DCAU #387: Grounded

IN THIS ONE... A germ-like monster attacks the school.

CREDITS: Written by Len Uhley (Duck Tales, RoboCop: Alpha Commando, Ben 10); directed by James Tucker.

REVIEW: I see that Carmen Dillo, an animalistic Bang Baby who might be the big spoon in his relationship, puts in many appearances on Static Shock. Will it always be in a comical capacity? Because as a hook, Carmen doesn't then graduate to A-plot. Fun, bouncing ball-type character though. And since we're talking about comedy, this is perhaps a good time to talk about the humor on the show, and how it so often falls flat. The character stuff works, no problem, but the Spider-Man-like zingers, not so much, Static is always making pop culture references that were dated at the time and feel very stale now, and this has been consistent across the first four episodes. Not to say they're all bad, because I do like the "caught a germ" joke at the end, but the show does better with situational comedy than dialog.

So out with the armadillo, and in with a giant amoeba monster that's at least in part visually inspired by a D&D gelatinous cube and a Futurama alien. "Goobzilla" is a actually quite fun. It can split into different beings, has squeaky babies inching around, and when it eats something, you see it being digested right through its translucent membrane. Static is sure it was never human, which I questioned because between its two tentacles and the way it moves, it definitely has humanoid ticks, but it's proven the mutation gas affected germs in the ground and spawned this creature. Should we look forward to mutant animals in the future? But if Goobzilla's posture is an accidental "lie", I can't say the same of the massive red (green?) herring about the janitor, Mr. Janus. In addition to his sinister name, we keep seeing him about the school surrounded by a slimy green cleaning product or juice spill that "reeks". He seems pegged for Bang Baby status. By the end, however, the liquid has a "lemony fresh scent" and is definitely a cleaning product, one that kills germs and thus (using comic book logic), acts on the monster like acid. While I can't complain about the action beats and Static's often clever use of powers (still a highlight of the show), it does feel like the script wasn't playing fair with the audience.

As for subplots, Richie makes walkie-talkies for himself and Static, now firmly cast in the tech support/branding expert role. Frieda, for her part, is for the second episode in a row shown to have a strong interest in journalism. It may be a student paper, but she still plays the crusading reporter here, going above a teacher's head to publish an unauthorized story in the dead of night, then using the media attention the monster gets to expose the very common school injustice of athletics getting more funding than other student endeavors. This is good character development, but is also ably tied into the plot to both help Static get into the school lab after hours AND an obstacle as he must protect his secret identity for the girl he crushes on.

SOUNDS LIKE: Frieda's friend Kim is played by Whose Line Is It Anyway?'s Karen Maruyama, while janitor Mr. Janus is Steve Franken, from The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis and dozens of guest roles on TV.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - It's a good monster story, but the red herring is clumsy.

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