Episode One-Derland (Cartoons) – Camp Lakebottom

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Plot: McGee and his sister Suzi are on their way to the best most luxurious camp around; Camp SunnySmiles, but a prank by the camp owner’s son causes McGee to miss the bus and end up on a different bus which, by another prank from the camp owner’s son, ends up being sent to Camp Lakebottom; a camp across the lake from SunnySmiles where the counselors are all monsters and everything is grotesque and falling apart. After realizing that, even in spite of the cool stuff, everyone at SunnySmiles is a complete jerk, McGee and his new friends Gretchen and Squirt decide to stay at Lakebottom and make the best of their summers, which proves to be more fun than they anticipated.

Breakdown: This was kinda a flip-flop to me. I kinda got into it in the first half, for the most part, but I really fell off the wagon at the second half.

The premise is pretty interesting. Trying to enjoy summer at a rotting death trap of a camp with three nice monsters for counselors. Well, at least two of them are monsters anyway. The cafeteria lady, Rosebud just seems to be short, ugly and speaks in a heavy Spanish accent…..racist? The other two counselors are Sawyer, a zombie with a chainsaw for a hand (Nice Evil Dead reference, though it is a bit random) and Armand, a sasquatch.

However, I really don’t think they go far enough with the concept. They use some instances of dark humor like the bus getting crushed by the sea monster with the driver still in it and Sawyer ripping his heart out to make a joke, but this isn’t even really as dark as the Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy or Courage the Cowardly Dog. The bright color scheme doesn’t really help.

The humor, while not being technically bad, is also not very funny. A lot of the jokes are predictable or cliché, and the restrained feeling just makes it less funny by default.

The characters aren’t very memorable either. None of them are really bad, except the camp counselor’s son who might as well tattoo ‘I’m the antagonist’ on his forehead. The main character, McGee starts off being pretty likable because he’s very optimistic and happy, yet he loses me in the second half where he becomes a typical lead character who wants to one-up the antagonist because the antagonist is a jerk.

Gretchen’s okay, but she’s very much the usual girl with an attitude who can take care of herself. She’s not really goth, but it’s like they started going in that direction (bowl cut bangs, black hair, pig tails, black skull earrings) and then stopped halfway through.

Squirt, and yes that’s his actual name, is the stupid always-happy fat guy who embraces Lakebottom from the getgo.

Suzi doesn’t appear in the second half of the episode for some reason, but her appearances in the first half just prove that she belongs in SunnySmiles because she’s a complete self-absorbed bitch who doesn’t care about her brother at all and rubs it in his face that she’s at the super awesome camp and he’s in a garbage pit camp. This is made kinda sad considering that, even in spite of her attitude towards McGee, he still tries to be friends with her and even calls her when he’s in danger.

She goes along great with Buttsquat……….Yes, I said…Buttsquat. Remember that antagonist guy I mentioned? The owner of Camp Sunnysmiles’ son? His name is Buttsquat and yes, again, that is his real name. What’s wrong, writers? Did Fartbreath not seem to fit?

Buttsquat is way too obnoxious for his own good, even for an antagonist, and he is unbelievably cliché. Spoiled rich kid who has nothing better to do with his time than mock the Lakebottom campers every chance he gets. Also, he has a schtick where he uses a remote which controls basically anything you point it at. From bus doors to signs on a tree, it controls every last thing, which was much more baffling and stupid than it was funny.

The camp counselors are okay. Sawyer’s a nice guy who’s a bit of a worry wart despite being a zombie. Armand’s a very posh and well-read, well-mannered guy to contrast with his yeti-ness and Rosebud….has a thick Spanish accent and serves gross stuff in the cafeteria which is also really cliché yet still can easily be construed as racist because they’re lumping her in as a ‘monster’. If she is a legit monster they don’t make it clear what she is in this episode.

The stories are fine yet not very imaginative. The first story is about McGee, Gretchen and Squirt arriving at Lakebottom and, upon seeing all of the monsters and terrible stuff at the camp, make a break for SunnySmiles only to find themselves trapped by Suzi, made queen of the camp. She tells the campers to spit watermelon seeds at them only to be saved by the counselors at Lakebottom. The group decides that Lakebottom is way better and decide to stay there. Don’t judge a book by its cover and whatnot.

The second story is a constant one-upping battle between McGee and Buttsquat….God I feel so dumb writing that. McGee tries to prove that Lakebottom isn’t lame while Buttsquat constantly one-ups him with stuff from SunnySmiles. It’s a very cliché storyline where you know what the ending will be, but they even manage to ruin the predictable ending. See, the episodes are introduced with title cards that are in the form of postcards on McGee’s parents’ fridge accompanied by narration from McGee where he reads the postcard out loud. On the postcard title screen was a picture of the characters riding on a wave of lava with McGee carrying Buttsquat through the air. So guess what you instantly know what will happen when the final challenge on top of Mount Fittoblow, as if the name alone wasn’t a big enough clue.

The art is fine. Very cartoony, if that’s not a dumb thing to say. Everyone, mostly the kids, have huge heads, very defined hair and small bodies. Buttsquat’s body looks friggin weird though. It’s just one long shape like a…..like a….snake. Wow, you’re even subtly going for a snake metaphor with him, huh? We get it. He’s a bad person.

The animations is very much cheap Flash animation, though. Luckily they don’t have that annoying habit of continuing to move slowly once they’ve made a movement, but it’s still just average Flash animation.

The music is forgettable, but fine.

Final verdict,

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It’s just bland and not funny really. I can see a kid liking this fine, but I can’t imagine this being their favorite show.

Recommended Audience: Some gross-out and otherwise crass humor, a few instances of dark-ish humor. 6+

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