Deconstructing "The Fine Art of Crime"

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LloydMoreaux
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Deconstructing "The Fine Art of Crime"

Post by LloydMoreaux » Fri Mar 31, 2017 8:41 am

Hi, everybody. Long time reader, very rare poster. I've got kind of a long post I'd like to share.

I am extremely fortunate to have that elusive unicorn, a girlfriend who enjoys playing freeze games. She enjoys it so much that's it's often her that suggests that it's time for some freezing fun. One of the inspirations for us - no big surprise here - is the Wonder Woman episode "The Fine Art of Crime" (season 3, episode 4). She and I have analyzed the heck out of that episode, I'm guessing probably more than anybody else ever has, including the writer. We've come up with a bunch of discussion points to try to make sense out of the scenarios this episode presents. Yes, we know it's all fiction, but it sure is fun to think about! (here's the episode, available for a small fee on YouTube - https://youtu.be/xn5dSFsBu78)

- There are six people frozen in the museum. We know the student guy is an accomplice, instructed to steal the artwork when he gets revived. But what's the deal with the other five people? Did they get tricked into being subjects for this exhibit? Are they volunteers? If so, what's their motivation? If they volunteered, did they get frozen before they were brought to the museum or did they walk in under their own power and then get frozen? How long of a time commitment did they have to make? A couple of weeks? A month? More? I'm fascinated by the back story of, for example, that lady in the blue outfit, or the fisherman. How did they get involved in this caper?
MuseumGroup.JPG
- When the henchmen are off duty, are they supposed to go into the work room area and just remain frozen in there? And if so, are they given instructions before they're frozen that if they are revived and see somebody they don't recognize, they should attack that person? The guy in the police uniform is shown active later in the episode but he remains a statue for most of it. Is that how these guys really spend their off hours, in suspended animation? That doesn't really provide the best work-life balance, now does it? And since you can't unfreeze yourself, somebody has to be monitoring that work room. It's presumably that person that unfreezes the henchmen to attack Harold and later Wonder Woman. That monitor has to be a boring job, but hey, at least that person gets to remain active instead of frozen.
BlazerGuy_Golfer.JPG
- The guy who gets disguised as a painter is going to get a bonus of $15,000 to steal that art piece. But how long does he have to remain a statue? Presumably, he gets frozen before he's brought into the rich couple's house. Then he gets unfrozen, steals the medallion, and gets refrozen. But when does his time as a statue end? A couple days later? A couple weeks? That rich couple paid for the statue, so it's not a temporary exhibit like the six people in the museum. Is he going to have to get "stolen" as well, when he unfreezes and probably just walks out the door?

- When that painter henchman guy walks into the main office, there is a secretary there, frozen in the middle of typing something. What's going on there? Does the boss freeze her when they have to discuss their crime business? What must that hiring interview have been like? "Well, your qualifications are excellent. You type 100 words a minute, there is some occasional filing to be done...what are your feelings about occasionally and randomly being placed into suspended animation for a while?" Does that count as her break? Does OSHA know about this??
Secretary.JPG
- At the end of the episode, Harold says "One good thing about what those guys did to me is it gave me a lot of time to think." Wait, what? He was conscious while he was frozen? What does that mean for the people who are statues? Are they conscious and aware of their situation? If so, that has got to get really boring, really quickly. What about those off-duty henchmen in the work room, or the people in the museum, or that typing secretary? Are they aware of what's going on while they're frozen? If you remain conscious, I think that painter guy needs to ask for way more than $15,000 for several weeks of electronically-induced immobility. Although we never see any different settings on the big control machine, is it possible that they did something different to keep Harold conscious, possibly as some kind of added psychological torture?

Yes, yes, I understand that it's all just 48 minutes of fluff fiction from nearly four decades ago. But as somebody who thinks about freezing A LOT, this is just how my mind works. If anybody wants to add to this discussion, I'd be happy to keep it going.
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Jay
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Re: Deconstructing "The Fine Art of Crime"

Post by Jay » Sat Apr 01, 2017 6:39 pm

Thanks for the post. I find breakdowns like this of popular media freezes fascinating.
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Re: Deconstructing "The Fine Art of Crime"

Post by Prospero » Sun Apr 02, 2017 6:12 am

I have always enjoyed speculating on how exactly they get Wonder Woman to the museum after she is "frozen".I assume they had to pick her up and carry her to a car or truck or van,drive her to the museum ,and then pick her up and carry her again to actually place her in the museum.But was one henchman strong enough to carry her by himself or was it a two-man job?The other thing I wonder about is whether her Amazonian powers included perfect body control,because she was probably within eyesight of someone at all times until they put her behind that screen at the museum,and if she so much as blinked or twitched it would have given the game away!
Last edited by Prospero on Thu Apr 06, 2017 1:51 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Deconstructing "The Fine Art of Crime"

Post by dmuk » Tue Apr 04, 2017 2:26 am

Great analysis of some of the fuzzier parts!

I'd always figured Roberts' merry band of statues were all paid for their time far more than the inconvenience (but perhaps Moreau left out the little "how long" detail), and may have been casual criminals before being recruited. Some might actually enjoy the chance to 'lay low' for a while (yet in plain sight) and get paid for it too! Clearly the "Berkeley Student" was in on the game and the "Painter" didn't have any reservations about his 'assignment' either. As to their recovery, I'd always presumed that the on-assignment statues would steal away (heh) some weeks after the main artwork was delivered, but it makes sense to just leave them there longer - much longer - to avoid a string of "statue robberies" that could alert the police to another common factor in the crimes. Also, I never thought the 'secretary' was anyone other than another employee... Was kind of hoping to see a Playboy Bunny statue somewhere during the episode, since the inspiring real hyper-realist artist John D'Andrea did one of a similarly attired young woman (he also did nudes, but that's too much to hope for in pre-cable broadcast TV) in his oevre.

As far as the storeroom figures' actions upon awakening from suspended animation, I recall from my viewing of the episode that one of the henchmen had an earpiece communicator (used when he was being pursued and hides in the lily pond) to relay commands from his handler (again likely Moreau) appropriate to the situation. This ties into the recruited-criminals' backstory too, since they could also be on standing orders (heh - lots of chances for puns here) to defend against intruders or WW since she was the true target of the whole scheme.

WW's transport while she was faking being frozen requires some body control, perhaps self-hypnosis, but more by misdirection; she could blink/breathe when there was no-one around and when behind that screen, in the same way that many mannequin challenge models wait until they are out of the shot before relaxing.

Howard's line about "time to think" gave me a little pause, too, as that could turn out to be a VERY long time for some of the statues; I chalked it up to simple self-depreciating irony on his part, also if he was conscious he would know more about Roberts' plans (I do agree the suspended animation gizmo has levels, else why a rotating knob vs. a simple switch) and blurt out something to her when revived briefly. This suspended-yet-conscious trope is a common (mis?)conception in scripts, it seems, since "Warehouse 13"s Bronze Sector left the statues being aware as well.

It helps sometimes to just enjoy the breezy presentation and not get too deep into the physics and biology of true suspension, since those pose (heh) some insurmountable problems/paradoxes if taken literally. Most of those issues could be avoided by having short suspensions only...


Thinking back over the Fine Art episode was fun; have you done any other deconstrucitons? I'd recommend the "Box" sequence from the film Logan's Run, the freezers from In Like Flint, and the well-known Deadly Smorgasbord Affair episode of Man from UNCLE. Others may have different favorites; those are mine.

-D-
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zapped!
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Re: Deconstructing "The Fine Art of Crime"

Post by zapped! » Tue Apr 04, 2017 4:14 pm

dmuk wrote: I'd recommend the "Box" sequence from the film Logan's Run, the freezers from In Like Flint, and the well-known Deadly Smorgasbord Affair episode of Man from UNCLE. Others may have different favorites; those are mine.-D-
I've only recently purchased Logan's Run & Flint on DVD after countless viewings of my worn out VHS copies (going back some 25+ years, no less). Worth a purchase to finally be able to make out some of the "finer" details. :lol:
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Re: Deconstructing "The Fine Art of Crime"

Post by LloydMoreaux » Wed Apr 05, 2017 11:45 pm

Ha! I never realized how many opportunities for puns (good ones, too!) there were in this discussion!

I too have always been curious how WW managed to stay so still between her 'suspension' and when she 'woke up' at the museum. I suspected that she relaxed a little bit when nobody was watching, and I attributed the rest simply to superpowers. But you just KNOW that one of those henchmen copped a feel or sneaked a peak when they thought she would be oblivious. When they found out she was faking the whole time and was fully aware? AWKWARD!

The guy who hides in the fountain and the student in the museum each had some kind of transmitter. It looked to me like they could transmit, but they couldn't receive. Which seems odd, since you have this elaborately complicated stasis device but no two way radio capability. And it seems doubly odd since, you know, there is a microphone on top of the machine.
Henry_machine.JPG
When WW finally infiltrates the warehouse and the henchmen statues all revive and attack her, the guy dressed as the cop seems to freeze twice. He unfreezes, takes a step toward her, then appears to freeze again, before unfreezing and giving WW an evil grin. That must have been a weird sensation for that guy. *unfreeze* "Oh crap, it's Wonder Woman. I better walk toward her menacingly." *freeze* "Wait, why are you freezing me again?" *unfreeze* "Well that was kind of weird. Dude, it's Wonder Woman, quit screwing around with my NIM!"

I've always wondered what that transition is like for the subject. It usually takes 2-3 seconds for somebody to turn the knob, so you must have at least that long to know what's happening to you, right? Harold experienced what was happening to him during his freezing and unfreezing, but I really don't know if he was truly conscious throughout the time while he was a statue. Hey, do you think it was the henchman with the lowest seniority who got the job of taking Harold's clothes off and putting the baseball uniform on him? "I'll let you remain active, but you have to change the clothes on this doofus." "You know what, sir? I'm just going to grab my golf club and go back into the warehouse..."

This is a fun discussion. Thanks for participating, everybody. Anybody have anything more about this episode?

I plan to watch The Deadly Smorgasbord Affair very soon and once I have a few times through that episode, I'll give that one a thorough examination too. Or maybe "Yo, Super Force." So many choices!
LloydMoreaux
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Re: Deconstructing "The Fine Art of Crime"

Post by LloydMoreaux » Thu Apr 06, 2017 6:36 am

dmuk wrote:Howard's line about "time to think" gave me a little pause, too
I think you missed out on another one of those easy statue-lingo jokes! :P

I just looked up the price of a Chevrolet Corvette in 1978 . Based just on "how many Corvettes could I buy," that $15,000 bonus would be roughly $83,000 today. I think that for $83K, I would drop everything and let them put me in suspended animation for a few weeks.
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Jay
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Re: Deconstructing "The Fine Art of Crime"

Post by Jay » Thu Apr 06, 2017 5:01 pm

LloydMoreaux wrote:
I plan to watch The Deadly Smorgasbord Affair very soon and once I have a few times through that episode, I'll give that one a thorough examination too.
One of my all time favorites.
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