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Swamp Thing: The Series: Volume Three


None July 2nd, 2010

Shout! Factory finally closes the book on the "Swamp Thing" cable-TV series of the early '90s by issuing its last 24 episodes on a four-disc set. They're the worst ones of the entire run, recommended only for die-hard Swampy fans willing to accept its cheap, supa-cheesy, Universal Studios backlot-shot vibe ... yeah, that's me.

"Do not bring your evil here," warns Swamp Thing (the recently departed Dick Durock) in the beginning credits of each 22-minute episode, but do you think anyone listens? That was rhetorical, but no, they do not "” ergo, the villain of the week. Although often a secondary character in his own series, kindhearted creature Swamp Thing protects his Louisana marshland home from greedy land developers, just-passing-through criminals and the ever-evil scientist Dr. Arcane (Mark Lindsay Chapman, saddles with one sad mullet). That makes our hero the Al Gore of his time (and of the USA Network); its eco-friendly message certainly plays with more relevance today.

Among the ne'er-do-wells Swamp Thing comes across include bat-like beasts, convicts on the lam, spoiled teenage girls in search of an urban legend, and modern-day pirates menacing a little kid. On the side of good, there's a woman who's a witch. Whether the show aims for dead serious or dead silly, the limitations of its creative forces and budget make it a guilty pleasure. And as goofy as some of the eps are, I indeed feel guilty.

One in particular, "A Most Bitter Pill," traps mortal enemies Swamp Thing and Arcane in a cave. Our moss-covered man of morality is knocked out cold, leaving Arcane to deliver one looooong soliloquy, as if it he were a cast member of Shakespeare in the Park. Need to wash off the pretension? No worries "” the very next one involves a mummy, complete with Dollar General effects.

Guest stars abound. There's a slumming Tyne Daly, apparently needing to pay off a credit card at the time. "Twin Peaks" daddy Ray Wise pops in to do his crazy-guy shtick, and "Curb Your Enthusiasm"'s Cheryl Hines makes her screen debut "” a rather dubious one, given that perm.

As for our regular stars, Chapman chews up scripts like dogs to ground chuck, and Scott Garrison "” the resident "hunk" "” cannot act. As in, at all. But kudos to Durock, who brings class "” yes, class "” to his title role, through all 72 episodes, plus two feature films. Swampy may be resurrected for the big screen in a presumably better production, but no matter who takes the part, it won't be the same. "”Rod Lott



 
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