Garrett (garote) wrote,

Worst synthesis ever

How many of you kids remember watching after-school cartoons, and seeing episodes of a serial called "The Mysterious Cities of Gold"? Perhaps your memory will be jogged if I reproduce the theme song, which transcends genres as a unique blend of latin pop and lyrical sophistication. It goes like so:
Someday we will find
The cities of gold!

[ repeat ]

Some nutjob collected every episode of this polished turd on VHS tapes, which must have suffered heavy bit-rot in a dark closet next to a power station for ten years before said nutjob embarked on part two of his fiendish plot, which was to vid-cap them all to badly compressed digital files and chuck them up onto the internet. Like a hapless goon I blundered across the Bittorrent archive, and downloaded the whole stinking collection -- 39 episodes -- to my work machine overnight.

It is the destiny of archives like these to languish. So it languished on my personal hard drive for about a year before I suffered an acute seizure of poor judgement and started browsing the episodes, skipping around in the series like one might poke at a malodorous guttersnipe with a long stick - morbidly curious, vaguely ashamed at the activity, yet unable to stop until some response is evoked.

What did the cartoon evoke? Memories of sunny afternoons, pencil-and-paper homework assignments, and junk food. I recall experiencing a sharp interest in what the next episode would reveal, and whether the three child protagonists would ever actually locate the fabled city, or just keep tooling around South America in their giant golden condor-bot. Looking at the show with adult eyes, I make different observations, of course: The animation is herky-jerky, the music is shrill and repetitive, and the plot seems to bear a grudge against common sense - when it's not busy brutalizing history or being stridently racist. The biggest question I found myself asking at the end of my sordid plunge into the archive was this: How could I have been so captivated by such a god-awful cartoon?

And yet, my thirst for bad television had not been slaked. So I pulled something else out of the archives: "The Chronicles of Riddick".

This is a movie with something to say. It's saying, "I really really wish I was Dune!" Unfortunately, all it can pull off is the motif. For those of you unfamiliar with the David Lynch movie adaptation of "Dune" way back in 1984, the motif was essentially LeSabres In Space. The production designers grafted that onto this Riddick film, in order to conceal its badness. It's not science fiction at all - though at the least, it did involve a lot of computers, to accurately render every spacefaring LeSabre, Wurlitzer, and Frigidaire. Plus there are zombies in diving suits with Playstation joypads growing out of their butts. They're used as bloodhounds by the bad guys, ... because using regular bloodhounds wouldn't be ... uh ... science-fictiony.

Yeeeah. So then I made a big mistake: I went to bed. I had a dream that an evil gang of goth stormtroopers was using a joypad-enabled zombie in a diving suit to navigate the busy streets of 15th-century London, in search of the entrance to the Mysterious Cities of Gold. I played the part of a young boy, whose spirit was concealed from harm inside a robot butler. I had a necklace that would unlock the doors to the ancient city, when combined with the matching necklace that my sister wore. She, too, was concealed from the bad guys, by having her spirit transferred into the family dog. We both lived in tiny houses on top of long flimsy poles that swayed in the wind. I was first to leave my house, sliding down the pole with my metal robot hands, and I was the first to locate the evil stormtrooper gang. I lobbed a grenade at their pathfinding zombie and he exploded into confetti bits, but then the bits began to whirl back together. How could I stop the wicked gang? By having a diving contest with my family members, who lived at the top of a treehouse! Of course.

Apparently the media was too bad even for my subconscious to handle, so it promptly crapped it into my dreams. Lesson learned: No bad TV before bedtime.

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