Metal Mickey (1980–1983)
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Metal Mickey didn't only have one of '80s Comedy's most bizarre title characters, but the criminally underrated Michael Stainton and the stupendously talented (and critically acclaimed) Irene Handl in its' ranks. The latter did not appear at all in series 3, and her appearances became increasingly sporadic in the closing stages of the final series' run, but the first two series (in which she was the show's main attraction besides Mickey himself), were enjoyable, harmless fun. Mickey summoning aliens, Mickey sending people back in time, Mickey bringing chaos to situations where this word had never existed before, Mickey spouting his catchphrases "Boogie Boogie" and "My Little Fruitbat"... wow, even as I think about it twenty years on, those memories of my younger life come flooding back.
Suicidally catastropohic? No way!!
The set up is a robot living in suburbia in Englands at th beginning of the 80's. He's the center of the show and too much the center at the cost of the script which is its main problem. But like My Family, a BBC sitcom, its balanced by using some really fine actors. Seeing it again it does lose a bit in now knowing that the glitzy robot is all voice coder and twiddling on a remote control. Would have been better if it was written for a slightly older audience.
When I say disappointed, I mean I tolerated it. Ok, when I say tolerated, I mean I had to be dragged kicking and screaming in front of the TV, with all the enthusiasm I'd have mustered if I was told I was to be watching Pavarotti do naked calisthenics.
Quite simply, this show sucked the big one. Hard.
Basically, it was the story of a "typical" UK family whose son built a robot to help around the house. However, I don't know any families that I wanted to slap into the middle of next week quite as much as this one. They were intensely irritating, even more so than the Diff'rent Strokes clan.
The robot (Metal Mickey) was almost, but not quite, as annoying as Crichton from Buck Rogers. Somewhere along the way, the boy who created it imbued it with artificial intelligence, so I never understood why they didn't sell the obnoxious tin monstrosity and move into better accommodation.
Mickey was vaguely humanoid but had the look of something that had been made, then squashed slightly in an industrial pressing machine. Oh yeah, and the head reminded me somewhat of R2D2's dome, though squashed and without any of the charm of R2.
Mickey had a catch-phrase of sorts "Boogie, Boogie" which, when uttered, had the cast start to dance (a truly horrifying experience). And about the voice.....about half way between normal and a dalek. And yes, that was annoying, too.
And there's more. Mickey had "magical" powers over electrical appliances and could get them dancing and doing all manner of retarded things.
Apparently this series was the brainchild of Mickey Dolenz (of The Monkees). If this is an example of his creativity, I'd seriously vote for lobotomies to be made legal again. I actually watched him babbling about the show on some flashback TV show. He was clearly passionate about the show. In fact, I'd say too passionate about something twenty years in the past. It was scary to watch him ranting and nearly drooling over the show, in the same way that it's scary to see Gary Glitter's hairstyle is STILL the same after thirty years. But enough said about Gary, the better. Some people never change.
As for Metal Mickey, it's the sort of show that, if you had a choice between being set on fire and watching the show, you'd ask for extra petrol. It's that bad.
All these years since returning to Australia (where I have never found anyone who has even heard of the series), all these years I have wondered whether I just had such fond memories of Metal Mickey as there was little else to watch.
Well today I finally received my DVD copy of Metal Mickey (Series 1) from Amazon UK. Needless to say I couldn't wait to watch it.
I am very happy to say that Metal Mickey is as charming and hilarious as I remember. 23 years later I still enjoyed it.
Some episodes are only moderately funny (like the Pilot episode), but overall it is very funny. The running gags about beetroot, declining loans, boggie-ing etc are not tiresome. Granny, dad and Metal Mickey are the stars of course.
The episode when Metal Mickey is kidnapped, Granny comes to his rescue and is kidnapped herself and Father joyfully refuses to pay the 10 pound ransom for both of them is the standout episode of Series 1 for me.
Metal Mickey is a sitcom that would appeal to everyone (young and old) and I for one cannot wait for Series 2 on DVD.
Most of the episodes are very samey, but mickey has an undeniable charm for a robot actor. Mickey Dolenz from the Monkees produced the show, but did not name Metal Mickey.
First series is available on DVD in the UK (went on sale in Feb 2008)