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Abominations: I saw this on the screen of the guy sitting next to me on the plane (that 36 channels of DirectTV really is a curse). The Three Robonic Stooges. Hanna-Barbara cartoon from the seventies. No, wait, it gets worse. In this Hanna-Barbara cartoon from the seventies the Three Stooges are given Inspector Gadget-style abilities so they can catch spies. But they can't because they're incompetent. But somehow they end up doing it anyway.

I could buy the robonic (were they trying to get a trademark?) modifications if the show took place in a Harrison Bergeron society, where as a matter of social policy people at the Stooges' level of competence were given special abilities to bring them up to the level of the general population. But it ain't so. There aren't even any Three Laws of Robonics. The only thing this cartoon has going for it is that according to IMDB, the guy who dispatches the Six Million Dollar Stooges is code-named Agent 000. The show predates and has the same basic plot as Inspector Gadget (minus the PSAs, but if you started doing PSAs after Stooges shorts you'd never be able to stop). You think that'd be worth something, but it's not.

Obviously the Stooges are not some wonderful cultural icon that has been demeaned by this stupid cartoon, but that doesn't excuse anything. Though by any measure the Stooges come up short when compared to the Marx Brothers, they have the same basic dynamic, and it's one you don't see enough anymore. Characters with no marketable skills, who cling together more through inertia than attraction or synergy. Coveting a position in high society, they end up going for it because they've seen that nothing really separates them from the current inhabitants of high society (who have no marketable skills either). But their plans are jeopardized by their own self-destructive behavior. <-- This paragraph doubles as my "outreach" attempt to explain to women the appeal of the Stooges, such as it is.


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