Hey, remember Earth 2? It was a sci-fi show that aired… (PDR goes to check Wikipedia)… in 1994 and 1995. I don’t remember a lot about it, but I do know that thirteen-year-old PDR liked it.
My memories are that it’s about a ship full of colonists who go to another world to start a new society. While there, they have a bunch of troubles, not least of which is some kind of native life form that I think was trying to contact them in their dreams. I feel like there may have been a months-long break in the airing of the show. I have no idea what parts of what I just said are correct, but that’s how it is in my memory.
I refuse to read past the date on that Wikipedia page, because PDR is going to rewatch Earth 2 and write about it here on this website that he likes to write it on. I expect to do more than one post a week until I get through, so for the next month or two I’m going to be steeped in Earth 2-ness.
There was an episode of the ’90s Spider-Man cartoon that had Robert Farrell in it. They never actually call him “the Rocket Racer” in the episode, but he does all the usual Rocket Racer stuff. It’s got to be the most prominent appearance of the character outside of the comics so far, and it’s likely to remain that way for a long time.
In the fifth episode of the third season, titled “Rocket Racer” we meet Robert Farrell, voiced by Billy ‘Pop’ Atmore.
Watching the episode, I find that we get a lot of the things I want to see in a Rocket Racer story. There’s subtle commentary on race and how ex-criminals aren’t given a fair shot at finding their way back into society. We’re shown Bob struggling to help out his sick mother, whose illness is never identified. We’re shown that the neighbourhood where Bob lives is on his side (a pharmacist gives him a discount on medicine). Bob shows no signs of romantic interest in anyone. We even get the Big Wheel making an appearance. All in all, this is about as faithful an appearance to the comics version as possible. So here’s where I pick out what is different about Rocket Racer here and his usual portrayal in the Marvel Universe.
- Bob is young here. I’ve mentioned this one before, but usually Bob is depicted as being at least as old as Spider-Man, but in this episode he is a teenager who is actually a student being tutored by Peter Parker. I don’t mind that he’s aged down for this (as I’ve said, you’d expect a skateboard-themed character to be young), but I don’t like that he knows Peter Parker. That makes the world feel very small.
- Bob’s story is backwards. In the comics, Bob was an upstanding and smart young child who had to resort to crime because he couldn’t afford to take care of his family when his mother got sick. In the cartoon, Bob was a criminal child who turned his life around to help his mother when she got sick. There’s a place for each kind of story, sure, but I prefer the original, because it casts the broken aspects of society as the impetus.
- Bob’s family doesn’t exist here. In this cartoon Mrs. Farrell (never named Emma, but we can assume) is shown to be a single mother, but instead of having seven children, she seems to only have Bob. I do feel that Bob’s siblings represent untapped potential for Rocket Racer stories, but this isn’t a Rocket Racer story. This is a Spider-Man show that only goes to the Rocket Racer well one time, so it doesn’t need all those other kids around to complicate things. It is understandable to have excised them. (Also, Mrs. Farrell is depicted as much thinner and more conventionally attractive than her comics counterpart. That I don’t like. Let’s have more representation of large people, please. But I guess having six fewer children made a difference.)
- Mrs. Farrell owns a grocery store. We’re never told what Mrs. Farrell did for work in the comics, but in this cartoon she owns Farrell’s Grocery. Maybe the comics version has this store too. Maybe it’s manned by Bob’s adult siblings we never see. We simply don’t have the information.
- The Big Wheel’s story is also backwards. In the comics, Jackson Weele was an embezzling businessman who was conned by Bob when the Rocket Racer did crimes on corporate types. That caused Jackson to create the Big Wheel persona for revenge. In the cartoon, the Big Wheel is an existing criminal mastermind with a gang of henchmen in power-suits called the Rocket Raiders. I’d guess maybe this was changed to make Bob a more sympathetic character, since blackmailing someone so hard that they become a supervillain isn’t a great look if you want the kid to be a poor wretch who deserves better, right?
- Bob steals equipment from the Rocket Raiders to create his own Rocket Racer equipment. In the comics, Bob gets his equipment from junkyards and the Tinkerer. This is a very minor change, given that we’re still shown Bob assembling the equipment himself and Peter admits that Bob knows a lot about gyroscopic science or whatever it is. Sure, it seems like it’d be less impressive to build a rocket skateboard from pre-made equipment than from scratch, but it’s only really done to drive the conflict here. I’ll allow it.
So that’s my report on the Spider-Man Animated Series episode Rocket Racer. Let’s see what the people on the Internet have to say about it. “This episode and The Spot are considered by most fans to be the two worst episodes of Spider-Man: The Animated Series.” Ah. Well. At least it’s a tie, and not dead last.
The Scooby-Doo franchise has already provided me with a couple of Beekeepers to review. The Bee-Man of Alcatraz and Mr. Wilkins and Brittany have all been Beekeepers who have met the Gang either as friend or foe. But none of those were the first! Unless I’ve missed something quite obscure, the chronologically-earliest Beekeeper to meet Scooby-Doo and friends is one Nathan Stinger.
In a lot of ways, Nathan Stinger is very impressive. His name is “Stinger” for goodness sake! And he lives in a town called Honeydale! This is all excellent Beekeeper Branding. Plus, I’ve mentioned before that I like when Beekeepers are also scientists, well, to spoil the ending to his episode, he secretly works for NASA helping create and protect a supply of rocket fuel which is coveted by spies from other nations.
Stinger’s bees are similarly notable. We’re told that there are 95 million bees in Honeydale and presumably most of them are Stinger’s. Indeed, he has a very large operation. And the bees are smart too! They have that cartoon bee power where a cloud of them can come together and form into a shape like a hand or a fly swatter or something. It’s all quite good. The bees even help out in the fight against the baddies in the end.
But that’s the thing. The baddies. No matter how impressive Stinger and his bees are, we’re still meeting them in a typical Apiarist In Distress situation. The episode is about spies (posing as renegade giant killer bees, of course) attacking Stinger’s farm to steal that sweet, sweet rocket fuel. This greatly hurts Stinger’s business and they even kidnap him at one point. The show belongs to Scooby and the Gang, so they have to be the heroes. That’s just the facts. Under some other circumstances, maybe Stinger could rate higher, but as depicted in this episode he’s just a little above average.
Three Honeycombs out of Five. In Scooby-Doo monsters are more likely to return than supporting cast members, but let’s make an exception for Nathan Stinger, why not?
This is definitely a review I didn’t actually need to do, but in the interests of being thorough I need to do it. A conundrum. So I did it.
The Beekeeper who appeared on the show Rugrats doesn’t actually even appear on the show Rugrats. The man in the picture is not the Beekeeper in question, that is Chas. Chas is the father of one of the titular Rugrats. He is a widower and, at this point in the show at least, he’s dating a lot, trying to find someone to have a relationship with. In this episode he goes on a series of bad dates, one of which is a beekeeper who wants to give him a tour of her hives. Chas is a nervous sort, so he brings a first aid kit on the date with him, in case of being stung. After we see Chas leave for this date we don’t see him again until he’s being set up with a different woman, with us seeing nothing of the apiary or the woman in question. So we know almost nothing about this Beekeeper.
She’s willing to date a single father, which is nice, but for a first date she just brings him to see her hives. Does this prove she cares about her bees so much that she’s showing them off? Or at least that she puts so much work in that she can’t take the time away to go elsewhere for this date? Does the date go horribly wrong with the bees attacking Chas? Does it go wrong because there’s simply no chemistry between the two? Or does it go right, but she decides she can’t be with Chas because of her devotion to the job? There’s so many possibilities and I just don’t have any evidence to go on. It’s almost like this is a character I’m being ridiculous by reviewing at all!
From what I can tell by looking at descriptions of the series, I don’t think that true supernatural stuff is commonplace in the world of Rugrats, so I can’t give this mystery woman the benefit of the doubt of maybe being a magical Beekeeper. Maybe she’s good at fighting and adventures, but we simply don’t know. Gonna have to go with a “normal beekeeper” rating.
Two Honeycombs out of Five.
Reviews like this one I can really point to when I want to prove I’m the world’s foremost reviewer of Fictional Beekeepers. Plus they’re really easy to write.
Professor Eustacius Jericho, the Scourge of Scoundrels, is not the first Beekeeper I’ve covered that comes from the Doctor Who franchise. That would be Goronwy Jones. But Jericho comes closer than his predecessor to becoming an actual Companion of the titular Doctor.
Jericho was a British soldier in the Second World War, and saw many terrible things. When he returned home, he threw himself wholly into academic life, seeking largely (consciously or otherwise) to be detached from the “real world” because of the darkness he’d seen. By the 1960s, he had some rapport with the people of his village, but avoided close attachments. And, because science often pairs well with the keeping of bees, it was in this era that seems to have taken it up. We don’t know how many hives he had, but we know he liked to use their honey in tea. “Nature’s own shock remedy,” he called it. I suspect he found it useful treating his trauma left from the War.
When supernatural events barged into Jericho’s life, he doubted them at first, but his scientific rationale quickly caught him up. Even in dangerous situations, he hoped to continue researching and learning. And when he wound up stranded in the early 1900s with the Doctor’s Companions, he and they went on a years-long, world-spanning quest to help prevent the end of the world. And when that crisis came to its climax, he allowed himself to be captured by an alien army as part of the plan to bring them down. The plan worked, though Jericho didn’t make it back alive. He was, at least, happy in the end that after his sedentary decades, he got to have a big adventure in his final years.
The only problem is that we never got to see Jericho doing any Beekeeping. We only get that one reference to his bees’ honey. Certainly he couldn’t have been doing it after being stranded in the past and started travelling the world on a mission. That means that the part of Jericho’s life that is full of adventure and the part where he keeps bees are decidedly separate. That’s not the ideal situation I look for here in these reviews, and sadly that brings his rating down from what it otherwise could have been:
Three Honeycombs out of Five.