Tandy Computer Whiz Kids: The Computer That Said No to Drugs
August 18, 2014
Featuring Mr. Computer in a performance that won him an Oscar!
Linkara: Hello, and welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall, where bad comics burn. So, the last time I talked about the Tandy Computer Whiz Kids, things got a little... crazy.
(Cut to footage of Linkara's video on "Tandy Computer Whiz Kids: A Deadly Choice", which shows a montage of him having a meltdown over the comic's nonsense and plot holes, all set to The Wurzels' "Combine Harvester". Among other things, he cries while slapping himself with the comic, he gets into a staring match with a Weedle doll, he sobs while hugging a teddy bear, and he dumps out a bag of colored balls over his head. Then we cut back to the present-day Linkara)
Linkara: I'm still finding balls all over the place. But hey, I was being exposed to probably too much of the Tandy Computer Whiz Kids at once. Perhaps we need a... smaller amount of them.
(Shots of Linkara's past reviews of the Tandy Computer Whiz Kids comics are shown as Linkara gives a recap of them)
Linkara (v/o): In case you've missed the previous episodes featuring them, the Tandy Computer Whiz Kids are Alec and Shanna, two of the most brainwashed children ever trapped in a time loop, doomed to forever repeat their first day of school back from summer vacation until their scarred minds finally succumb to madness. They've teamed up with Superman and Wonder Woman, all the while extolling the virtues of Tandy electronics, while simultaneously belonging to several groups and clubs dedicated to physical fitness and combating drug use. They're lame, they're plants by the school, or they're just victims of the school. Whatever theory makes the most sense to you, just go with it.
Linkara: So let's dig into (holds up today's comic) "The Tandy Computer Whiz Kids: The Computer That Said No To Drugs". Oh, and of course, welcome, my friends, to "PSA Hell"!
("PSA Hell" title is shown. Then we cut to the AT4W title sequence. The title card has a commercial for the Tandy TRS-80 computer from Radio Shack playing in the background)
Commercial Announcer: The Tandy TRS-80 model 2000 personal computer from Radio Shack, designed to meet your personal computing needs. It's faster.
(Cut to a closeup of the comic's cover)
Linkara (v/o): This could possibly be the worst Tandy Computer Whiz Kids cover since "Fit To Win". That one was badly structured, yes, but this one has the problem of being completely disconnected from what these books are supposed to be about. Yes, there is a boat in this comic, and these guys are on said boat, but when you see a comic called "The Tandy Computer Whiz Kids", and the story is called "The Computer That Said No To Drugs"...
(Editor's note: "Apparently I noticed that it was plural 'Computers' until now.")
Linkara (v/o): ...wouldn't you think the cover would actually feature a computer?! Oh, and by the way, this is starting to bug me: "Alec and Shanna Starring In...". Are there any other Whiz Kids?! Like, at all?! Because it's always Alec and Shanna! And I wouldn't mind that, except they keep specifically pointing out it's Alec and Shanna. But why even bother if they're the only two Whiz Kids?! Also, today's forecast: clear skies with a chance of the sun exploding.
(The comic opens to the first page)
Linkara (v/o): We open on a boat, where the three guys on the cover are talking.
One of the guys: Hey, Joe– this's gotta be one of the slickest smuggling jobs in the country!
Linkara: (as this guy) I can't wait to cash in my 401K from this job!
Joe: You're catching on, Kent! I'll bet the police and Coast Guard are going crazy trying to figure it out!
Linkara (v/o): And what is this clever plan that is baffling both the police and the Coast Guard? They're using the Intracoastal Waterway, a 3,000-mile inland waterway that stretches along several parts of the Eastern Seaboard all the way to Texas, to smuggle drugs around. Uh, that's regularly used by commercial barges and recreational boaters. Either you're very stupid or the authorities are very stupid. And frankly, I can believe either option at this point.
Drug lord [Ali]: The way I see it, we stand to make a million bucks on this trip alone... if you two guys don't goof up your end of the job!
Kent: You don't have to worry about us, Ali!
Joe: Yeah, you can count on us, boss!
Linkara: (as Ali) Good! (holds out arms) Now put on these clown suits and dance around for a bit! (as Joe) Um, boss, that wasn't part of the pla– (as Ali, exasperated) Look, my plan is very clever! Now start dancing or everything else is ruined!
Linkara (v/o): We cut over to the Coastal City Elementary School, where, shock of all shocks, this is not the beginning of a new school year. Unfortunately, none of these rebooted school years have been interesting, so we're still stuck with these losers.
Ms. Wilson, the teacher: Good morning, class. Well, I see we have full attendance today– but then, I knew nobody would want to miss today's session...
Linkara: (as Ms. Wilson) After I threatened your lives if you didn't attend...
Ms. Wilson: ...considering the three surprises I have in store for you!
Linkara: (holding up three fingers, as Ms. Wilson) Three pop quizzes! Now shut up and get to work on them! Ms. Wilson has to get a few drinks in her to forget her wasted life babysitting you cretinous monkeys! (makes a drinking motion)
Alec: Don't keep us in* waiting, Ms. Wilson! The suspense is killing me!
- NOTE: Alec doesn't say, "...in waiting...", only "...waiting...".
Ms. Wilson: Ha ha! It can't that bad, Alec...
Linkara: (as Alec) But it is, Ms. Wilson! I literally can't feel the left half of my body! (looks at the left side of his body) I think I'm having a heart attack! (he falls over on the couch)
Ms. Wilson: I'd be happy to introduce you to the newest member of our class... our new Tandy Color Computer 2 with color disk drive... a DWP-210 Daisy Wheel printer and color Scripsit... an RS-232 Program Pak and DC-I modem!
(Cut to a clip of Star Trek IV: The Journey Home)
James T. Kirk (William Shatner): Is that a lot?
(Cut back to the comic)
Shanna: Oh, Ms. Wilson, that's so exciting!
(Cut to a clip of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 gang watching Are You Ready For Marriage?)
Mike: (laughs) No, it isn't.
(Back to the comic again)
Alec: I'll say! That's the neatest thing I've seen in a long time!
Linkara: He said the same thing about his pencil eraser. Alec is just very easily entertained.
Alec: Er... Except for one little detail... What is color Scripsit?!?
Shanna: Haha! It's an easy-to-use word processing program, Mr. Know-It-All!
Alec: Uhhh...right! That's what I was going to say.
Linkara (v/o): And check it out. It looks like he's holding his head and looks utterly confused and baffled.
Linkara: (as Shanna) Ms. Wilson, I think Alec's brainwashing is starting to wear off. (as Ms. Wilson) Oh, don't worry about that, Shanna. I can fix that in a jiffy! (holds a drill and turns it on, making a whirring sound)
Linkara (v/o): Ms. Wilson then asks Shanna what they can do with Scripsit.
Shanna: Well, you can use both small and capital letters to print like a typewriter– and also insert letters, words, sentences, and even whole paragraphs!
Linkara: (gasps exaggeratedly) Whole paragraphs?! What dark sorcery is this?!
Linkara (v/o): And seriously, I get comparing it to a typewriter because this was still relatively new technology, but why point out it can use both upper and lowercase letters, and then right afterwards say you can insert letters? Are there three different letters, or does it just default to wingdings for the font? Another classmate asks what else the computer can do.
Shanna: You can get learning programs for the Tandy Color Computer 2 to teach you about math, reading, science, and games...
Linkara: (as Shanna) You can learn about games, but you can't actually play them.
Shanna: ...and color graphics, too!
Linkara (v/o): You can learn about color graphics? Huh, it's almost like there's a comma splice there, and the ending part of the list has two "ands".
BECAUSE POOR LITERACY... SHOULD NOT BE HAPPENING IN A COMIC MEANT TO EDUCATE CHILDREN.
Linkara (v/o): We follow all that up with stuff we've already seen before in these comics, like you can hook up your computer to a very primitive online encyclopedia, but forget about that, because there's even more surprises that people are overly excited about for some reason. We cut over to the Coastal City marina, where the Boat of Ingenious Ideas makes dock. They have even more brilliance for the smuggling.
Ali: Hustle over to the County Auditorium where the Science and Technology Exhibition opens day after tomorrow– and volunteer like a "good citizen" to help unload and set the exhibit up!
Linkara: (as Ali) Because they're obviously going to allow random citizens to assist in unloading and setting up their new and expensive technology exhibits! (beat; normal voice) That's totally what they're going to do, aren't they?
Ali: And Joe, you scout the local computer stores for a Daisy Wheel Printer Box...
Linkara: (as Ali, pointing to camera) Only that specific kind of printer will do! I'm making a Hack-intosh! (grins evilly)
Joe: Who'd ever suspect a traveling science exhibit of carrying a box of costly drugs for us smugglers!
Linkara: (as Joe, loudly) Let me just be sure to LOUDLY ANNOUNCE THAT FACT on this public marina!
Linkara (v/o): He then instructs Joe to pick up another order later that night from...
Ali: ...our friend at 27 Canal Street! He's also supposed to give us another page of those chicken scratchin's code for our next job!
Linkara: (as Ali) I just hope we get the right code cipher this time. Last time, it was just a message about drinking Ovaltine.
Linkara (v/o): Also, I just noticed that not only is this guy bald, but he's also got this same kind of upturned eyebrows that Professor X has. Back at the school, Ms. Wilson informs the kids that their next surprise is a special visitor from the Coastal City Police Department, who's going to tell them all about the dangers of drug use.
Linkara: (yelling exasperated) IF YOU'RE JUST GONNA REPEAT THE SAME PLOT POINTS OVER AND OVER, WHY DID YOU EVEN BOTHER MAKING MORE THAT (holds up index finger) ONE COMIC?!?
Student: Who is it, Ms. Wilson?!
Ms. Wilson: Someone I believe a few of us are already familiar with...
Linkara: (as Ms. Wilson) After we got busted from that pyramid scheme we tried to launch last year.
Linkara (v/o): No, it's Detective Shaw, in all his Burt Reynolds-esque glory.
Shanna: We haven't seen him since we helped capture that terrorist group a few months ago.
Linkara: (incredulously) Why is it that I trust the Tandy Computer Whiz Kids with capturing terrorists more than the Fixer in "Holy Terror"?
Text: In last year's Whiz Kids adventure, "The Computer Trap!"
Linkara (v/o): Yyyeah, in case you hadn't figured it out yet, we've actually been jumping around a lot with the Whiz Kids comic continuity.
(Cut to a shot of the cover of "The Computer Trap")
Linkara (v/o): From what I can tell, "The Computer Trap" is actually the very first "Whiz Kids" comic and was made in 1984, with this issue being the second. Hell, they were still called the TRS-80 Computer Whiz Kids in that one. Well, I say the first one. It's the earliest one printed by Tandy in conjunction with Archie.
(Cut to a shot of the cover of "The Computer That Saved Metropolis")
Linkara (v/o): "The Computers That Saved Metropolis", which I reviewed a few years ago, seems to be the earliest one ever made at 1980. Not that any of this continuity matters; things change all over the place, not just the "we keep coming back from summer vacation" thing; stuff like Shanna's hair color and style, the name of the damn school and its location, whether or not Alec and Shanna are siblings. It's very loose.
(Cut back to "The Computers That Said No To Drugs")
Linkara (v/o): But with that in mind, why even bring up that they met Detective Shaw in a previous comic if you're not gonna have tighter continuity? Ugh! Anyway, Ms. Wilson tells Shaw that the kids are anxious about what he has to say. I can tell, too, since Alec and Shanna still haven't returned to their seats.
Det. Shaw: I hope so, Ms. Wilson... because I'm here to talk to you about a matter of life and death... YOUR OWN!
Linkara: (as Det. Shaw) I'm here to talk to you about the miracle of MYLAR, dammit!
Shaw: I don't suppose there's a single one of you kids who hasn't heard something about drugs and people who use them... probably from your own friends, in many cases!
Linkara: I'd make a joke involving Snowflame, but I kicked him out of the apartment for a week after he tried to turn two of my Cybermats into his new fuzzy slippers.
Shaw: That's right – people your own age are into narcotics these days... and it's not a problem confined to so-called "junkies" and "poor people"!
Linkara: (as Det. Shaw) If it was, we wouldn't give a crap.
Shaw: These days, drug use has crept into all parts of our society... from the very poor to the very rich... even the kids you see every day in school!
Linkara: (as Shaw) Trust no one, children! Drug addicts are scheming to destroy your lives even as we speak! (as one student, cowering in fear) Ms. Wilson, Det. Shaw is scaring me! (as Shaw) You should be scared, you little bastard, because you're probably a drug yourself! (laughs) I will find you and destroy you! I AM YOUR WORST NIGHTMARE, BROUGHT TO TERRIFYING REALITY!!
Shaw: And there are as many kinds of drugs as there are people who use them... Marijuana... PCP, or "angel dust"... cocaine... pills...
Linkara: (as Shaw) There's even a drug called (makes "air quotes") "China Cat"! (as a student) Okay, now we know you're full of it.
Linkara (v/o): He just goes on like this for two damn pages. The comic is literally giving us a lecture! And yes, combating drug use is important, but get this...
Shaw: Maybe speeches like these sound scary... but they should! I'd rather scare you with words then [sic] see your life wrecked by drugs!
Linkara: (as Shaw) Live your lives in fear, children! Don't make rational decisions, just be afraid! BE VERY AFRAID!!
Linkara (v/o): To further emphasize that, a question is asked about if even trying it once is dangerous.
Shaw: ...but would you taste just a little bit of poison to find out what it's like?
Linkara: Well, that depends. Is my name Socrates?
Linkara (v/o): So yeah, the kids all proclaim (dramatically) they will say no to drug use, even a little bit! Why, perhaps they'll even set up some kind of hotline to combat it that will lead to very stupid shenanigans! But no, that would just be silly. A beeping interrupts the lecture, and Det. Shaw says he has to leave.
Shanna: I recognize that... It's a Tandy Pocket Pager!
Shaw: It sure is...
Linkara: (as Shaw, pretending to hold up a pager) It's technology that will soon become obsolete, save for doctors or the like. But in the meantime, you should encourage your parents to get it. This one is almost as big as my face!
Linkara (v/o): Believe it or not, we're not even at the halfway point for this thing. Investigative reporter Judy Baker is on her way to her car.
Judy: (thinking) Well, I sure wasted my time with that last interview!
Linkara: (as Judy) That Nirvana band isn't going anywhere. I should just tell my editor that nobody showed up.
Linkara (v/o): However, she spots two of the drug smugglers and recognizes them from a story the paper ran last month about their release from prison. And since they're at the marina, she figures they're up to no good and follows them to their boat, where Professor Ecstasy, or whoever evil bad guy is, is sleeping. Back in the classroom, Ms. Wilson describes her final surprise...
Ms. Wilson: ...a special field trip the day after tomorrow to the travelling science and technology exhibit at the county hall, sponsored by the Electronics Corporation!
Linkara: Ah, yes, I love the Electronics Corporation, which manufactures such objects like the electronics device.
Ms. Wilson: Also, the exhibitor* manager asked whether Shanna and Alec, our Tandy Computer Whiz Kids, might be excused from class tomorrow to help set up the exhibit– as well as act as student guides the next day when it opens!
- NOTE: Ms. Wilson actually says, "exhibits", not "exhibitor".
Linkara: (as Ms. Wilson) Remember, children, only they are special. The rest of you have a life of mediocrity before you.
Linkara (v/o): Are they the only kids in this class who are skilled with the damn computers? Shanna asks if they can be excused for it because she and Alec have long since been broken by the system and live now only to serve their true masters, the Tandy Corporation.
Alec: Wow! This is gonna be fun, Shanna!
Ms. Wilson: Let's not get carried away now, Alec! You've still got to get through today's classes!
Linkara: (as Ms. Wilson) There will be no more fun, Alec, or (pretends to hold up ruler) you'll get the broad side of this ruler (makes a whacking motion with it) up your head!
Linkara (v/o): And so, they begin their next lesson: more stuff on computers.
Girl: Wow! Another lesson on the computer!
Alec: Did you ever think school could be this interesting?
Linkara: I'm still waiting it for to be, and I haven't been in school for years!
Linkara (v/o): Back over to Judy Baker, she starts searching the boat – because "investigative reporter" is also apparently code for "breaking and entering" – and manages to locate a sheet of barcodes and a detailed plan on their next drug shipment, which of course they wrote down, being such geniuses and all. They're gonna hide the drugs in a Daisy Wheel Printer Box, stashed away with other computers and equipment boxes for the traveling exhibit. And since she has to get this information to her paper as quickly as possible, she fortunately has a "briefcase size Model 200".
Judy: (thinking) It's a computer I can take everywhere I go!
Linkara: (making a waving motion with his hand) Suspension of disbelief broken!
Linkara (v/o): Using the boat's phone, along with the (dramatically) Tandy Acoustic Couplers – hint, hint – (normal again) she starts transmitting a text message to the computers at her newspaper office. Unfortunately, she apparently can't type very quickly. This was probably in the days when people thought typing on computers was accomplished only with the index fingers, as seen in TV and movies. And she only gets a few details of the plans out, including the name "Ali Gurka". I'm guessing Ali is "Evil Professor X", which I much prefer as a nickname and will continue to refer to him as such. Her editor is puzzled by the message before she's interrupted by Evil Prof. X, who takes her hostage. Deciding to make use of her, Evil Prof. X calls the police station and demands a ransom of (as Dr. Evil) one million dollars (normal again) and an airplane for Miss Baker. The next morning, Alec and Shanna are off helping out the exhibit.
Alec: Whew! This is sure harder than sitting in class, huh, Shanna?
Linkara: (exasperated) The only two things you ever do in class are play with computers and get lectured at about drugs! Unless it's difficult because of boredom, what's so damn hard about it?!
Shanna: Yes– but it's fun... and educational, too!
Linkara: (even more exasperated) Stop pretending that's how kids think! Okay, okay, seriously now, we could stop reading this (puts comic aside) right now, you know? You want fun and educational crap? I've said it before. (holds up a CD-ROM game of...) Museum Madness! I have my copy right here! (holds it up in front of camera) You know, it's got a robot, and you have to rebuild museum exhibits with– with lasers and knives and, uh... (looks at CD-ROM closely) Hmm... (becomes disappointed when he sees the case is empty with no disc) Apparently, I lost the disc for it. Well, never mind, then. (puts down CD-ROM and picks up comic again) Let's continue.
Linkara (v/o): The kids spot Detective Shaw and ask what's up. He explains how Miss Baker was kidnapped, because it is important to trust kids with this information and then worry them.
Linkara: Oh, I'm serious. This is still in the early days of home computing, when children knew more about technology than their parents did. It's good to have child advisors on hand at this point.
Linkara (v/o): Unfortunately, their contribution is stupid when relating to police work. Shaw tells them about the clues they have, and Shanna recognizes the name "Ali Gurka". As such, she accesses a Tandy Color Computer 2 from the exhibit, uses the modem to access a data information service, and finds the name from a news story about the smugglers being paroled. They then tell Shaw about it.
Shaw: Gurka! I should've recognized it immediately!
Linkara: Uh, yeah, you should have! What's more, why the hell didn't you run a make on the name as soon as you got it?! This is basic police work! A friggin' Radio Shack computer just kicked your ass, Shaw!
Linkara (v/o): And indeed, upon learning this fact, they head over to the police station and use the computers there to access their files and figure out the boat stuff, particularly because they've used boats for their smuggling before.
Linkara: Damn! (snaps fingers) How could they have seen through their clever ruse of using a boat on widely-used waterways when that's exactly what they've done before?!
Linkara (v/o): And so the cops organize a SWAT team outside of the boat and even dispatch divers to head under the boat and get on board without attracting attention. The smugglers plan to keep Baker until they're on the plane as insurance. Outside, the cops wonder how they're gonna get her out of the boat when the guys are all armed and could threaten Judy as they wish.
Linkara: Perhaps you should have given some more thought to the plan of a heavy police presence right outside their boat until you figured that part out.
Linkara (v/o): Evil Prof. X sends the other two guys out to make sure nobody sneaks up on them, and one of the divers, who had climbed up onto the boat, spots them and realizes that if they see the cops, they'll alert Evil Prof. X. As such, he has the convenient Tandy laser gun. I'm not kidding. What the hell else could this thing be? He shoots it at the two and stuns them like a friggin' phaser. And since two of the kidnappers are down, Shaw decides now is the best time to alert the kidnappers that they're there. So naturally, the guy gets desperate and starts trying to figure a way out, even threatening that he'll kill her if they try to come in. However, he quickly panics and abandons that plan, running out and surrendering to the police, because I guess just grabbing her and holding a gun to her head and demanding safe passage to the airport was not an option this brilliant strategist had considered.
(Cut to the well-used clip of Patton)
Patton: (looking out through a pair of binoculars) You magnificent bastard, I read...
(Cut back to the comic, however, before Patton can finish)
Linkara (v/o): No, we're not doing the Patton clip; he doesn't deserve it. And so, Evil Prof. X is taken into custody, Judy is rescued, and our comic ends with utter ridiculousness. As the science and technology exhibit opens, a special ceremony is given to congratulate Alec and Shanna for their assistance in the matter. Yeah, their assistance. The assistance that ANY COP WITH SENSE WOULD HAVE FIGURED OUT! They looked up an old newspaper article! That's it! And who the hell is this woman on stage? According to the final panels, she's supposed to be the mayor. I'd say she was voted out between now and the "Fit to Win" comic, since there's a different mayor there, probably because of wasteful spending on awards to dumbass kids, but that mayor was just as lame!
Alec: Gee, thanks, Your Honor! But we also had help from a Tandy Color Computer 2... using it to find information about the smugglers!
Linkara: You know what makes this even worse? Alec shouldn't get anything! If we're really handing out merit certificates for this, Shanna was the one who spotted Shaw and was the one who thought of the idea for looking up info on the guy and was the one who did so! Alec was completely superfluous!
Shanna: We're just glad to help, ma'am! We learned a valuable lesson... that the best way for anyone to fight drug smuggling is to say "No!" to drug use!
Linkara: (yelling) AT ABSOLUTELY NO POINT IN THIS COMIC WERE YOU OFFERED DRUGS! (snaps comic shut and holds it up angrily) THIS COMIC SUCKS!
Linkara (v/o): The artwork is passable at best, but there are several panels featuring the dead and wide-eyed stares of the Whiz Kids that will haunt your dreams for the next week. The writing is insipid and asinine, trying to keep children frightened and traumatized, instead of just explaining calmly the dangers of drug use. The characters act like morons, Miss Baker breaking and entering private property, Det. Shaw not doing basic police work, the criminals and their "clever" smuggling ideas, and the Whiz Kids are the same Children of the Damned they've always been. To make matters worse, THE TITLE IS A COMPLETE LIE! No one is offered drugs, certainly not a computer, and not a single computer said no to drugs! I mean, I didn't expect them to offer drugs to a computer, but with a title like that, you expect Mr. Computer in this thing having to learn a lesson about to learn a lesson about drug use or something.
Linkara: He could even write a tell-all book about it later: "A Million Little Circuits". (throws comic, gets up and leaves)
(Credits roll, to footage of a Tandy computer commercial)
Announcer: It's the dawn of a new era in microcomputer technology: the Tandy TRS-80 Model 2000 personal computer from Radio Shack, designed to meet your personal computing needs. It's faster, with higher resolution, more storage, and greater expandability than IBM's PC. Its ultra-high performance gives you the leading edge of Radio Shack's computer technology. The Tandy TRS-80 Model 2000 personal computer, the dawn of a new era in personal computer.
(Another Tandy commercial is shown, this one of two kids coming home from school)
Announcer: Some people have big plans after school. You know what Eliot's gonna do? Jeff, too! Eliot's at work on a book report, using Scripsit on Radio Shack's Color Computer 3. It hooks up to his TV. And Jeff's at his Radio Shack Color Computer 3, playing the newest football game. But wait! What's Eliot doing playing new Super Pitfall? And Jeff's having a blast with the new Math Tutor. You never know what you might try with more than a hundred programs for fun and learning. Radio Shack's Color Computer 3 comes with everything you see here. Other items sold separately. Only at Radio Shack.
I'm still a little unclear on what the plan was – have a box of drugs be carried by the technology exhibit and then sold to the different towns? What happens when someone the box to check the printer?
What was the significance of the barcodes and whatnot? Was that supposed to be setting up another Whiz Kids comic?
I seriously did lose my copy of Museum Madness. I'm kind of annoyed by that.