austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

Sunshine came softly through my window today

I'm taking a week away from my normal routines and activities and so I've pre-written several entries well ahead of time in order that I don't have to think about that while I'm thinking about much bigger things that I think I'll write about afterward. So for the interim I'm going to the fundamental unit of blogging, namely, making fun of the Superfriends. Specifically this is reviewing one at a time the stories which made up the recent Superfriends: The Lost Episodes DVD release. There are understandably spoilers about the plots, although if you read them probably you don't mind being spoiled about them. I'll try to be sympathetic.

First up: Mxyzptlk's Revenge.

The episode title suggests fifth-dimensional imp Mxyzptlk taking revenge for something, which implies maybe the episode remembering one of the many other times the Superfriends have outsmarted him. It's almost plausible since this run does contain what passes for continuity in the Superfriends, namely, mentioning the Legion of Doom even though that series is finished. But there's not really much evidence of revenge; it's more, Mxyzptlk putters in to faintly annoy Superman and Batman. That's all right, though. I find Mxyzptlk reliably watchable just for his anything-can-happen goof.

The opening narration warns the universe we know as ours might not be the only one and that the Superfriends are about to learn that fact. They already kind of knew that, from ventures into alternate universes and from dealing with Mxyzptlk too. Anyway, a door opens in the Hall of Justice and sucks things into it; Superman observes, ``this vacuum is even stronger than me'', putting sharp limits on Superman's strength. Anyway, Mxyzptlk puts the Superman/Batman team on trial for being ``super party poopers'' and Superman figures they have to trick Mxyzptlk into saying his name backwards, because he missed the line about being in Mxyzptlk's home dimension. Superman doesn't come across as all that bright this series.

Mxyzptlk swipes Batman's utility belt and Superman's cape for some reason, mostly so he can prance around, before sentencing superman to life in a vegetable garden (``Mxyzptlk wasn't kidding! This is a vegetable garden!'' is Superman's odd opinion), so he grabs a garden hose and sprays Mxyzptlk into a shed, which Superman seems to think will be an inconvenience to a magical imp with teleporting abilities. Mxyzptlk takes out some green kryptonite, which is harmless, but green beans do the trick, which is how I've always felt about them.

Mxyzptlk then sentences Batman to fifty years upside-down, although the menace of this is lost on me because Bats is sent to rooms that are themselves upside-down, so ... I'm not getting how it's anything worse than having the movie camera be upside-down. I may not be able to precisely define the floor, but the surface that the sofa, coffee table, and free lamps hang on is a pretty good guide. Anyway, Superman tricks Mxyzptlk into saying his name forward, and they go phasing back into our universe, pausing only to swipe their cape and belt back. End baffling episode.

Although this hasn't got a plotline so much as a plot tangle I like the episode. Mxyzptlk episodes naturally have a whimsical and fundamental illogic to them, and his taunting of the superheroes who are usually quite serious except for the closing ill-paced humor tag plays well. Delivering the necessary exposition about how Mxyzptlk's basic rules work is a little awkward, since Batman ought to have got the memos on this already, but cramming in more Superfriends would leave them with precious little to do while taking up screen time with some extra silly punishment and some way to get them back together again. I'm biased towards Mxyzptlk, but I still think this is a pretty fun episode.

Trivia: Ernestine Wade, who portrayed the Kingfish's wife Sapphire, was the first black actor hired to perform regularly on Amos 'n' Andy, in 1939. Source: The Adventures Of Amos 'N' Andy: A Social History of an American Phenomenon, Melvin Patrick Ely.

Currently Reading: Hershey: Milton S Hershey's Extraordinary Life Of Wealth, Empire, And Utopian Dreams, Michael D'Antonio.


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