Saturday, August 29, 2015
Saturday Morning Cult-TV Blogging: Doctor Shrinker (1976): "The Other Brad"
In this week’s episode of Dr. Shrinker (1976), “The Other Brad,” our titular mad scientist (Jay Robinson) and his minion Hugo (Billy Barty) attempt to capture the Shrinkies -- three shrunken young adults -- using a perfect robot replica of Brad (Ted Eccles).
When the real Brad is captured and taken to a cage in the laboratory, his mechanical replacement attempts to trick B.J. (Susa Lawrence) and Gordy (Jeff Mackay) into a trap.
But Brad is able to escape from captivity and warn his friends about the danger they face…
The Sid and Marty Krofft Saturday morning series Dr. Shrinker is always a lot of fun, and as a kid growing up in the 1970s, I loved it.
But as an adult, it’s funny to see how the series doesn’t really hold up to the scrutiny of logic.
Consider the following: Dr. Shrinker (Robinson) hopes to make a fortune by demonstrating that his shrinking machine works. He must therefore re-capture the Shrinkies to prove this fact, though why he doesn’t just shrink Hugo, or Boris the chimp (seen last episode), is a question worth asking.
Yet okay, I’ll accept the premise. The Shrinkies are proof-positive that the shrink ray works, and Dr. Shrinker is located on a remote island, so he doesn’t have a lot of choices.
So this week, in “The Other Brad,” Dr. Shrinker invents a perfect robot duplicate of a human being to help him capture the Shrinkies.
But...if Doctor Shrinker can build a perfect robot that replicates a human being so well that even that human’s best friends don’t recognize the difference off the bat…why is he bothering with a shrink ray?
Forget asking the highest bidder to pay for the bloomin’ shrink ray. Sell them the perfect robot technology instead. It may have more practical applications, anyway, especially in Dr. Shrinker’s villainous circles.
But of course, Dr. Shrinker doesn’t think of that…
In a way, this kind of logic-less plot is what really differentiates a show like Dr. Shrinker from something like Land of the Lost (1974 -1977), another Sid and Mart Krofft program. There, David Gerrold, a real science-fiction author, story-edited the series and brought in great genre writers to pen individual stories. He paid attention, and made certain that stories like “The Other Brad” didn’t get through the creative process, at least not without some heavy rewriting. He made sure that the universe of Altrusia had a consistent set of rules, and that they weren’t violated.
Dr. Shrinker is a fun show with a kind of one note premise, but clearly nobody was making certain
that all the stories followed logically from point A to point Z. “The Other Brad” is exhibit A. If you think about the story for even a minute or two, you realize it’s absolutely ridiculous.
I can’t remember what I thought at age six when I likely saw this episode. But I do know my son, at age 8, would crack down on this kind of faulty plotting in a heart-beat.