Saturday, November 08, 2014

Saturday Morning Cult-TV Blogging: Bravestarr: "Thoren the Slave Master"

In “Thoren the Slave Master,” an alien arrives at New Texas, in search of slaves from the local population. The bandit Tex Hex obliges, plotting to capture Prairie People for Thoren, all in exchange for a missile weapon that could destroy Fort Kerium.

Soon, however, the tables are turned on Tex Hex. Thoren miniaturizes not only the Prairie People for easy transport back to his home planet, but Tex Hex as well. Then, so his prisoners can’t escape, Thoren holds the miniaturized captives in tiny cages.

BraveStarr attempts to rescue the Prairie People, but is captured and miniaturized himself.  Now he and Tex Hex must work together to stop Thoren’s scheme…

This episode of BraveStarr is an example of our old friend (and narrative trope): My Enemy, My ally. 

In stories of this nature, protagonists and antagonists must work together to conquer a common threat, putting all differences aside…at least for a while.  The same story was called “Survival” on Gerry Anderson’s UFO (1970), “The Trap” on Planet of the Apes (1974), and “The Enemy” on Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987 – 1994). 

Here, BraveStarr states the obvious conclusion – “We work together, or we don’t get out” -- and even Tex Hex can’t help but see the logic of his argument. 

The episode’s final message is one well in line with the My Enemy/My ally Trope: follow “The Golden Rule” and do unto others as you would have done to you.

Beyond this trope, “Thoren the Slave Master” treads into ethnic stereotypes with its depiction of the slave-driver.  Thoren is dressed exactly like an Arabian character from Aladdin, drawing a direct line from Arab culture to slavery. The series is essentially an Old West story set in space, so it might have been better to draw on the experience of Chinese immigrants working on the railroad in the American West, or something of that nature.

Another, final, observation: Thoren’s evil robots look to me like steroidal versions of Mystery Science Theater’s (1989 – 1999) Tom Servo, right down to the beak and the shape of the head...

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