austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

Superman or Green lantern ain't got nothing on me

The episode title is Day of the Dinosuars, which inspires thoughts of dinosaurs, doesn't it?

Wonder Woman and Samurai Warrior are hanging around the Hall of Justice when the floor --- two-foot thick reinforced concrete --- cracks wide open. As the cracks grow Samurai announces it was done very slowly, like the wind eroding a mountain, and the Hall plummets down a huge tunnel exactly underneath its property lines, raising the question how their water and gas pipes were installed.

Deep in the interior of the earth there's pterodactyls and oddly misshapen dinosaurs, who are easily chased off by Samurai's power of going on fire, but they run away from the triceratops. In a cave they find what look like shaved apes, who seem distressed by the strangers in their midst, but don't worry, Our Heroes whip up a bunch of superpowers to start a fight. A vaguely Grey-ish alien calling itself Tagus materializes, scares off the attacking cromagnonish folks, and takes the two to the Domed City of Amalfi (?), which looks like that Hot Wheels track model city from Design For Dreaming.

They've been there a million years, and broke off contact with the Slarum barbarians a half-million years ago. Samurai points out the Tagus folks could enlighten the Slarums, and he and Wonder Woman get put in prison for being descendants of the Slarum barbarians. Since the force field thing doesn't let them out, Samurai turns invisible and they do the whole ``he escaped through the hole'' routine that works because no security guard on TV has ever had any sense whatsoever. The prison guard does ask where the suddenly-no-longer-invisible Samurai came from, and Samurai answers, ``Japan'', which plays a lot funnier than it should.

Escaping the prison Wonder Woman and Samurai find their way to a hemispherical dome presentation of Van Gogh's The Starry Night so naturally she swings her magic lasso -- made of gold --- to a pair of giant bulb things that they figure will short something out for some reason. Our Heroes flee back to the Hall of Justice, where the Slarums are rather angry because Amalfi's sun dome has been blocking their farms for the last half-million years.

Wonder Woman brokers peace in this 500,000-year conflict with one sentence, and Tagus sees the errors of their ways. Peace is restored and Tagus lifts the Hall of Justice back where it was. Tagus and the Slarums claim they're going to be best friends now, which I'm sure will last past the time it takes to beam back home.

The biggest failure of this episode is right there in the title: ``Day of the Dinosaurs''. From that title I expect dinosaurs, lots of them, all kinds, all species, some maybe intelligent. Instead we only get three dinosaurs, only two of which interact with Our Heroes at all, and at that they soon run away. It's not so much a ``Day of the Dinosaurs' as it is a ``Quick Stop In The Break Room For Grabbing Coffee With The Dinosaurs''. Alternatively and perhaps more realistically I expected it might be the episode where some scientist types have worked out a ray beam which transforms people into dinosaurs, for some reason, and they start their work of remaking the world by aiming at the Superfriends, for some reason, and it doesn't last although I think Wonder Woman spends some time partly triceratops. That's a dumb story, to be sure, but it's one that unmistakably deserves the title ``Day of the Dinosaurs''.

Instead what we have here is ... well, it starts off as a Lost World sort of thing, but then wanders off into this Morg-and-Eymorg thing which manages to present first an idea that's kind of staggering in its scope --- aliens from a million years ago who've lived under the surface of the Earth, and who've been in constant struggle against others through that time --- with a plot basis that just doesn't hold up. Yes, the Slarum would rightly protest losing their farmland to the Amalfi folks being jerkfaces, but after 500,000 years, which is something like ten times as long as humanity has had the concept of anything, they haven't moved four miles down the cavern to some other farmland? Really?

This isn't as breathtaking an idea as the ravenous Titanic was. There've been enough aliens, friendly and hostile and amenable to reason and just plain indifferent, in the Superfriends universe that there's not particular thrill in seeing new ones even if they are buried under Metropolis. For that matter, we've seen the Interior Of The Earth around Metropolis/Gotham City quite a few times, including a whole inner world that was a ripoff of Lord Of The Rings with a mildly disturbing conclusion advanced in the cause of giving Gleek his comic tag scene. So finding yet another Lost World inside brings, for people paying attention to continuity, a feeling of, ``what, again?'' instead of the awe it might. Even Wonder Woman and Samurai Warrior don't seem so awestruck as they could be. They've been through enough of these for the thrill to die down too.

There's also a continuity glitch here since there was another episode where Apache Chief and, I believe, Aquaman again were tossed by the villains back several millions of years in history. In one of those ideas that couldn't possibly work but is so cool I'll happily pretend it makes sense, they track the location of where the Hall of Justice will be built, millions of years in the future, and Aquaman buries his radio-isotope-powered communicator underneath the Hall, with the timer set to go off in 65,000,1978 years. In the future, the signal goes off, the Superfriends are baffled by Aquaman signalling distress from underneath the Hall, Superman digs down and finds it, and the radio-isotope dating gives the team the clue to where to find their lost comrades. That's the sort of cool idea I like in superhero stories; and, yet, it's incompatible to have a Superfriends communicator buried underneath the Hall when there's a huge open pit beneath it.

Allowing that one episode doesn't really affect another, though, we're still left with: why was there a huge tunnel underneath the Hall of Justice? It's a bit of a stroke of luck to get the story started, but did nobody notice they were building a pretty substantial facility over the most hollowed-out land outside Michigan's Upper Peninsula? Or if the hole was new, who dug it? Was someone trying to get to the Superfriends? But it couldn't be the cavemen, and the advanced aliens couldn't be bothered, so ... what did get this story started?

More, the specific quarrel, over blocking access to farmland, just leaves the Amalfi residents looking like idiots. They could have put their Van Gogh anywhere, it seems like, and they picked the spot that would do the most harm, and they're surprised to earn the undying enmity of those they offended? Maybe they evolved past emotion and every thin shred of common sense while we weren't looking. Once again, these superintelligent aliens come out looking like idiots.

The bottom line: we needed a longer day, and more dinosaurs.

Trivia: The last commercial operator of the Boeing 247 was Island Airlines of Port Clinton, Ohio, flying regular service to the Bass Islands of Lake Erie from 1954 until the early 1960s. The aircraft was sold to an English buyer in 1968. Source: The Boeing 247: The First Modern Airliner, F Robert van der Linden.

Currently Reading: A For Anything, Damon Knight. You know, I'm not convinced by its treatment of how replicators will destroy civilization and impose feudalism.


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