CSBS – Rocket Power Episode 1

CSBS - RP EP1A

Plot: New Squid on the Block – In the beautiful California town of Ocean Shores lives Reggie, her brother Otto and their friend Twister. They all enjoy a wide array of extreme sports, but are unable to play street hockey since they don’t have a goalie. A meek and intelligent boy named Sam Dullard moves in across the street, and while Otto and Twister are quick to mock him for his nerdiness, Reggie welcomes him, and he even helps her with her long awaited magazine, The Zine. They try to include Sam in their hockey game, but he flails all over the place, scared to death of the puck and getting hit by the other boys. However, they realize Sam has a talent for blocking pucks and makes him their new goalie.

Down the Drain – Reggie is a housesitter for Mr. Stimpleton as he goes on vacation with Violet. She’s especially tasked with the very specific care of his high-tech pool. However, Otto and Twister have better ideas for the pool.

Breakdown: It’s always nice to go back to a show where you practically have a running teleprompter in your head scrolling down the script as you watch an episode. That was how I felt while returning to Rocket Power. I never realized how much I memorized this show. It’s not that hard to believe since I did love Rocket Power and it was on Nickelodeon all the time, especially in summer, but it’s just not one of those shows I think about too often.

Sadly, I kinda understand why.

Addressing the first half of the first episode, we’re introduced to Sam, known more ‘affectionately’ as the Squid of the group. Sam is a perfectly nice young man, and that’s exactly his problem according to Otto and Twister. They rag on him throughout the whole episode, especially Twister, though he warms up to him when Sam inherits the Squid moniker that he initially had.

Squid is not really given a full definition, but from what you can gather from the show, it’s either a new kid or, according to the Wiki, “Squid comes from the term “squirrelly” and was given to new riders who exhibited an unpredictable and unsteady riding style on account of them being new to the sport.” Given that Twister was the last Squid and he seems perfectly fine in his athletic skills, I’d say this is a mixture of that along with just being someone that the whole group rags on.

Outside of one fairly funny scene with the kids’ crotchety neighbor, Mr. Stimpleton, the episode is….not all that entertaining. They don’t make many jokes, what they do have for comedy isn’t funny, and there isn’t that much in regards to extreme sports either. They focus more on the street hockey match, which is short and not much happens in it anyway. Sam shines for a bit in practice, whacking away any and all pucks that come his way, and then he gets the puck out of Merv’s mailbox through his engineering skills.

On second look, this episode might be setting the foundation for the audience. Most kids, even in the 90s and early 00s, weren’t nearly as much into extreme sports and stuff like Otto, Reggie and Twister. Whether it was due to safety issues, overbearing parents, lack of access to places to practice these things or lack of funds to get the equipment, most kids would be into skateboarding a bit, maybe street hockey, rollerblading, but some of the later stuff they do is beyond the reach of most kids.

Plus, there’s the same issue Sam has in that a lot of kids just don’t think they belong in that world. That doesn’t change the fact that it looks awesome and seems incredibly fun, however. Introducing Sam off the bat allows the audience to connect better with one of the characters and helps them believe that they could have talent in some of these sports – they just haven’t found it. I know this show inspired me to buy a skateboard….that I was never able to ride without wiping out and hurting myself. I did get okay at rollerblading, though, and it spurred me into being a fan of hockey so I have that.

It’s a decent starter episode, but the entertainment value both in comedy and sports is fairly low. I also have a few nitpicks. 1) Sam was scared to death of the puck earlier, yet a rogue flying puck he knocks away with his bare hand without even flinching or thinking about it? Then he’s perfectly fine facing a full-on barrage of pucks flying at him at practice? Uh huh. 2) They didn’t bring any extra pucks? 3) Merv wasn’t angry that Sam was screwing with so much stuff in his house to get the puck out of his mailbox?

CSBS - RP EP1B

The second half of the episode, Down the Drain, has Reggie being left in charge of Mr. Stimpleton’s house while he and Violet (Mrs. Stimpleton) are away on vacation. Why he trusted a kid, even Reggie, to housesit when he seems to vehemently hate children is beyond me, but we need a plot. Otto, Reggie, Twister and Sam are allowed to use his super cool high-tech pool while he’s away, but he has a strict list of rules for the place that they obviously don’t obey.

They enjoy the pool for a while, but keep making fun of Sam for being reluctant to enter the ‘cold’ pool, even though Stimpleton said right before he left that he keeps the water at a nice warm 68 degrees. Sam threatens to drain the pool if they keep it up, and Otto and Twister love the idea. Reggie, not so much. They want to drain the pool so they can make a skateboard pool out of it. I don’t know why they’d bother seeing as how they live a sneeze away from a full skate park, complete with a huge skateboard pool, but whatever.

Sam: “What could possibly go wrong?”

Oh, bless your heart.

Obviously, things go wrong. Twister leaves the drain hose next to a drain, but the water pressure from the draining process forces itself into the Rocket’s basement, flooding the place and ruining all of their stuff. Which, when you think about it in hindsight, must be especially horrible because Otto and Reggie’s mom has long since passed away and I can only imagine how much of her memorabilia is down there.

This episode also introduces us to Raymundo, Otto and Reggie’s father. He comes home early to use Stimpleton’s pool because he kinda has to per sitcom plot rules. It also briefly debuts Tito – Raymundo’s best friend and somewhat mentor to the kids.

They manage to keep the basement trouble and the pool drain a secret from their dad, but Stimpleton suddenly returns. He yells at Raymundo and they both yell for Reggie, but the kids all manage to escape.

This episode was more entertaining than the first part, even though, again, Stimpleton’s house is somehow all controlled remotely – even his electric toothbrushes…?? In the first part, this made a little sense because Mr. Stimpleton had troubles with wiring and seemingly does automate his house. However, Sam was using a big remote in that part. Here, he’s somehow controlling everything from the pool CPU. Why the hell would you want it that way?

Also, this huge hunk of metal he has to control such minor things as his pool was either super ridiculous even back then or technology has advanced a hell of a lot more than I remember.

This episode also debuts one thing I always hated about Rocket Power, and still do – the weird word emphasis cards. Every now and then, when someone says a word that may or may not be particularly emphasized, a colorful title card with various animations and fonts will pop up to put even more emphasis on it. I always thought that was an incredibly lame aspect of the show, yet they kept it the entire series run.

Down the Drain was more entertaining and funnier than New Squid on the Block, but it’s still not incredibly entertaining. It’s predictable, lots of things don’t have to happen but are forced to happen because plot, but Raymundo and Tito are my favorite characters, and it’s a strong enough story I guess.

Ratings:

Part 1 – 5/10

Part 2 – 6.5/10

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CSBS – Fillmore! Episode 4

CSBS Fillmore Episode 4
‘Nasium’s Gym’

Plot: The school mascot, a lobster named Lobstee, has been stolen before a big boccie ball game. Without him, the morale for the team will tank and send X Middle School to their first loss against Gilby Middle School in over a decade. Who stole Lobstee and why?

Breakdown: I was a little meh about this episode. It’s another one of those episodes where the major plot point is very silly but not in a particularly funny way. Like, seriously, the team is so down due to their loss of their lobster mascot that they start doing so poorly they have no other choice but to lose horribly?

Wanna know something else? That’s not the first time I’ve heard that plot. I’ve seen that on about five other sitcoms and cartoons. Why is it such a major morale blow for a mascot or whatever important school spirit icon to be lost before a big game? If anything, wouldn’t it make you want to beat the other team even worse considering that mascot thieves are almost always the rival school?

I liked that we got a bit of a glimpse into Fillmore’s home life, though. They even lend another LEO trope to him – having to skimp out on family time because the job comes first. It’s nice to see him have loving parents and not the bad home life you’d expect this ex-troublemaker to have, though that begs the question of what really made Fillmore so ill-mannered before.

I will fully admit that I didn’t catch onto the culprit this time until about two minutes before Fillmore and Ingrid did. Though, being fair, his reasons make no sense.

I first thought it was going to be the obviously fake psychic, Alistair. They put clear focus on him before the crime was ever committed, he comes in on the second act seeming like he’s going to take over the case, but he’s scrapped by the end of act II because, well, they ‘caught’ him.

It turns out that Harrison, a journalist whose sole job is to report on Alistair’s predictions and the stories that follow, was the culprit all along. He had been feeding Alistair emails ‘predicting’ events that he was causing so he could literally make headlines. Alistair gets the fame and Harrison gets a quick beeline to the editor-in-chief job. However, Harrison clearly expressed disdain at his job earlier in the episode. He stated that he wanted to write articles that would change lives and impact people, but he’s stuck writing column after column of stories about a psychic making predictions, which, when you think about it, is really the same article over and over.

“Alistair predicted (event) and it happened. By Harrison.”

If his job was so menial and his columns were so, if you’ll forgive the pun, predictable, why would doing all this be a straight shot to the editor-in-chief job?

The climax was….good. Even if the chase kinda fizzles out and the revelation of Alistair getting his ‘powers’ back was silly even for this show. Neither Ingrid nor Fillmore believe in his abilities, but they make it a point to show Alistair continuously having ‘visions’ and following a path outside of school to Lobstee’s exact location.

The main lesson of the episode was in both Harrison and Alistair, in that they were both so obsessed with obtaining their goals that they were more than willing to scam people and cause harm to others and the school. Alistair even quits pursuing his dream of being a great psychic because of it all. Taking the silliness of his ‘powers’ out of the equation, and while they don’t outright say it, he started losing his ‘powers’ when he started using them for personal gain, IE making a career out of it. He gained them back when he used them for good again, IE Finding Lobstee. That is a rather adult lesson to learn, and it’s easily applicable to kids. Some people get very caught up in pursuing their career goals or just goals in general that they don’t care who they hurt as long as they achieve them.

All in all, it’s an okay episode built around a tired as hell plot, but with a clever twist, nice background on Fillmore and a good life lesson.

As a final note, Harrison, you stupid son of a bitch, why the hell were you speaking your next ‘predictive’ email to Alistair out loud in the announcement booth during the game? I know there’s that dumb TV logic of ‘someone obviously talking to themselves and no one else can hear them because I said so’ but come on.

Rating: 7/10

CSBS – Danny Phantom Episode 3

CSBS DP EP3

Plot: Danny is having trouble managing his time as he tries to juggle studying with his ghost-fighting. He decides to write a report on a nearly-extinct purple-back gorilla named Samson to help get his grades up, but he’s continuously interrupted by his newest foe – the ghost collector, Skulker.

Breakdown: This episode is a little mixed. The first half is quite weak as there aren’t many jokes that work and the story is pretty slow paced. Skulker literally has no reason to be shadowing Danny as much as he is. Right before the mid-way commercial, he just captures Danny in a net anyway. He could’ve done that from the start.

The side-plot with Jazz and their parents is also weak. She’s trying desperately to get her parents to seem normal by having them do an interview for Genius magazine, which focuses explicitly on female geniuses, but Maddie insisted Jack be a part of it because they’re a team. They keep getting sidelined by ghost stuff because of course they are. I really wish Danny Phantom had gotten another season so maybe we could learn why Jack is so enthralled with ghosts.

This B-plot seems to tie into the A-plot by having Danny’s discovery end up as the main article in one of the issues of the magazine, but it’s still flimsy – especially considering Genius magazine is meant to be about genius women. The discovery isn’t even ‘genius’ – he just glanced at a gorilla’s junk.

You could’ve easily amputated that entire side-plot and nothing would matter. No one would question how Danny had the connections to get a main feature in a magazine considering the importance of the discovery.

The second half shines enough to make up for the first since the pacing picks up quite a bit, the jokes land better and the story improves. Skulker repeatedly getting whisked away by Tucker’s PDA schedule is very memorable and hilarious, and Sam stopping Skulker in his tracks to chat his ear off about how wrong it is to keep living…..err….to keep beings in cages was also very funny.

There were some little details that irked me, like why couldn’t Skulker just rip off Tucker’s PDA? He did it to the last one. He’d be without a CPU, but it’d be better than being forcibly jettisoned into doing whatever activity is on the PDA.

It took Danny way too long to figure out that Skulker was being affected by his schedule.

I know that this is part of the joke in the episode, but SERIOUSLY no one was ever able to get close enough to Samson to figure out their gender? When they’re one of the only two of their species left? You’re really willing to let the species die out because you’re too lazy or scared to even try to get a peek at their fruit basket? Come on. That’s what tranquilizers are for.

Even then, it’s a goddamn gorilla. They’re not exactly modest. Their bait and tackle is usually on proud display. And if, indeed, no one was ever able to tell, why would you advertise that they’re both male when you don’t know?

Actually, if they never checked Samson, then they likely never checked the other gorilla either….so, they might very well both be female – making this revelation moot because they still can’t breed. Good job, scientists.

Tucker was also annoying me more than he usually does in this episode. His slip-ups, usually caused by arrogance, made the situation worse, not once, not twice, but three times in this episode.

Rating: 7/10 Overall, though, this was a pretty solid episode. I’ve always liked Skulker – he has one of my favorite ghost designs – and while the first half was a little trying, the second half definitely made up for it.

CSBS – American Dragon Jake Long Episode 3 Review

CSBS ADJL EP3

Plot: Spud tries year after year to win the talent show to honor his grandfather, who was a magician. Jake and Trixie agree to finally help him win the trophy this year, but there’s a problem. The trophy is actually an ancient chalice which seals the powerful and malicious Djinn who cannot be resealed in the chalice since the incantation to do so was lost many years ago. If the chalice gets enough liquid in it to overflow, the Djinn will be released.

Grandpa orders Jake to enter the talent show so he can win the trophy and they can keep it safely hidden forever. However, this means betraying Spud. Both Trixie and Spud are angry with him for entering the show, but Jake deals with it since he has a duty as the American Dragon.

Meanwhile, Rockwood tries to win the chalice for himself by recruiting Brad, whom he believes is a prodigy piano player after learning he’s been taking lessons for 12 years.

Jake enters as a ventriloquist with Fu as his ‘puppet’, but after some complications arise in the form of Brad’s sabotage, leading to the chalice overflowing. The Djinn is released and starts wreaking havoc in the auditorium, but everyone just believes it’s Spud’s magic show. Jake tries to combat the Djinn, but, surprisingly, Spud’s grandfather’s magic words were the resealing incantation the whole time.

Spud’s show is a hit, Jake withdraws from the competition and Spud wins the show. Later, Spud gives the chalice to Jake since he was kind enough to withdraw.

Jake apologizes to Grandpa for dropping out, but he says that it’s alright since he chose the path of a true friend and got the chalice anyway. Jake and Fu then realize they lost the chalice on the subway, and it ends up in the butt cheeks of a woman on the train.

———————————-

I was going to do my usual beat by beat breakdown of the episode, but, honestly, this episode is so boring I didn’t even bother.

First, it’s Spud-centric, so it’s already starting off weak. Spud can be a sweetheart, but he’s also not funny and he’s boring to me as a character.

Second, this whole plot is incredibly forced. I get that half of these things are supposed to be jokes, but the person who first had the chalice really felt like meeting the person buying it in a trophy factory? The chalice just happens to be perfectly trophy shaped? It just happens to wind up in Jake’s school and just happens to be the first prize in the talent show that Spud just so happens to want nothing more than to win? And Spud is really the descendant of the only person in the world who knew the incantation to reseal the Djinn? Even Spud giving him the trophy is forced because he wanted that trophy badly and Jake never explained why he needed to enter.

Third, this episode is even a waste of opportunity for the typical talent show plot jokes. When most shows like this have plots in talent shows, they usually at least have the redeeming factor of showing funny segments showing the other contestants and their funny talents. Here, they try to do that, but ultimately fail. We have a kid who does pig calls, a girl who folds origami swans really fast (which is more cool than funny) and a kid who plays the triangle.

They couldn’t even make it funny when Brad sabotages their acts. He lets a pig loose for the pig caller, which you’d think would probably help his act since he’s a pig caller. Bringing a pig out makes it seem like it’s an awesome call. He puts glue on the origami paper, which doesn’t make sense to me because they’re stacked. Wouldn’t they all get stuck together? Also, just give her a new stack of paper. And he bends the last kid’s triangle into a mangled mess. They probably have one in the band room to use, but he’s out.

Also, Trixie, at the very least, should’ve been questioning how Spud suddenly knew how to effortlessly put on this amazing Djinn vs. Dragon battle when he can barely pull off the lamest of tricks mere minutes prior. She kinda questions it at first, but quickly accepts it.

Don’t even talk to me about the ending joke.

The episode as a whole is fine, nothing offended or enraged me, but it’s so by the book, forced and boring. Fu got some good moments, but nothing great.

Rating: 4/10

CSBS – Rugrats Episode 2 Review

Rugrats episode 2 title

Plot: 2A – Barbecue Story: The adults are having a barbecue, and Angelica sends Tommy’s ball flying into the neighbor’s yard. Tommy sets off on a mission to get it back.

2B – Waiter, There’s a Baby in my Soup: Stu and Didi are forced to bring Tommy to a fancy dinner with a man who is listening to Stu’s presentation on why he should market his toys.

Breakdown:

2A – Something I kinda dread about rewatching this series as an adult is knowing there will be many moments that will make me cringe in how possibly horrifying the real-world result could’ve been.

Case and point, this segment.

During a barbecue, Angelica, being a bitch, decides to swat Tommy’s ball into the neighbor’s yard for kicks. Tommy breaks into the neighbor’s yard to retrieve it and is forced to go over a secondary fence into an area meant for a vicious guard dog. The dog very nearly (and, if you watch closely, honestly should have) mauls Tommy to death, until he’s suddenly saved by Spike.

Spike returns Tommy to the barbecue and is rewarded with a plate of burnt burgers.

At face value, this is an alright episode. Not the funniest in the world, and there are several annoying aspects I’ll get to in a minute, but it’s decent.

However, as an adult…..I’ve read several news stories about little kids being mauled by dogs, sometimes to death and others severely injured with many scars and deformities left behind. I could not stop myself from imagining Tommy getting viciously attacked by this dog.

Rugrats episode 2 - 2A 1

When Tommy’s parents discover him missing, I thought they’d hear his panicked cries and rescue him, but no. They never hear his cries nor discover where he went. Despite being just next door, Spike is the only one who hears poor Tommy and comes to the rescue. Granted, this scene is one awesome Spike moment. He is a total dog badass here, but Jesus Christ, these parents will never not win the worst parents ever award.

To put more clarity on this situation, when Tommy was crying in his playpen after Angelica swatted his ball, every single adult there diverted their attention to Tommy. When he’s screaming and wailing in terror with a huge bulldog snapping his teeth mere inches from his face, everyone besides Spike suddenly becomes deaf.

The ending is a very sweet moment between Tommy and Spike, but the rest of the episode just leaves me feeling uneasy.

The aforementioned annoying aspects come in Angelica and Chuckie. Angelica never gets any comeuppance for what she did, even though her actions very nearly lead to her cousin’s death. Chuckie has a moment of complaining that seemed more whiny than he normally is, mostly because he’s blaming his misfortunes on Tommy when he didn’t force him to come along.

2B – As big of a Rugrats nut as I was when I was a kid, I did have those episodes I didn’t care for. This is one of them. However, back then, my reasoning was entirely for the obnoxious antics of Mr. Mucklehoney. Nowadays, adult me can see that this whole episode doesn’t work.

It’s main premise is built on sand. Didi and Stu are ‘forced’ to bring Tommy to a fancy restaurant because their babysitter canceled last minute, Grandpa Lou is on a bowling date, and they have a presentation with Mr. Mucklehoney – an obnoxious prankster who is constantly laughing.

Rugrats episode 2 - 2B 1
ShutupshutupshutupshutupshutupshutupshutupSHUTUP!

Oh, excuse me, I mean Stu has a presentation with Mr. Mucklehoney. Didi has no purpose here.

This whole plot could’ve been avoided had Didi just stayed home with Tommy. What’s more disruptive? Stating a superfluous third party couldn’t attend a dinner because she had to watch their infant son or bringing a one year old to a fancy restaurant? Keep in mind, Tommy himself is being obnoxious in this episode. When they find out their babysitter needs to cancel, Tommy is on the floor having strewn all of the pots and pans in the kitchen on the floor and dumped a garbage can full of trash all over himself, the floor and the pans.

People find babies in cheap family restaurants to be an annoyance, but bringing a one year old to a fancy restaurant? When you have a very good reason not to? And when you’re having dinner with someone very important? Come on.

What’s even worse is that they set up an out and don’t take it just so it can be more believable when Tommy manages to escape. Didi gets a call from Grandpa Lou right before they order. He needs a ride home because he had a fight with his date and she was his ride. Didi agrees and is about to take Tommy, who is drumming on the dinnerware with a fork and spoon, with her because she realizes he’s being a nuisance. However, Mr. Mucklehoney offers to have the two of them watch him and she’s just like ‘alright’ and even gives the spoon back to Tommy so he can continue being loud and irritating to everyone around them.

Rugrats episode 2 - 2B 2

Of course, Tommy quickly slips out of his high chair and, of course, Stu is none the wiser. He slips into the kitchen and, I might need to add a ‘third-party adult fail’ section because not a damn person in that kitchen realizes a baby is crawling around on the countertops making a mess and destroying stuff. I feel really bad for the people who get that cream pie filled with silverware. Thank God Tommy never reached the stove. He fell into a bowl of pasta – he could’ve easily fallen into a pot of boiling water.

When he gets back to the table, he’s superheated Mucklehoney’s soup, bubblegum’d his shoes to the table, tied Stu’s shoes to the table and caused the entire table to topple over on top of Mucklehoney.

And, of course, Mr. Mucklehoney is one of those sitcom schmucks who has all this crap happen to him and, because it would be unfair to have Stu suffer for Tommy’s actions, he loves the crazy antics Stu has caused and offers him a job.

Rugrats episode 2 - 2B 3

This episode is poorly written and riddled with plot conveniences. You can practically see them drawing a map to the plot they were trying to get to. “Okay, how about we have Tommy let loose in a restaurant making all sorts of trouble? We’ll work out the details of how this happens right before we animate it. No storyboards. They’re a hassle.”

Not to mention, Tommy just doesn’t work well on his own. Rugrats always worked best when the babies were playing off of each other. Even if the plot is obviously focused on one character, you need at least one or two more to make the story as a whole work. Tommy is completely on his own here. There’s not even any minor Angelica cameo. Not to mention, they seem like they upped his annoying level so they could get more comedy out of him.

Parenting Fails

2A – No one notices or cares that Angelica took Tommy’s ball and threw it over the fence. Even if it’s understandable to maybe not catch her taunting him with it, surely someone had to have seen her throw the thing.

No one notices them breaking out of their playpen, even though they’re all in the side yard, nor do they see the babies escaping into the neighbor’s yard.

If you have babies or pets, don’t leave loose or broken boards in your fence.

I applaud the neighbor for having a second fence within his fence for his vicious dog, but I’ll add some neighbor fails for making this fence all of a foot and a half tall (the babies can get over it just by giving each other a little boost.) and chaining the large and very strong dog to a rickety dog house that is half-assedly nailed to boards in the ground.

It takes them way too long to notice the babies missing, especially considering the babies were looking in the neighbor’s first yard for quite a while.

No one hears Tommy’s terrified cries merely a yard away.

X10 fails just because I can’t get the image of Tommy being mauled out of my head. The fact that their dog was a better parent here than anyone else is ridiculous.

2B – Nobody notices that Tommy is playing with the toilet – a possible drowning hazard because it’s one of those toilets that seems to hold three gallons of water in the bowl.

Nobody notices that Tommy spreads out all of the pots and pans in the kitchen on the floor. Even if you can say they didn’t see it, there’s no way they didn’t hear it because that would be insanely loud.

Nobody notices that Tommy knocks the garbage over.

When they do notice, they don’t give a crap.

Gonna count them bringing Tommy to this meeting as a fail. If they really had no choice, I’d understand, but not only is Didi a perfectly good option, they don’t even consider contacting any of the other parents to see if they can do it. Any adult should know that bringing a baby to a fancy restaurant is inconsiderate. And this is coming from someone who’s never had a child or been to a particularly fancy restaurant. Unless you have the most angelic baby in the world, or they’re comatose, they’re going to cry, smell and be obnoxious. They even show how annoyingly he’s behaving before they even leave, and he wastes no time before he starts drumming on his dinnerware.

Didi leaving Tommy alone with these two.

Stu not noticing Tommy has escaped. He is literally seated a foot away from him.

If I don’t have a ‘third party adult’ tally, we’re skipping six points.

Tally: 26

What the…They’re Babies!

Outside of the babies easily scaling that fence, there wasn’t much in this area for either episode.

Cartoons Step-By-Step: Dave the Barbarian Episode 2

CSBS DTB EP2

Plot: 2a – Pet Threat: It’s dragon appreciation week and Dave the others have completely forgotten to do anything special for Faaffy. They rush out on the final day of the week to get him a gift, and Dave decides to buy him a new best friend – a diseased weasel he names Carl. However, Carl is not nearly as sickly and innocent as he seems, and no one will believe Faffy when he tries to warn the others.

2b – Lula’s First Barbarian: Lula spots her first owner and lost love, Argan the Ageless, at the marketplace and the flames of her love instantly start growing again. Despite the fact that he’s an obvious jerk who left her for stupid reasons thousands of years ago, she is more than willing to drop Dave the instant he seems to want her back. Worried about her welfare, Dave, Fang, Candy and Oswidge band together to save her heart from getting broken again.

Breakdown:

2a – Pet Threat: This is a rather tired plot that is predictable from start to finish. Not to mention the fact that a good chunk of it doesn’t make any sense.

Dark Lord Chuckles, the Silly Piggy, is actually the diseased weasel, Carl, and he plans on stealing the magical grape of bobobidobo from Faffy’s room. Okay, that’s fine. But uh, how did Chuckles know Dave would be in that marketplace? Or that specific store? Or that the owner would pull him out of that basket to show Dave? Or that Dave would even be remotely interested in buying a diseased weasel? Or that he was buying the diseased weasel to be the new companion to Faffy? Or that the grape was even in Faffy’s room?

Not to mention the fact that Faffy gets treated fairly badly in this episode for no reason. Oswidge eats the ham Dave’s parents sent him for dragon appreciation week. The others forget dragon appreciation week, which depresses Faffy. They buy him a ratty diseased animal as a gift and don’t take Faffy’s feelings into consideration. Dave even completely writes him off when Faffy explicitly points out that Dave is treating Carl better than he’s treating him, when it’s completely obvious. (Then again, Dave is an idiot.) No one believes him for a second when he tries to warn them about what Carl is doing. He runs away, no one notices or seems to care. He comes back, no one notices or seems to care.

They show a little bit of concern when Faffy appears to sacrifice himself to beat Chuckles, and you think for a second they’ll actually do something nice for him on the final day of dragon appreciation week. They seem like they do by preparing a nice meal for Faffy only to reveal it’s Chuckles dressed as a ham. Dave breaks the fourth wall and tells the audience that Faffy’s not really going to eat him and that it’s all for a joke and Faffy’s in the background with a distraught look on his face.

So, in the end, Faffy gets treated like crap for dragon appreciation week and the one moment of redemption for the others is just a visual gag that screws Faffy out of a meal. Lovely.

Not only that, but there weren’t very many jokes in this segment that worked for me and several were gross-out gags.

This was not a very enjoyable segment to me. It just seemed mean-spirited and lacking in several departments.

2b – Lula’s First Barbarian: This segment basically has the same problems as 2a, but at least the plot makes more sense. Again, you know from the very instant you learn anything about Argan, which is the first minute he’s on screen, that he’ll be a complete dickhead to Lula, she’ll fall for him anyway and Dave and the others will rip off her love goggles before she gets in too deep.

Lula’s being an idiot and a bitch in this episode because not only is she completely denying that Argan is anything but an amazing love muffin, no matter how he continues to treat her and has in the past (he literally uses her as a nose for a snowman tens of thousands of years ago and just left her there, never to return.), but she’s also more than willing to leave Dave because he’s such a prissy barbarian.

And, again, Dave doesn’t seem to care. He cares about Lula’s well-being enough to help create a plan to get her away from him, but even he doesn’t see what a jackass Argan is until his newer sword, Judy, explains that he traded her away to some toothless villager for a potato. I don’t know if this is a testament to how much of an idiot Dave is or he just doesn’t have strong connections with the people (and dragons….and swords) who are supposedly closest to him.

Candy was surprisingly supportive of this clearly unhealthy relationship, even making a montage out of her using tips from a teen magazine to help Lula bag her man.

Fang’s the only one with an ounce of sense in this episode and she doesn’t get to do much.

This episode was light on jokes that worked but, like 2a, there were some smile-worthy moments.

Overall, I’d give 2a a rating of 3/10 and 2b a 4/10, giving the overall episode a 3.5/10

Cartoons Step-By-Step: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003) Episode 2 Review

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Plot: As the turtles finish fixing up their new home after their old one got destroyed by the mouser robots, a news report showcases the newest invention of the world renowned scientist, Baxter Stockman. Shockingly, the unveiled creations are the mouser robots, marketed as a solution to New York’s rampant rat problem, though they’re really attack robots built for the evil Shredder.

Donatello manages to get one of the mousers working again and they follow it as it makes it way back to the enemy’s hideout. They’re knocked off the trail, however, when the mouser bites through the supports for one of the main water lines.

Meanwhile, Stockman’s assistant, April O’Neal, notices some oddities in the mouser’s functioning and Stockman’s behavior, so she decides to investigate. She opens a secret passageway that leads into a mass mouser robot factory, but before she’s able to learn more, Stockman finds her and sics the mouser robots on her.

She runs into the sewers to get away, and the turtles quickly pick the trail of the mousers back up. They destroy all of the robots and save April, who promptly passes out when she sees that her saviors are really humanoid turtles.

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This episode wasn’t horribly interesting or action-packed, but it was a good continuation of the plotline from the previous episode, and it introduced us to April and Baxter Stockman. I’m actually very happy at her change into being Baxter’s assistant instead of being a reporter. It gives her more to offer the team (though how much is used is yet to be seen) and it gives her more of a connection to the overall plot. Plus, I’d take that white lab coat over that yellow jumpsuit any day. Nostalgia be damned, that was ugly.

I don’t have much else to say about it. There’s nothing much of note here besides it being a continuation. It was kinda fun, and I can’t find much really wrong with it. I don’t understand why the turtles want to follow the mousers so badly if they know Stockman is the one making them. And I know New York does have a bad rat problem, but no one’s really questioning the….risks or…logic involved in the mouser robots? PETA’s not complaining about the fact that they just aired a news segment where a foot-tall robot with razor-sharp teeth just ate a bunch of rats? Also, poor Donny thinking he disabled the mouser’s jaws and it didn’t take.

I love Donny, okay?

Also, despite not making an appearance yet, I learned Casey Jones will be voiced by Marc Thompson. So that’s nice.

Rating: 7/10

CSBS – Fillmore! Episode 3

CSBS Fillmore episode 3

Plot: While Fillmore deals with a troublemaker named Tony Clementina, all of the books in the library get mysteriously stolen. One bit of evidence points to Clementina, and Fillmore is compelled to believe he’s the culprit. But is he really a lost cause?

Breakdown: The crime this week is pretty outlandish, even for Fillmore. Are you seriously telling me a librarian was so obliviously lost in a book that they didn’t realize every book in the library was being checked out? If they did it book by book, that must’ve taken hours.

Also, the culprit is incredibly obvious from the get-go once you meet him because he’s a bit overly dramatic in his reaction to the crime. Much like the first episode where the culprit is obviously the person who seemingly cares most about what was damaged or stolen.

His plan didn’t even make full sense. He complains about never being able to read the best books in the library because they’re always checked out. He wanted to keep all of the books, especially the best ones, for himself. But how did he plan it to take out the good books too as this mass and sudden book heist was happening if those particular books are always checked out?

There’s also the school-yard forensics going on. Fillmore has had a touch of forensics in their episodes so far, but this one was the first to really get down into it. And I gotta say, this is where any intelligent viewer would constantly call BS. I can handle the inconsistencies, oddities and outlandish goings on in regards to the crimes because that’s what they intend on doing, but a lot of this stuff is hard to swallow.

For instance, I get that Ingrid is a genius, but she can identify custard under a microscope, especially when it’s a year old? She can also microscopically tell the difference between two different salt samples from various brands of pretzels?

Also, they have fingerprinting. This isn’t really entirely out there because, for the most part, a good chunk of actual fingerprinting is done by hand in a visual inspection, so a kid might have the know-how to pull it off, which Tehama seems to be.

Despite realistically having Ingrid struggle for a while to lift the fingerprint properly (even though, after all of those attempts on that mug, all of the prints must’ve been destroyed by the time she was actually able to get one) they have her instantly, and from a distance, match the fingerprint of Fillmore’s with the fingerprint on a soda rocket she found in the gym’s ceiling. I’m not expecting forensic precision and accuracy with a cartoon, especially one that is obviously embellishing on numerous aspects of school life for the sake of making a police setting possible, but it still catches my eye.

Which brings us to the subplot. While the Safety Patrollers are chasing Clementina for an unrelated crime, Ingrid notices a soda can rocket lodged in the ceiling of the gym. Without telling Fillmore, she requests that it be taken down so she can examine it. She discovers that there is custard residue on it and asks around if there have been any incidents involving custard recently. Tehama says that last year, before Ingrid transferred, one of the faculty members was trying to break the world record for largest bowl of custard. As he was trying to empty the last small bowl into the big bowl, the platform the big bowl was sitting on gave way, causing a huge custard flood in the gym.

Tehama points Ingrid in the direction of Fillmore since the brand of soda used in the rocket was only sold in Cleveland, where Fillmore used to live before they moved to wherever this takes place.

She matches Fillmore’s print to one lifted from the rocket, but keeps her findings to herself. However, she finds herself annoyed when he treats Clementina as a ‘lost cause’ when that’s exactly what many people thought, and some still think, of Fillmore back in his troublemaking days.

Fillmore realizes what Ingrid found out and explains what happened. He didn’t cause the custard spill. That truly was an accident caused by a buckling platform.

However, the rocket was his attempt to try to make the spill happen. The platform was already falling when he shot it off, and the angle of the wood sent the rocket into the ceiling, where it stayed for a year. He was caught sometime later on an unrelated but serious charge and the Safety Patroller who nabbed him gave him an ultimatum – either help him with a case or spend the rest of the school year in detention. He decided to help and turned over a new leaf as a Safety Patroller.

We never learn the name of the Safety Patroller who helped him out, but it’s a decent backstory for Fillmore either way.

I will say that Fillmore is being kinda out of character in this episode. He’s usually not so dismissive of the criminals he deals with. Hell, he had faith in a kid who was so bad that he was isolated from the other kids and had to take his classes in a special prison cell with no one else in the room. Yet he’s now completely ignoring a plethora of hard evidence that full-out proves Clementina didn’t do it just because of one piece of easily planted circumstantial evidence and Fillmore’s seeming vendetta against him. It’s just not like Fillmore is all.

It’s also a bit weird how quickly Clementina turned around. Fillmore changed his ways because someone showed him a better path. Clementina went from a complete asshole criminal who only cared about money and prestige to someone who willingly wants to help the Safety Patrol without even being asked. Fillmore didn’t show him any better way before this point. They were butting heads the whole time up until the climax.

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This episode is just a big mixed bag. I liked the glimpse into Fillmore’s backstory and the case was alright, but I don’t think they did enough with Clementina to really draw the parallels enough for this to be that impacting on Fillmore or the audience. The culprit was pretty obvious, especially since there were far fewer red herrings than normal (let’s see, it’s either the obvious guy everyone’s pointing the finger at immediately or the only other child character who has been prevalent so far. Hm.)

The crime itself was just a bit too far out there to be plausible unless X Middle School has the dumbest librarian ever.

In addition, the forensics stuff is mostly a bit too tough to swallow if you know anything about forensics, though it really is one of those things you just have to let slide for entertainment value. I know I just thought it was cool when I was a kid (and, hell, it sparked an interest in forensics so much that my focus for my degree was forensic psychology) And Fillmore’s on the OOC side in this episode.

Rating: 7/10

CSBS – Danny Phantom Episode 2

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Plot: Jack shows off his new invention, the Fenton Ghost Fisher, a device meant to capture ghosts, to Danny when he leaves the room briefly to go to the bathroom. Danny grabs the fisher and catches a dragon ghost. He combats the ghost for a while before knocking off the dragon’s amulet, which lands in his backpack. The dragon reverts to the form of an 18th century English girl who runs back into the Ghost Portal stating she wanted to go to the ball.

Danny, thinking the whole event is over, resumes his day. A school dance is coming up and Danny decides to ask out Paulina, the prettiest and most popular girl in school. However, he makes a fool of himself in his nervousness thanks to his ghost powers. Sam steps in to defend him, insulting Paulina in the process. As revenge and believing Sam to be his girlfriend, Paulina later accepts Danny’s invitation. She also mistakenly believes the amulet in Danny’s backpack is hers.

It’s up to Danny, Sam and Tucker to retrieve the amulet before Paulina also turns into the dragon and causes havoc at the dance.

Breakdown: This episode always annoyed me a tiny bit. While we’re amping up the stakes with the Dragon Ghost, the way that it works basically amounts to ‘bitches be crazy.’

We see the Dragon Ghost three times in this episode.

The first, the 18th century English girl reveals that she turned into the dragon because she was upset that she couldn’t go to the dance.

The second, Paulina triggers it by getting upset that they don’t have a trendy new and discontinued fleecy tee in her size.

The third is the most understandable with Sam turning into the dragon when Paulina reveals that she was only dating Danny to get revenge on Sam, believing them to be dating, and she plans on dumping him in the middle of the dance since Sam revealed that they’re not dating. While this is more admirable, it’s set up like Sam’s more upset that Paulina’s shallow (she keeps repeating ‘shallow girl!’ in dragon form) than she’s upset for Danny, who is soon to be heartbroken.

Not to mention that this makes no sense anyway. Why would Paulina think Danny’s dating Sam when he’s asking her out? I’d think if my boyfriend asked another girl out to a dance while we were dating, the relationship would be beyond over in a millisecond.

I do like the different reactions all three of them are having to this dance, though. Danny’s getting up the courage to ask his crush out to the dance, Tucker’s asking anyone with boobs and a pulse and consistently gets shot down. He somehow lands Valerie, who will become very prominent later, but Danny forces him (through possession) to dump her for Sam. She’s been badmouthing the dance the whole episode, and they only catch on right before the dance that she’s partially upset because no one’s asked her out. Danny possesses Tucker to claim Valerie canceled and to ask out Sam, and while Tucker initially protests, he changes his tune rather quickly when Sam comes out looking beautiful.

The sub-plot with Danny’s dad was insanely unnecessary, though, besides to show off Danny’s newly discovered possession capability. Lancer understands that Danny keeps dropping his pants because they, seemingly, don’t fit well (it’s really his ghost powers) and fixes the situation by giving him a belt, yet he still calls in Danny’s dad for a parent-teacher conference because this is somehow a fault of Danny’s that needs to be discussed with a parent.

Then he, of course, has to invite Possessed!Jack to be a chaperone to the dance purely to keep this plot going further and fabricate tension.

All in all, the episode’s pretty good, but there are a few major things about it that irk me. It just felt a little on the sexist side, is all.

Oh, and just because I feel I have to mention this because meme(?) this is the episode where they have that line exchange –

Sam: “Promise me you’ll keep your pants up.”

Danny: “I’ll do my best!”

I don’t know why this became a slight thing. I mean, it’s a funny-ish joke in context, but outside….is it just hurr hurr, this is kinda innuendo? I don’t really get it.

Rating: 7.5/10 Still staying at a good pace with the action and some of the story, but the mechanics of the amulet, at least the way it’s portrayed here, are a bit annoying and Jack’s subplot was entirely pointless. Also, it seems weird that they kinda poked at TuckerxSam here, yet went nowhere with it.

Cartoons Step-by-Step: Rugrats Episode 1

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Plot: It’s Tommy’s first birthday, and his parents have pulled all the stops to make it great. Didi has plenty of entertainment and food setup while Stu is inventing a gift. However, Tommy’s much more interested in trying some of his dog, Spike’s, dog food, believing that it will turn him into a dog.

Breakdown: I don’t think I need to reiterate how much Rugrats means to me. It was a huge part of my childhood, and spawned my love of all things Nickelodeon (back in the good ol’ days when the execs weren’t braindead dimwits…Er were slightly less braindead I suppose.) I was obsessed with Rugrats for well over a decade, and I cherish the show to this day.

That being said, this pilot was always boring as hell to me.

To me, this first episode seems a lot more like it’s made for parents than it is children. One of the great things about Rugrats is, due to the premise, it is very easy for children and parents/adults alike to enjoy it, but this episode does seem focused more on the parents.

It takes a quarter of the episode before any of the babies even speak, and rarely is there a joke to be had until the climax.

Instead we have to watch the human paradox that is Didi have a fit over this birthday party. I swear, she will obsess over everything related to parenthood because her ultimate goal in life is to be a good mother (“like the ones on TV” ~Didi) but even this early on she is completely oblivious to what Tommy wants, needs or is doing most of the time.

Instead, she’d rather bow down to the glory of the almighty Dr. Lipschitz books, to the point where her catchphrase is ‘Dr. Lipschitz says…’, causing her to actually be a less effective mother. (I can’t find info on this, but is Lipschitz’ name a joke? Like everything he says is bull shit?) Not to say she is one without him. Didi let Tommy slide off of her lap and wander into the kitchen (which is closed off by it’s own door by the way, for anyone who might argue that she can still watch him), which was about his fifth time attempting to get in there without anyone noticing, and she is always losing track of where the kids are, which has become one of the most well-known tropes of this series. (Even though all of the parents are negligent in their own right).

At least I can say Tommy was always picked up and brought somewhere else shortly after these attempts, before the climax of course. But let’s address that later.

Stu is up to his goofball inventor tricks, but he’s mostly babbling about his Hover-rama, a flying remote control spaceship thing, that he made for Tommy. Though he never gets it working purely because he forgot the batteries. Maybe that’s supposed to be funny because he’s brought up how impressive his gift is because it takes like four different kinds of batteries about five times at this point, but he seriously ends up crying because he forgot the batteries for the remote. He barely looks for any, either. He checks his pockets, gets a sullen look, then sits down and cries.

There are three shining lights in the adult section, though. Betty is usually always funny in the early seasons. In the later seasons, she becomes more of a bitch and an idiot. She’s in direct contrast to Didi. While she is fairly negligent of her children’s activities in her own right, she definitely knows more about children than Didi does. Even small observations like the fact that the party hats Didi puts on them will be quickly discarded are made a little funny because of the stark contrast. When you think about it, both Didi and Betty are realistic parents, it’s just that Betty is more relatable and funny.

Next, Grandpa Lou also brings some grounding reality to the household with some of his comments, along with Grandpa Boris and Grandma Minka.

Finally, the puppet show is the funniest part of the episode. Stu and his brother, Drew, father of Tommy’s famously horrible cousin, Angelica, put on a puppet show after Didi messes up the scheduling for the puppeteers. Their bickering is pretty funny and just gets increasingly entertaining.

At the climax, all of the kids go into the kitchen while the adults are focused on the bicker-fest of Stu and Drew, who never break out from behind the stage and fight as puppets the whole time. Spike has eaten all of his food, so Tommy and Angelica try to reach a can of it on the top of the shelves by them both standing on the counter balanced on a bunch of bowls and colanders while Tommy balances on Angelica’s shoulders. See why many people grew to be outraged at the Rugrats’ parents over time? If they bothered to pay a modicum of attention to their kids, they’d realize that Angelica and Tommy were in a situation where they could easily both smash their heads in on the tile.

They can’t reach it, so Chuckie, resident scaredy cat and Tommy’s best friend, decides to use the Hover-rama to knock it down. Chuckie has batteries in his pocket for some reason, and he’s able to instantly put the batteries in correctly, meaning he has better battery skills than most adults I know. Chuckie, amazingly, pilots the Hover-rama perfectly from the living room into the kitchen, despite not being able to see it, and, with the skill of a surgeon, is able to position and maneuver the Hover-rama to the shelf right by the dog food and starts nudging it over.

Phil and Lil, Betty and her husband, Howard’s, twins, known for being more gross than most of the kids, ruin it by grabbing the remote and start trying to do the job better than Chuckie, which turns out like you’d expect. They accidentally grab Tommy with the Hover-rama and fly him all over the kitchen, knocking Angelica into a bag of flour, knocking the stack of bowls and stuff that they were standing on over, spraying the room with water from the hand nozzle from the sink, knocking over a stack of plates and all without any of the adults ever hearing a thing.

They even fly Tommy into the living room, where the parents are, and they still don’t notice a thing until the Hover-rama is crashed into the cake.

Chuckie was really funny when he was flying the Hover-rama, though. Not only does he have the skills, he also knows some pilot lingo.

In the end, Didi simultaneously shows us the insanity of a regular family and the insanity of trying to mediate one by pacifying everyone who is arguing by telling Drew and Stu they’re both wrong for what they did to each other as kids and telling both of her parents that they’re right on their opposing sides of what cake they should’ve had at the party (Boris was right, though. It should always be chocolate.)

And the babies did indeed get some dog food, which they promptly spat out. Which is weird, because they eat worms and bugs and stuff.

All in all, this episode is really boring, but it’s somewhat salvageable. The periods of no music don’t really help. I’m not saying every scene needs music, otherwise I’d have to apologize to 4Kids. But there are scenes that are just too quiet to keep your attention.

The funny moments are sporadic, but the ending is somewhat solid.

Rating: 5/10

Just for fun, let’s have two running tallies, because, trust me, this will be interesting to keep track of at each season’s end.

Parenting Fails

I didn’t count exactly, but let’s go with about eight times the kids sneaked away with no one noticing. (Let’s also include an ‘at blame’ counter, to see who comes out looking better as parents. In this case, though, while Didi and Stu technically have more, all of the parents are guilty. Stu, Didi, Drew, Betty, Howard, and even the grandparents, Boris, Minka, and Lou. Chas and Charlotte are innocent because they simply weren’t here.)

The entirety of the climax, which will count as three.

Stu thinking it’s not unsafe for babies to have a complicated flying machine as a toy, especially with tons of batteries. Also note that the battery compartment for the remote is not secured with a screw or anything. You push the door and it opens.

No one noticing that Chuckie had batteries.

No one noticing that Tommy has a real screwdriver (his later one is a toy).

Tally – 14

What the…They’re babies! (This category is for odd details that seemingly make no logical sense given these are babies, but this tally is mostly for fun considering some liberties have to be taken for humor.)

How did Tommy tape his screwdriver to the underside of his high chair?

How DID Chuckie know how to fly that thing so well? Especially considering that the controls look like crap.

How did Tommy and Angelica even get up on the counter like that?