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BibleMan: Terminating the Toxic Tonic of Disrespect

BibleMan: Terminating the Toxic Tonic of Disrespect
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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.

“Terminating the Toxic Tonic of Disrespect” marks the first episode of the third and final incarnation of the Bibleman franchise: “Bibleman: Powersource.” Robert Schlipp stars in his second episode as Bibleman, after taking over the role from Willie Aames.

“Terminating the Toxic Tonic of Disrespect” was produced and directed by Steve Gilreath, and written by Michael Nolan. As far as I can tell, there was very little carry-over from “The Bibleman Adventure” behind the scenes.

Bibleman is once again joined by his longtime ally, Cypher, who features much more prominently in the new, incredibly boring opening sequence. Biblegirl is absent from the episode (only temporarily), but a new character named Melody is introduced as the third member of the team.

The new villain of the episode is a neon mohawked creature named E. Meritus Snortinskoff, who is accompanied by a henchman named Stench. There is another villain introduced in a flashback: a Riddler-inspired man called “The Cheater,” who will pop up later in the series. These villains, in a bit of a separation, aren’t the offensive stereotypes I typically expect of the series. Instead, the antagonistic duo of Snortinskoff and Stench are just run-of-the-mill zany mad scientists. However, they also aren’t quite as memorable as The Wacky Protestor, which is hard to deny.

The story starts as the two sinister scientists are making a bunch of kids indignant and rebellious by selling them “M-Pow-R” energy drinks made from sugar, water, and, basically, “pure evil.” The Bible team realize what is happening after noticing a bunch of burgeoning teenagers acting shitty to authority figures. Because, you know, that never happens otherwise.

biblemantt3The Bible Team ultimately wind up getting a sample of the “M-Pow-R” energy drink, and discover its contents (selfishness, 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.

The acting is somehow dramatically worse than during the run of “The Bibleman Adventure,” which I think is primarily the fault of the new lead, Robert Schlipp (and what I assume is a lower budget). He is so astoundingly wooden that he makes Willie Aames look like a real leading man. Speaking of which, Cypher really should be Bibleman, which is something that I mentioned in my reviews of the past couple of episodes. Schlipp is just awful, and lacks any kind of charisma or screen presence, which Brady Williams actually does have to a degree. Clearly concessions had to be made to get Cypher to come back at all, like having him appear alongside Bibleman in the opening sequence.

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“Please don’t touch me Robert”

The Bibleman lair is gone, which I suppose makes sense, given I assume that was underneath Miles Peterson’s house. Instead, the team is based out of what looks to be a trailer, or “Mobile Command.” They also have kind of creepy, military-ish jumpsuits when they are not in superhero garb, which makes them seem even more like a fanatical paramilitary group. The fact that the show continues on with the previously only vaguely referenced “Board of Directors” of “Central Command” just strikes me as all kinds of creepy, like there is a sinister, right-wing corporation funding fundamentalist vigilantes all across the world.

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The high tech “Mobile Command” is a trailer with a mail box

The introduction of Melody offers the only actual 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.

Something that I will be interested to see once I get to The Cheater’s episode is if the flashback sequence in this story is recycled footage from there, because it is pretty jarring and out of place where it is here, like it was included to fill out time.

Something that I noticed quickly about this episode (in comparison to previous ones) is that the cinematography is distractingly awful, to the point of being nauseating during certain sequences with the villains. The camera is rotated dramatically and constantly during Snortinskoff’s screen time, which is more than excessive. Dutch angles can certainly be effective to create tension and unease, but the way they are used here is beyond over the top: the characters almost look like they are on a boat in choppy water.

This is another episode of Bibleman that I have covered previously on the blog, and I still really like it. This episode might not make the best introduction to the franchise, but it has all of the necessary elements to make for an entertainingly awful episode. The villains are hammy, the plot is nonsense, the acting is wooden, and the special effects / stunt work is laughably terrible. “Toxic Tonic” definitely gets a strong recommendation from me.

 

 

 

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BibleMan vs Evil Soft Drinks

BibleMan: Terminating the Toxic Tonic of Disrespect
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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:

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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.

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The PowerSource Bible Team (Melody on the far right)

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.

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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.

biblemantt4Predictably, 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.

biblemantt2This 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.