Nerding Day: A Big Bad BeetleBorgs Christmas 🌭

Do you reuse bags? Separate your plastics? Slay dinner with your naked hands? Saban Entertainment did better. They reused superhero footage to make carbon neutral television. You can start recycling like Big Bad Beetleborgs, or learn to breathe methane.

Comedy Rangers are the future.

Well, probably not. Subtitles make some money now, and full remakes prevent investor panic attacks. VR TRoopers ran longer, making this the Jannetty of Saban cash-ins. But the Beetleborgs were outside the box. Of sanity.

Why’s Big Bad Beetleborgs my go-to fake topic? It’s one of the first shows I knew was weird, and only half by design. Saban warped their own wonky production model, during an odd decade, in the Saturday morning weirdness-generator. Understanding an episode should grant you US citizenship.

It moved enough toys for 88 episodes, until they ran out of remix footage. Sixteen more than Breaking Bad. At one monster per week, three kids tied Beatrix Kiddo’s kill count. Only she let that one teen go, and the Beetleborgs always got their scalps.

Playgrounds and sports bars love a good fandom scuffle. In this, the Dayles are losers. We chose the Mets, Digimon, Democrats, and Beetleborgs. I don’t know why. We moved into a pale suburb and said “this needs conflict.” The creators played both sides: Big Bad Beetleborgs looks like a Power Rangers bite because it’s another Saban/Toei crossover.

With a little extra.

Competing with yourself is the American dream, so this is the most patriotic media I’ve covered. Like many immigrants, founder/producer Haim Saban understood America’s soul. Specifically, that we need action figures to live, rarely retain details, and should do something about that Zerg Rush on Congress. That’s not a gag, he made headlines suggesting Trump-brand prison cigarettes.

That’s a little off from the other snapshots, isn’t it? Get used to that. It’s even weirder when Saban splurges on a suit:

As always, wikis cover this in more detail than the Cold War. Saban Entertainment went wide, not deep. They’re behind a few famous quarter-assed anime dubs, preempting the 4kids! model of leaving money on the table. Along with films like American Expose: Who Murdered JFK?, which I’ll bookmark for later. They also distributed Marvel shows before that money acorn grew into a proud redwood.

Surprisingly, the company started out in music. While remixing tokusatsu footage for a living is my dream, Haim had bills to pay. Naturally, Disney bought them out too, along with dreams and vowels. It sounds grim, but News Corp owned Saban while Big Bad Beetleborgs ran. The mouse was progress. Progress-ish.

But I’ve skipped something important. A basic, elemental question.

Okay, straight talk: Big Bad Beetleborgs was a kids’ action-comedy, mixing new footage with fight scenes from the tokusatsu show Metal Heroes. Metal Heroes prints money in Japan, and didn’t need another trait to inspire Saban.

Emphasis on comedy. Big Bad Beetleborgs flips the Power Rangers kick-to-schtick ratio. Our leads can’t multiply without a chart, and the nanny state won’t let them do stunts. The results almost make sense. And devote hours to a martial-arts grandma.

Actually, before I spam screenshots, let’s hit the opening theme. It’s among the most efficient summaries in a very competitive field. Not quite “robots in disguise,” but in the winner’s circle. Just a step ahead of “Holy shit, our turtle Daredevil parody prints money. We’ll never know hunger again.”

That’s the laconic cut, for executive children. Kids that knew Dad’s pin number backwards. Here’s the full version, for slow consumers:

Melody? Disastrous. Rhythm? A non-effort. Exposition? Slam dunk. You know the Beetleborgs now. Every word from here exists for punchlines. I skipped the chorus, which is just the show’s name on loop, and stuck in my head like a fucking tumor. Half my thoughts since Halloween have been “Big Bad Beetleborgs” crooned through a Fear Factory vocal filter. I’ve lost my fucking mind.

Seriously, this vocoder nightmare’s owned my brain for a month. I might drill it out.

Per the lyrics, our heroes are three comic shop slaves. Laws frown on kids in mines and payment in Spawn reissues. Then again, given what indoor children spend at comic shops, they might outearn hedge fund analysts.

The Beetleborgs are an in-universe cape comic, until the kids blow a free wish on cosplay. I’m not here to judge your dreams, but skipping immortality, world peace, or the stock genie loophole is a historic failure.

Though that’s a personal bugbear. I think every genie plot should turn into one of the weirder Dune books. This frame’s a fine junior power fantasy. Odd that it crashes into two other shows.

Our Waste-A-Wish winners? There’s Roland Williams, in charge of the best helmet and the color green. His Dad owns the comic shop, making him the rare Anime Club nepo-baby. Roland’s Metal Heroes double has a slightly different tone.

I know people like a good tokenism riff, but there are only three slots here. “Sibling” would drop backstory weight onto a premise with a bird’s spine. Let the kid’s show live.

Then there’s Jo, guardian of attitude and the color red. She alternates between throwing things and heaping abuse on her brother, so she’s got the younger sibling role down.

And Andrew. He’s…blue. The others listen to him.

In fact, it’s Andrew’s idea to explore the haunted house, where they find what the fuck is that?

Why the fuck is that?!

I get it. This is my fault. I insulted God twelve too many times. Now we have this…organism? Demon? Sin? The show calls it a “phasm,” and that doesn’t help or come back.

According to the Malleus Maleficarum, this is Flabber. It’s the Beetleborg’s all-in-one mentor, Greek chorus, personal genie, and abomination. Think Zordon on dust at a Volbeat concert. Actually, don’t. That’s an insane fucking thing to think. Why would you do that? There’s a whole world out there.

Flabber rules Hillhurst Mansion, the costume shop staff within, the Kings gang of Elvis impersonators, and reality. It also freed the main villain, making Flabber responsible for every casualty and improv sketch. There are a lot of them.

A lot.

It’s all the show’s really interested in.

The creature’s right. Enough table-setting. Let’s get back to December’s heart: maximizing Q4 sales. I wish the punchline was “or layoffs.” But it’s “And layoffs.”

You don’t need both halves of your brain to write “Christmas Bells and Phasm’s Spells.” Or recap it. Luckily, I’ve found something special. Or lost my fucking mind.

Behind the action show, hiding a comedy show, hiding an ad, hides a fourth show. A game show. You could even call it a sport. Each Big Bad Beetleborgs episode is a struggle between four Improv groups.

Team one: our heroes. They have the home field advantage, and waste it every time.

In improv tradition, each group’s name is a war crime.

Team two: our villains, the “Magnavores.” The defending champions. On a streak somewhere between Junkyard Dog and Ken Jennings.

Team three: the monsters, and whatever Flabber is. Saban went on a November Party City shopping spree, and asked five struggling actors to do their best.

Team four: mortals and civilians. The unfortunate residents of Charterville. You’d think there’d be rivers of dead, but they mostly get pantsed. Still, they have numbers, and play a crafty game.

The scoring’s simple. When I feel dopamine, one point. When I don’t care, no points. When I get angry, one-point penalty. If I laugh, ten points. That game balance looks transphobic, but it’s probably just asking questions.

I won’t lie: this is the toughest game of the season. I’m an elite Grinch. It’s arbitrary, but I’ll sound smarter if I blame materialism. Boo materialism. If I hate one thing after a lifetime of gaming, rap, and US citizenship, it’s materialism.

We start with a scrimmage between Meta-Heroes and Disney’s Haunted Man-Chin. The rivalry that defines the division. Time for one of the three children’s Christmas plots.

I feel nothing.


Meanwhile, in Charterville, the villains scream nonsense. The woman in the beret does Molotov Cocktease’s voice a decade early. The cyborg doesn’t know what show this is. I can’t even tell what the green one is meant to be. A muscular shark?

And they all hate Christmas. The Magnavores pelt civilians with Salvation Army bins.

Good times. One point. Victims get credit for the assist.

The servants of darkness check in with their manager. It’s time for their signature game: Evil Manzai. Running up the score early is a solid strategy; my brain generally dies ten minutes in.

The stupidity I live for, acted as poorly and energetically as possible. These four are having the time of their lives. The dopamine flows, against my hipster will. One point.

How’s Hill House Jr. doing?


The Beetleborgs head to Zoom Comics: Christmas Mode to get back in the game. There’s Christmas party plans, elf costumes, and a toy drive for local double-orphans. If you feel moved, you’re better than me.

The civvies bring out their hitters: the bullies.

Think a wealthy Bulk and Skull. The square root of Richie Rich and Dennis the Menace. Both teams give it their best:

It sucks. These kids learn about failure in real time. The ceiling of child stardom’s caving in, and the exit’s blocked by presents.

The Beetleborgs make a desperation move: a Flabber alliance. Three superheroes, a “phasm,” and the full Ghoul School use their godlike, reality warping powers to…set up a Christmas tree. Flabber even brainwashes Transylvanian darkspawn into loving the demiurge.

And you know what? That’s fine. It’s an old X-men bit, plus Young Dracula.

That’ll cost ya.

Meanwhile, the Magnavores give Christmas shoppers the Red Cross treatment.

I’m back in. Another goon squad point, with civilians drafting behind them.

Our heroes cut their Christmas album (“Oh Christmas Tree” and “Deck the Halls”) short when they notice the crater. I can’t dock them for singing. Punishing children for Christmas carols leads to green fur with Jim Carey’s worst voice. Lucrative, but jarring. And your dating pool gets narrow.

They find the alien empire robbing a fucking house.

Not even a Dr. Seuss fake-Santa bit. A home invasion. This is a runaway game. The Beetleborgs are lucky this month is laced with tragedy, or I’d have laughed. That said, the family shot sneaks the civilians a point.

Drafting works. Never stop cribbing from the literate kid in class.

The civilians make their big play. It’s more off-key caroling, and I can get that outside. That’s a zero.

Back at the plot, our heroes play their one card. Their rock. The specialty that carries their few wins: shattering the Magnavore’s kneecaps and taking them out of the game. They punch cheer into Team Rocket’s livers.

Compelling? Not really. But brilliant strategy. Draymond Green has a job for a reason. With a screentime monopoly, all the main cast has to do is make one joke work. With eight minutes on the clock.

Flabber’s back. Quality interference.

It’s become…whatever that is. Check the maleficarum. Flabber casts a spell in verse:

Erasing the stakes, with six minutes left. My old editor called this move a “get out of my fucking building.” Smart lady.

Maybe the civilians won’t blow a three-game lead. The bullies could spam one-liners until one joke lands. Or learn the meaning of Christmas offscreen.


Back at Hillhurst, they have three minutes to deliver one punchline.

That’s also an option. After the elf-skin suit, I’m numb to frostbite Elvis. I’ll let this Santa bit roll, and move on to covering Virgin Extinction Island. Congrats to the Magnavores for keeping the dynasty strong.

Oh, I forgot these three. It’s dumb. They’re singing ghosts that live in a pipe organ, and dress like Dreamgirls extras.

It’s dumb. They’re called the Pipettes. The kind of 1-D joke that absolutely cannot survive 88 episodes.

It’s dumb. They shout “Oooh, presents.” In unison.

I laughed my ass off.

Hillhurst Mansion fucking steals one. Despite/because of fucking Flabber. Never doubt yourself again. This Christmas miracle punched a merry hole in reality.

Happy holidays. After all this, I’ll defend two BeetleConcepts: being less of a dick for half a month, and making madness from other madness. Those are solid ideas.

This article was brought to you by our fine sponsor and Hot Dog Supreme: Flabber. I mean Flabber. Flabber. I’m trying to type FLABBER. No, F -L-A- what the fuck is happening. Patrick Herbst will you come over and type Flabber for me. F L A B B E R see it’s fuckin’ happening to you, too!

3 replies on “Nerding Day: A Big Bad BeetleBorgs Christmas 🌭”

It struck me while reading this. Flabber is the genie from Disney’s Aladdin if he were played by Jay Leno instead of Robin Williams.

That’s a good description. I tried to describe him to a friend who had never heard of this show and was half convinced it was a fever dream I was trying to explain. The best I could do was tell him to “imagine if Bruce Campbell had guest starred on an episode of LazyTown.”

Look, let me be clear: I am going to read and enjoy anything Mr. Dayle decides he wants to write about. I’ll have a great time. But I am so glad to have gotten an actual article about an actual Beetleborgs episode. I have been fascinated with this bizzare show for YEARS. And yet I never knew it has 88 episodes. This knowledge has karate chopped me in the throat. Every consecutive Flabber made me laugh. This was pure joy.

Merry Christmas. My gift is: there’s a show I am convinced was an attempt to make money off of imitating SPECIFICALLY Big Bad Beetleborgs in a kind of dillute hapsburg effect. It was called Cyberkids and it ends with most of the protagonists being disintigrated.

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