OK, Batman, you’ve got three “realistic” movies. OK, Superman, you’ve got stories where you’ve got angst. OK, X-Men, you’re an allegory about racism and prejudice. But let’s face it; superheroes are more or less kids’ stuff. Superheroes are childish, comic books are childish, there is more mature entertainment out there. True, there have been successful “adult” superhero stories, like the aforementioned Nolan Batman movies, and Watchmen, though the latter was more or less making fun of superheroes. A lot of attempts to make “edgy” material out of people in spandex, however, do end up pretentious and corny.
Not that the childishness is a bad thing. Avengers Assemble was a fun, dumb popcorn movie and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Batman: The Brave and the Bold was goofy kiddy stuff, but was pretty entertaining. The “Super Bungle” episode of British kiddy show Rainbow spoofed Superman and…and…well…
Created in 1972, Rainbow was meant to be the UK equivalent of Sesame Street. It did resemble Sesame Street, or rather a bizarre alternate universe’s Sesame Street. The characters involved a large teddy bear called Bungle, an ambiguously gay pink hippo called George and a…a…thing called Zippy, who made number five on my Five Most Fucked-Up Creatures from British Kids’ Telly list. Not only was he creepy-looking, he was also a bit of a dick, asserting his superiority over his housemates, so it makes perfect sense for him to be a supervillain as he is portrayed in the episode “Super Bungle”.
We begin with Bungle the bear reading a Superman comic…this one to be precise. Let’s have a look at the synopsis shall we…”By Hook or by Crook!” The Man of Steel is horrified to discover that a rash of child abductions in modern day Metropolis may have something to do with a macabre event that took place in 1880 London. Um…yeah. This is what I meant by “edgy” superhero storylines sometimes coming off as pretentious; does that sound like a Superman story to you? Not to mention it sounds really out of place in what should be a nice cute little kiddy show. Or does it?
Bungle exclaims, ‘I love Superman! He can do anything!’ Cue nerds saying, ‘But him being able to do anything makes him boooring!’ Also, George is sad because Zippy won’t share any toys with him, despite the fact there’s an entire shelf of toys behind George and Zippy only has two. Nonetheless, George laments that Zippy has ‘all the toys’.
In comes Geoffrey, the human all puppet shows are required to have. Geoffrey tries to tell Zippy to share his toys with George to no avail, and then buggers off, leaving Bungle in charge. So I guess Bungle’s a teenager, given that he’s reading a comic aimed at them and is being left in charge of the house, and Zippy and George are kids? Oh, who really cares?
Then we find out why Zippy has been denying George the toys: he gets a sadistic thrill out of doing so. ‘You are naughty, Zippy,’ says George, and Zippy replies, ‘Yes, I know! HAHAHAHA!’ Also, Zippy apparently wants all the toys in the world as well.
Sorry, couldn’t resist. Besides, if he had all the toys in the world, where would he put them?
Bungle then tells Zippy that if Superman were real, he’d make Zippy share the toys out. That’s…that actually seems like something Superman would do. I mean, there was a bit in a Christmas comic where he taught a privileged kid about those who had less toys than him. Then again, it’s the American way he fights for, so maybe he wouldn’t bother helping some Brits. We’d have to get an English hero like Judge Dredd or Brickman.
Zippy goes away with the toys, and George whines that he only wanted ‘one or two toys’. But…Zippy only had two toys. I wonder if George and Peter Fletcher would get along. Bungle puts forth a plan to get Zippy to share the toys, and it involves him wearing red shorts and putting a yellow paper triangle on his chest. Some wobbly lines occur, and Bungle now has a full Superman costume. So…shorts and paper in this universe have magical properties? Or I guess this is supposed to be a fantasy sequence, because standing around daydreaming is supposed to make Zippy share the toys I guess. ‘Oh no! My selfishness has made Bungle into a lunatic. I have seen the error of my ways!’ Also, I would say that Bungle calling himself “Super Bungle” is like having “Super Clark”, but I can’t imagine there are that much giant bears about so it should be hard already for Bungle to have a secret identity.
In Bungle’s fantasy though, Zippy has become the evil Zippoid, and has stolen all the toys in the world. Yes, Bungle’s escapist fantasy begins with the villain more or less accomplishing his plan, making his superhero self look a little lazy. We see a rocket go to Zippoid’s “Planet of Too Many Toys”, and by that, I mean, we see a crappy pixelated cartoon rocket go to a crappy pixelated planet. Wow, I know this didn’t have much of a budget, but really.
Geoffrey the human has become Zippoid’s servant, Mr. Geoffrey. Yes, that’s his name. He’s not even a spoof of any Superman characters with Mr. in front of their name, like Mr. Mxyzptlk. He looks like a B-Movie version of an Oompa Loompa, and brings in a sack of toys for Zippoid. The implication is that Mr. Geoffrey just went down to Earth, walked about plunking all the toys in a sack, and everyone just let him. Even most Silver Age comics would think that was stupid; they’d have a giant toy-stealing ray gun or an army of toy-stealing robots or something.
Zippoid tells Mr. Geoffrey they have one more toy to collect before they have completed their goal; a little doll belonging to George. And yes, the doll is a girl doll. You know, looking about on the web, there were actually apparently kids who thought George was supposed to be female. And who can blame them? He’s pink, he plays with dolls…it makes you wonder how little thought they put into these things.
George finds his doll, and Mr. Geoffrey demands he give it up. Also, it turns out Mr. Geoffrey has been brainwashed into working for Zippoid, and I have to wonder, if Zippoid was going to brainwash anyone, he could have done better than Geoffrey. Why not a soldier or something? Bungle appears – yes, he actually materialises into the room –and because this is a little kiddy show, he doesn’t punch Mr. Geoffrey or zap him with optic lasers, but instead just tells him to go away. Sadly, Geoffrey has some “Bunglelite” (but Bungle said he was from “Bearton”) which freezes Bungle in place. Geez, this guy couldn’t defeat the fucking Prankster.
As Bungle is being frozen, George just sits there, cuddling up to his doll, proving himself to be more useless than, well, Jimmy Olsen. Thankfully, Geoffrey takes the doll and leaves, to George’s intense sorrow. Geoffrey left the Bunglelite behind, however, so George chucks it and Bungle gets better. I guess they should be lucky the villains are as stupid as they are.
Bungle flies off to Zippoid’s planet – which he probably should have done when he first heard about all this crap – and we get another pixelated animation. We then get the obligatory ‘is it a bird’ homage from Zippoid and Geoffrey as Bungle bursts in. Since Geoffrey no longer has the Bunglelite, Zippoid just ups and gives up. Yeah, he was sure a villain alright. He can steal all the toys in the world, yet he can’t deal with some flying teddy bear without a rock.
Bungle’s fantasy ends, and the “real” Zippy decides to share the toys out after all. So is Bungle psychic or something, transmitting his superhero fantasy to Zippy’s subconscious? I dunno. Also, Geoffrey bought George a new toy, which is the doll from Bungle’s fantasy, and Geoffrey found the Bungelite in the garden. Wow, maybe Bungle actually is psychic then, with some reality-warping powers to boot. I daresay he’d make a more interesting supervillain than Zippy even.
And would you believe this is not the only superhero spoof Rainbow has done? That there was even a Batman one? I’ll probably look at that eventually as well.