Crashed Pilots: Plastic Man

Crashed Pilots: Plastic Man

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?


Team Retroist Chief Nostalgia Psychic...

This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. Weird, but appropriate, graphics for this cartoon version of my favorite stretchy hero.
    (Sorry Mr. Fantastic)
    Too bad it didn’t work out.

    Greatly enjoyed the DC run of his adventures in the 80s.

  2. Great review and I really liked the earlier series. With such comic potential (combined with super heroism and colorful costume) he seems a natural fit for a cartoon series. Always a head scratcher why shows like this do not catch on.

  3. btw, No review & screencaps can do this cartoon justice, you really need to hop over to youtube & watch the whole thing.

  4. I’ve seen this pilot, and I thought it was fantastic. Great write-up!

  5. @Drahken wow! this cartoon looks amazing and you are very right…the drawing style is super reminiscent of Renn and Stimpy. I can’t believe there aren’t any connections. I’m gonna have to go check this out. Thanks for the great post man!

  6. It really is an awesome pilot… Total shame that the CN passed on it, as it would be a GREAT addition to the DC Comics library of cartoons… I only hope the shorts will prompt the network to make a series out if it in the future!! If you like the old series, the failed pilot was included as a special feature on the complete series DVD set… Just sayin’ (the youtube copy doesn’t even fully do it justice).

  7. it was the perfect artist at the wrong time for plasticman, and woozy winks IS fun, no matter what the haters say.

  8. I never heard of woozy winks (I’ve never read any of the plastic man comics). I looked him up on wikipedia just now, and his character does seem somewhat similar to the hawaiian doof from the 70s cartoon.

    An interesting bit of trivia: At one point, plastic man himself was intended to be a sidekick for the flash. The author didn’t realize that plastic man was an available character at the time, so he invented elongated man to fill the role instead.

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