Cartoons Step-By-Step: Dave the Barbarian Episode 1

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Plot: Episode 1A – Dave, Fang, Princess Candy and Oswidge rush into the Enchanted Forest to take down a giant muffin monster. While attempting to vanquish it with Lula, Dave’s magical sword, he accidentally gets her stuck in a stump. While they manage to defeat the muffin, they find that they cannot pull Lula out of the stump. The sprite of the stump reveals that whosoever manages to pull Lula out shall be ruler of Udrogoth. But what happens if no one can?

Episode 1B – Dave feels lost in life and, after reading some self-help scrolls, decides to become a psychofloobocologist to help people. When his ‘helping’ unleashes an ancient evil monster upon Udrogoth, he decides to talk the beast down.

Breakdown: Alright! Dave the Barbarian! This is another one of those short lived shows that I really loved, and I hate Disney for cutting this show’s life so short. It was a self-aware clever and fairly meta show about a royal family trying to manage protecting their kingdom while the king and queen are off battling evil. Candy is a self-absorbed teenage girl, Dave is a prissy yet super muscular and kind ‘barbarian’, Fang is a vicious wild girl who loves nothing more than beating things up and Oswidge is a subpar wizard. With them is Lula, the wisecracking magical sword, and Faffy, a little dragon-like creature who looks somewhat crossed with a pig.

They get into all sorts of ridiculous situations in the medieval fantasy land of Udrogoth and usually just barely manage to scrape by. Dave the Barbarian came into play right as the Disney Channel was starting to get less invested in fun and creative shows and more interested in manufactured pre-teen drivel.

But how does it really hold up?

Episode 1A is basically a parody of the story of King Arthur, just with a gross and prick-ish stump sprite shaking things up….oh and yeah the giant muffin.

It really is just awesome how you can easily hook into everyone’s personalities and the atmosphere just in a few minutes. I think almost all of the jokes hit just as well, if not better, with me than they did when I was younger. You don’t really predict many of the jokes, and it’s not too in-your-face with meta humor. It’s just taking a very typical setting and having some fun with it by making weird monsters and insane situations that you’d never expect.

I do have to ask though; how is the person who pulls out Lula the ruler of Udrogoth? Sure its owners are the royal family, but technically Lula ‘belongs’ to Dave, and he’s just a prince. He’s not even the oldest child. Candy is the only one usually referred to with her title intact, and she was the one put in charge while the king and queen are away.

There are some pretty good jokes in here, though not every one is smile-worthy. I especially liked Lula in this episode, though she’s great all the time.

Episode 1B is basically one big poke at psychology, going through all of the tropes like constantly asking ‘how does that make you feel?’ over and over, thinking talking is the end-all solution to everything, and of course, ‘all of your problems are because of your mother’. I gotta say, as a psych major, this episode kinda irked me. I’m fully aware that psychology is not an exact science, but I find myself getting increasingly annoyed by the TV tropes of brushing off psychology as a joke. It’s not so much that I don’t like poking fun at something I find interesting; it’s moreso that it will just keep perpetuating stereotypes about psychology and mental health issues as a whole.

That mini-rant out of the way, this episode is pretty entertaining and warranted a few smiles out of me, but I find it to be not as funny or well-written as the first episode. Mostly because, not only is it mostly a big psychology joke, but they also keep repeating the same jokes, more or less.

Overall, I’d give A an 8/10 and B a 7/10, earning this whole episode a 7.5/10

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