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Enter Dr. Viper

Dr Viper - The Giant Bacteria Reviewed
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We then cut to the swamps outside the city, which is filled with lots of big, twisted dead trees. One of these trees in particular is so large that its hollowed-out trunk contains a makeshift laboratory of some sort. Here is where we find Morbulus, hilariously still in his underpants, with Dr. Viper (Frank Welker! Yay!).

Viper is a green cat who just happens to be part snake, wearing a lab coat that appears to be about three sizes too big for him. His origins aren’t dwelt on in this episode, so we’re left to wonder why he’s half snake. At any rate, Morbulus calls him “legendary,” so he’s clearly been around long enough to have earned a reputation.

Morbulus is impressed with Viper’s fully-stocked secret lab, saying, “Looks like you’ve got everything a mad scientist needs, right here.” Oddly, Viper isn’t insulted by being called a mad scientist, and although his lab is “quite an eyeful,” Viper is still missing one thing. Specifically, a “rare biochemical compound” called Katalyst 99. Morbulus, suddenly holding a flask, offers to help him acquire it. Viper snatches the flask back from him in a cute bit, and says that they “see eye to eye.” Argh, enough with the eye puns! Speaking of which, Morbulus is shown from the side here, and while his front eyes blink, his rear ones don’t. Huh.

Dr Viper - The Giant Bacteria Reviewed

However, Katalyst 99 can only be found in Megakat Biochemical Labs. Morbulus says Viper’s out of his mind. “That building’s impenetrable!” “Up until now,” Viper says. Uh-oh. This doesn’t bode well for Morbulus. And what happens next is the scene I mentioned before that scared the crap out of me when I was a kid. Using an eyedropper, Viper draws some purplish liquid from a petri dish and puts a drop of it onto Morbulus’ arm. The liquid fizzes up and spreads over his arm and onto the rest of his body, covering him completely before long. It’s a little difficult to determine precisely what’s happening to him initially, but he appears to be turning into the purple stuff rather than it consuming him or something like that.

Dr Viper - The Giant Bacteria Reviewed

Although pretty tame by today’s standards, this bit is still pretty unsettling, because every bit of Morbulus’ transformation is shown in detail (they even show the eyes on the back of his head moving up to the front), and they seem to go out of their way to make it clear how painful it is by having him yell and scream a lot. Viper gleefully declares that Morbulus, now just a big fizzing purple mass, will be a “living test tube” for his “new bacteria strain,” and he has big plans for him, saying that with Katalyst 99, he’ll have “the power to destroy Megakat City!” The scene then ends with one final gurgling scream from Morbulus. Ugh, that was just way over the top and so not needed….

Burke & Murray

Dr Viper - The Giant Bacteria Reviewed

After that gruesome scene ends we go to a commercial, and upon returning join Chance and Jake working on Callie’s car in their garage in what is (I guess) supposed to be the early morning.

We never learn what the problem was, but we do find out that Chance has installed “turbo plugs” in the engine, something Jake advises him against, fearing he’ll “blow the engine.” Apparently the turboplugs increase horsepower in the engine, as Chance’s reasoning is that, “in case of an emergency,” Callie could use it.

Jake reiterates the “You’ll blow the engine” argument, but Chance doesn’t listen. Climbing behind the wheel, he starts the car up, saying that since he’s a pilot he knows what an engine can handle. He revs the engine, saying it “purrs like a kitten” and “growls like a tiger.”

Suddenly, there’s an explosion and smoke starts pouring from the engine. “Blows like a volcano,” Jake quips, his face all blackened and burnt, as he’d been leaning over it at the time. Why? I dunno, but considering that seconds later he’s holding a burnt turboplug I guess he was trying, too late, to remove them. He then wonders aloud what they’re going to tell Callie, and Chance assures him that he’ll “think of somethin’.” Truly these guys are master mechanics.

Dr Viper - The Giant Bacteria Reviewed

It’s here that our heroes get a most unwelcome visit from Burke and Murray, the other two guys who work at the salvage yard. Their job seems to consist of delivering scrap and making Chance and Jake’s lives miserable.

Burke (Mark Hamill!) is a big, fat guy with a stocking cap pulled down over his eyes, whilst Murray (Charlie Adler again) is a lot smaller (he’s the shortest character in the series, next to the Pastmaster) and, interestingly, has one really huge eye and one little eye. Although never actually stated, they’re supposed to be brothers according to some old, long-forgotten promotional material for the series, and I gotta admit they do look a little alike.

There’s some time-wasting nonsense with the brothers mocking Chance and Jake and Chance signing some delivery form that Murray hands him, snapping in half a pencil in annoyance, before Murray says they’ll “tell Feral you sent your looooove!” and then he and Burke speed off laughing like hyenas. This seems to imply that they’re like Chance and Jake’s babysitters or something but this subplot never really panned out, and Burke and Murray actually disappear from the series altogether before long, but I’ll talk a little more about that in the next episode.

After they’ve gone, Chance mocks them right back by mimicking Murray’s voice (something he is, not surprisingly, skilled at considering both characters are voiced by Charlie Adler). He and Jake then start digging around through the pile of scrap for anything useful, and Chance finds what appears to be a perfectly good engine (which he lifts up with impossible ease), saying it can replace the one in Callie’s car he just destroyed. How fortunate! And speaking of stuff Chance has destroyed, Jake even finds a working TV to replace the old one.

More horrific violence

Dr Viper - The Giant Bacteria Reviewed

Cut to a farm on the outskirts of the city. There’s lots of cows, one of whom is grazing all by herself over by the barn when suddenly a shadow falls over her and she moos in fear. Something big and purple steps up to her, and then we pan over to see the shadow of the monster lunge forwards and gobble up the shadow of the cow in one huge bite.

Unsurprisingly, the cow doesn’t go quietly, and a farmer (Mark Hamill again) comes out of the barn with a pitchfork in hand, demanding to know what all the noise is about. As he rounds the corner he reacts, wide-eyed, to the off-screen beastie and suddenly we cut to an extreme closeup of the episode’s title monster slurping up the cow’s tail like a noodle.

We get our first look at the full body of the so-called “giant bacteria.” It would be unfair to call it a “blob” since it’s got a definite body shape with a torso, arms, legs, and a head; it is however composed entirely of purple slime. It doesn’t really look much like a germ, though, as you can imagine. It’s main characteristics are the fact it has four eyes lined up in a row on the front of its face (remember when I said the eyes on the back of Morbulus’ head moved up front during his mutation?), and, curiously enough, a big, grinning mouth. Boy, that’s one happy monster.

I just wanna say, though, that the final version of the monster doesn’t look all that different from how Morbulus looked in the previous scene when he was still only partially transformed, so why they did this big dramatic reveal of it and only showed it in shadow until the farmer spots it is beyond me.

Dr Viper - The Giant Bacteria Reviewed

Anyway, it moves towards the farmer who raises his pitchfork (I guess) threateningly. As with the cow, we pan over to the shadows for this bit. Suddenly, Dr. Viper appears at this point and, not taking kindly to Old McDonald here, grabs the guy with his tail, which proves prehensile. Viper tells the farmer:

“I’ll teach you to tamper with my experiment,” sounding like an annoyed elementary school teacher and not an evil villain, and then feeds him to the thing. We pan back over to the actual Viper and monster, as Viper says that now that the monster has “had breakfast,” they can move on.

A word about the scene of Viper feeding the farmer to the monster. It was cut from almost every broadcast of the episode, and only restored for the recent DVD-R release.

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