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Learning Curve, Part Two
Review By Arsenal, Media by Stu

Episode #5 - Learning Curve, Part Two
Original Airdate March 14th 1998

The Surfer's quest for knowledge of Zenn-La takes him to the Universal Library, the repository of all the knowledge of the Watchers. But there's a lot more trouble here than just a few overdue books.

Written By: Larry Brody
Directed By: Norm Spencer
Music Composed By: Shuki Levy and Kussa Mahchi

Review: The second part of “Learning Curve” suffers from the same problems as the first. Surfer’s monologues interrupt any tension. The dialogue is still ham-handed and filled with lines like “Have I come this far to run into a wall of stone?”

Sometimes the dialogue sounds like a well-intentioned 17-year-old trying to ape Melville.

But furthermore, “Learning Curve” contradicts its own theme. In this episode, the Surfer learns knowledge is a means, not an end. However, the Watchers (and Uatu especially) are chastised and punished for using there knowledge to help people. So, what is it? This episode tries to shoehorn a “with great power (and/or knowledge) comes great responsibility” into a plot that does not accommodate it.

Normally, I would not harp on thematic weaknesses in a Saturday morning cartoon. However, I have stated before that I appreciate this show’s urge to be more than dumb action—even when the intent is muddled. But in part deux, the theme and concepts the creators try to cram down the audience’s throat distract from the action.

In this episode, Mentor, Drax, Pip, Nebula and the Silver Surfer arrive at universal library, a hub for all knowledge. Each has their own reason to be there, and much silliness ensues with green tapeworm-slug things called “virals.”

There are some basic problems with the script. Drax and Pip do nothing. Seriously, nothing. I’m not sure why the creators bothered to put Drax in these episodes. Maybe they wanted to make an action figure.

Pip continues to spout unfunny “humor.” He actually says, “Now there’s something you don’t see everyday,” and it’s supposed to be funny. I was waiting for him to don a fake mustache and a pair of Groucho Marx sunglasses and say, “What am I, chopped liver?”

There is one positive. Nebula still chews the scenery well. She could have been a scene-stealer had she not been reduced to a viral halfway through the episode.

The two-parter ends with a nonsensical conclusion. It makes me think these episodes were rushed and there was next to no time for rewrites.