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Film / Not Quite Human

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The Not Quite Human film trilogy is a Disney Channel Original Movie Sci Fi series with elements of Slice of Life and Comedy. The films were based on the books written by Seth McEvoy. The 3 films in the trilogy are:

  • Not Quite Human (1987): Chip (Jay Underwood) is an android, created by Dr. Jonas Carson (Alan Thicke) and the older brother of his sister Becky (Robyn Lively). He is a robot designed to look and act like a normal 17 year old boy. Dr. Carson sends Chip to the same high school Becky goes to and where he is employed as a science teacher. Dr. Carson's ultimate goal is to prove to society that androids can function just as well as humans can and are capable of coexisting alongside them peacefully. However, Dr. Carson and his family are also on the run from Dr. Carson’s greedy former employer, Gordon Vogel (Joseph Bologna) and his scatterbrained but intelligent lackey J.J. Derks, who know about Chip’s existence and want to reprogram him as a military robot. Chip must keep his identity secret not only from Vogel but also from the students at school.

  • Not Quite Human II (1989): Chip has graduated high school and is now off to college, which Dr. Carson reluctantly lets Chip do. Inadvertently, while uploading new software, Chip has downloaded a virus to his system which will completely destroy his internal systems in 5 days. The software, received from the same college Chip is attending, was sent by a team of rival scientists to cancel out potential competition. Unaware of the virus, resulting in memory lapse and poor judgement, Chip meets his college roommate and a new love interest (Katie Barberi), who turns out to be an android as well. The 2 are pursued by Roberta’s creators and the creators of the computer virus, with the intent of retrieving Roberta. Meanwhile, Dr. Carson and Becky had secretly followed Chip to college and, with the help of another of Roberta’s creators Professor Victoria Gray (Dey Young), cure Chip of the virus and help the 2 androids escape capture.

  • Still Not Quite Human (1992): Dr. Carson has been invited to speak at a robotics convention for his technological achievements. Not wanting him to be left alone and concerned for him, Carson brings Chip along, who himself wants to prove his independence. While there, Dr. Carson is captured by a ruthless tycoon, Dr. Frederick Berrigon (Christopher Neame) who wants android technology, and replaced with an android double. Chip, who reprograms and names the double Bonus, teams up with a pickpocket and a police officer to rescue his father. The third and last of the trilogy seems to be set between the 1st and 2nd movies, with Becky not making any appearances and only being mentioned once, and no mention of Roberta and Professor Gray who became part of the Carson family at the end of 2.

The film series provides examples of:

  • Accidental Pervert: In 2, Jonas follows Chip into a clothing store and spies on him, to make sure he's alright. A couple of elderly women see him snooping and hit him with their purses.
  • Age Lift: All of the movie student characters. For example, Chip was 13 in the books but 17 in the first movie.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Sort of happens in 2. After Chip is revived, the scientists who created Roberta take her away. At this point, Roberta already died from a power failure, meaning that even if she was rebooted all her memories would be gone. While Chip does save her memories, the original Roberta's body is now back with the villains, allowing them to continue their own research. Though since Victoria left their group and it was implied she was largely responsible for creating Roberta, the other scientists probably won't make it far.
  • Become a Real Boy: Sort of there. Chip is very much a robot and knows it; however, he wants to learn and understand emotions to better relate to humans. He doesn't expect to become human, but he wants to be able to interact with society.
  • Brick Joke: In 2, Chip is designated the top bunk bed, his roommate previously choosing the one below. The moment Chip jumps up, the metal buckles and breaks a moment later with Brandon, his roommate, jumping out of the way to avoid getting crushed. Chip comments he can fix it. A few scenes later, the mattress and frame are still on the floor, not fixed.
  • Brutal Honesty: Chip is capable pretty much only of this, due to his programming. He's later programmed to be slightly better at nuance, but it still remains a problem. Sometimes people take offense at his honest questions and statements.
  • The Bully: Jake Blocker from 1 and a pair of college kids from 2.
  • Clueless Chick-Magnet: Erin, from 1, falls in love with Chip because of his quiet, reserved and sweet nature. Chip, not programmed for this, understands she is attracted to him but in no way reciprocates any feelings.
  • Computer Virus: Chip is infected with on in 2.
    • To clarify, this is not an ordinary virus. The scientists responsible for creating it state it will kill any advanced machine installed with it in approximately 3 days. When installed on a basic computer, it literally explodes. Chip ends up suffering from memory wipes, loss of limb control, and cognitive issues. It culminates with him dying from it, if briefly.
  • Continuity Snarl: The series suffers this in the 3rd movie: 2 obviously follows from 1, with Chip graduating high school and going to college. He also is seen developing his programming to act more human. At the end of 2, Chip and Roberta end up together as do Jonas and Victoria (one of Roberta's creators). In Still, there is no mention at all of Victoria or Roberta, almost like they do not exist. Becky is Put on a Bus so at least that is explained away. While "Still" could act as an interquel, Chip acts more human in Still Not Quite Human than in 2, which simply does not make sense. Chip also has more features in the 3rd movie, such as voice mimicry and a magnetic finger, which do not appear at all in 2.
  • Contrasting Sequel Antagonist: Vogel in 1 and Berrigon in 3. Both are Corrupt Corporate Executives but the similarities stop there. Vogel is Affably Evil and cartoonish evil. His plan is to kidnap Chip and simply reprogram him, and start production on military androids. He doesn't seem to really intend to harm anyone, even Jonas when he gets in his way. In contrast, Berrigon is more malevolent. He succeeds in kidnapping and torturing Jonas and tries to have Chip killed, using his own military robot. Unlike Vogel who wanted to reprogram Chip, Berrigon wanted to use Jonas to perfect his military robots.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Vogel in 1 and Berrigon in Still. Berrigon takes it a step further by abducting Dr. Carson and torturing him to get the information he wants.
  • Crippling the Competition: Dr. Masters' plot in 2 using the computer virus, hidden on the floppy disk. He figured anyone who was capable of using the program on the disk would be competition; therefore, by installing the virus, anyone who might be competition would be eliminated.
  • Disney Death: Happens to Chip twice! In the first movie, he is seemingly electrocuted, frying his entire system. He reactivates right before the end of the movie. In the second movie, the computer virus completely shuts Chip down. At the last second Dr. Carson installs the anti-virus, bringing him back again. Also in the second movie, Roberta seemingly "dies" in Chip's arms from a lack of power. In her case, this means that she will lose all her memories and return to her original state. After Roberta's "death", Chip reveals that he read all of her data with his magnetic finger and saved it to a floppy disk, preserving Roberta's memories and personality.
  • The Film of the Book: The trilogy is a very loose adaptation of the original book series. For starters, Chip was designed to appear 17 years old instead of 13, and the second movie had him going to college, while in the books he is only in middle school.
  • Friction Burn: Actually happens to Chip's sneakers one time. After using his super speed in 2 to catch up to a bus, the sole's of Chip's sneakers are smoking and somewhat melted. This is the only time this occurs, despite using super speed at subsequent times.
  • Good-Times Montage: In 1, a montage shows Jonas, Becky and Chip acting as a normal family, moving to a new town, going grocery shopping and doing things outside. Chip accidentally shows off his Super-Strength at the store, lifting up a cart full of groceries.
  • Grew Beyond Their Programming: Roberta was originally programmed to only respond to questions and commands, without being able to choose things for herself. After a quick reprogramming adjustment from Chip, Roberta became able to make decisions for herself.
    • In 1, its implied Chip has started this near the end of the movie, where he is able to overcome Vogel's reprogramming to free Becky and his dad.
  • Hollywood Density: Averted a few times:
    • In 2, Jonas advises Chip to be careful of his weight. At college, Chip gets the top bunk bed. The moment he jumps up the metal starts to buckle and Brandon, his roommate on the bed below, has to jump out of the way to avoid getting crushed.
    • Earlier in 2, there's an announcement one of the elevators in broken due to too much weight, obviously caused by Chip and the equipment he was carrying in his suitcases.
    • In Still, Chip jumps in the air to giver his dad a high five. When he lands, he crashes through the floor. Chip explains with a mathematical equation about why what he did was a bad idea. Played straight the rest of the time.
  • Identical Stranger: Bonus, the Jonas Carson android, is this to Jonas. They only meet at the end of the 3rd movie, however, and even then Jonas is only slightly perturbed by Bonus.
  • Literal-Minded: Chip, VERY much so. A source of much of the humor. By 2, it seems he starts to grow out of it.
    • Bonus is even more literal minded, since he was created by an inferior programmer.
  • Magic Floppy Disk: In ''2', Chip is able to save Roberta's entire programming on a floppy disk.
    • Additionally, the virus Chip accidentally installs comes from a floppy disk as well. The virus is shown in a previous scene to literally make a computer explode.
  • Meaningful Name: Chip - he's full of microchips. Roberta - a female robot (i.e. Robert is often a punny name used for a male robot). Spartacus - it is a warrior robot.
  • Mind Wipe: The computer virus in 2 causes Chip to forget certain memories. Sometimes he realizes something is wrong, but then the virus acts up and wipes that memory away.
  • Not Quite Human: Not the Trope Namer, but fits.
  • Put on a Bus: Becky, in Still Not Quite Human.
  • Ridiculously Human Robot: Averted. Chip may look completely human, but he acts on programming. Expanded on in the later movies.
  • Robot Kid: Well, robot teens/young adults, Chip, and later Roberta.
  • Robot Me: Dr. (Jonas) Carson has an impostor in one in Still Not Quite Human, which Chip reprograms and names "Bonus".
  • Shopping Montage: in 2, Chip's roommate Brandon takes Chip shopping to help change his nerdy image. Doubles as a Training Montage where Brandon shows Chip how to act and how to dance.
  • Super Prototype: Spartacus, the military robot designed by Dr. Berrigon, in 3. It has Super-Speed, Super-Strength, and can fire Frickin' Laser Beams. Technically, Chip and Roberta are also this, each designed to initially be the first in a series., but Spartacus was designed for military purposes specifically.
  • Super-Senses: In each movie, Chip has new abilities he uses to help save the day, but they usually only appear once:
    • Super Hearing: Chip uses this in 1, when he hears Jake bullying a classmate. This ability never appears again.
    • Super Sight: Chip uses this in Still to detect chemicals used to kidnap Jonas.
  • Super-Speed: In 2 and 3, Chip has an upgrade to move at super speed, as in fast enough he can catch up with a speeding bus or car. The virus effects this mechanism as well, briefly resulting in a failure of it to work properly and a loss of directional control (his legs move, but he can't control the direction exactly).
    • The ability was also in 1, briefly, where the activation for it was pressed accidentally (seemingly the switch to activate it was in Chip's armpit). This caused Chip not only to move fast but also talk very fast. In 2 and 3, the switch/button has been moved(internally) to Chip's neck.
  • Super-Strength: Since he is an android, Chip naturally has superior strength. His strength is shown throughout the trilogy. Some examples are: Ripping off a metal walkway Roberta accidentally plunged her foot through in 2 and in Still where he performs a non-lethal Neck Lift on Berrigon and throws him out onto a lake. The computer virus in 2 affects this as well at random times, such as causing Chip to rip apart a paper towel dispenser or cause his arms to freeze then suddenly unfreeze, resulting in the people trying to restrain him, in this case two college bullies, being tossed several feet away.
  • Technology Marches On: In-universe with Chip. In the first movie, Chip is very Literal-Minded and Jonas has to program behaviors into him. Near the end of the first movie, it is said Chip is at the very least developing feelings. In 2, Chip has advanced enough to make decisions for himself, like apply and go to college, and is shown trying to upgrade himself. He can also learn new behaviors now rather than having them programmed into him, like when he learns from Brendon how to "act cool".
  • Terrible Trio: In 2, the main villains are Dr(s). Maters, Moore and Miller and are mostly always seen together. Though they are less "terrible" and more amoral and bumbling.
  • Totally Radical: Spoofed. In Not Quite Human, Professor Carson attempts to make him fit in better by programming him with slang and things that were considered cool when Carson was that age. The other students decide that Chip's anachronistic behavior actually does make him cool.
    • Played with in 2 where Chip's roommate Brendon tries to help Chip be "cool" and popular with girls. This mostly amounts to changing how he dresses and acts, obviously without reprogramming him. The girls are unimpressed.
  • Villain Has a Point: In 2, when Chip runs away with Roberta, Masters, Moore and Miller simply see it as the kid of a rival stealing their property. They don't know Chip is an android and are simply trying to get Roberta, their creation, back.
  • Voice Changeling: In Still Not Quite Human, Chip not only has the ability to record and play back literally exactly what he hears, but he has the ability to mimic other people's voices perfectly. He uses this ability to defeat Spartacus, using Berrigon's voice to confuse the other robot.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Played with, obviously the most with Chip. In Still, after realizing his father was replaced with a robot duplicate, Chip reprograms him. The 'Bonus' Carson is treated as a second father by Chip.