Picks and Pans Review: Hard Time on Planet Earth
About 20,000 rpm—that's how fast I figure Walt Disney has to be spinning in his grave. Walt was a good businessman, no doubt. But he never stooped to such greedy, blatant merchandising as this: Hard Time on Planet Earth is a show made by one division of Disney, and much of the action on a recent episode just happened to take place in another division of Disney—Disneyland. These days guys in suspenders and suits would call that corporate efficiency or—here's the latest biz-buzzword—synergy. I still call it a shameless plug. In Hard Time, Martin (Cagney & Lacey) Kove plays Jesse, a criminal from another planet who is exiled to earth—as if we could teach him how to be civilized. Jesse's jailer is an odd alien beast called Control, who looks like an overgrown, electronic olive that can fly and nag. In this particular, offending episode, Jesse and Control visit Disneyland for no other reason than to marvel at the place (and to subject us to that mortally irritating "It's a Small, Small World" song). "This is a kingdom ruled by a creature called Mickey Mouse," one of our aliens says. "Yes," the other replies, "and for more than 60 years, he has had a peaceful and successful reign." They have a great time until Control plays too many video games and shorts out. Then a kid takes Control home and hides it from bad scientists who want to cut it apart—and that's nothing but a steal from E.T Hard Time is devoid of imagination, plot or quality. It is just one long, bad commercial.
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