2055. Elaine was born a child of privilege; her parents are super wealthy, a fact that sometimes bothers Vance. We're never really given any indication that the personality-deficient Elaine does, well, anything except stay home and take up space.
The third wheel in this sitcom family unit is a robotic manservant named Andy, most likely named so because he was played by Andy Kaufman. ABC was determined to turn Kaufman's "Foreign Man" stand-up character into a bankable sitcom character. It's rather bizarre that anyone would think it would work to have Kaufman playing an android using the same vocal and facial mannerisms that he would use successfully playing Latka on Taxi, the sitcom he'd become a cast member of a year after filming this terrible pilot. The only real difference between crazy robot Andy and crazy foreigner Latka is that Andy is a mischievous malfunctioning robot clad in a peach-colored bellhop uniform. Kaufman is given no one and nothing to work with and just comes across as a comic hack mugging for the camera. HEARTBEEPS, this is not.
It's kind of well known that Andy Kaufman despised sitcoms and was never happy about appearing on Taxi. If he didn't like doing that show then I shudder to think of the level of contempt he must had building up inside him having to work with the material of this awful pilot with the looming threat that it just might get picked up for series. Then again, Kaufman saw himself as a practitioner of anti-humor and this pilot is about as anti-humor as it gets. For example, she tells Andy to bring them drinks and he does so by walking over the couch, standing on a small table, and tossing the glasses to the ground. Then his arm fell off. I think I actually heard Kaufman die a little on the inside during that scene.
Andy was originally bought by Elaine's parents and did more to help raise her than they did so she cannot stand the thought of possibly having to get rid of the robot now that its old, outdated, and constantly malfunctioning in allegedly comical fashion. Vance, on the other hand, is at his wits end with Andy's quirks - not unlike the viewers of Saturday Night Live would come to be in 1983.
It's hard not being put off by the Vance character since all he does is whine in an unfunny manner. There's a major David Brenner vibe emanating from Vance, which in Seventies sitcom terminology is code language for "whiny Jew type". Before anyone gets offended by that description, keep in mind 1970's sitcoms were very much into stereotypes and I can assure you that the character of Vance is clearly designed to give off just that sort of vibe. His will not be the last broad stereotype to appear in this either. The actor playing Vance would go on to star in THE BOOGENS and co-star in XANADU. I'm shocked he didn't go on to make a career playing neurotic or obnoxious pseudo-intellectual characters on sitcoms of the day like Too Close For Comfort and WKRP in Cincinnati.
The guy also has to spend the entire program dressed in attire that I guess is supposed to be fashionable in 2055: a stupid red and yellow ensemble with a giant belt buckle, all of which looks like it came straight out of Hulk Hogan's closet. He looks like a brawny action figure minus the brawn.
WORST FLASH GORDON EVER!
When not bickering with Andy, failed attempts at humor stem from Vance not knowing nearly as much as he thinks about the 20th century objects he deals, such as when he thinks a .38 Special handgun is named such because it was made in 1938. Insert laugh track here.
Ah, the laugh track... There are fewer things in this world less entertaining than hearing canned laughter set to a program that is anything but funny. STICK AROUND is so laugh-free it's apparent that the people who inserted the laugh track in post-production weren't always sure what lines were supposed to be the funny ones so they just stuck it after damn near everything regardless. Who can blame them for their confusion? Here are a few samples of the witty dialogue during one of the many human-robot squabbles:
would you like it if I pulled your circuits?"
breaking my heart."
Yet stuff like that is followed with much spirited guffawing. You should have heard the canned audience come unglued with laughter when Andy's arm fell off. Al Bundy flushing a toilet never got that exuberant a reaction from a live audience.
More unfunny business arrives via the elderly next door neighbor with the funny eyebrows recently thawed out from cryogenic slumber. Such people are looked down upon in 2055; the closest the show ever comes to making any sort of social commentary. His character is there to act surprised by how futuristic this non-futuristic future is, make surprised bug-eyed faces, and tell lame jokes about his still frozen wife that sound like the sort of material Henny Youngman's head in a jar would be performing on Futurama.
And just when you think this pilot couldn't get any worse... Enter Earl, Andy's potential replacement bot, a state-of-the-art robo butler being loaned to them by Elaine's rich parents. Earl is programmed with the personality of an erudite, waspish, hoity toity snob with more than a little tinge of latent homosexuality. Earl easily could have been one of the rich arrogant villains if someone ever made CADDYSHACK 2099. Andy and Earl will engage in a sort of snobs vs. slobs rivalry but with robots dressed like doormen of the future and acts of one-upmanship like Andy sticking his foot out to trip Earl. That tripping drew applause from the canned audience.
Then another married couple shows up interested in purchasing Andy. The wife becomes sexually attracted to the suddenly horny mandroid. The less said about this scene the better. Moving on...
The merciful conclusion takes place in a nearly barren utility room where Andy prepares to fry his circuits rather than be sold to that other couple. He and Vance have a heart-to-heart, Vance comes to accept Andy as a member of their family, and the air is rife with schmaltz. Then the wife joins them so all three can get comically electrocuted. Nobody dies, but it wouldn't have mattered anyway since this failed pilot was already dead on arrival.
Around. Stick Around.
Those are the primary lyrics to the show's mawkish theme song. I think it should have gone a little something like this.
Around, Stick Around
is in the midst of a civil war
Welcome to the future that was... 1999!
Oh, geez, another vision of the future predicted with Criswell-like accuracy courtesy of a failed ABC pilot from 1985 called GENERATION. High tech computers that all look like Commodore 64's, futuristic vehicles that look more European than state-of-the-art (actually prototypes Ford loaned out), 80's hair galore, answering machines that are twice as big as a regular answering machines and have more buttons than an adding machine, no CD-ROMs or cellular phones to be found, and no mention of this little thing called Y2K: the future in GENERATION still pretty much looked and sounded like 1985 just with a whole lot of tacky and often silly eccentricities.
Not the least of those eccentricities is the notion that the most popular sport of the day would be Combat Hockey. Just the notion that ice hockey could ever be the most watched sport in the United States is of itself pretty much hard to fathom, but Combat Hockey? A sport that looks like ordinary smashmouth ice hockey with an added element of ultra violence set on an ice rink that looks like it could have been recycled later on by American Gladiators. Plus, the live audience and those watching at home can instantly vote for what they consider to be fouls (which much truly have been a boondoggle for bookies and gamblers looking to rig games). My guess as to why they would allow the audience to judge fouls might be because Combat Hockey doesn't appear to have any rules. All I saw was a bunch of poorly choreographed slugfests taking place between those rare occasions that someone actually attempted to smack a puck into a goal with their dual-ended hockey stick. It's quite hard to see what makes this sport so popular or even so violent given this was a Reagan Era made-for-network television production that didn't allow for much by way of graphic violence aside from a bloody lip. It is quite amusing though to see how inaccurate all of this was; right around the time this movie is shown portraying this new and more dangerous form of ice hockey as the top sport real life saw NHL players having assault charges filed against them for getting too violent on the ice. Criswell predicts!
Had the writers strike not been settled this would have premiered on NBC next month
From the artwork showing a menacing sihlouette of a hockey player to the plot synopsis on the back focusing solely on the sport aspect, the small-time distribution company that released a long out of print VHS of GENERATION dared to market this made-for-TV movie pilot around the whole Combat Hockey aspect as if the whole thing really were some ice hockey version of ROLLERBALL. Despite the futuristic premise and Combat Hockey subplot, the belly of this beast is little more than your typical TV family melodrama with plenty of dysfunction and in-fighting. Looking back on it now, GENERATION was sort of a brainless precursor to the current ABC series BROTHERS & SISTERS but with am ill-conceived sci-fi twist.
A "chick show" if there ever was one, if you've never seen BROTHERS & SISTERS then count your lucky stars. Sickeningly angst ridden to the extreme with an extra heavy dose of estrogen running through it, I, unfortunately, have to run this show ever Sunday night. Having to sit through programs you despise is one of the many hazards of working a master control job at a TV station. However, the last five minutes of the show are typically entertaining thanks to a co-worker named Jonathan who gets on head sets in preparation for the 10PM newscast to follow and torments the news director - who loves this show with a passion - by firing off no shortage of wisecracks usually directed at star Sally Field who he hates with a passion. A few sample zingers I've heard coming across the headset audio in the past:
Field was so great as The Cryptkeeper."
Sadly, that comedy is no more now that Jonathan has switched to the day shift. I just don't have it in me to pick-up where he left off because that would require me to pay attention to the program. The station pays me to keep it on the air and make sure the commercials run properly but they don't pay me enough to actually sit there and pay attention to the content of programming like BROTHERS & SISTERS.
But getting back to GENERATION, which, thankfully, proved to be far more entertaining than any given episode of the insufferable Brothers & Sisters thanks to some truly loopy dialogue and the kooky vision of a future that never war, this failed pilot was to be the saga of the Breed family and their trials and tribulations at the start of a whole new millennium.
It's 1999 and as we can see California has been successfully rebuilt and repopulated following the events of BADLANDS 2005. "The Great Eve" as it's being called is but days away and everyone will be gathering hands all over the world like Hands Across America to celebrate the dawning of the next thousand years. That the 21st century doesn't actually begin until January 1, 2001 is the sort of technicality that is of no concern to these people. There's so much talk about hope for things to be better in the new millennium coming out of the mouths of unhappy people that I just wanted to ask them if they really thought the last thousand years had been that bad. It's not like they were all Hebrew slaves being forced to building pyramids for pharaohs for goodness sake. Heck, I've seen Holocaust survivors with kinder things to say about the past. The members of the Breed family don't need a fresh start in a new century so much as they need Dr. Phil and a prescription for Prozac; too bad for them neither of those things were around in the 1985 for someone to envision as part of the future of 1999.
Opening title graphic or their Family Feud intro still? Breed Family - READY FOR ACTION!
So let's meet the Breed family, shall we?
Allen Breed: He and his incredible array of Mr. Rogers sweaters work as a high tech designer for a company called TechWorld. TechWorld sounds less like a legit high tech design firm and more like a store I'd go to buy a new mouse for my computer. Allen most excited about some state-of-the-art gear he's designed to assist soldiers and the disabled by amplifying their physical attributes and such. He'll become quite dismayed to see his creations constantly being put to more commercial use, such as advancing the sport of combat hockey (AKA the "Hockey Man" project).
Another invention is a life-like (and rather unsettling) female robot that says 10 comforting phrases (sort of like a fembot version of an "American Inventor" My Therapy Buddy) designed to be a companion for the lonely, elderly, and disabled. He's mortified to learn TechWorld plans to market it as a CHERRY 2000-ish sexbot called a SexPal rather than as the PlatonicPal he had in mind. I say unless they're planning to market SexPal to the lesbian community I seriously question just how marketable a fully automated sex doll that looks like Lily Tomlin made up to look like Mary Lou Retton would be.
Given that he's prone to constantly rail against the "gladiator/pornographic mentality" of TechWorld, suffice to say Allen is not happy at work. Allen's not all that happy at home either; he's usually bickering with his wife. His home and work troubles lead to temptation; a comely female co-worker is more than a little flirty with him. What guy could resist the sight of a bony Asian chick wearing too much make-up dressed in Olivia Newton John "Physical" attire as she works out with a weight machine of the future that look like it could also be used to ferment beer?
It should also be noted that the actor playing Allen suffers from a serious case of Christopher McDonald syndrome. Mostly it's the hair. I suspect, much like the biblical Samson, that Allen's hair gave him his supreme whining abilities.
Jack Breed: Brother of Allen and star player of the LA Blades combat hockey team. Jack's something of a cad, as evidenced by the moments where he happily points out the female groupies in the crowd he's made his sexual conquests right there on the rink in front of his brother's family. This behavior will prompt his niece and sister-in-law to comment on the poor quality of his life choices.
Who'dve thunk Estelle Getty would be so popular amongst the Combat Hockey crowd?
Jack will later become furious with Allen after getting trounced in a little one-on-one combat hockey on live television by a TechWorld goon wearing the strength-enhancing gear Allen designed complaining vehemently afterwards that such a suit gives players an unfair advantage that sullies the sanctity of the great sport of combat hockey by making actual natural god-given talent like his useless. Heaven forbid! Jack even goes so far as to accuse Allan of intentionally trying to show him up with the whole "Hockey Man" project. Their big argument leads to some strangely homoerotic undertones ("Strap it on and come at me!" is not a phrase one rarely hears outside the realm of porn) and culminates with Allen talking about how much Jack inspires him, looking right at his brother and declaring "YOU ARE HOCKEY MAN!" A strange, wonderfully silly verbal dispute...
Much of the finale is built around Allan striking back at TechWorld, and in the process bonding with his hotshot brother, by helping Jack come up with a technique by which to defeat the techno-armored "Hockey Man" and thus proving once and for all that humans are still superior to machines and technologically enhanced humans. That technique: cheating. Jack wins by repeatedly tripping the guy in the "Hockey Man" suit. Human superiority over advanced technology is proven conclusively by mankind's innate ability to cheat. You won't ever hear that in a TERMINATOR movie. That's also where Garry Kasparov went wrong in his chess match with IBM's Deep Blue computer; should have told it to look the other way and when it did he should've moved a bunch of his pieces into better positions.
"THIS IS HOCKEY MAN!"
Kate Breed: Allen's wife, a Latino school teacher who teaches classrooms via large television screens as once predicted by a futuristic episode of The Simpsons - this version is not sponsored by Pepsi. Kate's really all about trying to help inner city kids by moonlighting as a "block educator" who goes out into the slums to teach the ghetto kids. Except most of those inner city kids believe she's just a rich busy body nosing around where she doesn't belong.
Enter the Trap Street Apaches, a gang of teenage 80's music video back-up dancers led by a guy called "Scrad" who looks like he could be starring in an off-Broadway musical production of DOUBLE DRAGON. This street gang is so bad ass their m.o. is blowing whistles to signify their unity and show their collective force by drowning out the voice of a person speaking they do not approve of.
Whistles! Whistle-blowin' gangbangers! Suddenly those dirtbike riding, ball bat-swinging gangbangers from RUMBLE IN THE BRONX seem a little more realistic.
You wouldn't be laughing right now if you'd ever experienced the terror of a drive-by kazooing
Drive-by shootings? Switchblade knife fights? Not! An Apache member will injure Kate's friend by hitting him with a rock launched from a David & Goliath-style slingshot. Slingshots and kazoos... Imagine what the movie BOYZ N THE HOOD would have been like if this movie's vision of street gangs had proven true. Heck, modern hip hop music would probably feature no shortage of kazoos, slide whistles, and recorders. How much more bad ass would 50 Cent be playing a piccolo and bragging about how he survived getting hit with 9 rocks? Damn straight!
The Apaches later pay a visit to Kate's house where they'll attempt to terrorize young daughter Bel into telling mommy to stay out of their neighborhood. Disappointingly, the pilot will conclude before Scrad did any body rockin' and without any further resolution to Kate's Trap Street Apache problem - no doubt because they intended to continue the storyline had it gone to series. I say if street gangs of the future have been reduced to whistles and slingshots then you really don't have much of a problem. Had this been picked up for series I can only hope it would have all eventually culminated in teacher Kate showing up the Apaches by unleashing an army of dodgeball-throwing rugrats to teach them some manners. Or if push really came to shove - a soapbox derby race for control of the hood.
The highlight of the whole darn movie is listening to Scrad's long-winded diatribes that sound like head injury-induced slam poetry. Slam poetry is probably the wrong thing to call this given he doesn't recite any of it using the loud angry voice slam poets use. This sounds more like one of the students from DANGEROUS MINDS reading some moronic rhymes he scribbled down. Here are some samples of Scrad's mad verbal skillz:
this crusader woman
boss the streets
Was this written by The Ultimate Warrior?
Scrad: leader of that most feared street gang The Lorenzo Llamas
Bel Breed: Allen and Kate's precocious young daughter. Not much to say about her other that she talks of wanting to work on the mining colony on the moon when she grows up. I bet this little girl's favorite movie was OUTLAND.
Roma Breed: Allen and Jack's sister is a workaholic ice queen working as a surgeon working in one of those mobile medical units alongside Mrs. Ochmonek from ALF. If you thought the self-driving refrigerators on wheels from TIMECOP looked ungainly then wait until you see the mobile medic vehicles of 1999. Like a redecorated tour bus painted hospital white on the outside with the bridge of a space station on the inside, I'll happily buy into the notion of combat hockey before I ever believe there could come a day when bus-like ambulances with operating rooms that look like this might be speeding up and down the streets. Even if such a thing were to come to fruition, think about how delicate surgery is to begin with and then add the extra complication of doing it in the back of a vehicle doing high speeds around corners. Ever tried playing the game Operation on a roller coaster? I don't know about you but I don't want "Butterfingers" to be the last words I ever hear. Though I would tune in to watch a Mobile Emergency Room Vehicle centric drama about horny medical interns called "Grey's Velocity".
SPEED 2000: If the bus drops below 50 mph, the patient explodes
Roma is currently feuding with her father because dad made a racist comment about Allen's wife and he slapped her for daring to call him a bigot; or as she puts it, "first, he hit me with his eyes".
Now in the interest of responsible journalism I want to warn everyone reading that I'm about to repeat this hateful racial slur and do not want anyone to think that I in any way endorse the use of such language. Those sensitive to such language may not want to read this next sentence, though I feel I need to let my readers know precisely what was said given that Roma's entire story arc is built around her disgust at her father referring to Kate as...
That's it? I mean, that's it. That's the racial slur that led to accusations of bigotry and face slappings. That's the offending phrase that touched off a bitter rift between two members of the Breed family, neither of whom happens to be "that Mexican".
This reminds of me of that unforgettable scene towards the end of the great NO RETREAT, NO SURRENDER when the Karate Kid wannabe finally squares off in the ring with Jean-Claude Van Damme's villainous Russian kickboxer known throughout the film as "Ivan the Russian". They momentarily exchange non-sequitors and then our hero drops a bombshell on Ivan by finishing off his sentence by calling Ivan the Russian "Russian". For whatever reason, Ivan the Russian takes being called a "Russian" a personal insult, gets this crazed look on his face, and launches into a screaming kickboxing assault. I've so got to do a Foyeurism on that film.
Tom Breed: The elderly patriarch of the Breed clan. Probably shouldn't use the word "clan" given his apparent racism. I believe the phrase "old coot" would be highly appropriate here. The wife describes him as a "screen freak", which is the writer's not-so-clever evolution of the term "couch potato". Having spent so much time viewing a screen might explain why his eyebrows look so razor sharp. Father and daughter will kiss and make-up in the end and when they do so he gets this look on his face like he's about to shoot out his dentures at Roma. Slapping with his eyes and nearly spitting out his dentures - this guy has a hard time keeping body parts in his body.
Ellen Breed: The elderly matriarch of the Breed family who only longs to get everyone together for "The Great Eve" to celebrate the new millennium as one big can't-we-pretend-we're-all-happy-for-one-night family. I swear every scene with Ellen is framed in such a way and every soothingly compassionate line out of her mouth has been tailored so as to make you wonder if this woman didn't just step straight out of a coffee commercial. I don't even drink coffee and watching her gave me the urge to brew a cup of java.
GENERATION ends with everyone showing up at mom and dad's just in the nick of time for "The Great Eve" so they could all gaze up at a blimp welcoming the new millennium with flashing messages heralding the next thousand years to come. It was a good year - both the year and the blimp that is.
ABC TV execs had to have been laughing hysterically watch this pilot and I suspect they were probably just seconds away from ordering a 12-episode run of GENERATION until someone informed them that it was not meant to be a comedy. A shame because GENERATION is howlingly funny. Some of the silly dialogue alone had me almost falling out of my chair with laughter. It definitely has its dead spots, usually of the really bland and maudlin melodrama variety, often whenever characters begin whining and moping with one another; Allen and Kate have a late night bedroom heart-to-heart talk that felt like it went on for about a generation unto itself. Overall though, the loopy futurism combined with the cornball dialogue makes GENERATION a glorious misfire. I mourn its failure to reach series. I wanted to see what other inaccurate futuristic ideas they'd have come up with. I wanted to hear Scrad lay down some more braindead raps. I wanted more shunning by whistle. I wanted more speeding bus surgery. I wanted more keyboards. I wanted more "YOU ARE HOCKEY MAN!"
2000? Is that some new boy band I've never heard of?
MY NAME IS SCOTT FOY AND I PAID TO SEE THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES
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