We are about to go on “an adventure in learning manners.” It’s an absurd chain of contradictory words no sane person would put together, but you already know what they mean. An educator is about to betray you, probably with some kind of monster suit.
Beezbo is a 48 minute movie about an alien who crash lands on Earth and learns basic manners from children. It was made in 1993 by Danny Bonaduce’s sister, Celia, which at the time gave it the same star power as a children’s book written by Frank Stallone’s parachute pants dealer. In today’s terms, Beezbo would be like a Poopsie Slime Surprise unboxing video uploaded by the guy who found Screech’s body.
In addition to being an unappealing idea of no use to anyone, Beezbo has been mostly removed from our universe. Its IMDB page is off by six years, thinks it was a TV series, and doesn’t list 90% of the cast and crew. I don’t know how or why it would have ever been distributed, and the information given by the tape tastes wrong to my brain like a retreating nightmare.
Wait, this opening advertisement suggests Beezbo was for rent? This wasn’t produced to fill a time slot on an educational channel? It was meant to be stocked in video stores and rented to retail consumers? They thought someone would see Beethoven’s 2nd, this, and Care Bears: Snow Business and think, “Hold up, what was that second one about manners?” Fucking impossible.
The video opens with children playing baseball to “Manners,” by Dale Powers, a song about etiquette making the world a better place. It is grating, painful waves of bad. I get that it’d be weird if the Beezbo theme song was good, but it sounds like something you’d hear after the words, “The creature is trying out different harmonics– probing its sonic prison for weaknesses. It’s only a matter of time befo– NO!” To be less hypothetical, it sounds like something you’d hear after the words, “Hi, I’m Frank Stallone. My parachute pants guy wants to sing a song about trying your best, but wear these ponchos because it’s a literal stream of diarrhea sprayed out of a tuba.”
One of the children playing baseball is Charlie. Everyone hates him because he’s an abusive cheater and over the course of fifteen seconds he threatens a little girl, insults another girl’s family, and starts a full bench-clearing brawl. Each child actor seems to be based on a different reason people hate child actors. It’s easily worse than you could imagine. Beezbo might have been made to help orphans understand how a parent could ever abandon a child.
Two outfielders, “Little Gilbert and Gracie Turner,” aren’t involved in the battle because they’re watching a spaceship crash. After a tough decision, they decide to go investigate the aliens rather than kick the shit out of their friends. As you’ll soon see, it was the wrong move.
Gilbert and Gracie catch Beezbo stumbling out of his wrecked ship, but the man in the suit makes some strange acting choices– choices that change the narrative from “outer space equipment failure” to “drunk as fuck star asshole.” Either this stuntman was too drunk to take direction or these were his final moments before they learned the Beezbo suit needed air holes. Nowhere in the infinite reaches of the stars does the possibility exist of someone saying, “Great, cut. That looked like a hurt alien shaking off a head injury.”
Gilbert exclaims in unpromising child actor, “A space man!”
His sister corrects him, “A space person.”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah. A space PERSON,” concedes Gilbert. He delivers his line like this is the seventh straight alien encounter ruined by Gracie’s PC bullshit. A goddamn monster drunk-drove into their baseball field and she’s turning it into a civil rights lesson. Gracie seems to sense her sentiment didn’t land, so she never speaks like this again for the entire film. In fact, she calls Beezbo “space man” later and goes out of her way on several occasions to reinforce gender stereotypes. Anyway, this is the kind of thing the viewer has time to think about while Beezbo’s stunt performer skitters around like he’s trying to break the world record for longest dumb, pointless thing*.
* The Longest Dumb, Pointless Thing world record is currently held by Frank Stallone’s penis who really had to think about how that made him feel.
Like children did thirty years ago, Gilbert and Gracie walk straight into the danger. They have a few reasons to worry– Beezbo is wearing what looks like a military uniform and his eyes are open portals to swirling, cosmic voids. He’s made entirely out of elbow skin and dusty wigs and as I mentioned before, he is wake-up-on-the-wrong-planet shit-faced. Without hesitation, Gilbert mocks his alien language. There is no attempt at communication. He is mimicking him the same way an American president might dangle a limp hand to make fun of someone’s birth defect. Then this happens:
I know how I would explain to adult actors how to execute this choreography, but I’m not sure how I’d get this performance out of children. Did they tell them to pretend their zippers were caught in opposite ends of an angry fish? This is fucked. Beezbo takes the form of a human like an FBI agent opening a video on Jared Fogle’s hard drive. And in his human form, Beezbo is the worst. He’s belligerent and stupid, and to call the actor playing him untalented is too small a word. Gilbert and Gracie tell him he’s rude, and this shrill, unlikable prick of course goes, “ROooOD!? WHAT MEANS ROOooOOD!?“
Gilbert and Gracie hate him as much as me and explain it means he has no manners. So he screeches, “MANNERS!? WHAT IS… MANNERS!?” You see where this is going. This foul thing does a fucking variation of this line every time anyone opens their mouth for the rest of the movie, and you’re done understanding Beezbo. As far as I know this kid never acted again, and I say that exactly the same way I’d say, “I don’t think those guys did a second 9/11.”
Anyway, the idiot children with no sense of danger are now in possession of an alien who is slow to understand, but very quick to react with its limitless reality-altering abilities. They walk out of frame and somehow Charlie, the bully from the center of the child brawl, has been hiding behind a rock. He looks directly into camera and delivers a line that would have gotten him fired from any other set, “Well, well, well. I wonder what Gilbert and Gracie Turner are up to.” If you went to pick up your dog from the kennel and they handed you a pile of teeth and a note that said, “oops,” your Yelp review would be, “I miss my dog, but they are better at their job than the bully from Beezbo.”
To be clear, Charlie absolutely understands this is an alien. And the first thing he does is walk right up to Beezbo and threaten to call the FBI if he doesn’t get what he wants. Beezbo kicks the legs out from under him and Charlie leaves without giving any of his blackmail demands. So the stakes are these: a boy is trying to control a space monster who can do anything and who has no regard for Earth laws by leaking the story “This Kid Is From Space Claims Town’s Slowest Chubby.” Like writer/creator Celia Bonaduce’s colleagues, family, and friends, I have no notes. Let’s see how this goes.
When Beezbo copied Gilbert’s DNA to walk among us, he maintained the gaping baboon asshole ears of his original form. I don’t know if he did it on purpose, but he looks like a bat that died trying to swallow a human baby. It occurs to the children this is a problem and they wish they had a hat to cover them. Beezbo responds by conjuring 50 random hats, none of them capable of covering his ears. Gilbert and Gracie see this, their new friend’s ability to create anything they desire, and suddenly realize, “No on the hat.” They’re trying not to draw attention, so they leave the miracle hats to go with the less noticeable eight inch flapping head labias.
They bring Beezbo home where he stands in plain view of their parents with his grotesque, otherworldly skull. He loudly exclaims he’s from space then performs impossible acts of telekinesis and molecular rearrangement right in front of them. The only thing they notice is his bad manners.
The kids take Beezbo to the park to teach him manners, even though his rudeness seems to be the perfect Earth camouflage. Charlie shows up and makes his first blackmail demand. He wants one dollar, or he tells the FBI everything. They give him a dollar and he runs away laughing, telling them he’ll be back to blackmail them later. They’ve forgotten about Beezbo, who is behind them, freezing an entire basketball court in place so he can dunk on them. There’s no set up or point to it. It’s only here to remind us he has the fleeting whims of a toddler and the powers of a god.
Speaking of reminders, I want to remind you of how Beezbo’s entire personality is built around not understanding expressions. If someone says “We’d better move it,” he will furiously demand what object needs to be moved. He comes from a race of things that can copy genetic codes and rewrite reality, but they can’t decipher context clues or wrap their head around homonyms. Any idiom Beezbo overhears causes him to manifest some literal aspect of it. For instance, when one of the kids says, “Let’s take a break,” he shatters their fucking lamp with his mind. It’s clear the wrong word could destroy them all and everything they love, but Gilbert and Gracie refuse to adjust their language to this walking monkey paw. They constantly blurt things out in front of Beezbo like, “I’M ALL EARS!”
It’s not even clever or cute. Beezbo hears things like “I’m all ears” and goes, “NO YOU’RE NOT. NOW YOU’RE ALL EARS!” How can you defend against this? He’ll recode your fucking head DNA after overhearing the slightest awkward phrasing, but he thinks “all” means 2% more? Either make the boy a motionless 80 pound ear or fuck off, Beezbo. Anyway, their older sister Bettty teaches him how to set a table and explains, for the seventh time, the concept of non-literal expressions. He responds, and I quote, “I’M ALL FEET!” If there were any lines in the script to help this joke(?) make sense, they were unfortunately never filmed.
The children who are being blackmailed to protect the secret of their alien tell every kid at the playground Beezbo is an alien and they throw an ice cream party to learn table etiquette together. As if to demonstrate the kind of people they were trusting their secret to, one kid asks why we put napkins in our lap before overturning an entire bowl of ice cream on himself.
I mean, who cares, but this kid they trusted seems like a supernatural fuckup. He’s going to accidentally write “Beezbo is an alien, a real extraterrestrial alien” on his shirt by the end of lunch. Despite consulting with him and others, there is still no plan in place for Beezbo’s amazing powers. Not a single child asks him if he can turn a tree into candy or make a father love his family again. Now imagine you were a comedy writer and trying to create a context for how insane this is. They have a space genie and they’re teaching him table manners. That’s like fucking finding a space genie and wishing you could teach it table manners.
As if you need to be reminded of the high stakes, Charlie is a few feet away taking a polaroid of the weird-eared kid eating ice cream impolitely, presumably for the FBI. Except, hold on…
… Beezbo appears in his true form in pictures? This implies he’s hypnotically altering how people see him, and not an actual shapeshifter. Does everyone see something different when they look at Beezbo? And if he didn’t actually change form, what was with that pelvic-thrusty energy exchange with the little boy earlier? I don’t like this at all. I think we should start rooting for Charlie and the FBI.
They spend twenty more minutes on learning to set a table, and one of the kids tells Beezbo he’s on the right track. He of course, shrieks, “RIGHT TRACK!? LIKE A TRAIN TRACK!?” and conjures train conductor uniforms for everyone. Because sure, Beezbo, let’s undress a family with your mind and put them in costumes to create the authentic experience of a train with four child conductors based on an expression that has the word “track” in it. You goddamn monster. How has a society made entirely out of you survived? Wouldn’t your people all get launched into space or smashed into whatever’s above them the moment one of them said something like, “I’m going to get up?” Because that’s exactly what you did to this kid.
There’s simply no delicate way to deal with Beezbo’s impulses. By this point even the dumbest person should have seen the shattered lamps, giant, ears, and levitating children and said something like, “Boy, it sure is raining cats and fifty dollar bills out there! It’s like they say, the early bird gets the best friends with Macho Man Randy Savage!”
The Turner Family manners lesson is interrupted by Charlie who walks right the fuck into their house and demands twenty dollars. He also dares Beezbo to give him a fat lip, a threat so poorly thought out it seems like an attempted suicide-by-alien.
Charlie leaves again with no one close to comprehending the incredible danger they’re all in, and they get back to work on introductions and phone etiquette. Beezbo casually reveals he can undo time when Betty makes the mistake of saying, “Let’s try that again.” And instead of going, “Let’s go give Hitler a fucking platypus face too,” she says, and I quote, “You sure can do some interesting things, Beezbo.” If these kids met God, they’d say, “First things first– we need to show you how to play UNO!”
Beezbo is exhausting. They try to teach him how to play it safe when someone knocks on the front door and he squeals, “PLAY IT SAFE!? THIS KIND OF SAFE!?” What’s the point of it? Some poor bastard had to roll a 600 pound safe onto the set for this, the 200th variation of “I’M THE DUMBEST ASSHOLE IN ALL OF SPACE.” Anyone who laughs at this kind of thing has already choked to death on a button and been thrown in the trash by grateful parents. We’re half an hour into Beezbo: An adventure in learning manners and we’ve basically learned how to set a table and take a phone message. At this pace we won’t be ready to believably interact with people for years. Or as little Gilbert Turner might put it, “This is going to take… a dog’s age!” before turning into a dog rapidly aging into dust to the sound of Beezbo screaming, “A DOG’S AGE?!“
Meanwhile, Charlie has circled around to an open window and is dangling an ice cream cone at Beezbo. I know he’s being played by a talentless child actor, but remember Beezbo is the captain of an interstellar ship who can control time and make anything. And this savage Earth beast, who has already declared itself his enemy, is suspiciously luring him over with a substance he’s already filled with. “ICE CREAM,” the stupid goddamn piece of shit says as he gets pulled into a garbage can.
Charlie takes Beezbo to his club house where he forms a new plan to blackmail two third graders for “millions and billions” to protect the secret of an alien they no longer have possession of. I feel like it’s not worth mentioning the unbounded cosmic powers that also might help Beezbo escape. I don’t think it’s too much to ask for you to remember that the main character in your show about table manners can do anything, Celia Bonaduce.
Celia never remembers the main character in her show about table manners can do anything, so the children have to come rescue Beezbo. Through a dumb mixup I don’t want to explain, they end up throwing a garbage can on Beezbo and rolling him down a hill. He crawls out, sees Gilbert struggling with his kidnapper, and immobilizes them both. “IT IS IMPOLITE TO FIGHT,” he bleeps. Look, you can abduct him, hold him against his will, and blackmail his friends all you want, but if Beezbo sees you stretching out another kid’s shirt, he will halt the movement of your molecules. You can think of nicer ways you could have rescued him, Earth Gilbert, while you scream silently from your chrono prison.
They go back to the Turner residence hoping Beezbo has now learned enough manners to get through dinner without erasing anyone from spacetime. There’s a very close call when the dad says “I’m so hungry I could eat a horse.” He says it right to Beezbo’s face like a challenge. Like he knows what show he’s in and he wants to see what this pedantic star wizard fuck will do with such an easy setup. Like he’s daring this piece of shit to blow his head off with a sudden horse. Beezbo skrees, “A HOOOOORSE!?” and has to be physically held back and talked down by Gilbert.
This is fascinating to me. It seems to imply all these Family Circus gags were a compulsion, not a series of misunderstandings. He knew what he was doing, found no humor in it, but couldn’t stop. But Beezbo’s ability to resist conjuring a horse in the dad’s mouth wasn’t the end of some character arc. It was a one time thing. He goes back to violent idiom sorcery moments later when they all go to the bathroom together and someone says “knock it off.” Sure enough, Beezbo blasts everything off the counter. Fucking fuck you, Beezbo.
Speaking of learning nothing, Charlie storms back into their home, demanding twenty dollars again. When the entire family refuses, he says, “Looks like I’ll have to blow the whistle on ol’ alien breath here.”
Beezbo hisses, “WHISTLE!?” and a giant whistle appears on Charlie’s neck. It’s not fused to him or anything; it’s only a weirdly big whistle. Beezbo isn’t even misunderstanding expressions anymore. He’s just manifesting random words from sentences. The parents still haven’t figured out what’s going on, so they think their home intruder is a gifted child magician. “I should explore this idea further,” thought writer/creator Celia Bonaduce. “Maybe drag this bit out into a five minute magic show.”
“… ,” said the sensible influences in her life.
After receiving two deadpan compliments from someone else’s dad for magic tricks he’s not doing, Charlie decides he wants to live a life in which people like him. Beezbo’s inconsistent disregard for the laws of our reality have paid off! Gilbert says, “This is totally cool, Beezbo.”
“NO IT ISN’T!” Beezbo spits. “NOW IT’S TOTALLY COOL!” And it starts snowing inside their home. That’s the entire adventure in manners– two kids learned which side you put forks, how to protect your lap from ice cream, and now there’s a space demon in their home who may kill them for saying any word in any context. Bye!
This article was brought to you by our fine sponsor and Hot Dog Supreme, Timmy Leahy: who once tragically mentioned “feeling like shit” in front of an asshole space genie. RIP.