Welcome back friends to another installment of Retro Records. This week we are listening to a 1975 Power Records story featuring none other than Plastic Man! If you think that giving the likes of Ol’ Plaz his own record is a kooky idea then check out who was featured on the B side – none other than Metamorpho: The Element Man!
Of course considering that Plastic Man, that criminal turned malleable and wacky hero was given his own Saturday morning cartoon series four years later starting in 1979 and lasting until 1981 – maybe I was just too young to realize how popular he was back in the day in the then current DC Comics line of books?
Our story today is entitled “The Invasion of the Plastic Men” and finds Plastic Man being falsely accused for returning to a life of crime when numerous citizens began to report they are eyewitnesses to Plaz stealing countless valuables. The question is can Plastic Man clear his name of these heinous deeds? Let’s find out together on Retro Records!
Every once in a while an image from the distant past will come floating into the brain of the ol’ Ouija Board Kid out of the accursed ether of my crypt, and today was just such a day! And of all things to appear, it was a vision of Plastic Man, but not the comic or cartoon iterations dear reader; nay ‘twas something a bit more esoteric. You see when the Plastic Man cartoon show went into syndication, the powers that be saw fit to film bumpers featuring a live-action Plas, and let me tell you something this dude always came off like that sleazy uncle that would buy you a Playboy and let you drink beer…you know, a real cool dude that was a blast to hang around! So why not sit back and feast your eyes on five minutes of the lowest rent superhero hijinks you can imagine!
As the title implies, this is about a failed pilot episode for a potential cartoon series. In this case, Plastic Man 2006. I mentioned before that I was considering doing a series of articles about failed pilots, consider this my pilot article for this series about pilots. I was partially inspired to do this series by ClaymationWerewolf’s “Full Moon Review” articles.
Today’s article is about “Plastic man: Puddle Trouble”, a 2006 pilot for cartoon network. Cartoon Network declined the series for some unknown reason, but the pilot didn’t fail entirely. Six years later, the people who made it are making Plastic Man shorts for the new “DC Nation” block. While it’s not a true series, at least it’s hanging on & gives hope for a full series at some later date (maybe another six years from now?).
The animation in this pilot fairly screams “Ren & Stimpy”, even though it has no direct connection. The movement is very loose and exaggerated, the poses are goofy & sometimes flat-out insane, and even the designs of the “ordinary” people are oddball & exceedingly cartoonish. In short, it’s absolutely perfect for a superhero who is a veritable living cartoon.
The episode begins with a big bruiser mugging a little nerdy guy in an alley, Plastic man beats the bully up by disguising himself as a wooden plank, then capturing him in a cage made of Plastic Man himself.
Cut scene to the office of Plastic Man’s parole officer, where we see some of the offbeat humor in this short, namely Plastic Man blowing bubblegum & having his head shrink as the bubble grows, then turn into a pile of glop when the parole officer pops the bubble.
We then get the parole officer lecturing Plastic man about not taking crime fighting seriously, combined with a reveal about Plastic Man’s shady past. Plastic Man starts listing his accomplishments, which leads to a Brady Bunch reference:
…During which, one of his formerly captured criminals (The Human Puddle, aluded to in the title) makes an escape. (Is it just me, or does the Human Puddle look exactly like Cap’n Crunch’s Soggies?)
Plastic Man goes off to recapture The Human Puddle, only to be confounded by someone who has shapeshifting powers comparable to his own. This sends Plastic Man into a spiral of lunacy, paranoia, and depression, giving us scenes like these;
Plastic Man’s parole officer finds him and gives him a pep talk, which gives Plastic Man the determination to go tackle the Human Puddle once more. He begins by throwing sponges, then using paper towels, but the Human Puddle escapes into the sewers and becomes even more powerful with all that water to feed on. He floods the city, causing Plastic Man to dig a drainage trench to the city dam. (Which is of course an extremely bad idea, since this just give the Human Puddle even more power, but then Plastic Man is hardly known for his intelligence.)
Plastic Man confronts the Human Puddle atop the dam & forces him to eat quick setting gelatin, turning the Puddle into a living lime dessert.
It’s too late however, because the Human Puddle has already blown a huge hole in the dam. Plastic Man saves the town by filling in for the broken dam. However, he is given mixed news by his parole officer. On one hand, he has gotten six months knocked off of his parole for saving the city, but on the other hand it’s going to take a full year to build a new dam.
“Well, I’ll be dammed…”
This pilot is very different from the series from Ruby/Spears back in 1979-1981. I loved that show at the time, but it took both itself and Plastic Man far too seriously. It tried to make Plastic man into a Batman clone, while adding some bumbling Hawaiian guy for comedy relief. (Although that show would be good for one of ClaymationWerewolf’s reviews.)
On a closing note, does everyone else find this scene as amusing as I do?
Now this is what Saturday was meant for, right? Watching failed Cartoon Network TV pilots!
Thanks to the always incredible Comics Alliance for the heads up on what could have been. Not all hope is lost however, Cartoon Network has ordered five more shorts from the same creative team as the pilot so who knows? Maybe DC Comics pliable criminal turned Hero may get his shot in the spotlight again!