Toomorrow (1970) (part 3 of 10)

Right, so here we go. It’s that trope where technologically superior but dickless aliens rediscover the value of emotion from a bunch of colorful Earthlings. You know, it really says a lot about us that our sci-fi essentially always boils down to, “Hey, we know we humans might not be the smartest mooks in the galaxy. But we sure can teach you a thing or two about rock-and-roll music and punching people in the face!”

God, I miss Farscape.

Sorry, where was I? Right, right, dickless aliens.

Observer snarks that “young Earthlings” produce scads of this thing you call “music,” but Uptight Superior responds that in only one case has the blending of vibrations produced curative qualities. Listen, if the name “Adam Duritz” comes up in the next sentence, I’m pulling this recap over and shooting myself.

They’ve managed to get a brief mpeg of the source of the vibrations. Uptight Superior calls up a big diamond-shaped screen on which we now get a clip of the aliens’ salvation, which is… God, I can’t say it… Toomorrow, performing “Toomorrow”! Okay, buddy, I was almost willing to buy that human music could save your people, but—hahahahahahaha!! This is the point at which Observer should punch him in the face, if only he’d only been taught to do so by John Crichton.

Caption contributed by Mark

Even dickless aliens enjoy the gentle comedy of That Thing You Do!

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We get a clip of comely Benny Thomas crooning “Toomorrow” that lasts well into the first verse, and just when this starts to get really annoying, because we heard it literally five minutes ago and hated it the first time, the screen blort-blort-blorts and cuts to another clip, this time of “Taking Our Own Sweet Time,” which sounds like what would happen if the Monkees were put in a blender with the Cowsills. Then the screen blort-blort-blorts again and we get a slice from “You’re My Baby”, the faux-Mamas and the Papas lead track on the Toomorrow LP.

During this, Observer and Uptight Superior exchange glances that come off as “I can’t believe I’m in this movie, can you?”

Uptight Superior: Are they well known on Earth?
Observer: [dripping with sarcasm] It is unlikely.

I’ll say.

Observer adds that they look “too clean and pleasant.” Harsh, alien dude. Yeah, screw you, Jimi Hendrix! Dickless aliens think you’re a slob!

Uptight Superior repeats that this is a crisis and gives Observer the job of tracking down the group and positioning them so they can be beamed up to the S.S. Spirograph before the ship’s scheduled departure in 17 “Earth hours.” So, no pressure.

Observer puts on his skin again, and a flash of light takes us briefly into Doctor Who-style howlaround graphics [?]. Then we’re zooming in on Earth, heading straight for the Sudan, and—whoops, we’re in London again. Wait, did they move London to east Africa? Because that might explain why they couldn’t find Observer right away.

But instead of returning to Observer’s house, we zoom in instead on a tiny flat downtown somewhere, where Olivia Newton-John is waking up to her alarm going off. Man, what a laggard. Observer’s already been up to the spaceship, insulted Earth, and probably gone for a jog when he got home. Get a move on! Oh, and please note the Union Jack-design alarm clock, which tells us we’re in England England England! Perhaps we will in fact need reminding later, given that Olivia’s command of her faux English accent is not exactly ironclad. There’s a plug-in tea kettle on the kitchen chair next to the bed, which tells us she’s got a really tiny apartment. I like movies that don’t make me look around and figure stuff out.

Caption contributed by Mark

I got nothing to say, but it’s okay.

She turns off the alarm, plugs in the kettle, and switches on the radio, all without really waking up. The music on the radio sounds like very random late-‘60s perky instrumental stuff, but it’s actually the instrumental version of “Toomorrow”, as performed with muted trumpets and swelling strings. So, she’s waking up to her own theme song. That’s a bad sign. Can I just go ahead and tune it out? Thanks.

More Olivia-wakes-up-slowly gags follow, as she spreads toothpaste on the shelf next to her toothbrush, then brushes her teeth, completely pasteless! Hah hah, that’s priceless. Fortunately, she realizes her mistake, and scoops up a dollop of toothpaste off the shelf and sticks it in her mouth. Crisis averted!

Next she makes several mugs of tea, warning us that we’re about to be confronted with the full membership of Toomorrow. She takes her tray out into the hallway, which is as busy as an electric conduit in Tron, bustling with a constant stream of people. She encounters a guy with a face full of shaving cream running toward the bathroom, a co-ed on her way to a sit-in (“It’s kind of fun being able to fire your own professor!”—this movie was made in 1970, you say? I’d never have known), and a bearded guy with some flags over his shoulder who calls Olivia a “little mother” (to which she replies gaily, “Get knotted!”) before arriving at Benny’s room. So we’re in a dorm or boarding house of students here, with Olivia as a sort of den mother. In fact, we’ll find out later that everyone here is a student at the nearby London College of Arts.

Benny, who is this movie’s sex god, is of course in bed with some long-haired blonde, so we get the old scene where he stalls opening the door while trying to silently shoo the blonde into a cupboard. Why Olivia would be shocked that Benny is in bed with (gasp) a girl! is unclear, unless it’s that it’s Olivia Newton-John we’re talking about here. I don’t think she even saw a man’s body until the “Physical” video.

Caption contributed by Mark

”I brought home Jane Curtin last night? I must have been drunk.”

Olivia subverts all of this by handing Benny his cuppa, then handing another one into the cupboard. She heads out, tsk-tsking at Benny. Yeah, shame on you, Benny, for being so heterosexual!

Mark "Scooter" Wilson

Mark is a history guy, a graphics guy, a guy for whom wryly cynical assessments of popular culture are the scallion cream cheese on the toasted everything bagel of life. He spends his time teaching modern history at Brooklyn College, pondering the ancient Romans at the CUNY Graduate Center, and conjuring maps and illustrations for ungrateful bankers at various Manhattan monoliths. Readers are welcome to guess at reasons why he's nicknamed Scooter, with the proviso that all such submissions are guaranteed to be rather more interesting than the truth. Mark lives in the Midwood section of Brooklyn with a happy-go-lucky, flop-eared dog named Chiyo who is probably, at this very moment, waiting patiently for her walkies.

Multi-Part Article: Toomorrow (1970)

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