Saturday, September 05, 2015
Saturday Morning Cult-TV Blogging: Dr. Shrinker (1976): "The Sacred Idol"
In “The Sacred Idol,” the Shrinkies (Ted Eccles, Susan Lawrence and Jeff Mackay), take a raft downstream in the jungle and encounter a primitive tribe dwelling there. The tribe worships a stone idol and statue.
Unfortunately, Dr. Shrinker (Jay Robinson) now controls the stone statue, and makes the natives do his evil bidding by pretending to be a God. His control is actually accomplished by Hugo (Billy Barty), who operates a remote control machine some distance from the village.
The Villagers come to believe that Gordy (Mackay) is a benevolent God, but to prove his worth, he must gain control of the same statue.
And then, he must fulfill an ancient prophecy about retrieving an emerald from a serpent’s lair.
“The Sacred Idol” is the weakest Dr. Shrinker (1976) episode of the three I’ve watched so far. The ideas in the episode are incredibly hackneyed, not to mention culturally insensitive. To wit: an indigenous population in the jungle is so superstitious that it can be manipulated by a super-villain with a remote control, and only three other white people can set things right for them.
Ah, the white man’s burden…
Now -- it’s true -- I teach Intercultural Communications at a college level, so perhaps I’m hyper-aware of this kind of thing (though I don't think so...), but the assumptions that underline this episode's narrative (about the inferiority, both mental and religious, of non-western cultures) are really pretty amazing and backwards.
It’s hard to believe stories this hackneyed and culture-centric were still being produced in the 1970s. That was, after all, the great age of tolerance, before the push-back of the 1980s.
Next week, we move on to a different Saturday morning series.