This episode is the first to spotlight Riley; the P*lace soda jerk and the only adult regular, and marks the first of a handful of episodes dealing with a very genuine Adult Fear (particularly in industrial jobs): being replaced by robots or computers.
We begin with an empty P*lace before a fade effect adds the crowd and band, setting up opener "The War Song". Following the song, Riley introduces the others to his new assistant: a robot called MAC (for Mechanical Aided Companion)note ; which Riley boasts can do almost anything (emphasizing almost when Kid asks if he can do his homework for him). To test he out, Gloria orders a chocolate malt, which MAC prepares - describing each ingredient along the way; setting up "Dancing in the Dark" as MAC hints at having at least as much of an ego as he claimed R2-D2 had when Stacy asked if he knew the Star Wars robot.
Gloria compliments Riley on MAC, only to find out that the P*lace owner decided to let Riley go in favor of the robot - whose darker side starts showing almost immediately, chiding Stacy for sitting at the counter to say "Hi" instead of ordering something; going on to jab the appearance of the other band members before boasting that "machines are the future" due to not having emotions such as love (with Gloria trying to counter the argument before Kid dismisses the robot as a "freakazoid"note . As if on cue, "Freak-A-Zoid" was the next song.
Renee's turn to try to reason with MAC fares no better, as (after being chided for wanting to talk rather than order something much like her sister earlier) she orders a soda before trying to get advice on a (presumably hypothetical) dilemma (according to her; Mickey wanted Renee to sing harmony on a Huey Lewis and the News song that she felt she would be better singing lead on). The gambit failed (MAC charges 50 cents; Renee cracks "I just love having these conversations") before MAC proves he still has his superiority complex when it comes to machines supposedly being better than humans because they're more efficient. The robot then confronts the others on the failed sting, claiming he could play better music than the bandnote ; playing several instruments via synthesizer before Mickey challenges his claim ("Human Touch").
Renee then unveils her plan to rid the P*lace of MAC - overload him. We then see the band members simultaneously order various menu items, then complain when MAC got the orders wrong (the dancers then join in; with Mario threatening to complain to the owner), resulting in MAC's circuits completely frying; leading to closing number "Mr. Roboto" (as Riley learns from Andrea outside about the overloaded robot and returns to work, though not before examining MAC's remains).
Songs performed in this episode:
- "The War Song" (Culture Club cover; performed by Renee, Kid, Stacy and Gloria)
- "Dancing in the Dark" (Bruce Springsteen cover; performed by Gloria)
- "Freak-A-Zoid" (Midnight Star cover; performed by MAC)
- "Human Touch" (Rick Springfield cover; performed by Mickey)
- "Mr. Roboto" (Styx cover; performed by Mickey and Gloria)
Tropes associated with this episode:
- Adult Fear: Riley isn't much older than Mickey and Gloria, and he finds himself facing the real fear of losing his job to a machine.
- Fun with Acronyms: MAC stands for Mechanical Aided Companion.
- Logic Bomb: The kids' plan to overload MAC involves placing all their orders all at once, then calling the robot out when the robot got the orders mixed up.
- Shout-Out: To Star Wars when Stacy asks if MAC knows R2-D2.