austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

I know a beach where, baby, it never ends

A Pint Of Life gives us, at last, the team-up between the Wonder Twins and Aquaman that we've all been waiting for.

An ambulance arrives at metropolis Medical Center, where ``Dennis Marks'', age twelve, needs a transfusion and the only possible donor is Dennis's father. Naturally the medical team calls in the Wonder Twins, because Doctor Marx is an anthropologist so he's deep somewhere in the Amazon. Luckily, Aquaman's in that area, having a squid repair a turbine propeller and they arrange a meeting by the Zembu tributary or whatnot. Zan's plan to get to Brazil fast: he takes the form of an ice missile, with his creepy grinning face pasted on top of the nose cone. This shows there are really no rules about what is or isn't possible, a case made when Zan turned into a canyon full of gelatin dessert one time, and provides a scene for dirty minds to joke about why Zan is so happy in giant missile form.

Aquaman kills some time making a snake wrestle an alligator, since wouldn't you, but catches Doctor Marks just as the anthropologist is on the brink of recovering artifacts from the Fred Flintstone tribe. They stumble over an impractical trip wire plate and let out a bunch of Angry Natives. Fortunately, I suppose, the Wonder Twins are nearby and can maybe do something before they're ... dropped in water filled with pirana. I can't say I'd want to be dropped into a pirana tank, but if I had to be, I'd feel a lot less tense if Aquaman were tied to me and ordering the pirana to chew a hole through the trap door instead.

Jana takes on the form of a jaguar, and Zan a water spout, and they chase off the natives and rush Doctor Marks back to Metropolis. Dennis is saved and Gleek plays with the stethoscope, so Jana shouts into the sensitive end and does real damage to the space monkey's eardrum.

This is an odd little case for Superfriends episodes. It has the introduction and much of the structure of a Wonder Twins adventure, but Zan and Jana don't actually have much to do in the story. Aquaman is the far more important figure, even though he doesn't lay eyes on the kid who needs help until the end of the story. It's also a rare story where there just isn't a villain, and not even an antagonist of the misguided-idealist version that was so prominent in the Wendy And Marvin year.

The episode is trying to get a race-against-time tale of suspense, although maybe it's just me: I never seriously doubted that the collective power of the Hall of Justice couldn't get to any remote spot in South America within an arbitrary deadline. Yeah, Superman or the Flash would be able to do a faster job of it, but for an anthropologist who's on or near the water, Aquaman's ability to get answers to any arbitrary question from whatever fish are in the area seems to make him almost ideal for this mission.

So when the biggest surprises are Zan's ability to turn into something that seems to get outside the proper domain of turning into things that could plausibly be made of water and more into the realm of oh, whatever, let's just get to the next scene. See my earlier comments about Zan turning into a canyon full of gelatin dessert. They could have extracted some suspense just by having the professor be far enough away from any water trail, even in the Amazon, that he couldn't be found, but the episode doesn't try doing that. Instead we get the rooting around of what looks at first like a long-abandoned pyramid, and then turns out to be about as deserted as the Port Authority is. Somewhere along the lines there Professor Marks crosses the boundary between curious scientist and obnoxious busybody and I'm not sure just how they'd patch that except with a decent rewrite that decided if Our Heroes should be menaced by ancient abandoned machinery or a live tribe of dubious ethnic origin.

Ultimately, then, it's kind of a disappointment, even with spectacle like Zan's rocket fantasy to stumble across.

Trivia: The United States Congress never determined who was the rightful discoverer of anaesthetic convincingly enough to award a $100,000 prize meant for it --- dentist Horace Wells, doctor William Morton, and professor Charles Jackson let matters too confused between them. Source: Radar, Hula Hoops, and Playful Pigs, Joe Schwarcz.

Currently Reading: Galahad at Blandings, P G Wodehouse.

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