Season 2, Episode 6, “Playtime”
Plot synopsis (blatantly stolen from Wikipedia): A distant call for help pulls the seaQuest through an underwater anomaly, propelling the boat 225 years into the future where they find that mankind has destroyed itself, leaving only two teenaged kids as the only Human life left on Earth.
I am unabashedly excited for this one. It was my favorite episode back in the day for reasons which will shortly become clear. It’s also the episode people point at when they talk about the show going downhill.
00:00:10: We start with Piccolo, Dagwood, and Lucas watching 1960s dance videos. It’s…great? Apparently Lucas doesn’t understand the appeal of mini skirts. It’s bizarre. Last week he was perving on Piccolo’s mother. Last season he had a girlfriend. Now he’s all, “Dancing girls in skirts? Whaaaa?” It’s almost like the show has forgotten about that whole character development thing and everything is just a random collection of words and moving pictures.
Then Piccolo hits a button that transmits the song all over the ship. That seems like a really dumb button to put in the cafeteria.
Then a big anomaly jumps up out of the ocean at seaQuest. A big anomaly transmitting the SOS in Morse code. It’s an episode of Star Trek, but underwater! Also, the special effects are terrible.
The anomaly is, apparently, nothing. This freaks everyone out because they’re unaware of the fact that they’re on a 1990s sci-fi serial and the solution will be found during Act II and they’ll get back through the anomaly with three minutes to spare.
00:07:00: Dr Smith has joined the crew on the bridge. You know, in case they need a telepath to scan the nothing. But at least they have the disembodied voice of a child calling for help to keep them company. So that’s neat.
00:08:30: Brody, Ortiz, Piccolo, and Henderson head out in a zodiac to figure out where the signal came from. Because that’s the group you want doing that.
00:09:30: The away team finds out that there’s no one around.
Oh! My! God! Giant fire shooting hover-thing!
00:10:55: Now they can hear the disembodied voice out in the open. That’s a good sign, right? But then they hear old-timey music coming from a nearby house.
There’s a Victrola in a box. Piccolo touches the box and it disappears, instead becoming a talking newspaper. It claims the year is 2215.
Then Brody calls the ship and finds out it’s 2245. The plot thickens.
00:14:30: They end up at some sort of college campus, wherein they’ve tracked down the distress signal. They discover that it’s a computer. That means it’s Lucas time!
00:15:30: Cut to video of some sort of infected guy and dudes in hazmat suits. Some sort of virus killed everyone starting in 2225. Also Lucas discovered that a computer basically ran the planet. So that’s neat.
This starts a terrible technology v. nature argument between Lucas and Smith/Bridger. Oh, god, the ‘90s.
00:18:25: Back to seaQuest. Ford’s plan is to blow up the anomaly. That’s brilliant! Ted Raimi agrees with me.
The torpedoes, they do nothing! Raise your hand if you’re surprised.
00:19:55: Cut to a commercial for a video game console that has graphics straight out of those ‘80s arcade boxes where they used live footage and terrible graphics to save money and processing speed. Good to see technology hasn’t increased in 200 years.
00:21:50: The building starts to shake. Oh. Hell. Yeah.
00:22:50: They discover the BattleMechs are being remotely controlled from nearby. That, of course, means that our heroes have to go run around between the feet of said BattleMechs, complete with terrible graphics. Of course that also means that now the ‘Mechs are wherever our heroes are, in spite of the fact that they were nowhere around for the first twenty minutes of the episode.
00:25:00: Brody figures out that the ‘Mechs aren’t trying to kill the seaQuesters, but fighting each other.
00:26:00: Back to Lucas and Smith arguing over the beauty of technology.
Then the computer starts talking. It informs Smith, Bridger, and Lucas that it opened a “Mobius Hole” in the ocean and summoned the seaQuest. Because that’s a thing. I swear that the writers just took a shitload of cocaine and then used one of those refrigerator magnet sentence thingies.
00:28:05: Brody and Henderson get to a house. There’s a kid using a VR console who electro-traps them. Turns out that Ortiz and Piccolo have ended up in a similar place.
00:29:45: Lucas joins the ‘Mech fight!
We’re then treated to about seventeen minutes of special effects of ‘Mech guns. Then Lucas takes both of them out. He’s super excited. Bridger and Smith look all worried.
00:31:00: The game playing boy is pissed. He also looks kind of like Matt LeBlanc.
00:32:05: Ortiz, Smith, Bridger, and Lucas now have the girl at the computer console room. She’s all worried and whatnot.
00:33:05: Lucas explains that there was a virus and people stayed indoors and played games all the time, rather than going to, like, bone and whatnot.
00:34:25: We discover that the two kids are the last humans on Earth. And they don’t like each other. Or the seaQuesters.
00:35:50: The kids bond with Darwin. Because that’s Darwin’s job. Also they don’t like touching.
00:37:50: We get the science-y explanation of how the time travel thing happened. We find out that the past no longer exists, because the past can’t exist without the future and the future can’t exist without the past. So they need to ensure that there’s a future. Because, y’know, if humanity dies out then time will stop forever.
00:39:20: The plan: get the last two teenagers on Earth to bone. But there’s a catch. They’d rather go play video games instead.
00:41:00: The computer tells Lucas he has to kill it so the children can grow up. And bone. And repopulate the Earth. You know, two teenagers who literally don’t know how to live without their computers. And don’t even get me started on the complete genetics fail inherent in this plot point. If the computer is so damn smart it has to know that’s going to last all of, oh, one generation.
Also, the computer is now lecturing Lucas about how much technology sucks. Because HOLY SHIT, LAY IT ON THICK, seaQuest!
All Lucas needs to do is pull three glass rods out of the computer. That’s convenient.
00:43:45: The whirly thing that cut them off from the past disappears.
Now everyone can go home and two hopelessly incompetent teenagers can bone in peace.
I’ve seen the future, and it’s covered in jism.
Also, ignore the plot hole about how the now-deactivated computer opened the time portal. So either it will stay open forever or…um, I guess that since no one else thought about the implications I don’t have to, either. Hooray!
So, yes, that was “Playtime.” I thought it was awesome back in the day because BattleMechs. I still think it was one of the best season 2 episodes so far because it just kind of breezed along without getting in its own way. I mean, it’s dumb as hell and doesn’t have Dom DeLuise, but I was entertained, which is more than I can say about the rest of season 2. Although whenever time travel shows up on a sci-fi show that’s not explicitly about time travel bad things happen. So I suppose this could be the jump the shark moment. You know, assuming that the show didn’t already jump the shark with the stupid GELFs and their stupid evolution into regular humans because evolution “decided” to do so.
Now that I think about it, I’m pretty sure the title is a double entendre. That’s neat, too.