Combating the Commandant of Confusion
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.
2010’s “Combating the Commandant of Confusion” marks the penultimate 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.
“Combating the Commandant of Confusion” is once again produced and directed by Steve Gilreath, but is this time written by Bibleman himself, Robert Schlipp.
The central villain of “Combating the Commandant of Confusion” is the eponymous Commandant: a metallic, verbose, Soviet-inspired, malapropism-spouting military commander. However, the first villain who appears on stage is a henchman named Chaos, who is just some person in a jumpsuit and a motocross biking helmet. This, frankly, sets a new standard for laziness in Bibleman villain designs.
Bibleman’s allies for the episode include the entire Powersource incarnation of the Bible Adventure Team: Cypher, Biblegirl, and Melody, though Melody is relegated to a minimal supporting role.
The story of the episode follows the Bible Adventure Team hosting a training demonstration to a live audience, in which they are supposed to use a new, recently developed weapon. However, the Commandant of Confusion and Chaos steal the instructions for the device, and plot to replace it with some sort of vaguely evil gizmo to destroy Bibleman and company. Of course, the team figures out a way to defeat them, and ultimately reveal that the “weapon” is actually just a bible. Really.
The episode starts with a retrospective of the entirety of “Bibleman Powersource” to date, totaling in for a whopping two and a half minutes of the run time. It is not only totally unnecessary background, but given the abnormally short length of the episode, I imagine that they were desperate to fill in the time with anything they could find. Likewise, the ending features a particularly bloated prayer segment that seems to drag on indefinitely.
There are live versions of a number of episodes in the Bibleman series, but “Combating the Commandant of Confusion” seems to be the only one that lacks a standard filmed version of the episode. I’m not sure if they did this specifically to cut costs, but it is kind of jarring. They try to make the live setup make sense as if it is a standard episode, under the guise of it being a training academy. However, it is pretty transparent given the low quality of the film and the restricted camera angles.
Something else that is odd about the episode is that, despite this being a live episode, post-production special effects are still used as if it was a standard episode, which just comes off looking strange.
The central concept behind this episode seems to be a sentiment of anti-intellectualism, with the portrayal of the Commandant being a verbose fraud who uses his appearance of intellect to confuse and manipulate people. This reminds me of how a lot of fundamentalists seem to think of university professors at secular institutions. However, I was a bit surprised at how the villain was designed: why did he have to be military-themed? They literally just had one of those with Baron Von Braggard in the previous episode, and it would make a whole lot more sense for Confusion to be a tweed-clad professor caricature, given the way he carries himself and uses language.
The Commandant of Confusion is, of course, struck down by the Bible Adventure Team at the conclusion of the episode. The Commandant winds up taking a slash from Bibleman’s laser sword, which leaves him thoroughly disintegrated, while Chaos manages to escape unharmed.
“Combating the Commandant of Confusion” is incredibly half-assed in just about every way you can imagine. The villains are dull, the story is boring, the run-time is short and packed with filler, and they didn’t even bother to do a professional, studio version of the episode. This is corner-cutting and production laziness at its finest, and makes the episode absolutely skippable.