SWAMP THING (S3, PART 1)
Reviewed by: Zombie Boy
Mark Lindsay Chapman
What's it about
Dr. Alec Holland, after a horrific accident in his lab, is transformed into a being constructed of recombinant plant/animal DNA and resides in his beloved swamp, where he rights wrongs a looks cool dong it.
Is it good movie?
I will admit that I am coming to this review from a place of relative ignorance. Wes Craven's 1982 Swamp Thing film was always a big favorite in my house, even if it did diverge from the original DC comic. This was followed by a 1989 sequel that I have never seen, and finally the television series, the 26 episodes presented on this disc (out of a total of 50 from the 3rd season alone!) being the only ones I have seen. So bear that in mind as you read further.
As far as I can tell, the Swamp Thing television series is a towering architecture of failure. It is an edifice of greenish poop built high to touch the heavens that saw fit to topple and rain down on my head. It is such a painstaking exercise in mediocrity that at some point it passes the Rubicon and attains a sort of sublime campy perfection. All you have to realize is that it is honestly trying to be a serious drama. It boggles the mind. Hell, even Three's Company knew it was stupid.
The acting is resolutely terrible, though that could be an effect of the lack of direction. This is a 30-minute television series with an impossible amount of episodes comprising it. It must have been a veritable manufacturing plant. Add guest stars, half-written scripts, Dick Durock in a costume that doesn't do the original film justice, mix well, and squeeze it all out onto the camera lens like a Cleveland Steamer on a crackwhore's chest. The episodes that don't expand the mythology of the rivalry between Holland and nemesis Dr. Anton Arcane (played by the supremely hockey-haired Mark Lindsay Chapman) are surreal in their resemblance to Night Gallery, with Swampy acting as Rod Serling, barely a presence in his own show.
The basic premise is that Will Kipp, an almost 30-year old Scott Garrison playing a character that is sometimes portrayed as being an adult and sometimes as a teenager, pulls a Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and moves to Houma (the one and only hotel in town is the Houma Inn - get it?), where the show takes place, after getting in some trouble in Philly, to live with his step-mom who looks like his sister. He is among Holland's few friends, and assists in the action when Swampy can't be the deus ex machina all by himself. People show up, some villainous and some virtuous, but never any annoying ambiguity to motivations, Swampy acts pious and spouts new-agey nonsense about the power of the swamp (which is portrayed as an actual thinking, feeling entity unto itself), and then Will shakes his head and smiles charmingly. For 26 episodes.
And speaking of guest stars, this must have been quite popular during its 1993 final season, as it counts Wolfman Jack, Phillip Michael Thomas, Adam Curry, Debby Boone, Andrew Stevens (who even directed three of the episodes) and Larry Manetti as passing players. Astute viewers will notice that Manetti's character dies in one episode, yet inexplicably pops up in a future episode with no one batting an eyelash. Such is the magic of early 90
s USA television shows!
Video / Audio
Video: Full screen, the quality you would expect from an early 90's television show.
Audio: Mono, English only, no subtitles.
None, nada, zip, zero, zilch. There are two previews on the first disc, and that is all. You can play all, or select an episode. If I didn't know better, I would say these were CD-R's someone burned on their laptop.
If you happen upon this series for a decent price, I would say go ahead and pick it up. It is a nice conversation piece, as people will never believe you if you just tell them that not only was there a Swamp Thing television show, but that there were three friggin' seasons. If you're a fan of camp, or kitsch, or just plain WTF stuff, this is a sure bet for you.