Weird Science

Season 4 Episode 1

Searching for Boris Karloff [a.k.a. She's Alive II]

0
Aired Saturday 8:00 PM Jan 06, 1996 on USA
8.5
out of 10
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Episode Summary

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Searching for Boris Karloff [a.k.a. She's Alive II]
AIRED:
Gary wants credit for bringing Lisa to life, so Lisa gives the guys the opportunity to meet someone who can understand, Dr. Frankenstein. However, Dr. Frankenstein isn't too appreciative. He doesn't want two teenage boys to have done a better job at creating life. Lisa is extremely intelligent, while Dr. Frankenstein's monster is dumber than the village idiot. What's the doctor to do? He decides to take all of Lisa's energy and use it as the basis for his "Bride of Frankenstein." Gary and Wyatt, trapped with Dr. Frankenstein, must figure out how to bring Lisa back to life.moreless

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • "Mary Shelley's 'Weird Science'." No? How about "Chris Black's 'Frankenstein'"? In any case, watch out for spoilers.

    10
    In retrospect, an episode like "Searching for Boris Karloff" seems downright inevitable. Back in "She's Alive", Wyatt and Gary were inspired to create Lisa by "Bride of Frankenstein" (one of the movies that featured the famous actor referenced in the title). Clips from that movie have also been a staple of the show's opening credits. A meeting with the doctor and his monster couldn't really seem that far-fetched, right? This meeting occurs after a Life Science experiment gone awry lands Wyatt and Gary in trouble. Flunking Life Science despite creating Lisa hardly seems logical to Gary, but blabbing the secret to anyone at Farber High would be unwise. There is only the Frankenstein option (at least according to Lisa).



    This was another solid episode. Before preparing for this review, I hadn't actually seen "Searching for Boris Karloff" in some time. I sort of remember being entertained by this episode, but I wasn't exactly jumping to see it again when I was getting to work on reviews. After the first of a few viewings, though, it looked slightly better than I had expected. While not my personal favorite overall, I would gladly call this one of the show's best and most special episodes.



    Highlights:



    - The change to the opening credit sequence. The usual stuff from "Bride of Frankenstein" at the beginning pretty much remains. Afterwards, though, we get a new shot accompanying the show logo and some black-and-white scenes that appear to be from Frankenstein movies. The font for the cast and crew opening credits is also changed for this episode. Very nice touches all around.



    - Gary's hilarious turn as Frankenstein and Wyatt's also hilarious turn as Igor during their Life Science experiment. Said experiment involves electricity and a dead frog, and it naturally goes wrong (a fire breaks out and earns the boys seats in detention). Later on and more seriously, though, they get to play Frankenstein for real in order to save Lisa.



    - Wyatt and Gary are understandably terrified upon first meeting Frankenstein's Monster (who is mostly referred to on-screen as "Creature", by the way). However, when Gary mistakes the monster for the doctor, Wyatt calmly sets him straight. I thought his shift from terror to calm was funny.



    By the way, when Lisa is soon told that Frankenstein is the doctor, she seems a bit surprised. I guess this whole thing is a play on people sometimes mistaking the doctor for the monster. That or maybe it was just exposition.



    - I appreciated the acknowledgment that Dr. Frankenstein and company don't actually exist as real people in the show's universe. Instead, Lisa simply zaps herself and the boys to "a world" (per Lisa) where they do exist. Maybe it's just me, but I think it would've been too out there to do otherwise.



    - I liked the shadow gag before Dr. Frankenstein first appears on-screen. His shadow against the wall makes him look quite spooky, but all of that was apparently caused by him holding candles while wearing towels around his head and body. I think this was inspired by that "Bram Stoker's Dracula" movie from 1992.



    - The competition between Lisa and Frankenstein's Monster to see which is better. Only three rounds are featured and, despite some effort, Frankenstein's Monster just can't keep up with Lisa.



    - Before Dr. Frankenstein unveils his new creature, there is this little exchange:



    Frankenstein's Monster: "You make man?"

    Dr. Frankenstein: "No. Woman."



    This is a nice touch referencing "Bride of Frankenstein" and the show's own opening credit sequence.



    - When ready to bring his second creation (Hausfrau, right?) to life at Lisa's expense, Dr. Frankenstein makes bold proclamations about his genius just before pulling a lever of some sort. However, instead of beginning the experiment, he mistakenly causes toast to pop out of a toaster. Personally, I thought this was hilarious. The gag sort of repeats later as Wyatt, Gary and Frankenstein's Monster prepare to restore Lisa.



    - After Dr. Frankenstein's experiment proves successful and leaves Lisa lifeless, Wyatt and Gary are locked in a cell in Castle Frankenstein. Gary comes up with a plan to anger Frankenstein's Monster into knocking the door down to free them. It works, but Gary is too short-sighted to consider the dangers of angering him.



    - There are a couple of serious moments that I felt worked well. In the cell, Wyatt believes that Lisa is lost for good, but Gary reassures him before going ahead with his short-sighted plan. Even better was before the guys and Frankenstein's Monster begin the attempt to restore Lisa. Wyatt tries to talk to and reassure her, which includes him saying, "--that the best wish you ever granted us was being our friend." His words are very thoughtful and clearly move Gary and Frankenstein's Monster, though both claim to just have something in their eyes.



    - Frankenstein's Monster punching Dr. Frankenstein out cold during the attempt to restore Lisa. It's nice to see the monster stand up for himself. It's also funny because it interrupted Dr. Frankenstein's exaggerated threat against Wyatt and Gary.



    - Once Lisa is restored, you can see a white streak in her hair ala "Bride of Frankenstein". That is a very nice touch. I think the clothes that she's wearing at this time are also supposed to invoke that iconic image. If so, then more props.



    - At the end of the episode, Dr. Frankenstein and Frankenstein's Monster are playing a game of chess. Villagers armed with pitchforks and torches soon bust in. However, they're not after Frankenstein's Monster. Instead, they take the vacuum cleaner and leave. This funny moment is followed by an even funnier moment. The chess game resumes and Frankenstein's Monster employs a clever tactic to win: knocking all of the pieces off of the board.



    - The guest performances are solid. Richard Moll is particularly terrific as Frankenstein's Monster. Now, the monster is shown in this episode to be kinda dim, a little temperamental and generally good-natured. Most could've just phoned in this kinda role (especially with the limited dialogue), but Richard Moll doesn't. He gives a strong performance that allowed me -- at the proper moments -- to find the monster sympathetic, funny, intimidating and ultimately good-natured.



    Gerrit Graham is also terrific as Dr. Victor Frankenstein. The doctor is seen here as egotistical, conniving and harsh toward his first creation. A lot of his dialogue is funny, but he also proves to not be underestimated, like when he steals Wyatt's laptop computer to further his own ends.



    - I thought that the interactions between Lisa and Frankenstein's Monster were very sweet. Lisa is kind and sympathetic toward him. Seeing how badly Dr. Frankenstein treats him, she expresses a clear desire to help him (but the doctor's fiddling with Wyatt's computer disrupts her powers before she can do anything). It makes sense for Lisa to treat Frankenstein's Monster so well, if for no other reason than because both are essentially two of a kind.



    It's also obvious that Frankenstein's Monster cares for Lisa, such as when he keeps watch over her lifeless body, practically mourning her. He soon aides Wyatt and Gary in restoring her, going as far as defying his master (the aforementioned punch) and sacrificing himself to maintain the power flow. Afterwards, the restored Lisa mourns his passing, forgetting that she can restore him until Gary brings it up. The revived monster requests a kiss, and she (a bit hesitantly) agrees, so long as there's no tongue. He obliges by simply and neatly taking his tongue out.



    Nitpicks:



    - No Chett this week and that's kinda too bad. Admittedly, I don't see any way that he could've been worked into the story, but I think it would've been funny to see him come face-to-face with Frankenstein's Monster. I'd say that Chett would freak out a little if that happened (though I'm certain that I would, as well).



    - I thought Ilsa and particularly Hausfrau were underused, which is kinda too bad.



    - The episode ends too abruptly. The scene with the chess game and the villagers is the last one before the end credits. We don't see Wyatt, Gary and Lisa return home. There's also the matter of what happened to Hausfrau. She just disappears without a trace before the episode is over and isn't even mentioned before the end credits. Dr. Frankenstein was planning to show her off in Vienna, but that trip apparently got called off (maybe she just left without him). I really don't think Lisa being restored would have any adverse effect on Hausfrau, but I could be wrong about that.



    Wrap-up:



    Like I said above, "Searching for Boris Karloff" just seems inevitable in retrospect. I wonder if TPTB almost felt obligated to try something like this. Then again, maybe they didn't. Well, in any case, I maintain that this episode is a solid and special one. Check it out if you can.moreless
Gerrit Graham

Gerrit Graham

Dr. Victor Frankenstein

Guest Star

Jim Jansen

Jim Jansen

Mr. Bailey

Guest Star

Ianthe Kabakov

Ianthe Kabakov

Ilsa

Guest Star

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