Plot: Lloyd Nubulan has just turned 13, so he’s leaving behind childhood and embracing manhood. But what does it really mean to be a man?
Breakdown: Here’s a show I actually have some mileage in. Lloyd in Space was on ABC’s One Saturday Morning lineup, and I caught it several times when it was airing. I watched it enough to be nostalgic about it a little, but not enough to get excited when this popped up as Episode One-Derland fodder.
How well does it stand up?
Well, let’s just say, I can understand why this wasn’t a must-see show when I was a kid.
Let’s tackle the big picture before we get to the main episode material. Lloyd in Space is basically every typical day-in-the-life-of-a-typical-kid show….in space. That’s probably why they just decided to call it Lloyd in Space. They ‘space’ up the dialogue and the character designs are alien’d, but it’s seriously just any old slice-of-life kid show. The comedy’s mediocre at best, no character is very memorable and the best they have to offer is tons of destructive slapstick.
Getting into the main episode, we can break this up rather easily. Lloyd turns 13 and suddenly decides to be an insanely boring adult, which is totally not how any 13-year-old has ever acted ever. When you turned 13, what did you want to do? What did that mean for you? How did you act?
Most people would say they asked for a larger allowance or if they could do cool things like use their dad’s power tools, take the wheel of the car for a minute, or stay up late, or you may even have asked for more responsibility like going places by yourself, walking to school alone or having a cell phone (though the latter is being commonly presented to five-year-olds now.)
Did you ever consider foregoing cake and ice cream because you thought only kids ate that stuff, then say you’d rather have cheese and fruit as dessert? Did you forego sugary cereal for bran flakes? Did you rudely refuse toys as gifts and state that you’d rather have clothes? (Okay, admittedly, that one might be believable.) Did you ever backtalk your teacher saying you were above writing a book report and invited your teacher over to discuss the true meanings behind heavier reading material over a cappuccino?
If you said ‘no’ to all or most of those questions, you’re far more normal than Lloyd. I don’t know why any kid would purposely want to pursue the more boring developments of perceived adulthood over the more exciting ones. It’s like if you were imagining being a college student as a teen and you looked forward more to student loans, crushing stress and shitty jobs than college parties, drinking and being on your own.
After Lloyd spends the first third of the episode being obnoxious, he gets taken down a peg when his teacher responds to his bullshit by telling him he can indeed avoid his book report, but has to write a 50MB essay on what it means to be a man instead.
He wracks his brain for a while, realizing he really doesn’t know what it means to be a man, so Station, the space station that Lloyd lives on, taking the form of a robotic neurotic eyeball that can emerge from numerous spots around the station, takes him to a poker game consisting of a bunch of robots – more specifically a robot phone, a robot vacuum and a robot toaster. And if you were worried that they didn’t make tons of puns about what objects they are, worry your pretty little head no more because that’s about 95% of what they do.
It’s in this poker game where Lloyd is taught his first valuable lesson – Adults lie (learned through bluffing….and them literally saying that adults lie.)
He gets a birthday hologram call from his grandpa, and in an effort to help Lloyd determine what it means to be a man, he gets his second valuable lesson – Men fish. (learned through space-fishing)
He accidentally blows up a power plant with a fish…..I’d explain exactly what happened there, but anything you imagine is probably more entertaining than the actual reason. Being taken back home in a squad car, the officer taking him home offers to let him drive for a bit since his dad did that for him when he was 13 as a rite of passage.
This is surprisingly normal, but they mess it up with the third valuable lesson – Adults are in control. The way to seem in control is to act like you’re in control (lesson learned through leaning back and acting like a cocky douche while driving.)
He tries to be even more laid back by attempting to turn on the radio, and in a literal ‘don’t touch the red button!’ moment, he activates the boosters and crashes into the parking bay.
Back at home, with his mother listing off his financial costs of the damages for the day, wracking up to tens of thousands of dollars for the smaller stuff and, while they don’t say it, probably billions for the power plant, she gives him the stern, harsh, turn away from the screen and grit your teeth punishment of……..
Grounded for a month.
Okay, I will admit, the crash is moreso on the cop’s shoulders so Lloyd shouldn’t get much flak for that, but grounded for a month after all of that destruction? I had harsher punishments for accidentally cussing.
Lloyd stews in his room over being grounded when his little sister, Francine’s, daycare calls asking for Lloyd’s mom who is actually the commander of the space station. He says she’s not there, but there’s an emergency. Francine’s going crazy in a temper tantrum for some reason, causing her to telekinetically float the other kids and everything in the daycare around and she even starts cracking the glass walls.
Lloyd decides the best course of action, instead of calling his mom, is to go there and settle her down himself. The daycare is in another region of space, so Lloyd needs to break his grounding and commandeer a vehicle to get there.
The guy in the garage tells Lloyd that he can’t just give a vehicle to a kid, so Lloyd implements valuable lesson one – lying. He lies and says a poker chip is a special permission chip his mom gave him for emergencies. The guy actually believes him and is about to just give him a vehicle, but still says he’s too young to drive, so Lloyd convinces him to take him.
About to be pulled over by a cop and the garage guy ducking down because he can’t be caught outside of the station in a vehicle because reasons (DUI?….Possession?) Lloyd has to talk his way out of being pulled over. He implements valuable lesson three – acting like a douche. He acts like a douche and the cop finds nothing wrong with a clearly underage kid driving and leaves them alone. Lloyd, you could’ve explained the situation to him and maybe even gotten a more legit and faster ride. Oh, but wait, he’s trying to be an adult, and adults lie. Guess telling the truth is for kids and intelligent people.
He gets to the daycare center and finds out that the reason Francine is freaking out is because her favorite doll, Rosie, is stuck high up in a ‘tree’. Lloyd points out the obvious and asks why she doesn’t take it down with her powers, and she gets even angrier saying she’s trying but it won’t come unstuck. How it got up there and how it got so stuck is never explained.
Lloyd decides to implement his third and final valuable man lesson – Men fish.
He ties a yoyo to a ruler, wraps it around Rosie and yanks her down. He gives it back to Francine and she calms down….
No….Just no. You can’t have a kid using such powerful telekinetic abilities that she’s easily floating a room full of kids and many heavy objects around like crazy and cracking apart the building….be unable to free a little doll….when Lloyd can do it with a yoyo and ruler.
You remember that scene in Pokemon where a young Sabrina demolishes her house easily with her telekinetic abilities? Imagine that scene is immediately followed by her being unable to pick an apple from a tree with her abilities then Ash gets it down with a jump rope. Seems stupid, doesn’t it?
Back home, Lloyd’s mom apparently is forced to drop Lloyd’s grounding and any additional punishment for what he’s done now because he’s an infinite hero at the daycare….uh….who…cares? What authority do they have over her parenting? Even if they did have any authority in that regard, she’s a major space station commander. I think she outranks a daycare employee.
Lloyd says he now knows what being a man is, and his mom points out the obvious before I do that apparently being a man means lying, stealing a car (acting like a douche) and fishing. Lloyd, and by that I mean the writers, subvert this by saying no, that’s not what it means to be a man. In fact, that stuff got him grounded for a month.
Being a man is about doing the right thing, even though you may have to break rules to do it. It means putting someone else ahead of yourself. It means—nope. No. You can’t do that. You can’t disregard those things as illegitimate or detrimental lessons when you clearly made a point to ensure each and every lesson was integrated into your heroics. You even included audio flashbacks to each lesson before he did it.
Each of those lessons did initially get him grounded, but utilizing those lessons helped calm down Francine and saved the daycare. Those lessons are stupid, but this story was trying to reintegrate them for the sheer purpose of trying to convince us that they were important. Maybe the real lesson should be ‘You can take bad lessons and turn them into something that can benefit you in a crises.’ That’s also not a very good lesson, but at least I’m not ignoring that these lessons were used in the end.
Lloyd realizes that he finally understands what it means to be a man, so he goes off to write his essay. He also leaves his birthday cake and says he’ll eat it at breakfast, which Francine thinks is weird in a bad way for some reason. Again, no little kid would react to that statement that way. They’d probably say if their older sibling gets cake for breakfast, they want some for breakfast too, or that it’s unfair or they’re lucky. Etc.
As a first episode, it’s fine. It establishes the world effectively, the characters are introduced well enough and it does an okay job trying to start off the story. However, the characters aren’t very interesting, the writing never hits a joke that even makes me want to consider thinking about smiling, and it’s just very bland and mediocre at very best. Not to mention that Lloyd spends a good chunk of this episode being annoying, and the morals for this episode are so beyond confused and screwed up.
This whole thing is stupid anyway. Everyone knows you’re not really a man until you have a mustache.
This brought me back a ways to The Weekenders and Fillmore! And actually looking forward to waking up on Saturday mornings, but there’s just not much being offered here. I did realize that I memorized the theme song, though. So that’s something. Not much, considering the lyrics are mostly dialogue clips and the song itself is rather muted and not worth memorizing, but still.
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