Written by Beth Bornstein
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Apart from narrating tales of courageous superheroes battling and defeating the mystical evils that they come across in fantastical settings, many episodes of the ThunderCats also touched on issues which the audience is more likely to experience in their daily lives. From stressing the importance of environmental preservation, to pointing out the dangers of drug addiction, to highlighting the value of friendship and teamwork, writers on the show have tried to incorporate a plethora of social and human experiences in their stories. Similarly, writer Beth Bornstein explores the relationship between a pet and its owner in this somewhat odd episode.
Inside Mumm-Ra’s pyramid on New Thundera, the unrelenting mummy is setting the wheels for his latest sinister scheme in motion. He un-bandages a weird looking contraption with an even weirder name – the Babylonian Barbarian Boiler! The device, which is fueled by the magical waters of Mumm-Ra’s cauldron, was employed by his ancestors to liquefy their enemies. Just like diehard fans of the show, it seems that even Ma-Mutt is getting tired of his master’s hare-brained schemes by now as he appears to be more interested in playing with the unwrapped bandages and drinking the cauldron water. Irked by his pet’s mischief, Mumm-Ra orders Ma-Mutt to get lost so that he may work in peace.
Just outside New Cats’ Lair, the ThunderKittens, Snarf, and Snarfer head out on an exploratory trip on their spaceboards into the Jungles of Darkness where they find Ma-Mutt in an animal trap. They rescue the whimpering cur and bring him back with them to the lair. At that moment, Mumm-Ra puts his hot plan into action and a beam from his crazy contraption starts melting the Cats’ Lair. Ma-Mutt tries to warn the ThunderCats about the Babylonian Boiler but before he can reveal too much, Mumm-Ra uses his magical powers to haul the treacherous dog back into his pyramid.
The ThunderCats invent a giant version of Lynx-O’s shield which Lion-O flies into the path of the melting beam using the HoverCat, hoping to deflect the intense rays. The beam proves to be too powerful and smashes the shield, throwing Lion-O off the HoverCat before he can finish his chant. Fortunately, the good ol’ Sword of Omens takes matter into its own hands and uses the Cat Signal to push the Babylonian Boiler’s beam back, and un-melt the entire Cats’ Lair.
The writers on ThunderCats have often tried to bring variety into the characters’ natures and habits without altering their original characterization. Bornstein goes overboard in this aspect, about-turning the sinister personalities of the antagonists and making them more like the bumbling villains from a “Hannah-Barbera” cartoon. “Goody goody goo drops” is not a phrase that one would expect Mumm-Ra the everliving to utter. An abundance of such ill-judged humor makes “Ma-Mutt’s Confusion” seem almost like an episode of “Dick Dastardly and Muttley in their Flying Machines” at times. This direction taken by the writer severely deteriorates what could have been a pretty decent episode.
Also Mumm-Ra has always been notorious for using his magical powers and sorcery against the ThunderCats rather than mechanical devices as he does here. A bird-brained apparatus like the Babylonian Boiler sounds more like a Vultureman invention. In fact if Mumm-Ra and Ma-Mutt had been replaced with the Mutants in this episode, then the silliness wouldn’t have seemed so out of place.
The idea of using a giant version of Lynx-O’s shield to counter the effects of the melting rays was a good concept and would have served as a satisfactory way to resolve the episode but strangely Bornstein chose to sabotage that idea half way and instead resorted to using the hackneyed scenario of the Sword of Omens fixing everything.
The animation and music are both very good but these positives are eclipsed by a plot that focuses too much on the inane love-hate relationship between Mumm-Ra and Ma-Mutt. A little bit of humor in an action-packed ThunderCats episode is always a welcome treat but dousing the entire episode in comedy was the wrong move, especially when the wrong characters are turned into jokers.
Written by Wilycub
|This episode features a rare instance of Mumm-Ra’s cauldron showing events of the future rather than flashbacks.|
|Mumm-Ra mentioning “Baked Alaska” shows off his knowledge of desserts!|
|Snarfer displays his engineering skills when he invents “Snarfer’s Interspecies Speaking System”, a.k.a SISS.|
|When Ma-Mutt talks via Snarfer’s machine, he reveals that his dog license number is 3462.|