Rembert Explains the ’80s: Out of This World

Editor’s Note: Welcome back to our series “Rembert Explains the ’80s.” Every so often, we’ll e-mail 24-year-old Rembert Browne a video from the 1980s that he hasn’t seen. Rembert will write down his thoughts as he’s watching it, then we’ll post those thoughts here. This week’s installment was selected by Hollywood Prospectus editor Mark Lisanti: Out of This World (Episode 2 – “Playing With the Power”). If you have an idea for a future episode of “Rembert Explains the ’80s,” e-mail us at hollywood@grantland.com.

Rembert’s Note: Every time I ask for “We Are the World,” Lisanti scoffs and digs deeper in the ’80s abyss that is his brain. I’m worried.

0:03 Oh man, this theme song is so bad.

0:10 Show: Out of This World. Well, this most certainly can’t be good.

0:11 Big ups to the Arabic subtitles on this version. Great find, Lisanti.

0:19 This looks like “Alf in Space” so far. I’m terrified.

0:35 The corny projector used in the intro sequence is blowing my mind. Was there technology before 1985?

1:04 So, what I’ve gathered from the intro is that white people might be aliens. Okay, carry on.

The theme song lyrics:

Would you like to swing on a star
Carry moonbeams home in a jar
And be better off than you are
Or would you rather go to earth
An earthling’s a creature who is plain as can be
He’s not as unique as you or me

His body comes in lots of different shapes
They say his relatives were chimps and apes
But if you take my advice for what it’s worth
You could be happy there on earth

Or would you like to swing on a star
Carry moonbeams home in a jar
And be better off than you are
You could be swinging on a star
You could be swinging on a star

Horrible. Just horrible.

1:09 ’80s shoulder-pads wow. This woman looks like Jason Pierre-Paul in a belted muumuu.

1:19 Uh-oh, a premature laugh track. That’s a horrible sign, especially when the plot of the show involves alien people.

1:30 Overacting is so awesome. It’s like you’re always watching a seventh-grade production of 42nd Street.

1:35 Not a word has been said yet. WHERE IS JEAN DUJARDIN?

2:22 This is really bad. Lazy puns, a goofball painter, slapstick high jinks … this is really bad.

2:35 Oh my. The painter got a bucket stuck to his bottom, spent six seconds trying to chase it like a dog chases its tail, and then asks the woman for help and says, “my can is stuck.” And then they go to the next scene. I really wish these Arabic subtitles took up 90 percent of the screen right now.

2:50 New scene, with a girl in bed. She is sleeping through her talking, personalized alarm clock. Weird, but not completely abnormal.

3:00 Wakes up, starts talking to the “alarm clock,” and says, “Sorry, Dad, I thought you were my alarm clock.” What.

3:02 Wait a second. Her robot dad’s voice sounds really familiar. Hmmm.

3:06 Oh, nothing, just the least normal dialogue between a human and a triangular prism dad in history:

Triangular Prism Dad: So how was your birthday? Was it a smash hit?
Girl: You made it a grand slammer. You gave me the best gift of all: this lazergenetic cube that lets me speak to you a billion miles away in another planet.
Triangular Prism Lazergenetic Cube Dad: It was either that or a cashmere sweater.

I’m stopping the conversation just to let that settle in for a second. Okay, let’s keep going. It gets better.

Girl: Just by putting my fingers together I can stop time. What a great power.
Lazergenetic Cube Dad: Yeah, it comes in handy when you’re being audited by the intergalactic revenue services.

YES! The voice. It’s either Burt Reynolds or Norm McDonald as Burt Reynolds. I have to be right.

4:10 Back in the kitchen. Big dude just walks through the door, disses painter, and then responds to the offer of “Would you like cereal, eggs, or pancakes?” with “Yes.” I like this guy.

4:45 Nothing worth laughing at, rewinding, or writing about has happened, but the main lady seems to think she’s about to win a Mercedes in a church raffle. Did these alien humans just get to Earth last week? A church raffle for a Mercedes? Even Madoff would have been taken aback by a scam that obvious.

5:12 So apparently the fact that the daughter can stop time with her fingers isn’t public knowledge. Mom knows, big guy knows, but the painter doesn’t. I swear if Alf walks out right now, I’ll never write one of these again.

5:21 Another classic Out of This World scene-ender:

Lady: Shh shhh, Phil (painter) can hear you.
Big guy: Phil wouldn’t know it if we were discussing who kill Jimmy Hoffa.
[laugh track]
Phil: [as he opens the door]: Jimmy Hoffa’s dead.
[laugh track]
[SAXOPHONE]

End scene. Wow.

5:32 I will say, the shirt that the Stopping Time Girl is wearing is awesome. I’d wear it four days a week. So far, the highlight of this show.

5:39 She just threw some pencils in the air and then touched her fingers together. The pencils froze above her head. $400 says she’s pleased with herself, then undoes her fingers and the pencils fall on her head.

5:53 Wait, this is the greatest alien skill ever. The girl is running late, so she pauses time so she can get her life together. Super selfish, but super awesome. I hope she understands that with great power comes great responsibility, because if not this could turn out to be the prequel to Chronicle.

6:04 This girl dresses pretty fly, I must say. She’s like a precursor to Clarissa, but just a little too color-coordinated.

6:07 VICTORY IS MINE. THE PENCILS FELL ON HER HEAD. WHAT AN IDIOT. You all can pay up via Western Union upon finishing this piece.

7:04 Wow. A 30-second sequence of the girl practicing her pause-the-world techniques. She’s definitely going to use these powers for evil, I can already tell. I’m hoping this show wasn’t on for more than a month, but if it was I’m sure Season 2 was just one long string of bank robberies.

0:15 The girl throws her metal wastebasket up in the air and freezes it. Why? That seems dumb. This is what happens when kids get nice things.

0:35 Girl runs downstairs, starts talking, forgets she didn’t unfreeze everyone. While this plot has already gotten old, they are really good at being frozen.

1:14 Oh man, this show is bad. Girl comes in and complains to mom that she’s bad at softball because she can’t seem to get her bat on the ball. Hmmm. If only she had the power to stop the ball right when it approached the plate and then essentially go T-ball on the league. If only.

1:21 Who is this big dude and why is he in their house? Has he replaced Burt Reynolds/Norm as Burt Reynolds as the father figure? I need answers.

2:01 So many things just happened and I need to explain them all:

1. The girl’s name is Evie.
2. If she freezes time and then taps someone, they get unfrozen.
3. Freezing time in the middle of cracking an egg is really cool.
4. The old guy is her uncle.
5. Evie is a power-hungry terrorist in the making.

2:09 Her father gave her this power, apparently because he thought a preteen girl was responsible enough to appropriately use time stoppage. She gets that as a present and I didn’t get one of the 37 Range Rovers I asked for for my 16th birthday. Life sucks.

2:45 Evie says she’s learned her lesson of responsibility, but mom still lets her switch out the uncle’s pancakes for pizza. Oh moms.

[end scene]
[SAXOPHONE

3:01 Oh, the dreaded school scene. I can’t wait to see how she acts her age and abuses her power. I’m going to go with: freezes time, steals the answer key, walks to the copy room, makes 100 copies, and then puts them in the locker of the girl that tried to steal her boyfriend, thus framing her and getting her kicked out of the school and getting her sent to Boot Camp on Sally Jesse Raphael. That’s my final answer.

3:10 What kind of school gives gift certificates for doing well in school? Isn’t that like accepting a Hummer as a college athlete? What a horrible school.

3:45 This girl is a monster. As soon as the spelling test began, she froze time, figured it out, and then unfroze time and immediately turned hers in first. This is the slipperiest of slopes. I know where this is going, I’ve seen it happen.

3:53 She won the gift certificate and some of the other kids clapped. Why? If I was one of those kids, my first guess to explain her newfound success would have been “she froze time.” I would have rounded up my goon squad of brace-faced friends and we would have paid Evie a visit en route to the carpool lane. “Evie’s not going home with that gift certificate,” says former me.

4:09 Yes, there’s one snitch in the class that hates Evie. I love that kid. I am that kid.

4:21 Back at the house, the mom is still there, still dressed like a cross between Jevon Kearse and Stevie Nicks.

4:30 The mayor is at the door, dressed like a fool, there to apologize for giving the mom a ticket on her car. Apparently the mom is mad because the mayor gave her a ticket when the car was in the garage. Cry me a river, mother of soon-to-be time-stopping assassin.

5:04 Also, I’m pretty sure this is the same living room as the one from Golden Girls. Again, like Burt Reynolds, I’m not sure but I’m probably correct, given my track record of knowing something once.

5:34 This scene is still going on. Why are they giving the mom so much shine, let’s get back to the girl. I want to see her join a gang or start a race riot or something.

5:55 This scene is still going on. Now she’s locked the mayor out of the house, and is giving a monologue to god knows who in her living room. I think she’s about to sing an aria.

6:03 Mom opens the door, and in comes Evie rushed in on the shoulders of two of her softball teammmates. I WONDER WHAT HAPPENED? I WONDER WHAT SHE WILL ATTRIBUTE HER SUCCESS TO?

6:14 Unreal, Evie. Really? After being a horrible softball player, you’re going to come out and hit six home runs. They should call this Out of This World: The Brady Anderson Story.

6:43 I think mom is about to turn on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and start rapping “No one man should have all that power” until she gets her point across. That’s what I’m going to do when I’m a mom.

6:54 Really, mom? Still not putting two and two together? What a horrible mother you are.

6:59 The scene ends with mom confused and obviously in denial.

0:43 Evie continues to use her powers for evil, and also just keeps lying to her mom. I blame the mom for not catching on as much as I blame Evie.

0:47 The snitch in the class, Quigley, just dominated his portion of the math quiz, obviously, because he’s not a cheater.

0:56 Oh look, it’s Evie’s turn. I can’t wait to see what trick she pulls out to get past this quiz she didn’t study for. I think pulling the fire alarm might be a potential play if she starts to panic.

1:11 OH NO. NO NO NO EVIE. HER FINGERS AREN’T WORKING. TIME ISN’T FREEZING. THE GIG’S UP, EVIE. YA DONE, SON.

1:45 She failed the test. Ha-ha. That’s awesome.

I hope this is a case of Mom being on to her the entire time, and reporting her bad behavior to alarm clock dad, who then shut off her powers. If that’s the case, then I take back all the horrible things I said about her being a bad mother.

2:13 Back home, with Evie talking to cube dad, apologizing.

2:27 Oh, that’s awesome. Whenever Evie misuses her power, pops can see it. That’s also awesome, because that means the mom had nothing to do with the grounding, which means she still doesn’t suspect anything, which means she’s still the worst parent ever. YES.

2:54 Dad projects Evie’s cheater game on the TV. “Welcome to ESPN, the extraterrestrial sports network.” That’s such a better acronym for ESPN. Wait, what does ESPN stand for? Am I about to get fired?

3:30 Shut up. Evie’s even worse than I thought. Instead of freezing time and then teeing off on it, she stopped the ball, grabbed it, and then threw it as far as she could. She’s the worst, but I guess that’s what happens when you’re the offspring of a horrible mother and a piece of the agrocrag.

5:04 Goes downstairs and tells mom the story. The mom doesn’t seem too upset, because she hates her family.

5:20 Mom gets a call.

5:30 MOM WON THE MERCEDES.

5:45 MOM GIVES AWAY THE MERCEDES.

5:58 This is awesome. Mom thinks Evie fixed the church raffle, because she won, so she gave away the car, not realizing that she actually won the raffle, fair and square. The mom just gave away a $40,000 Mercedes. That’s awesome. She deserves it. For creating Evie.

——

I’m not going to say much, because I’m waiting for the next episode of Out of This World to cue up. I’m in for the long haul; this might be as good as The Wire.

Filed Under: Rembert Explains, The 80S

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Rembert Browne is a staff writer for Grantland.

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