It has been a while since I covered my favorite ol’ evangelical costumed crusader, so I figure it is about time to delve back into the cinematic cesspool that is my BibleMan DVD collection. Speaking of which, here it is:
Today’s episode is entitled “Terminating the Toxic Tonic of Disrespect.” It doesn’t have the same ring as “A Light in the Darkness” or “The Six Lies of the Fibbler,” does it? In any case, this is the first BibleMan episode to feature Josh Carpenter after his initial, formal introduction as the new BibleMan in “A Fight for Faith.” This episode marks the beginning of the “PowerSource” run of the show, which is the most recent (and last?) incarnation of the character.
First off, the new BibleMan is definitely a bit of a downgrade. Robert Schlipp, who plays Josh Carpenter, is definitely just a preacher in a hero suit. To Willie Aames’s credit, his character of Miles Peterson definitely projected himself as a super-hero in the role, which is a pretty stark contrast next to Schlipp’s take on the role.
“Toxic Tonic” introduces a new sidekick in Melody, who is surely one of the worst actors in the entire universe. Bible Girl doesn’t entirely disappear, but is relegated to an off-screen support role for the episode. Cypher, BibleMan’s resident Black Friend(TM), also returns for the new series, and continues his role as the only half-bearable member of the team.
The introduction of Melody offers the only actually good lesson that I have seen in the entire series: BibleMan and Cypher at first assume that she is a delivery girl when she shows up at the base, and initially dismiss her as a moron despite her expertise with technology. Of course, in typical BibleMan form, they never acknowledge the obvious sexism of their assumptions, and only ultimately apologize for not respecting her as one in “God’s image.” So close, BibleMan. So close.
The villains, in a bit of a separation, aren’t the offensive stereotypes I typically expect of the series. Instead, the antagonistic duo is comprised of run-of-the-mill zany mad scientists: the neon-mohawked Dr. E. Meritus Snortinskoff (yeah, good job on that one) and his henchman named Stench. The two sinister scientists are executing a plan to make a bunch of kids indignant and rebellious by selling them “Empower” energy drinks made from sugar, water, and “pure evil.” The Bible team realize what is happening after noticing a bunch of burgeoning teenagers acting shitty to authority figures. You know what, BibleMan? Never change.
The Bible Team ultimately wind up getting a sample of the “Empower” energy drink, and discover its contents (pure evil, bad attitudes, and probably a lot of high fructose corn syrup I assume?). This leads to a rambling, scripture-laced train of thought that could rival the revelation scene from “Black Dynamite.” Somehow, through rambling about trees for a while, the team figures out where to find the evil scientists.
Maybe my favorite aspect of this episode is that a good few minutes of run-time towards the beginning are eaten up through the use of what appears to be totally unnecessary recycled footage from the episode “Crushing the Conspiracy of the Cheater,” which, confusingly, wasn’t released until two years after “Toxic Tonic.” This brings up some serious questions of continuity in the series, but I am not going to dare delving into that.
Predictably, the Bible Team wins the day through grace, goodness, and the violent use of laser swords. The bad guys do get away this time (instead of dying horribly), but I don’t believe that either of them show back up later in the series.
This isn’t one of my favorite episodes, and certainly doesn’t compare to the “BibleMan vs The Internet” entry. However, it definitely has the same old heavy-handedness that all of the incarnations have. The episode of course ends with a prayer, and a plea for all of the viewers to convert to Christianity. As far as entertainment goes, I do kind of love how shitty the kids are who imbibe the “toxic tonic,” and how generally panicked the creators are about the idea of teenage rebellion. There is definitely something to enjoy here, but it isn’t one of the stronger good-bad entries in the show. That might have a little to do with the change of creative team with the dawn of the “Powersource” series, but I’ll need to watch more of them to see if there is a significant perceptible difference between the incarnations.