THE STEPFORD CHILDREN
The Stepford Children is a textbook case of a film that has been generated for no other reason than that someone sought to milk its predecessor for commercial possibilities. And equally it is a textbook example of a film that has been mindlessly spun off without anybody actually sitting down to think if the premise makes any sense. All that has happened is that the scriptwriter has rewritten The Stepford Wives but made it about replacing the androids wives with android teenagers. It staggers your mind to think that nobody involved in a film actually thought about how any of it would be applicable on a practical level.
Mind you, this is a problem I also had with The Stepford Wives. It seems a book and film that is predicated on nobody ever asking why men would want to replace their wives with lookalike androids. Ira Levins excuse in the original novel was that he was writing satire. Some of that came through in the 1975 film the idea that men were sick of the then emergent Womens Lib movement and wanted wives that were obedient and perfect homemakers. On the other hand, this dissipates when you try and think about the logistics involved. People marry for the sake of emotional connection and companionship and you can only think that the kind of relationship you would have to an unthinkingly obedient machine would be a rather lonely one. Not to mention the icky question of would you really want to have sex with a machine? It also seems to hold a view of men as idiots who are so absorbed in their own needs that the only other interaction they could possibly want from another human being is them robotically parroting mindless phrases and smiling without thinking.
This absurdity of the scenario seems quadrupled when you also have the men creating android duplicates of their children. There is the immediately logical question of what purpose does replacing your children with machines serve? How does an android child age? Or are these men who are perfectly happy getting old while they have children that perpetually remain teenagers? What possible function would it serve to send a group of android children to school ie. to go through the mimicry of being in a school and the learning process day after day when the series has shown (by implication) that it can electronically install the knowledge in the brains of the androids? Why would android teenagers date each other? Or for that matter, what purpose would it be to hold a school dance for android teenagers?
You can sort of get The Stepford Children on a satiric level. In the opening moments, when the two teenagers are introduced Randall Batinkoff entering, drinking from a carton of milk throwing the carton and missing the garbage, Tammy Lauren stumbling in with wild 80s hair and punked out friends the film seems to be setting things up for an obvious divide. Yet the way the scene is directed, the sympathy is with Barbara Eden as the longsuffering mother and you wonder if the film is about the horror of teens being replaced by obedient androids or one that welcomes it. The films satire is muted where The Stepford Wives tapped the nascent Womens Lib movement, all that Barbara Eden seems to get upset about here is that the school doesnt have a PTA or that it favours scholastic achievement over just letting kids be kids. Which, when you think about it, has the satiric focus of the Stepford series lurch from 1970s Womens Lib and ERA movements to an astonishingly conservative position. The most amusing scene is where the unchanged teens take over a dance and replace the Golden Oldies the androids are dancing to with rock, only for the androids to go amok not knowing what to do.
Film online in several parts beginning here:-