Blasting The Big Gamemaster Bully
Today, I’m continuing my week-long marathon of the Bibleman franchise as part of Secular Students Week. If you make a donation to the Secular Student Alliance this week, and I’ll cover a movie of your choice.
2009’s “Blasting the Big Gamemaster Bully” marks the fifth episode of the third and final incarnation of the Bibleman franchise: “Bibleman: Powersource.” Willie Aames’s replacement, Robert Schlipp, stars once again in the lead role of Bibleman.
“Blasting the Big Gamemaster Bully” is once again written by Michael Nolan (“Crushing the Conspiracy of The Cheater,” “Terminating the Toxic Tonic of Disrespect”) and directed/produced by series regular Steve Gilreath.
The primary villain of the episode is, of course, Gamemaster: a robot who previously popped up in a minor role in “Lambasting the Legions of Laziness,” in which he was notably stabbed to death by Bibleman. A secondary villain appears in the form of a pig-nosed militaristic creature named Baron Tantamount Von Braggart.
Bibleman is joined by his usual team of allies: his long-time sidekick Cypher, Biblegirl, and the relative newcomer, Melody.
The story of the episode follows Gamemaster, who has been reconstructed and upgraded since Bibleman destroyed him in “Lambasting the Legions of Laziness.” With the help of the evil computer L.U.C.I., he creates a video game called “Big Bad Bully,” which allows kids to pretend to be bullies in a factional realm. However, it apparently brainwashes the children into becoming violent and confrontational at the same time, which raises the attention of Bibleman’s team. Of course, they have to find a way to help the children, stop the video game, and find a way to stop the bullying epidemic in the local schools.
Von Braggart, in fitting with Bibleman tradition, dies brutally in the introductory sequence when his death laser somehow interacts negatively with his electric cane, leaving him a glowing, shocked mess. Surprisingly, Bibleman and team had nothing at all to do with this, and it actually seemed to be a genuine accident. I guess that is one of the hazards of keeping a death laser laying around.
Gamemaster is helped out by a legion of cheap-looking robot henchmen, which make his costume look comparatively advanced (and I previously compared him to ‘Sex Robot’). I honestly think they are made out of cardboard wrapped in cellophane, which is a combination that even makes classic Doctor Who episodes look impressive.
This episode actually shows a little bit of clever continuity from earlier in the series, which it deserves props for. In “Lambasting the Legions of Laziness,” Gamemaster sees Bibleman without his mask on, and manages to figure out his secret identity through searching a facial recognition database. He then uses information about Carpenter’s past to manipulate him, which is actually a pretty solid villain move.
Speaking of which, Gamemaster seems to be the only mostly-serious villain in the entire series, which actually serves to make him pretty forgettable among a colorful cast of villains. If I have a choice between watching The Cheater chew scenery or watching Gamemaster do actual villain things, I’m going to go with The Cheater every time. I don’t think anybody watches Bibleman for traditional bad guys, and having one at the center of an episode doesn’t do anyone any favors. To his credit, Gamemaster does seem to use a lot of puns, but his monotone doesn’t allow them to land very well.
Bibleman ultimately dispatches Gamemaster with the strategic use of a water balloon, which causes him to short circuit and burn out. I guess he deserves props for resourcefulness, but why the hell didn’t Gamemaster have any kind of waterproofing? What does he do when it rains? In any case, the bible team reaches a new level of cruelty with what they do to him after his defeat: instead of finishing him off, Cypher and Melody wipe his memory and force him to sing children’s bible songs indefinitely on loop. Honestly, couldn’t they just have stabbed him again? That’s just a weird thing to do to what I assume is at least a partly biological organism.
The episode’s plot is definitely based on the moral panic over violent video games, which was particularly heated in the 1990s and early 2000s. In fact, one of the most notorious video game companies, Rockstar, which creates the “Grand Theft Auto” series, actually did essentially create a bully-themed video game like the one featured in this episode, called, appropriately enough, “Bully.” It released roughly a year before this Bibleman episode, which means that it was likely an influence on the bully game featured in the plot.
I feel kind of mixed as to whether this episode gets a recommendation from me. Gamemaster is pretty boring, but it is kind of interesting to see an actual villain pop up for once. His henchman robots are hilariously cheap, but the story itself is way more forgettable than it might sound like. If you want to watch a video game episode of “Bibleman,” then “A Fight For Faith” was absolutely hilarious. This episode, outside of some minor details, is pretty forgettable.