The Adventures of Electronic (1979)
Film review #518
Director: Konstantin Bromberg
SYNOPSIS: Professor Gromov has constructed a life-like robot boy named Electronic, based on the image of a schoolboy named Sergey. Electronic has the dream of becoming a real human boy, and when the Professor forbids him from interacting with the outside world, he escapes and runs into his double. Sergey has the idea of having them swap places, using Electronic’s super intelligence and strength to excel at school. meanwhile a criminal gang is spying on Electronic, with the aim of kidnapping him to use in a series of high-value heists…
THOUGHTS/ANALYSIS: The Adventures of Electronic is a 1979 three-part miniseries from the Soviet union. The story starts off introducing Electronic, a boy who is a robot created by Professsor Gromov to look human, and Sergey the human boy who Electronic’s appearance copies (who appeared on a magazine cover). The two eventually run into each other, and have the idea to swap places, so that Electronic can excel in Sergey’s classes at school, and Electronic is given the chance to live as a human; and naturally, hijinks ensue. The story is fairly obviously a combination of Pinocchio and The Parent Trap, although I’m not sure how accessible either of these were available in the Soviet union in 1979. Nevertheless, the story is simple to follow, and paces itself fairly well, with different things going on across the three different episodes of the series. Being aimed at children, there’s very mild threats and danger, but it’s pretty harmless. The series focuses more on humour, adventure, and the occasional musical number, and I imagine it would have been a fun and entertaining adventure for kids at the time. The story doesn’t really explore the range of potential of it’s set up, and often feels like a re-tread of the aforementioned Pinocchio and The Parent Trap, but you don’t really need to be groundbreaking for these types of films/series. The pacing is pretty solid, the characters develop at an even pace throughout, and there’s new elements added in as it goes along to maintain interest, so it does everything it needs to.
While Sergey and Electronic are up to their shenanigans, an international crime ring has been spying on Professor Gromov and, learning of Electronic’s existence, their boss plans to kidnap him to use his abilities to pull off a huge heist. As mentioned, the villains and danger isn’t too threatening as the series is made for kids, but it adds a little excitement to things. Apart from Sergey and Electronic (played by actual twins, but their voices are dubbed by different people), the rest of the cast play a minor role, but their appearance keep scenes energetic and busy, such as the gang of kids that Sergey and Electronic hang about with, the various teachers, and even a dog that joins the kids eventually. The familiar scenes of the school and the kid’s clubhouse also root the film in a very particular setting that the cast’s adventures revolve around, and makes a nice core along with the characters that interacts with the changing elements of the story, creating a nice balance.
The series was apparently very popular when it was released, and I think it’s easy to see why: it follows some tried-and-tested formulas story-wise, and also it’s produced fairly well, with solid camerawork and performances all round. It’s difficult to find too much wrong with it, since it’s aimed at a younger audience and is not intending to be groundbreaking. Overall, The Adventures of Electronic is an entertaining watch that hits the right notes, but is definitely something that would not stand the test of time, being firmly rooted in the time and place it was filmed. Some elements of the story are fairly timeless, but nothing original is added to make it worth a contemporary viewing.