July 30, 2012

Bigfoot and the Muscle Machines, chapters 7-9

Chapter 7

Barbarian comes to a stop at the edge of the pit, at the bottom of which lies a defeated Bigfoot, pierced all the way through by multiple spikes. The limo driver climbs down to retrieve the map, but all he gets is Yank's fist. The ensuing fight isn't exactly in Yank's favor as the limo driver has about a foot of hard muscle on the other man, so Sandra ends things by wedging the gas pedal of Barbarian and sending it racing through the woods, the limo driver in angry pursuit.

The heroes take to the road again, a busted up Bigfoot hitched up behind Black Gold. While everyone is distracted by some flirtatious games between Close McCall and Redder, a pair of cement trucks up ahead of them quickly dump their loads, trapping everyone in quick drying cement. Three massive steamrollers bear down on our heroes from behind, but our heroes manage to break free and rush off.

They pull into a scrap yard where Yank sets about making repairs to Bigfoot. After pressure from the others, Sandra reveals that the map chronicles Ponce de Leon's final expedition, where he finally discovered the Fountain of Youth in what's now known as Florida before being fatally set upon by native warriors. The rest of the heroes are a bit sceptical, but they don't have long to discuss matters before Barbarian starts crushing towards them through the scrap yard.

Professor Dee and Dilly hop into the Orange Blossom Special to create a diversion, but his truck is snatched into the air by a magnetic crane and dropped into a compactor, the walls of which start to close in. Red and Redder want to help, but Barbarian veers straight at them.

Chapter 8

Bigfoot explodes through a wall and slams Barbarian into a mountain of cars. Red and Redder use Yank's tow-line trick to take out the control tower of the junk yard and the compactor goes dead just as it barely dents the Orange Blossom Special. Professor Dee and Dilly breath a sigh of relief.

Barbarian rips out of the mound and literally starts butting heads with Bigfoot. They take turns running head-on into one another, the massive Barbarian obviously having a significant advantage as it finally sends Bigfoot tumbling. Yank tries a new tactic, using another mound of cars as a ramp to launch Bigfoot into Barbarian from above. The massive truck obviously wasn't designed for such an impact as it crumbles into pieces and the limo driver narrowly escapes before the remains explode.

While everyone celebrates, the limo driver snatches Sandra and the map, tossing both in the back of his limo before racing off. Close McCall is the first to pursue, but the limo clouds smoke and slicks the road, sending War Lord into a ditch.

In the limo, Sandra is bound and refusing to cooperate with Adrian Ravenscroft. She claims she fully translated the map for the heroes, but the limo's polygraph (yes, it has a polygraph) reveals she's lying. When it's discovered the heroes have all mobilized and are on the chase, Ravenscroft presses a button that turns the entire back seat into a sophisticated control room.

Shells suddenly pound the road, our heroes swerving to avoid them while aghast at the sight of four massive tanks suddenly between them and the limo. Our heroes grit their teeth and charge ahead, eventually pulping their way over the tanks. War Lord and Black Gold are the first to catch up to the limo, but it spins around and inflates its back tires, turning into a ramp that sends them sailing onto their roofs. The front tires inflate, and now the limo is itself a monster truck. Two tubes lift out of the trunk and launch a pair of remote guided missiles straight at Yank.

Chapter 9

Bigfoot swerves left and right, trying to lose the missiles, but they stay on his tail. Sandra manages to free her legs, kicking the remote from Ravenscroft's hand and sending the missiles toward the monster limo. They hit nearby, the explosion creating enough of a jostle for her to free the rest of herself and jump to safety.

While the monster limo drives off, Sandra reunites with the heroes and warns them that the area around the Fountain is filled with booby traps... and Ravenscroft is the one with a map saying where they are. As our heroes pursue the limo into a secluded patch of the everglades, the monster limo starts setting off traps that take out one hero truck after another: War Lord is squashed by a giant statue, Black Gold by stone pillars, and the Orange Blossom Special takes a large spear through its engine block.

Ravenscroft reaches the Fountain and drinks of the water, his aged, bloated body becoming young and fit. He ditches his driver and takes the controls of the monster limo himself, getting into a tussle with Bigfoot. Instead of fighting, Yank instead steers Bigfoot towards the Fountain, pulping the ancient structure beneath his tires and spilling the water across the swampland. Ravenscroft seeks vengeance, but the now muddied ground skids him into a brick wall, then a booby trap launches a cannon ball into his engine, taking the monster limo out once and for all.

Ravenscroft escapes into the everglades, but he rapidly deteriorates into his true elderly self. The gators of the swamp take notice.

Sandra mourns the loss of the Fountain of Youth while the others mope that they're out of work now that their trucks are smashed and they have no money for repairs. Close McCall throws a fit about having ended up with this gang, but then he steps on a crack and falls into a chamber filled with gold and jewels. While everyone else celebrates, Yank struts towards Bigfoot. He doesn't have much interest in being rich, so he and Sandra instead drive off into the sunset.


For the first two parts of Bigfoot and the Muscle Machines, my brain has been like a peacefully slumbering Peter Dinklage zipped up tight in a large duffel bag. But as Yank and his team head down the back stretch, the Dink has awakened. Disoriented, desperate, and scared, it’s only a matter of time before he fights his way out of that bag. And when he does, you’d better believe that there’ll be hell to pay. Punch it, Yank!

Just when you think this show has gone totally balls out, it pulls out an engorged third testicle that swings there obscenely, daring you to say something. The knock-down, drag-out battle between Bigfoot and Barbarian would’ve been the climax of a normal animated series, but Dille & Co. were just getting started. Battling tanks, transforming limousines, and racing against time through heavily booby trapped jungles is how Yank Justice ends his days. It’s all utterly preposterous, but who cares so long as it’s fun! I... Look out! He’s free!

Okay, all that said, The Dink I still feel obligated to ask a few final questions. Why exactly is it such a bad thing if Ravenscrote finds the Fountain? I know, I know. He’s old, he’s rich, and he’s white, so clearly he’s up to no good. I just wish his nefarious plans had been a bit more obvious. Speaking of the Fountain, why did its effects wear off so fast? Yank - as Yank is wont to do - destroys the Fountain, but Ravenscrote had already bathed in it. Finally, if Jennifer really wanted to keep Ravenscrote from finding the map, why not just hide it some place he’d never look. Like an orphanage in Harlem.

Final thoughts:

There’s really not much more for me to say about Bigfoot and the Muscle Machines. When I was a kid, the cartoons I loved best were the ones that took me on an adventure. Forget going around the world in 80 days, I wanted to do it in 30 minutes, with bathroom and snack breaks in between. I wanted exotic locales, big action, and heroes and villains painted in primary colors. This show delivers all of that in spades and without apology. It never tries to justify itself. There’s no irony. Ultimately, I think that’s why I enjoyed it so much. Could this admittedly thin premise have been stretched out into a weekly, or even daily, series? Absolutely! Like The Fugitive or The Incredible Hulk, each week would’ve seen our heroes rolling into a new town. Once there, they would get caught up in some local drama - say a scheming banker (and his army of large trucks, natch) trying to foreclose on a widow’s farm because, unbeknownst to her, it sits atop a huge cache of oil - all against the exciting backdrop of the monster truck show circuit. My friends and I would’ve eaten that up and asked for seconds. A real missed opportunity.

Oh, and somebody owes my ass a Yank Justice action figure.


"We've had it, Dilly!"

As Tony said, just when you think this show can't go any further, it rips the fabric of spacetime to create a new dimensional plane of further for it to go. How does it top wrecking balls, Louisiana river ninjas with flaming arrows, and Barbarian pushing Bigfoot towards a spike pit? With killer steam rollers, tanks, Barbarian and Bigfoot getting a rematch as they duke it out in a junkyard, a boobytrapped Fountain of Youth in the middle of the Florida everglades, and Professor Dee exclaiming "Duck, Dilly!" This is a as perfect as a cartoon about monster trucks can git, with dust-kickin' salt of the earth heroes, road trips from one state to another, a rich white old guy who turns his limousine into a monster truck and himself into Burt Reynolds, and have I mentioned the Louisiana river ninjas with flaming arrows? Because that's a moment that won't be quickly topped.

As with the finale of the initial Inhumanoids shorts, I kinda like how they let their story have a definite ending, with the Yank driving off into the sunset, the rest of the heroes celebrating their discovered riches, and the villain huffing off into the swamp, likely to be snacked upon by a gator. Had this continued, you know he'd be back, alongside the hulking limo driver and the snivelling Slye, who'd constantly try to out hench once another. And the heroes would have blown their riches suping up their trucks and building a stadium that turned into a financial failure and now merely serves as their HQ. And Yank, who disappeared into the sunset at the end of one day, would arrive again at the dawn of another.

Could this have kept going? I'm with Tony in saying absolutely. It would have gotten a little tired with coming up with reasons to keep smashing monster trucks into things, but you could open up the greasepit of rumble vehicles to include drag racers, motorcycles, and desert buggies, all ridiculously enhanced in their own ways. You could have an episode where they have to plow their way over New York City traffic in order to save the day. An episode where they have to drive across the Gulf of Mexico to take on Castro's planned invasion of the coastline. An episode where the mafia has taken over Vegas and attacks the convoy of trucks with every single act the town currently has to offer - from acrobats who can swing onto a truck and rapidly strip it of parts, to a showgirl strikeforce with heavy armaments hidden in their tail fans and can cans, to a drunken lounge singer who keeps strategically wandering into the street and forcing them to swerve into the magician who's all set to make them disappear with pyrotechnics and mirrors.

I don't know that this show would have had a long run, but it would have been a pretty damn fun one. And it would have given us more room to explore the heroes who, while cutting a damn impressive impression at first glance, still didn't get to do much in this story. Instead of spending all his screentime shouting about Dilly and getting stuck in a compactor, why didn't Professor Dee's book learning lead him to correct several points of Sandra's translation of the map while also having him memorize aspects that get them through the swamp? Red and Redder seem to have swapped which one is interested in Close McCall - a joke that only would have worked for so long in the series proper - but it would have been nice to see them rise to the challenge of proving themselves in a "man's" sport by doing more than throwing makeup at villains or imitating Yank's tow-line trick. And Close McCall. Well, he's pretty much just the jock who decides his own head is the best thing to throw into a room first to see if the coast is clear. I'd be damned curious to see how these characters and their dynamics would develop over the course of a series.

On the other hand, I wouldn't want the villains back. Ravenscroft showing up now and then I'm fine with, but I wouldn't want him as a regular, and Slye and the nameless limo driver are beyond forgettable. Slye's biker gang, sure, but not Slye himself. This gets me thinking about something... but let me hold idea that for another paragraph.

One aspect I like is the idea of Sandra constantly seeking out ancient treasures that the monster trucks can assist in destroying finding. Having a series of treasure hunts done through the massive tires of monster trucks is a very unique spin on things, and I could totally see half the series be about that while the other covers the plotlines pondered above. And when we had the flashback to Ponce de Leon, it reminded me of the episodes of Inhumanoids where we flashed back to the ancient past, to events about to influence the struggles of the present... and it got me thinking...

Bigfoot and the Inhumanoids

Take a moment to soak in the full implications of that title. Instead of picking either Bigfoot or Inhumanoids to expand into an ongoing series, why not merge them? Inhumanoids had weak heroes and Bigfoot had weak villains, so drop those elements and instead focus on the best both had to offer in a weekly battle between monsters and monster trucks, road trips across state lines and into the bowels of the earth, treasure hunts that unleash new ancient beasties to battle modern engine blocks and tires of rubber. Just imagine the Inhumanoids moment where Metlar steals the Statue of Liberty, instantly followed by Yank gritting out some words about the American spirit before climbing behind the wheel of Bigfoot and racing into the magma filled bowels of the Earth to get the bronze gal back in the name of freedom.

Did I just blow your mind? Because I'm still picking up the pieces of my own.

Tune in next Sunday as we take a look at chapters 1-3 of Robotix.

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