Episode One-Derland (Cartoons) Delta State

Plot: Four amnesiac twenty-somethings with psychic powers are recruited to protect the world from fellow psychic beings called Rifters. The Rifters originate from the mysterious dream-like realm called the Delta State, and their main intent is to control the minds of everyone in the world. The four have no choice but to accept this dangerous task as it is their best chance at remembering their pasts.

Breakdown: This is one of those shows where I find myself struggling to discuss it properly.

Let’s start with the basics. Delta State is a show based on a (never released) comic book of the same name by Douglas Gayeton. It was produced by Nelvana and released by Teletoons on Canadian television in 2004, and it has the honor of being the first ever fully rotoscoped animated TV series.

The art style really makes it stand out from other animated TV shows I’ve covered. I’ve seen numerous fully rotoscoped animated movies and short films, but they typically do this to gain a more realistic appearance while also taking advantage of the creative benefits that come with animation.

Rotoscoping itself is largely viewed as a lazy form of animating since you’re literally taking frames of live action footage and tracing over them, but I do believe this form of animation was the right way to go for this specific series.

Delta State has a very….college-esque kind of vibe to it. That makes sense considering that the characters are all in their early twenties, live together and basically act like college students. Not to mention the fact that doing a Google search on this title results in mostly colleges.

The show also doesn’t have tons of background music and utilizes natural idle conversations quite well. It doesn’t feel like a show where the fate of the world rests on the shoulders of the four main characters, but by the end you start feeling the stakes.

The reason rotoscoping works well for Delta State is because of the Delta State. Technically, all of their psychic powers could be done in live-action just fine. Claire has the power of remote viewing, which can easily be done with practical effects. Martin is a telepath, which is done even more easily since no effects are needed. Philip has the power of psychometry, which allows him to have visions of past events related to items, which can also be done fairly easily with editing. Finally, Luna has precognition, which can also be done easily with editing.

The Delta State, however, is meant to be a dream-like realm – and in dreams anything can happen. In addition, like lucid dreams, various aspects of the world can be controlled with enough focus and effort. In fact, the name Delta State comes from the stage of deep sleep where delta waves develop. The Delta State sequences obviously benefit from being animated because animation allows you the same creative freedom that are necessary for dreams.

Additionally, we can gain a better understanding of how surreal or off this realm is considering that everything else is rotoscoped realistically. It’s just a normal city with normal people. The main four don’t even look like anything special. Since it’s rotoscoped and not live-action, we’re not distracted by the contrast of the live action versus the animation. It could have been fully animated as well, but then we would have lost the more realistic feeling the show is going for.

This is truly one instance where I really think full rotoscoping was the absolute best option to present the exact experience that the creators were going for.

…….But that’s not to say it’s perfect.

While the rotoscoping job was done well enough, I don’t care much for the character designs. The facial features of the people are done in such a craggy manner. In a way, it does help it stand out even more, but it’s just flatout ugly, especially the ‘noses,’ I don’t know why the noses are almost always just triangles. It baffles me. Why are they just triangles? It’s so distracting.

For everything else, I’m not really bothered by the craggyness. It gives it more of a cartoon/comic book style, and I like that. But the faces are just really….no. Martin in particular has it bad because not only does his face suffer like everyone else’s but his hair is just an anomaly. I get that it’s supposed to be spiky white hair or frosted tips, but it comes off more like his hair is Elmer’s glue, they stuck it to a wall, pulled him off when it was half dry and left it like that.

There is a sense of emptiness to the city as well, which is strange. There just aren’t that many people around. It’s understandable, because rotoscoping that many people would be a pain in the ass and expensive, but it kinda loses the realistic feeling if we’re in the heart of downtown and there are barely a handful of people here and there. Most of the time it really feels like only the most necessary people even exist in the city.

Speaking of characters, it’s also a bit difficult to get a grasp on the main four at this point. Admittedly, this first episode is a part one, so maybe the second part will allow me to get a better idea of the true personalities of each character, but so far the only one I feel I have a decent idea about is Philip. He’s a pretty nice and laid back guy who loves books. He’s also an awkward but not fully shy dude that I could definitely see myself hanging out with.

Martin seems like the looser cannon of the two guys in the group. He’s also seen flirting with Luna and saying he has a connection to her, which may or may not be BS, I dunno.

Claire is a responsible person, but not all that proactive. When Luna runs off near the end, she doesn’t do much to stop her, and when Martin confronts her about why she didn’t do more to stop her she says she was waiting for him….which….huh?

Luna is the most emotional of the group. She doesn’t care for Martin invading her privacy by reading her mind, which is totally understandable, but she also, as I mentioned, runs away near the end because she can’t take the premonitions or the mission of the Delta State anymore. This is probably fine, but I feel like it’s way early in the show for someone to be running off because they can’t take the pressure anymore.

It’s like how I felt it was weird that the first episode of Teen Titans starts with Cyborg leaving the team because he’s fed up with Robin. Stuff like that needs to be built up.

Then there’s Bodie, who was only in this episode for a short while. Bodie is their handler/mentor figure. He knows about the Delta State, does…stuff related to it, and is the one who recruited them to begin with. He seems pretty okay for now. He’s somewhat mysterious and a bit rough around the edges, but he’s not setting off alarm bells for me yet.

In regards to the story, they’ve set things up pretty well so far. Them all having amnesia of their entire lives up until two months prior to the start of the series is pretty interesting, and them all having various psychic powers instead of the same set is cool. It makes all of the characters necessary in some way or another instead of having one or two characters who outshine the whole group. I especially like how they use their powers in creative ways to achieve their goals. For instance, Claire can sense/see things psychically, and in this episode she learns she can do that over the phone because she needs to covertly see inside of a bookstore.

The idea of the Delta State is fascinating. It’s a dream-like state clearly linked to their subconsciouses, but it’s also an entirely different realm that mirrors our own world while also not. They can see little clues to their pasts throughout the Delta State, but they’re typically too busy dealing with Rifters to really focus on these little flashes of memories.

Sadly, so far, the Rifters only seem like evil psychics so far, but, again, maybe that will be better fleshed out in part two.

In this episode, they’re tracking a Rifter named Karla who initially appears to Philip at the bookstore during a book signing. They’re alone in the store because the author suddenly left due to unknown circumstances and apparently the people who work in the store don’t exist and other customers never visit. They flirt for a while, but she decides to leave since she has prior engagements. When she gives her signed book to him as a gift, he’s able to psychically see events connected to the book – the most recent of which being the author of the book running away from the store after being touched by Karla, seemingly being spooked by her doing something to him psychically.

The group, sans Luna, go off into the Delta State to investigate. They’re caught by Karla and her cronies, however. Back in the real world, Brodie and Luna start experiencing, I’d call them, glitches in the fabric of reality because of disturbances in the Delta State. Luna decides to set aside her unease about their situation and head off after them. She’s somehow able to fight off Karla’s goons quite easily, but they’re confronted by the image from a vision Luna had earlier, which was of a car approaching her. What she didn’t initially see, however, was that the person driving the car was her in the past. This revelation is where the episode ends.

As a whole, this is a perfectly good introduction to the show, especially for a part one.

I’m disappointed that it seems like this show has been largely lost to time. It’s not streaming anywhere, there are barely any articles or discussion pieces about it – it’s just kinda drifting in a void. It is on DVD, but only the first ‘season’ (I say that because there’s only one season and 26 episodes. I guess they split up the first season and called it two seasons?) and barely anyone has bought it. As of right now, the first DVD set of it on Amazon has only nine reviews, though a bulk of them are very good. Also, the description barely has anything about the DVD set like…how many episodes it has, what other features are on it, what quality it’s in, etc.

I had to do a Google search just to find what the back cover of the DVD set looks like. It has 13 episodes, a ‘The Making of Delta State’ featurette, and electronic collectible cards.

Verdict:

Delta State seems like a very cool show to me so far. Maybe not masterpiece material, but I do strongly believe that I’ll have an enjoyable ride watching the rest of the series. From the sparse amount of people I’ve seen who have watched the entire show, it is indeed a good one with a strong finale, so I look forward to sharing more of this show in the future to hopefully draw more attention to this largely ignored, but interesting and well made, series.


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Sony Pictures Analyzamation – Open Season (2006) Review

Plot: Boog has been a domesticated bear for his entire life – ever since he was rescued by the forest ranger, Beth, as a cub. After meeting the deer, Elliot, who caused a lot of chaos and problems in Boog’s life, Beth realized that she finally had to bring Boog out into the wild and let him be free. Completely lost in the woods right before the start of Open Season, Boog and Elliot try to find their way back to town and Beth before the hunters or other animals get to them first.

Breakdown: Many years ago, I reviewed Open Season for my old blog on that old forum I’ve mentioned before. My review was….bad, like many of my old reviews. Most notably, it was a bit overly negative, again, like many of my old reviews. So, for the review series tackling all of Sony Pictures Animation’s movies, Sony Pictures Analyzamation – yes, that is a mouthful – I decided to rewatch and rewrite the review from scratch.

And I’m glad I did, because it allowed me to finally review this movie with a more level head.

One my biggest issues with the film on the first watch was Shaw and how ridiculous he was as a villain. If there was one critique that stood up from my previous review, it’s definitely that one.

Shaw is, indeed, a ridiculously awful villain. Technically he’s a fine villain because he’s VERY easily hateable. But he’s such a ridiculously over the top caricature of hunters that it’s almost too easy to hate him.

I’ll admit something, my dad is a hunter and I’ve been brought up my whole life to learn about responsible hunting practices and gun safety. While I can’t bring myself to kill an animal, I do respect responsible hunters (not trophy hunting. That can die.). I also completely understand and respect people who are against hunting. It’s one of those issues where I’m probably a hypocrite, but the point is a hunter being a villain in a movie where a deer and a bear are the protagonists is completely understandable. It’s also understandable for them to be made unlikable, but Shaw is one of the biggest most over-the-top ridiculous parodies I’ve ever seen. I say this after pausing to write these notes at a moment where Shaw had just got done whipping his rifle out in a crowd of people to try and shoot a deer and bear in the head at once with one bullet, and then, once he’s heading off in his car to chase them once they’re returned to the woods, he says this.

“A bear and a deer working together. How far does this conspiracy go? How many other animals are involved? God bless America! I hope the bald eagle hasn’t turned!”

No, I’m not kidding. He even tucks his gun into bed at night…. Shaw is an evil person, but he’s also a complete dumbass, spending a good chunk of the movie thinking the animals are taking over the world and enslaving humans….

Shaw’s not the only ridiculously overdone hunter either. Later in the movie, a giant group of hunters all go out at the start of open season being loud and rowdy on the way up there with one of them yakking about how they’re going to blow the animals’ heads off. All of these people seem to be one big hunting group, which isn’t typically allowed for a multitude of reasons.

Not to mention the fact that the only cop in the area, the sheriff, is entirely useless. He sees Shaw have a clearly illegally killed deer on the hood of his truck, splayed out, which is also against the law, and is just like ‘eh’. He sees Shaw try to shoot his gun into a crowd of people, Shaw leaves when he’s not looking and he’s just like ‘eh’ and never tries to pursue him.

But enough of that malarky. How is everything else? Well, considering how I slammed it in my first review, upon rewatching, it’s pretty okay. It’s not gonna win any awards with me, but I had a fine time watching it. Smiled a few times, kinda chuckled a bit, got a bit moved by the emotional moments and had some fun. It’s a very okay movie and decent enough first outing for Sony.

I do agree with some of the critics who said that it’s hard to get a lock on who the target audience is, however. Like, the humor is overall pretty juvenile, including an amount of toilet/poop humor, but some of the humor is somewhat adult and some of the imagery is actually pretty messed up for a kids movie.

For example, there’s a joke where Shaw warns a couple to watch out or their weiner dog will shank them, and the lady said ‘Oh no, we don’t have to worry about that. We got him fixed.’ I want to believe with all my heart and soul that I didn’t just hear a dog humping/bestiality joke in this movie. I want to believe so badly.

There’s a scene where Boog and Elliot are behind a curtain at a show Boog is doing. They get into a fight, and their shadows are meant to convey an extremely bloody and gory murder of Elliot. Boog ‘skins’ him, ‘disembowels’ him and splatters his ‘blood’ all over the curtain. And what’s even weirder is that Beth is also watching this from in front of the curtain and she won’t go behind the curtain to stop Boog from slaughtering this innocent deer. She just keeps yelling for Boog to stop while in front of the curtain.

Shaw’s cabin legitimately freaked me out. Many times when (kids) cartoons will show taxidermy, even if it’s in a scary manner, they won’t choose to design the taxidermy in the same general style as the other animals. Because showing the cutesy big-eyed goofy cartoons as a dead-eyed lifeless decorations is kinda scary to many kids. If they do maintain the style, they typically don’t try to make the scene scary. It will just be dark humor. However, in the scene in Shaw’s cabin, his walls are covered in heads that are all the exact same goofy cartoony style as the other alive animals we were watching earlier. And this scene, while having brief few frames of humor, was definitely meant to be shocking and scary. It was meant to show how ruthless and bloodthirsty Shaw really is. He’s not just a dopey hunter. He’s a violent, dangerous killer.

Then there’s all the obvious gun play and talk of violent acts on animals, it’s all very iffy.

While they didn’t spend a whole lot of time together, I think they did a good job at making Beth and Boog’s relationship feel very genuine. I felt like they were truly attached to each other and watching her have to say goodbye to him was pretty emotional.

I will, however, call her (and the sheriff) out for sending Boog off into the woods like that, though. Boog had spent his entire life in captivity, and he has to be several years old. He had his own ‘apartment’, he had a teddy bear, tons of treats, his own TV – for god’s sake, this bear is literally toilet trained. And yet they think it’s okay to send him off to live in the woods with no preparation whatsoever.

While many of the animal characters were just annoying as sin (except the porcupine, who was adorable, and Giselle, who is just a VERY typical and bland love interest) including Elliot, I don’t think they did a bad job redeeming them in the end. They ended up being pretty entertaining in their own rights. I just think it was all fairly rushed. Too many of them were flatout jerks for me to be all that glad for their happy endings. And is it really all that happy? Did the animals end hunting in that area forever?…..I mean….they did literally bomb the hunters out, so maybe they did.

The animation was okay. Bouncy and cartoony, and stands up alright after 15 years. I think the art style is very ugly, however. Nearly every animal and human is just butt-ugly. They have incredibly odd proportions, and few of them look appealing. I thought the beavers and porcupine were cute, but that’s about all. I will give them a good amount of credit for Boog’s fur, though. While it definitely doesn’t look like what you’d see on a realistic grizzly bear, it does look fluffy and soft, kinda like what you’d get on a toy bear. I would say maybe that’s on purpose because he’s a domestic bear, but I don’t think they’d think that far ahead.

The music was alright. Some of the songs were very fitting for the scenes, but the soundtrack is overall fairly forgettable.

In the end, Open Season is okay. I don’t think I’ll ever watch it a third time, but if you’re up for a predictable but reasonably entertaining movie, then have at it.

I am not, however, looking forward to the THREE DIRECT-TO-VIDEO SEQUELS at all. Hopefully they’ll be alright, but I am reading up on them and I’m not gonna hold my breath.


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AVAHS – Abominable Christmas (A Monster Christmas 2012) Review

Plot: Two young yetis go to a nearby town for Christmas in hopes of getting to see what a real human Christmas looks like. While they have their fun, their dad rushes around trying to return them to the safety of their mountain before Margaret, a crazy scientist intent on proving the existence of the abominable snowman, catches them.

Breakdown: During last year’s AVAHS, while I was trying to find information on A Monster Christmas, a 1994 seldom-known animated Christmas special, I stumbled upon information for another Christmas movie of the same name, also known as Abominable Christmas. The premise and odd cast threw me off, but I didn’t really have time to watch and review that last year, so I continued on my quest to find information on the 1994 special and mosied along.

This year, I decided to see what this movie was about. It did not look promising at all. Cheap animation, by-the-numbers plot and really nothing seemed that interesting to sink my teeth into, but, surprisingly, this special was pretty okay. It even made me smile a few times and kinda consider laughing.

It’s a little cheesy, but there’s a charm to it. Everyone is mostly likable, and they all get along quite well (except Margaret, because she’s the bad guy). The special’s also well paced. It never really felt like it was dragging its feet or rushing, even if the end was fairly abrupt to me.

I think this movie’s biggest problem is that nothing really feels impacting or big. The funny moments are never that funny. The heartwarming moments are never very emotional. The stakes don’t feel very high, even when the lives of two ‘children’ and their dad are at stake. The action never feels that exciting. Things happen, but they never feel like they’re happening, if that makes any sense. Let me put it this way – many good movies are a series of twists and turns and ups and downs, like a back road with a lot of steep hills. This movie is like a straight road with a poorly maintained rumble strip. You’re aware when you’re driving on the strip, but it never increases or decreases your blood pressure.

The characters, while being fairly well-established, also don’t do much to stand out or be memorable. Everyone fits a certain role – Abby is the adventurous little sister who is bound to get into trouble, Adam is her neurotic older brother who tries to keep her in line, and their dad is protective and kinda strict without being overly protective or mean. In the human side, you have Lily, who is a Christmas-loving kinda sad little kid who wants to celebrate Christmas with her family but her dad is a workaholic, and her brother, Matt, constantly, and I do mean constantly, has his nose in his computer.

There’s also the dog catcher who actually breaks the movie stereotype of dog catchers being these horrible evil people who take pleasure in the pain of dogs. He’s kinda nuts in that he’s too into his job, but he’s also very dedicated to doing his job properly and not harming any animals. In fact, he became a master of martial arts to protect the dogs in his care.

Many times in these movies where the main characters are dogs/animals and they get sent to the pound but the movie ends without getting the other animals out of the pound, you feel bad because you know they’ll still be tormented by the dog catcher, but in this movie I’m kinda okay with it. I think they’ll be fine and maybe find good homes. One of them actually does find a good home at the end, which was sweet.

Finally, we have our main antagonist, Margaret, who is probably the most bland character here. Her character is simply the crazy person who is trying to prove the existence of (x) and will do anything to get it. Except she’s so blah about it that she’ll willingly follow dog catcher protocol and bureaucracy and not actually do anything underhanded to get what she wants. The worst that she does is trick the dog catcher into thinking that the two yeti kids are actually unlicensed dogs so he’ll go to their house and take them away, which isn’t what would happen in real life. As far as I know, you’d just be fined, and even the fine isn’t that bad. It’s like $250-300 dollars per year if you never license them. Her big plan was to get the yeti kids caught that way and then wait three to five business days for her paperwork to go through to she could take the abominable snow children away. That is, unless, Lily’s dad’s paperwork goes through before hers so he can license and reclaim them.

She doesn’t even have a plan for stealing them once they’re in the pound. She just waits for the paperwork to go through.

Paperwork’s the real villain here….or wait, I guess it actually saved them, so it’s the hero?

In the final confrontation, Margaret confronts them with flea spray and then stands there doing nothing while Abby takes forever to tackle her and bury her in cans of dog food, which would probably kill her. I don’t know why kids shows keep acting like full unopened cans of food don’t weigh anything. Those things could definitely kill you or at least cause significant brain damage if one fell on your head from a high shelf.

Even when she had a perfect opportunity to take pictures of the abominable snow people, when they were imprisoned in the pound, Margaret just doesn’t take pictures of them. She tried earlier in the movie, but got nothing usable because they were moving. Here they are standing still in front of her with nowhere to go and she doesn’t even think to take out her cameraphone. She even asked the dog catcher if she could take pictures of them at the pound, he said yes, and she still doesn’t do it.

Margaret and the father yeti have a past, which I thought would be much more interesting than it ended up being. She used to be a respected scientist until she spotted the young father yeti in his more reckless years. She tried to convince her colleagues about what she saw, but no one believed her, and she went crazy trying to prove the existence of abominable snowmen ever since. In turn, he became much more cautious around humans.

Yep, no big consequences for what he did. No one died or got hurt or anything. He just got spotted by someone and no one believed her and that changed him forever.

Considering he’s a single father, I thought we’d learn that his mate was killed by Margaret or something. But nope. We never learn what happens to the yeti mama.

Speaking of single parenthood, it seems like no family in this movie has two parents. In addition to the yeti family having a single dad, Lily and Matt have a single father as well. Their mom, I guess, died (they use the term “gone” for both her and Matt’s mother and Abby and Adam’s mother) fairly recently considering how Lily looks about the same age as she is in the pictures with her mother. It’s such a passing mention, though. She says she used to decorate the tree with her mother and is sad about it, but after that her mother is never mentioned again. She doesn’t even seem distressed when Adam and Abby nearly break the framed picture of her mother, she just laughs about it.

Later, when the dad yeti is dressed up as Santa for a disguise, he speaks with a young boy who has a single mother who has been terribly sad since her husband “went away”. I thought for sure they’d have that woman and her son appear again and imply that she’d start dating Lily and Matt’s dad, but nope. She never appears again.

However, I did think the manner in which they handled that particular case was really good. Instead of promising the kid he’d get his mom a new husband or something cheesy like that, the yeti dad reasonably tells the boy that making his mother happy again will be complicated and take time, but the best thing he can do for his mother in the meantime is be there for her and give her lots of hugs, which was very sweet and definitely better than some hollow promise.

I’m not saying that any single parent Christmas scenario needs to be addressed by having the movie end with them hooking up with someone. In fact, I find it rather welcome that they don’t even attempt this with any of the single parents. I’m just saying that it’s weird that is pops up three different times, but none of these single parent situations have a bearing to the plot, and it’s hardly ever actually discussed. The most we get is that Lily is bummed about having to do Christmas stuff by herself because her dad is constantly working and her brother is too glued to his computer to even glance at her. However, it doesn’t take long before Lily’s dad’s workaholic nature is almost completely forgotten and he’s spending time with Lily. This minor conflict is another victim claimed by the rumble strip of a plot.

And Abby and Adam’s mother gets even less focus put on her.

The conflict with Abby learning to be more careful and the dad learning to be less strict is also not really resolved or much of a conflict. She’s like ‘Oh I’m sorry, you were right about humans.’ But I’m just like, ‘What? You just befriended a bunch of humans who are currently helping you escape the one bad and one kinda-ish bad-in-a-way humans you’ve met.’

Matt’s ‘arc’ if you want to call it that is literally just him not responding to anyone or anything the entire special until the very end where he finally speaks. It takes until this hour long feature is nearly seven minutes from the end before he finally speaks his first line. I point this out mostly because Drake “ruiner of childhoods and overall icky person” Bell gets second to top billing in the credits and he plays Matt.

Matt just acts like a deus ex machina. Turns out, he was paying attention to everything the entire time and even became somewhat internet famous for his blog posts about the abominable snowmen stuff, which is the most confusing thing about this movie. They’re trying desperately to keep the yetis a secret, but Matt’s been blogging about them and becoming internet famous because of everything his family is going through because of them….but he’s somehow not compromising their secret? He did say he was speaking mostly to the conspiracy theorist crowd, but still, he’s being treated like a hero when he’s pretty much doing exactly what Margaret was trying to do.

He knows and has everything he needs to free their dad and the yetis immediately when they’re captured by the dog catcher as well. And thus was the power of the internet.

Speaking of the odd cast, this cast is odd. This is a very “Did everyone need a quick paycheck?” cast. Ariel Winter (I see what you did there, casting department) plays Abby, Ray Liotta plays the yeti dad, Emilio Estevez plays Lily’s dad, Matthew Lillard plays the dog catcher, and Jane Lynch plays Margaret. Everyone does pretty okay in their roles, especially Ariel Winter, Matthew Lillard and Jane Lynch, but it’s such a weirdly star-studded cast for a movie that I’ve never even heard of before last year.

Well, enough of me tearing apart the minor issues. For what it’s worth, this is a pretty laid back and chill Christmas special. I can totally see myself watching it again just for the heck of it during the holidays. There are some legitimately clever, cute and funny moments in here, but, like I said, there’s just not a lot of stuff actually happening.

I wanted to make a step-by-step review of this movie, but once I got about 15 minutes in I knew I wouldn’t have much to work with. It just felt pointless. There’s not much to poke fun at and there’s nothing much to discuss. Even the animation, while being cheap, isn’t THAT bad. It’s pretty okay for a TV movie made in 2012. I feel like it’s the budget that held it back above all else, because I really feel like the animators were at least trying and were definitely competent….however, the human faces are kinda dead, and Lily’s eyes are WAY too big.

You know your eyes are way too big when an anime fan is calling them out.

If you want to just put on something Christmassy and kinda fun without really needing to pay attention to it, check this out.


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Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all my beloved readers! And a Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Solstice and just an overall happy holiday season to everyone!

I know things have been pretty slow at the ol’ Madhouse, and I want to thank you all for being so patient and still reading/liking/commenting on what I have been able to put out while I’ve been dealing with all the hecticness this past several months. I was finally moved in just this last weekend (moving around Christmas is not recommended in case you’re wondering.) and we’re mostly settled in, though these are still various things that need to get done and some problems to deal with. I wasn’t able to do nearly as much for Christmas as I usually do, and moving just sucked all the Christmas cheer out of me, but I’m trying to make the best of it. My Internet is workable, and hopefully I’ll be back to a more regular posting schedule after the holidays while still squeaking out one or two more things for AVAHS.

Through all the stress and headaches, you guys continue to make things so much more bearable, and I couldn’t be more thankful to you all. Have a very merry and safe holiday, and I hope next year is awesome for you. 🙂

~Twix 💚❤️

AVAHS | Rudolph and Frosty’s Christmas in July (1979) Review

Plot: A powerful ancient being named Winterbolt returns to the North Pole after being sent into a deep sleep for hundreds of years. He yearns to take down Santa for taking over the North Pole in his absence, but Rudolph’s shining red nose is getting in his way.

Breakdown: Readers! Guess what?! It’s that time of year again! It’s time for A Very Animated Holiday Special! This year, we’re starting out AVAHS with yet another Rankin/Bass classic, Rudolph and Frosty’s Christmas in July.

I only very vaguely remember watching this movie when I was a kid. It was barely a blip on my Christmas movie radar, which kinda makes sense because, again, even though the movie is centered on Christmas, the title leads you believe this is a film best enjoyed in July when most people don’t think to celebrate the whole ‘Christmas in July’ thing that I’m not even sure happens anywhere anymore and was barely a thing when it was a thing.

The movie starts out with teenage Rudolph (because Adult Rudolph just doesn’t exist anymore apparently) spending some time with Frosty and his two children, Chilly and Milly. Just to be clear, you have Frosty, Chilly, Frosty’s wife, Crystal, and then, randomly, Milly. Why is Milly the only one who isn’t given a snow/ice/cold themed name? Also, how did they make these kids? Did they just use snow or……….You know what, never mind.

AVAHS - RFCJ1

The kids ask their Uncle Rudolph if he’ll light up his nose for them, which he does, but then suddenly realizes the light is fading away.

After the opening song, we get some backstory about the North Pole.

Long before Santa made his way up there, the land was ruled by the fearsome tyrant, Winterbolt, who has a name that is way too cool (Pun not intended, but welcome). As you can guess, he’s a lot like Snow Miser. You might even say he’s exactly like Snow Miser….Or Jack Frost…..Or Stormella…..There are a lot of ice-controlling antagonists in Rudolph movies, is what I’m trying to say. Actually, being completely fair, but also calling them out a bit, Winterbolt looks exactly like an aged-down slightly Winter Warlock from Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town.

He also has two ridiculously animated snow dragons, which I laughed at for several minutes. Look, I respect the hell out of stop motion animation, but the dragons seems to have just been ‘animated’ with strings and bouncing their heads up and down.

The Aurora Borealis, referred to as Lady Boreal, took corporeal human form when she got fed up with Winterbolt’s BS. Using her powerful magic, she forced Winterbolt into a deep slumber for however many years. In the meantime, the innocent animals were able to return to the land to live happily while Santa arrived with his wife and posse to establish his toy factory and become the Santa Claus we know and love.

Growing weak from all the years of using her magic to keep Winterbolt at rest, Lady Boreal starts to fade away from her human form, but she can rest easy knowing that Santa’s around to be a true leader to everyone at the North Pole.

As her grip on him weakens, Winterbolt awakens and catches up on the goings on at the North Pole via the genie that lives in his staff…..I know what I said. He’s appalled (or aPOLEd :D) to see Santa has taken over as leader or ‘king’ as he puts it, and is seemingly more powerful than him. He asks the genie what he can do about it.

The genie suggests that he use his snow dragons to make a powerful snow storm and wall of fog next Christmas Eve to get Santa hopelessly lost, making him unable to deliver the toys.

Winterbolt concocts his master plan – he’ll do as the genie instructs, but he’ll also go out and deliver twice as many toys on Christmas, causing the children of the world to love him so much that they become dependent on his deliveries and making him so powerful that he’ll

Lady Boreal hears his plot and, using the last of her power, gives some of her light to a newborn reindeer. That’s right – newborn baby Rudolph! Who…..has a red nose before Lady Boreal even gives him the power. So….he was born with a big red nose, but it only glowed because it was infused with Aurora Borealis magic….?

Here’s where they start losing me. They’re kinda retconning Rudolph’s origin here. Lady Boreal appears to Rudolph and gives him the light in his nose. Why it has to be in his clearly already gonna get him bullied red nose, I have no idea. Lady Boreal seems like a bit of a bitch here, if you ask me.

The power/light activates when he thinks good thoughts. The better his thoughts, the brighter the light shines. However, if he ever tries to use the power for evil purposes, the light will be extinguished forever. Lady Boreal also puts a neat snowflake and star design on the bottom of his hoof as a mark of the power or something….which I’m 99.9999% certain he doesn’t have in the original movie and 100% certain does not matter in any way, shape or form. It’s just kinda something he has now.

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Oh, by the way, none of this is being heard by Rudolph’s mom or dad because his mom is asleep because she’s exhausted from giving birth and Donner’s out with the guys doing…guy…reindeer….things…..games? So convenient. Or I guess I should say inconvenient. Hey Lady, maybe tell Santa or either of Rudolph’s parents that you’re giving him a magical power for the sake of saving Christmas in a year? So maybe they won’t ostracize him, his father won’t be ashamed of him and he won’t run away from home?

Lady Boreal: “Use your secret magic well.”

WHY IS IT SECRET?!

Jeez, this is Naruto all over again.

That’s another point – why isn’t she warning Santa of the storm? She’s just giving this flashlight power to a newborn reindeer who can’t even speak yet, nor will he probably be able to remember this conversation, and hoping for the best. She’s not even telling Rudolph about Winterbolt’s plan. Out of context, she’s just giving a random baby reindeer (who is still so adorable it hurts) the power to turn his nose into a laser pointer. You suck, Lady.

We get a brief retelling of Rudolph’s story that pretty much omits everything that’s not in the song. Makes out like Rudolph was just chillin’ in the stalls on Christmas Eve and Santa was like “Oh yeah, you have highbeams! Come with me, Rudolph!” and the movie based on these clips was probably like five minutes long.

Also, he’s still not adult Rudolph in that shot. They really didn’t want him to grow up.

Looping back around to the starting scene, Winterbolt is enraged that his plan failed because of Rudolph, so he decides to snuff out his light. However, Rudolph’s resolve is so powerful that it overcomes Winterbolt’s magic. Also, it seems like Rudolph is physically weakening as his light goes out, like he’s a Charizard or something. Will he die if his light goes out? He’s passing out because it’s flickering.

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Winterbolt’s genie tells him the only way to extinguish the light forever is if he gets Rudolph to use his powers for evil, even if it’s just once.

What powers, exactly? Rudolph has the power to create a mildly bright red light. How could that ever be used for evil?……I guess he could shine it into a cockpit and cause a Boeing to crash. Kinda dark there, Rankin/Bass.

Milton the Ice Cream Man pops by on his hot air balloon with bad news. He was going to marry his love, Lanie Loraine – a circus performer – right at her mother’s circus on the high wire, but a shady businessman named Sam Spangles came by during their wedding to buy out the circus. Lanie is so distraught that she can’t think about getting married, and if the circus gets sold, Sam will force her and her family to move all over the country, meaning she and Milton will likely never get married. They need to have a great performance on the Fourth of July to earn enough revenue to prevent Sam Spangles from buying them out on the sixth….however that works.

Okay, that’s sad, really, but, uh, this also doesn’t make any sense. Her being too sad or concerned to get married right now, I understand. But the idea that they’ll be torn asunder if her mother’s circus gets sold because they’ll be moving around a lot is just nonsensical.

First of all, do they not already move around a lot as a circus? Isn’t that just what circuses do?

Secondly, I really need to point out something extremely obvious right now….Milton is traveling to the North Pole from, what I’ve researched, his home somewhere in Florida…on a hot air balloon.

He’s doing this because he keeps his ice cream stock at the North Pole to keep it cold.

Because yes.

That.

Is the most logical solution to that issue. Do freezers not exist in the Rankin/Bassverse?

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Winterbolt uses magic snow to send psychic suggestions to Milton to get Rudolph to go to the circus to drum up customers. Crystal and the kids want to go, but Frosty points out the obvious that it will be the Fourth of July on the seacoast, meaning they’ll certainly be puddles if they go there. It sucks, but that’s the way of the snowpeople.

Crystal apologizes for making the suggestion, and apparently feels so bad about it that she feels the need to break out into song about how much she loves Frosty. It’s a fine song and sequence but a really weird way of segueing to it.

Rudolph comforts them and says they’re not misfits because they melt, but he does wish they could be unmeltable so they could come with him.

In comes Winterbolt, who is WAY bigger than I thought he’d be.

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He acts like an innocent frail old man and offers them a solution to their problem – four amulets that will make them virtually unmeltable, even in temperatures so high it’d melt steel. However, there’s a catch – each amulet has a design on it made out of F’s.

Frosty: “Yeah! F! F! F! F!” We get it, Frosty. You really want to pay your respects. Stop spamming.

The four F’s stand for when the Final Firework Fades on the Fourth, which is when the amulets’ power ceases to work and the snow family will melt unless they’re back in snowy lands by then.

As quickly as he arrived, Winterbolt vanishes, and the group all become excited about going to the circus.

……Uhm….I know this is for kids, I know, I do, but Frosty and the others are insanely naïve right now. Like, how convenient, a strange giant ice wizard offers us the perfect solution to our fatal problem out of nowhere and without asking anything in return. Boy, this couldn’t be any more legitimate if we met him on Craigslist!

At least Santa is slightly suspicious of this situation, but not enough to stop them from going. Also, goddamn, this movie is from 1979 and Mickey Rooney already sounds like he’s in his 80s. I get that he’s trying to sound old because this is Santa, but he sounds really weak like Santa’s on his death bed. He was only 52 or so at the time.

Frosty is excited to go, but sad that they’ll have to leave before they see the fireworks or else they won’t be able to reach the North Pole in time. Santa believes all children should see fireworks at least once in their lives, so he starts thinking. Winterbolt takes his cue and sends a psychic magic snow message to Santa suggesting that he grab his sleigh and head down to the circus on the Fourth of July to pick up Frosty and his family right before the final firework goes off. I guess he moves so fast that he could get them back almost immediately?

…..Can’t they just have fireworks at the North Pole? Is that too simple? Why do you need to tempt fate like that?

After another song break where Milton sings the same song Crystal sang, only he’s singing his to a poster of Lanie, they head to the circus.

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When they arrive;

Lanie: “He’s the greatest ice cream man in the world!”

He travels 3813 miles via a hot air balloon every time he needs to restock on his ice cream (7626 miles round trip) because he thought storing his ice cream on a polar ice cap was better than buying a freezer.

No, he’s not the greatest ice cream man in the world.

After a song break about Christmas by Lanie’s mother, Lily, voiced by the legendary Ethel Merman, Winterbolt continues on with his plan by awakening his snow dragons and asking the genie to bring him a reindeer who is the polar opposite to Rudolph – terrible in every way. The genie directs him to the cave of lost rejections. There, Winterbolt recruits the reindouche, Scratcher, who blames Rudolph for taking his future spot on the team of Santa’s reindeer despite 1) he very obviously wouldn’t have been, considering he admits that he did a bunch of bad stuff that would have prevented from being promoted, and 2) Rudolph didn’t even take a spot on the team. Santa originally had a team of eight reindeer, but he took the lead as the ninth.

Cut back to the circus for another song break by Lily, this time about how life in the circus has its ups and downs, but she doesn’t care as long as she has her….guy? Guide? It’s hard to understand, and neither lyric really makes any sense. It’s a fine song, I just don’t understand why it’s here.

After going over the plan, Winterbolt gives Scratcher some magical feed corn before he heads off to meet Sam Spangles.

Scratcher: “Hey….that’s means I’ll be able to fly like Donner and Blitzen!”

I’m sorry….what? Now Santa’s reindeer only fly because of literal magic corn?

….I–…..magic…corn.

It’s magic….corn.

I always thought Santa’s reindeer could just fly naturally….Unless you’re a girl, of course. Then you’re just a dumb normal reindeer…..with a bow in your hair….or no identity besides being Mrs. Donner….Actually, they do claim that Santa’s team of reindeer are all, realistically, female because they have their antlers in winter when males lose their antlers at that time, and the females keep them all year round. I mean, that’s obviously not canon in this continuity, but it’s interesting all the same.

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We pop in for a really sweet scene between Santa and Mrs. Claus as they pack for their trip. Not sure why they need to pack if they’re just heading down there to rescue some snowpeople, but okay. They head off on their sleigh, and…I need to ask something awkward. Mrs. Claus refers to Santa as ‘Papa’, Santa calls her ‘Mama’ and they just called the elves ‘Little Kringles’….Are….the elves….their children?

As Santa and Mrs. Claus depart, Winterbolt uses his snow dragons to implement his plan. He will create a storm of ice and fog even worse than the Christmas Eve where Rudolph saved the day. Santa and Mrs. Claus get caught up in the storm, and it’s so severe that a frickin’ ice tornado forms and sucks the sleigh into the vortex.

Santa: “If only Rudolph were here!”

Yeah, he could….uhm…..give us a pretty red light to look at while we’re still being sucked into the tornado because that’s literally his only power.

Also, do the reindeer no longer possess the ability to talk? All of them seem so dead-eyed and aren’t reacting at all to Santa’s directions. Not even Donner is saying anything. He did talk in the flashback, but that’s it.

Santa sings a sweet song to Mrs. Claus about how much he loves her in order to comfort her as they wait in the eye of the storm. Mrs. Claus suggests they try to hoof it (literally) on the ground instead of trying to fly through the storm, and Santa agrees.

Back in the circus, they’re holding a parade, accompanied by another song sung by Lily, which is pretty catchy and definitely parade-y. Crystal tells Frosty to smile because you’re supposed to smile when you’re in show business, but he clearly already is smiling….Anyhoo, the reason he’s invisibly not smiling is because he’s worried that Santa won’t arrive in time. However, his family assuages his fears, for the most part.

Meanwhile, Scratcher meets up with Rudolph and convinces him to get him a job with the circus by pretending he’s starving, putting Winterbolt’s plan into motion.

Winterbolt himself is moving out with his own brand-new ice sleigh complete with a team of giant flying snow snakes, which is too awesome to poke fun at even a little. They also give Winterbolt his own ‘evil’ version of Santa’s take off manta.

“To the top of the porch,

to the top of the wall!

Now slink away, slink away, slink away all!”

…….Yeah, I think we need to workshop that.

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The circus is underway, and Frosty and family take their positions to do their act.

Chilly: “Stick to the script, Daddy.”

Frosty: “If Santa doesn’t get here soon, we’ll be sticking to everything!”……What?

Scratcher tries to lure Rudolph over to a tent by pretending he needs his red nose to see in there and retrieve something, and Rudolph agrees, but like…could Rudolph not just tell him to go get a flashlight or something?

Rudolph has to go do his act, so he leaves Scratcher, promising to help him afterward.

Rudolph’s act is to burn off a shroud of fog…..I guess it’s to replicate what he did for Santa, but he didn’t burn off the fog….I don’t even think that’s a thing you can do (and why do the movies keep wanting to push the idea that Rudolph’s nose also gives off a lot of heat? If his nose really is the power of the Aurora Borealis, it shouldn’t be emitting any heat.) He was just a light that Santa used to see through the storm.

Once he’s done with that, Rudolph returns to Scratcher to help him find what he’s looking for. Scratcher tricks Rudolph into stealing a suitcase full of money, the funds collected from the day’s show, from Lily’s wagon. Rudolph’s very suspicious, but does the deed anyway.

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I really really needed to post this screencap. I feel better now. Thank you derp-face Rudolph.

After a pretty cool Christmas show back at the circus, complete with Rudolph’s nose making the star on top of the Christmas tree, everyone gets set for the fireworks. Frosty’s so concerned that Santa won’t arrive in time that he rushes to stop them from being set off, but it’s too late. Lily lit the main fuse, and the fireworks sequence can’t be stopped once that’s done. There are 100 fireworks in total, and, for some reason, they’re wired to go off one at a time like once every few seconds. Kinda sounds like a crappy fireworks show, but I get that it’s moreso designed to raise tension with Frosty and his family’s situation.

Speaking of their situation, there aren’t really any stakes here, right? In the original Frosty the Snowman movie, Frosty melted in a hot greenhouse, but he was revived because he was made of magic Christmas snow. All he needed was to return to the cold and put his hat back on. I don’t know what exactly is the magical life item for all of the other snowpeople (Crystal was shown to be brought to life by a kiss on the cheek by Frosty) but I assume that the situation is the same for all of them. Melting isn’t necessarily a death sentence for them, so why do they seem like they’re all heading for the pearly gates? Just wait for the final firework while sitting in a few tubs or buckets, make sure someone has all of your personal/magical effects and you’ll be fine, right? Or maybe just remove the 100th firework from the platform somehow?

Winterbolt shows up as the fireworks start winding down. They beg him to extend the power of the magical amulets a while longer so Frosty and the others won’t melt. Winterbolt agrees, but only if Rudolph’s nose remains extinguished. Rudolph is confused because he believes his nose isn’t currently extinguished, but when he tries to light it he realizes that Winterbolt is right – his light is gone.

The reason being – he stole the money from the circus. Since that’s an evil deed that he technically performed while using his nose light, it has been extinguished.

I’m calling foul on that. Sure, he did a bad thing, but he didn’t think he was doing anything wrong. He didn’t have evil intentions and was being manipulated. I really don’t think that should count. Also, he didn’t actually use his nose for evil. He just used it to see what he was being tricked into stealing.

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He says he’ll clear things up with Lily to seemingly make everything better and get his nose to light up, but Winterbolt won’t help Frosty and his family unless Rudolph takes the blame. I’m a little confused. Shouldn’t it just be bad enough that he did the deed not that he’s taking the blame for it? I was confused earlier too because he stole the money but his nose still lit up at the finale of the circus. Was the deed only bad when it got discovered?

Rudolph goes to take the blame for the theft, devastating Lily and making Rudolph incredibly guilty and sad. To make matters worse, Crystal now doesn’t want Chilly and Milly associating with their Uncle Rudolph anymore because he’s now a criminal.

Frosty feels awful, Rudolph feels awful, that snowflake star mark thing on Rudolph’s hoof is gone, I still don’t get what the point of that was, but to its credit, this was a genuinely sad scene.

Winterbolt and Scratcher fly off to take over the North Pole now that Rudolph’s nose is out. Meanwhile…I guess there’s another show the following night? And Rudolph humiliates himself by not being able to light his nose for the audience, who proceed to boo him off stage.

Rudolph’s existence is so sad. First he’s hated because of his glowing red nose, then he’s heralded as a hero because of his glowing red nose, now he’s back to being hated because he can’t make his red nose glow. It sucks so much that public opinion on Rudolph is so largely dependent on his nose. Like no one cares that he’s a hero or can frickin’ fly or even that he personally knows Santa – it’s all just the nose for all of these ungrateful bastards.

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Everyone else in the circus understandably hates Rudolph now, and Rudolph walks off to sing a sad song called ‘A Bed of Roses.’ It’s my favorite song of the lot, but I did have a giggle at Rudolph with red glitter all over his face. I mean, it’s very sad that he’s just trying to replicate the glow of his nose, but it looks like he snorted glitter.

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By the way, Rudolph was clearly very weak when his light was fading in the beginning of the movie. Now he loses it entirely and he’s completely fine.

Frosty is so guilty about what happened to Rudolph that he wonders if there’s something he could do to help Rudolph without putting his family in harm’s way. Winterbolt hears his plight, but doesn’t think Frosty has anything of benefit to take from him. His genie, however, informs him of Frosty’s trademark hat. Winterbolt believes that he could use Frosty’s hat, replicate the life-granting magic from within, and create his own army of living snowmen.

They animate this imagery in an interesting way. I’m pretty sure they only animated one snowman soldier, but they used mirrors to replicate the animated image to make it look like there were many.

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The main reason this is appealing to Winterbolt is because getting rid of Frosty means getting rid of the only other person who knows the truth about the theft.

Can I ask a question? Why can’t Rudolph just bring Frosty and co. To the North Pole via Milton’s hot air balloon and then tell everyone what happened? It’s not like Winterbolt put a curse on Rudolph to forever extinguish his light. He just agreed to never get it back to save Frosty, but if Frosty and his family are no longer in danger then he doesn’t need to keep his end of the bargain.

Winterbolt’s plan has so many holes in it that Spongebob’s jealous.

Couldn’t he have saved himself a lot of trouble and just frozen Rudolph in some sort of super unmeltable ice? He has access to that because that’s supposedly what Frosty and his family are with those amulets on.

Back with Rudolph, Lady Boreal, still in her light form, comforts Rudolph, telling him that she watches over him and he should be brave as he protects the helpless. If he is brave, his snowflake and star mark and his glowing red nose will return.

Wait…..so…Lady Boreal knows that Rudolph didn’t do anything wrong and only said he did because he was protecting Frosty….So why he did his light go away!?

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Big Ben, the whale with a clock on his tail from Rudolph’s Shiny New Year, suddenly pops up in the ocean near Rudolph and offers a shoulder (or fin) to cry on. After hearing his story, Ben rushes off to South America, much to Rudolph’s confusion.

Meanwhile, Winterbolt is making his deal with Frosty. He tells Frosty that, in exchange for his hat, he’ll turn Rudolph’s nose light back on, but he’s lying of course.

Frosty sings one last romantic song to Crystal, who doesn’t know he’s doing this and isn’t in the room.

Gotta say, while some of these sweet romantic musical numbers are nice, they’re getting to a point where the movie is oversaturated with them. Each pairing has like two romantic song breaks (Frosty and Crystal are on their third or fourth right now), and there’s no point in them. Don’t get me wrong, they’re very sweet, but they pump the brakes on the entire movie and aren’t very interesting. At least this one is about saying goodbye to her (and their kids) but still.

I also find it funny that we have all of these romantic pairings getting focus, but Rudolph only gets a brief shot of a picture of Clarice cut into a heart with the words “Love you, Clarice.” on it.

As Crystal and the kids weep over Frosty’s….corpse? Rudolph chases after Winterbolt to get the hat back.

Insert Rudolph vs. Flying magical snow snake scene here and soak it in. It is marvelous.

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So is this.

Winterbolt: “You don’t frighten me! The hat is mine! Try and get it!”

*Rudolph easily headbutts Winterbolt in the stomach*

Winterbolt: “Oof!”

*drops hat*

That could not have been more hilarious if you tried.

Also, Rudolph in Frosty’s hat is too adorable for words.

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Rudolph’s act of bravery allows him to get his light and little hoof mark back. I don’t know how or why. If he really did perform an evil deed with his nose light and that’s why it went out, which, as indicated by the mark also going away, is indeed what happened, then, by Lady Boreal’s wording, it should have been gone forever. If it wasn’t and never should have been taken in the first place, what was the point of the past half hour?

Rudolph heads off to set things straight. He gets a real cop to return the money (How did he find that?) to Lily, explains that he was tricked, and they returns Frosty’s hat and life back to him. Everyone makes up, Sam Spangle gets sent to prison, and Frosty and Rudolph reprise the misfit song from the original movie.

However, Winterbolt’s not done. He wants his revenge on Rudolph and Frosty. Lily steps up to the plate and, I’m not kidding, throws her guns at Winterbolt’s ice staff and shatters it, causing his power to deplete, and then he turns into a tree.

Okay…so….first of all, Winterbolt’s magical ice staff can be broken if someone throws a couple revolvers at it?

Secondly, that was the source of all of his power? He wasn’t just powerful on his own?

Third, how is it that Lady Boreal never thought to break or steal his staff? Why put him in a deep sleep and deplete your own energy for how many hundreds/thousands of years instead of just taking a baseball bat to that staff? Do it while he’s sleeping!

Fourth, taking away his power kills him? If that’s true, why wouldn’t he take more measures to protect that staff? He has his own amazing ice powers and a magical genie that lives within the staff. There’s no reason this thing isn’t protected by a barrier or something.

Fifth, why a tree? I could understand him melting as he loses his power and dies, he’s an ice wizard and everything, but why does he turn into a tree? A dead one, I might add, so he is definitely dead. They even have one of his arm/branches snap afterward.

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Lily: “Wow! Hehe, what an exit!” You just took a life.

With Winterbolt out of the way, the storm clears, allowing Santa and Mrs. Claus to safely fly again and head to the circus.

But also the other obvious thing happens – Frosty and his family melt because the amulets worked off of Winterbolt’s magic and he’s dead now.

Good job, Lily.

When will your murder spree end?!

Rudolph: “Gee whiz….”

Old phrases really seem goofy sometimes. “Well, gosh, it sure is awful that two adults and two children just died horrifically and now we’re gazing upon their liquified remains. Golly gee.”

Seriously, it was bad enough to see Frosty as a lifeless snowman or to see his or Crystal’s puddles with their hat and hair on top, but it’s borderline morbid to see Chilly and Milly’s puddles with their hat and bow on top.

Rudolph: “When Frosty melts, nothing can help except a magic December wind to help him, and this is July!”

Hold up. When did the qualifier of ‘December’ wind get squeaked in there? I thought it was just any cold temperature on his magic snow body.

Big Ben arrives with a special guest, Jack Frost, who was hanging out in South America where winter goes during the summer months of the Northern Hemisphere. Jack Frost resurrects Frosty and his family with his frigid breath right as Santa arrives to pick them up. Jack Frost joins them in order to keep the snowpeople family cool during their trip.

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Rudolph has to stay behind to help with the shows until the circus is out of debt (I could swear this started out as a ‘one show to save us’ type deal, but okay) but Santa says he’ll be back soon because he gave some of his magic feed corn to Lily to allow her animals to fly, so she’ll be sure to drum up a lot of business quickly.

What happens when she runs out, though? How long do the effects of that stuff last?

We close out on the entire flying circus being lead by Rudolph flying around as Santa, Frosty and the others depart.

Milton and Lanie seem to be poised to be wed once more, and everyone lives happily ever….Well, we never learn what happened to Scratcher. He could be trapped in Winterbolt’s cave lair for all eternity…..Happily ever after! The end.

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Well…..that was a mess. Nothing made me angry or anything, but I did get incredibly confused along the way. So much of the story just seemed completely pointless and like they were overcomplicating what should have been a very easy plan.

I don’t much care for the fact that they basically confirmed that the stakes in this movie were fake by having Frosty and his family melt in the end even after Winterbolt died just to go ‘Oh we can bring them back!’ Even if Jack Frost didn’t make a cameo, they could have just scooped up the water in the puddles and taken it back to the North Pole or South America/some other location experiencing winter at the time, if that was necessary.

The aspect of Rudolph’s nose light being extinguished also made no sense. It didn’t follow any of the rules Lady Boreal set for the power. It went away for no reason and came back when it should have been gone forever if it did get taken away.

It’s a shame because Winterbolt is a fairly good villain. He has strong presence, a decent, but possibly mostly recycled, design, and I love all of his snow creatures and his genie, but he’s just kinda dumb. He’s an all-powerful being who had a firm grip on the entire North Pole for hundreds or thousands of years. He was so powerful that an Aurora Borealis demi-god had to expend most of her power just keeping him asleep for however long.

Yet he had to jump through so many hoops simply to get a reindeer out of the way.

And he was felled because a circus owner threw guns at him.

Not to mention that this comes at the expense of kinda ruining Rudolph’s backstory. So now instead of him having this glowing red nose on complete random circumstance, he was given this light as a sort of destiny thing to defeat Winterbolt when he made his attack on Christmas. And she had to make it super secret for literally no reason, leaving Rudolph open to ridicule for years and putting Santa in danger. All she needed to do was tell Santa about the upcoming storm, explain that she put her power in a reindeer’s sinuses and that, as long as he stays there and happy, everything will be cool.

But no.

This movie feels like it has no direction. Half the time it’s Winterbolt and his already ridiculous plan, and the rest is filled with random love songs and stuff that is cool to look at usually but isn’t contributing much to the story.

If you just want a dose of Rudolph and Frosty for Christmas or…Summer, I guess, then this will do fine. There are numerous sweet, funny and heartwarming moments scattered throughout. But, as a whole, and even just compared to the other Rankin/Bass specials, this isn’t anything to write home about at best and is pretty frustratingly nonsensical at worst. I give a lot of leeway to Rankin/Bass specials in terms of logic, but this went pretty damn far.


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Animating Halloween: Noctober | The Scooby-Doo Show: The Headless Horseman of Halloween Review

Plot: On the night of Halloween, Shaggy, Scooby-Doo, Velma, Fred, Daphne and Scooby’s cousin, Scooby-Dum, attend a costume party at the mansion of the descendant of Icabod Crane. In this universe, Icabod Crane was indeed real, and he supposedly was killed after a run-in with the legendary Headless Horseman. It’s nothing but a story, but the Headless Horseman makes an appearance at the party looking for a replacement head.

Breakdown: Well, it just wouldn’t be Halloween without some Scooby-Doo, would it? Plus, a send-up to The Legend of Sleepy Hollow? Count me in!

While this episode/special is enjoyable enough, made me smile several times, there’s not a whole lot to separate it from your typical Scooby-Doo episode outside of one element – Scooby-Dum.

So, uh…where did this character come from, and why does he exist? He’s literally just Scooby-Doo if he were a lot, well, dumber, and if he was a bit of a hick. That’s it. He’s likable and endearing, but his shtick is constantly just ‘he’s super dumb’ and also ‘haha, he’s named Scooby-Dum BECAUSE HE’S DUMB!’

The mystery was also kinda weak if you ask me. I mean, it’s almost never actually a supernatural being in Scooby-Doo, and if you go into this knowing that fact then the actual culprit will be very obvious about halfway into the episode.

…Although, I do wonder, if Icabod Crane was real in this universe, and he was supposedly killed by the Headless Horseman, but this one was fake…..does that mean…..Hmmmm.

The Headless Horseman of Halloween is a pretty decent Scooby-Doo Halloween special, so if you have the means and you love yourself some Scooby goodness check it out.


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Animating Halloween: Noctober | The Flintstones Meet Rockula and Frankenstone (1979) Review

Plot: The Flintstones and the Rubbles win a trip to Count Rockula’s castle for a romantic weekend away and a great costume party. Things take a spooky turn when they discover that the real Rockula, and his cohort, Frankenstone, are living in the castle, and they’re none too happy to find their home filled with people.

Breakdown: This is about as close to a Halloween special as The Flintstones ever got, and as a Halloween special, I think it works pretty well. There are plenty of really funny moments and even some tense moments when the group is being chased by Rockula and Frankenstone.

I will say that, for what is seemingly a Halloween special, it is very weird that Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm never show up. For a while, I wondered if either of them even existed, but Wilma very briefly mentions Pebbles near the end of the movie, so I guess at least she does. What was she doing while they were gone that whole time?

Anyway, while I can’t say I’ll be rushing out to revisit this special every Halloween season, it was an enjoyable special that got me laughing and smiling numerous times. If you’re a fan of The Flintstones or even just Hanna-Barbera, you’d get a kick out of it.


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Animating Halloween/Pixar’s Lamp | Coco (2017) Review

Plot: Miguel’s family has detested music for generations ever since his great-great grandfather abandoned his family to become a musician. Forced to follow his love of music and the famous musician Ernesto de la Cruz in secret, Miguel attempts to follow his dream of becoming a musician on Dia de Muertos by entering a music competition.

His grandma, having found out about his secret, destroys the guitar he built, leaving him with no means of participating in the competition. In an effort to secure a guitar in time, Miguel winds up getting trapped in the land of the dead when he tries to steal de la Cruz’s guitar from his tomb. Only the blessing of Miguel’s deceased family members can send him back home, but they’ll only do it under the condition that he never play music again. Miguel scrambles to find another way home without sacrificing his love of music before sunrise or else he’ll be trapped in the land of the dead forever.

Breakdown: Warning – While I did my best to avoid spoilers in this review, I couldn’t avoid talking about some of them so, spoiler warning.

I have scoured far and wide for animated Halloween specials and movies, but it never really occurred to me to look for any animated media about Dia de Muertos or the Day of the Dead until I decided to finally watch Coco. Let me be very clear – I’m aware that the Day of the Dead is not Halloween nor does Halloween’s roots really come from the Day of the Dead. They seem similar due to imagery such as graveyards and skulls and a few traditions such as dressing in costumes lining up, but they are not one in the same and come from very different backgrounds. Day of the Dead is also not celebrated on October 31st – although it does come immediately afterward on November 1st.

That being said, I still feel like this counts because….pbbttt….I want it to. Animating Halloween entries technically don’t have to be about Halloween, and it fits the general criteria so I’m counting it.

Onto more important matters, I need to get this out of my system, holy frickin’ rendering, this movie is GORGEOUS. Every frame of this movie is like it’s begging you to pause and stare at each image….which I did a few times. Pixar keeps outdoing itself at every turn. It’s beyond impressive. The details on the clothing and the faces, the hair, every little item and building, the textures, the animation, the absolutely heart-stopping coloring, the amazing stylization – I want to watch it all over again just to soak in more of those visuals. They’re so good.

This movie really aimed to celebrate Mexican culture, and while I can’t attest to any inaccuracies or the like since I am not Mexican or of Latin descent, I believe it achieved this goal in spades. It definitely serves as being a fantastic Dia de Muertos movie. It lends proper focus to the main themes and traditions of the holiday without beating you over the head with the message too much. I want to read up on it as much as I can because it looks like such a cool holiday that I wish we had in the States.

In regards to the story, it had its ups and downs. I think the premise is incredibly interesting and the story as a whole is well-executed, but that doesn’t mean it’s not without flaws. One of the biggest problems being that 90% of the movie is very predictable.

I’m going to say something silly right now, but believe me I have my reasons…..This is pretty much The Little Mermaid for the first 45 minutes. I’m not saying it’s about mermaids – there are approximately zero mermaids in the movie – I mean the general story notes hit the same. Something is banned and hated from the MC’s family/world, but the MC really adores the banned thing. MC enjoys the banned thing in secret until their fangirl/boyness gets found out. Parental figure destroys their hidden shrine to the banned thing, including one particularly important thing. MC runs off because of how awful and unfair they’re being. They accidentally enter another world by doing something unethical/wrong and they need to fix their mistakes without sacrificing their love of banned thing. In the end, both worlds combine and everyone’s happy. Bonus – the heavy music themes.

Even taking my comparison to The Little Mermaid out of the equation, it’s still a pretty predictable story for 90% of its runtime. However, it’s very much saved by two things; 1) The overall ride of the visuals, music and characters make this story memorable and unique. Remember, clichés and predictability are only as bad as you make them due to lack of style and innovation. 2) I said 90% of the storyline because there is a huge plot twist near the end that I never saw coming. I was really thrown for a loop when that was revealed. I knew that de la Cruz would turn out to be a bad guy because movies always tend to drive home a ‘don’t meet your heroes’ message for whatever reason, and the guy was simply hero worshipped by too many people to not turn out to be an awful person, but I never expected the other half of that reveal. I was completely blindsided.

Another issue was that I thought the family’s hatred of music was overkill to say the least. I can understand Imelda (Great-great grandmother) hating music that much, but not the entire family – most of which never even met the great-great grandfather. He could have abandoned his family for any profession. If he ran off to become a famous chef, would they all hate and banish food?

It’s revealed near the end that Coco never stopped loving her father and kept all of the letters and ‘poems’ he sent to her before his death, so why didn’t she stop this cycle of hatred? I’m not putting the full blame on her, since her mother seemed like a very outspoken person who likely passed on her hatred to Coco’s children without Coco getting a word in edgewise, but it still seems like something she had some modicum of control over, especially after Imelda died.

Give Triton credit. At least his hatred of humans and the surface world has quite a bit of justification behind it. Humans were a huge threat to sea creatures, and they were responsible for killing his wife. Abandoning your family is a crappy thing to do no matter the reason, but music wasn’t responsible for him making that crappy decision. It just happened to be the dream he was pursuing. There’s nothing inherently bad about music. To have such a deep hatred of it that you harass people on the street for playing music, yell at family members for so much as humming or act like your son is a terrible person for wanting to be a musician is just crazy.

This was probably intentional, but the hypocritical aspect of Miguel’s family holding the concept of family so dear while also damning one of their family for something as silly as playing music is definitely not lost on me.

Of course, Miguel also had to learn the importance of family while both sides had to learn to balance family and passion, which was a sweet sentiment.

Being completely honest, in the end, Hector’s story was more interesting that Miguel’s journey, but I can’t go into that very much without spoiling a lot.

Miguel is a very nice and realistic boy, and, despite some hiccups, I never stopped rooting for him to both get back to the land of the living and retain his ability to practice music. Over the course of the story, it shifts from being simply about him pursuing his own dreams to also about bringing music back to his family.

The story as a whole is a great way to tackle the subject of death with children in a manner that is extremely respectful and not scary – at least in my opinion. No matter your beliefs on an afterlife, Coco isn’t afraid to talk about death, depict it and explore it in a manner that a child would understand fairly easily without too much to worry about in regards to frightening them.

There is one aspect of this lore that is scary and depressing even to adults – the concept of being forgotten. I think a lot of people have had that existential crisis where we think about what happens after we’re long gone and forgotten. Thinking about that in the scope of the physical world is enough of a heavy topic to weigh on any adult’s shoulders. Coco, however, introduces the concept of what I’ll call a double death.

When you die, you go to the land of the dead, which is basically our world only awesome because everyone’s a cool-ass skeleton and there’s a massive city with lots of neon lights, there are insanely cool spirit animals and everything’s incredible, but not in a heavenly perfect way.

Every Dia de Muertos, those in the land of the dead are allowed to pass over to the living world to visit their relatives and enjoy the festivities. You’re allowed to enter the physical world if your family has put up your photo in their ofrenda, which is a shrine where the photos of lost loved ones are displayed and offerings are placed during Dia de Muertos. Typically, as long as your photo is kept up every year, you’re not forgotten.

However, the depressing part comes for anyone who is forgotten. If your family or another loved one hasn’t put up your photo in an ofrenda, and no one in the living world who knew you when you were alive still remembers you, you disappear…forever. You doubly die. How depressing is it to have an afterlife where you can die again, this time permanently, and the death is caused by your memory fading from the physical realm?

Hector even says disappearing in this manner happens to everyone eventually, which does make sense but geez, what a depressing concept.

Music being a central theme in this movie means the music has to be top-notch here, and I’m happy to report that it is. Both the orchestral score and the lyrical songs are phenomenal. It’s a soundtrack I’d gladly purchase.

The voice acting was also very well done. The movie has an almost entirely Latin cast, which is very appreciated, and everyone did quite well in their roles. I liked that they had Miguel be a decent singer but very obviously still sound like he’s rough and inexperienced. His passion for music and his skills with guitar playing shine through during these moments and make his performance both incredibly real and impacting without being distracting.

I loved Coco from start to finish, even if I was mostly latched onto the visuals for the first chunk of the movie before the story really took off. It’s one of Pixar’s best movies, if you ask me. I didn’t tear up at any point, but I had a blast watching it, and it did get me a tiny bit emotional near the end.

Recommended Audience: As I mentioned, this movie basically needs to talk about death and the afterlife a whole lot, which may be a touchy subject for children, but I believe it covers this topic so well that it wouldn’t be too risky for young children. Still, be warned that the themes are here and more sensitive children might not be receptive to it even with the happy and optimistic tone. It should also be noted that murder is brought up once. I don’t think there is anything else questionable or offensive etc. in this movie, so 6+.

Final Notes: Can we keep up discussing how awful Blu-ray cover art usually is? Look at the awesome poster I used for this review and then compare that with the Blu-ray.

This entire movie is chalked up to ‘Boy with guitar.’ Get your crap together, Blu-ray.


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Animating Halloween 2021 Update

Hello visitors of this little ol’ blog. Hope you’re all staying healthy and happy.

October is just around the corner, which means Animating Halloween is coming up real soon. With that, I have some good news and some bad news.

The good news is Yami Shibai has released two new seasons since the last Animating Halloween, which is AWESOME because I really thought Yami Shibai was over and done with. The tradition continues!

The bad news is things are kinda hectic right now. I’m moving soon-ish (numerous variables are keeping that up in the air. It’s kinda frustrating.) and I still have to do a bunch of stuff in preparation of that. Plus I have other personal things to handle. Animating Halloween is still on for sure, but posting once a day as I usually do during October may not work for me right now. To not rob you of Animating Halloween goodness, I will do a rollover AH day into November for each day I miss in October.

I know my posting habits aren’t spot-on either way, but I wanted to at least give you guys a heads up this year. I love doing these month-long review specials and it always makes me disappointed when I don’t manage to complete it, both for you guys and myself. Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, and I want you guys to be able to celebrate alongside me. 🙂

Finally, if you have anything you’d like to see me review for Animating Halloween, feel free to make suggestions. As a reminder, I will review anything as long as it’s mostly animated or is a graphic novel/manga of some sort and, of course, related to either Halloween or horror.

Have a Happy and SpooOooooOOOOoooookkkkyyyy Halloween, everyone! And thank you all for reading! 🧡

Animating Laughter and Frustration: The Goofy Mess of ToonMarty

Finally, after years of doing Episode One-Derlands, I actually finished a cartoon that I featured there.

ToonMarty is a French-Canadian cartoon created in 2017 by Sardine Productions for our old friends, Teletoon. It’s about a happy optimistic boy named Marty who gets into various shenanigans in the toony world of Toonville with his friends, Burnie and Holly.

When I first watched this show, I was pleasantly surprised because, honestly, it didn’t look like it’d be worth much of a damn, but I actually found myself liking it. It wasn’t making me bust a gut or anything, but I fully enjoyed the episode that I had watched.

Cut to nearly a year later, and I’m reminded of ToonMarty as I’m looking through my saved series on Tubi, so I thought why not binge watch it and finally get one of these full-series cartoon reviews completed for a change?

So I did!

And I ended up feeling….very, very, very mixed.

I ended up also using this binge watch as an experimental show to try making a tweet thread about my thoughts on each episode, so if you want to see my brief responses to each episode, click here.

The experiment failed, by the way. I won’t be doing that again.

As you can tell just by skimming the thread, this series has pretty decent highs and fairly low lows. One minute, I’d be singing its praises, and the next I’d be frustrated beyond belief, then I’d be very bored. To get a better idea of what’s right and wrong with ToonMarty, let’s break everything down.

The Citizens of ToonVille

Marty is our main character. When lightning struck a billboard for ToonMart, ToonMart Marty being the mascot, he was brought to life. I mentioned in my Episode One-Derland post that I thought it was odd that they never explained his origins in the first episode, nor do they explain it in the theme song. He obviously has no parents and seems to live in ToonMart, which is very weird without context. If I had never read the description in the Wiki, I’d be terribly confused. I assumed that they would explore his origins in the second episode or at least later on – it’s the friggin’ plot to the show and the backstory to the main character.

But nope.

We never learn, outside of meta information, what Marty is. We just know he’s the mascot of ToonMart for some reason. For all the average viewer knows, Jack just hired someone off the street and used their image for advertising. It doesn’t ever really matter, but it’s still a very weird detail to overlook.

Onto Marty himself, he has very poor character consistency. Sometimes, he’ll be sweet and adorable and precious, but then other times he’ll be very selfish and childish, and many times he’ll be incredibly obnoxious.

I mentioned that Marty reminded me of Spongebob quite a bit, only not quite as annoying, but I take back that last part. They’re about even on that playing ground now. Marty lives for his job, is extremely happy and peppy, and is quite clueless and naive. On the more negative side, Marty loves playing pranks, and being loud and destructive. That’s why he’s such good friends with Burnie, a character we will definitely need to talk more about in a second. He’s usually harmless, but he doesn’t seem to realize where the line is until he’s long since crossed it.

The show has a habit of finding ways to torment Marty for no reason. It’s not constant, but it is there and it did get very frustrating. They acknowledge that Marty is meant to be this pure, cute beacon of sunshine that everyone loves, but the show still loves to find ways to make him suffer a lot when he doesn’t deserve it. This happens a lot in episodes where either he and Burnie do something together and he gets the blame or Burnie does something on his own and Marty gets the blame.

Marty is always at his best when he’s just embracing being a toon. He’s very proud of his toon nature, and it’s always entertaining to see him bouncing around and goofing off. I wish they had just kept him that way the entire time.

Burnie is a human pustule. He’s Marty’s best friend – the Patrick to his Spongebob for sure. He’s a lazy, food-obsessed moron. The thing that sets him apart is that he’s the son of a supervillain and has fire powers and flight. I mentioned in the Twitter thread that Burnie was starting to come off like a middleground between early seasons Patrick, where he’s a dummy but he’s adorable and entertaining, and late seasons Patrick where he’s just a complete and utter asshole.

I am here to report that I was also wrong on this part. He’s late seasons Patrick – in fact, he’s worse, in my opinion.

Burnie’s shtick is that he’s a lazy idiot, sure, but his more spotlighted character traits are that he’s a selfish, destructive, uncaring pile of sun-baked garbage. He hates Holly for no reason and is constantly making fun of her, pulling pranks on her or making her life miserable, and he’s always getting Marty into trouble. He only cares about himself, and unlike Spongebob and Patrick, you never really feel like their friendship is genuine.

It always feels like Burnie is just friends with Marty because the writers say so. Marty is friends with Burnie because he’s too much of a goshdarn nice guy to see the problems with Burnie most of the time. He has fun playing pranks with him, but that’s about it. He hardly ever holds Burnie accountable for his actions, and Burnie NEVER holds himself accountable for his actions. He’s usually being reeled in by Holly, but Holly almost always ends up being ignored, insulted, harmed in some way or D) all of the above.

You’d think a character like him would constantly get comeuppance, but he doesn’t most of the time. He comes in, causes trouble, acts like a prick, then the episode ends without him paying any price usually. The few times he does get his just desserts, it is beyond a welcomed sight.

Burnie has a pretty good and unique backstory in being the son of a supervillain, but they surprisingly don’t do much with that aspect of his character. He frequently uses his fire powers and uses his flight to avoid walking, but outside of some clear daddy issues and some infrequent encounters with his father, it’s very much an underutilized part of his character, which is a shame. I’d much rather explore that than deal with him being a jerkass.

I did mention in the Twitter thread that, at the very least, they acknowledge that Burnie’s a complete annoying asshole….but asshole characters are only really funny if they get their comeuppance, and just because your other characters recognize that a character is annoying doesn’t mean that he’s not still annoying. You have to introduce some likable character traits to him otherwise you’ll just spend every second of his screentime wishing he’d be locked in a cage at the center of the earth.

Holly is like some mixture of Sandy and Squidward. She’s a robot, but also the token girl of the group. She’s the smartest, most mature, and she acts as a grumpy straightman to Marty and Burnie’s shenanigans. Holly is constantly on the receiving end of torment from these two, which is never justified like it commonly is with Squidward. And like I said, she and Burnie hate each other with a passion for really no reason.

I really liked Holly. Outside of one or two instances, she was likable, nice and interesting. Her being a robot is especially interesting because, despite being a cartoon, robots are not technically ‘toons’ in the traditional sense. That’s one of the reasons why Holly’s the straightman in their dynamic. As a robot, she has a weird/sometimes quite poor sense of humor, and she’s always the voice of reason. They act like Holly doesn’t actually have emotions sometimes, but that’s very much not true. I don’t know why they imply that.

Unlike Burnie’s backstory, I don’t think they squander Holly’s robot nature too much. I wish they had done a bit more with it, but it was the best out of the three main characters.

Toonville is filled with many other frequent faces like Jack, the owner of ToonMart and Marty’s boss/father figure. I would say he’s the Mr. Krabs here, but he’s really not. He’s an old curmudgeon who keeps Marty in line when he can, and that’s about it. I liked him for the most part.

Suki is a spoof of anime, most specifically Sailor Moon. I thought Suki would be way more important than she actually was. She’s right up front in the title card, she’s in the promo poster, and the first episode put her on display for quite a bit. Plus, she’s Marty’s love interest. However, she is mostly just a background character for nearly the entire show. She pops up in nearly every episode, but it’s only for about 15 seconds and usually has absolutely nothing to do with the plot.

She had one episode where she was the focus, and that was mostly it for Suki doing damn near anything of note in this series.

There are many more problems with her character that I will discuss later.

Then you have Dr. Smartypants, who was my favorite character of the show. She has great lines, a very memorable personality, and I adore her comedic timing. She’s a monkey and the doctor of Toonville. She actually manages to appear more frequently than Suki despite not even appearing in the opening theme.

Super Simon is the resident superhero. He usually battles Burnie’s dad, Burnatron. While he initially comes off as very heroic and nice, he, for some reason, becomes an ass later on.

Burnatron is a villain. There’s not much to say here. He’s a slight ass to his son, but it’s never enough to justify Burnie’s terrible behavior. Burnatron can be pretty entertaining because he’s one of those villains who are more talk than action.

Carly is a parody of Hello Kitty. She’s pretty funny, and I usually enjoyed any scene that focused on her.

Lenny is a depressed sentient bench, who might as well be Eeyore. He could be kinda funny sometimes, especially in To Be Continued.

Hobo Jeb was about the closest the series had to a consistent villain. He’s a grumpy old classically designed toon. He and Marty hate each other for absolutely no reason. I understand Jeb hating Marty since Jeb’s just a mean person, but I have no clue why Marty hates him so much, unless it’s just because Jeb hates him.

Then there’s Grizelda, who is a witch. She hates toons and goofiness, but she could be pretty funny sometimes.

Chef and Saucy Chicken are local celebrities because they star in a show that is mirroring any chase dynamic in classic cartoons like Tom and Jerry, Bugs and Elmer, Sylvester and Tweety, Roadrunner and Wile E. Coyote etc. They were pretty entertaining, but their shtick gets old real fast. There are two separate episodes that explore the fact that these two need each other in order to be happy/funny. It’s basically the same story with slightly different details. Considering these two are far from main characters, this was very odd and a waste of an episode.

What ToonMarty Does Right

One of my favorite things about this show is that it celebrates, well, toons. I adore animation, and I love when shows also clearly display a love of cartoons. Everyone’s a toon who knows they’re a toon. The world they live in follows toon rules. And several of the episodes take common cartoon tropes/mechanics and play around with them in a manner that is fun, clever and unique. Anyone who enjoys animation as a whole or is even simply a fan of old classic cartoons is sure to find some episodes that will get a laugh out of them.

Animated by Snipple Animation, who have their hands in a variety of projects such as the Ducktales reboot, Phineas and Ferb, the Animaniacs reboot and even the upcoming Proud Family reboot, the animation of ToonMarty is very fluid, energetic and does a good job at capturing the over exaggerated squashy-stretchy tooniness of classic cartoons. They even change up the animation style depending on the character. For instance, the characters based on older classic cartoons tend to bounce a bit more, and Suki’s animation sometimes has missing tweens and is more limited than the others.

ToonMarty also has a pretty good sense of humor. Even in the episodes that were mediocre or even bad, there was usually at least one moment that made me crack a smile. In their best moments, they made me giggle or at least consistently smile throughout an episode. ToonMarty tends to have fun with itself, and I appreciate that.

The voice acting was very well done. Everyone was very fitting in their roles, and they all brought just the right levels of energy to the characters.

The character designs are okay. They’re not most memorable or creative things in the world, but they have enough distinguishing markers to make them easily recognizable via silhouette.

The music is also alright. The opening theme really turned into such an earworm for me. I can’t go one day without randomly playing it in my head. The BGM music is okay too, but there’s one aspect of it that I’ll have to return to later.

What ToonMarty Does Wrong

There are numerous episodes that just seem mean-spirited. I already mentioned how there are several occasions where Marty gets tormented for little to no reason. In the episode Chicken Fricassee, Chef comes into ToonMart to complain about their products not being good enough to kill Saucy Chicken. In order to help his customer, Marty offers numerous products that eventually do kill Chicken, but then everyone, including Chef, Holly and Burnie, all of whom were helping him, turn on Marty and make him an outcast because Chef’s life basically relies on Chicken. Without Chicken to chase, he has no purpose as a toon. Turns out, Chicken was faking her death for the sake of having some down time, knowing Marty was suffering for it and not caring.

There’s another episode called You’re It! where Marty is randomly made It in a game of tag, but it turns out being ‘It’ is actually a disease that will kill him unless he passes it on or finds a cure. He suffers throughout all of the episode, and then the Wise Tree tricks him into doing a bunch of BS chores to unlock the secret to the cure, but she doesn’t actually know what it is.

Holly also gets a hell of a lot of abuse. In the episode, Spare Parts, Marty’s tasked with fixing Holly after she gets banged up while playing with Marty. She has only one stipulation for repairing her – don’t let Burnie be involved at all. Marty turns her off so he can repair her and, Burnie being Burnie, he shows up immediately after Marty deactivates her. Marty can’t stop Burnie, because Burnie’s a human canker sore who doesn’t listen to anybody. He takes great pleasure in destroying her body then throwing her parts in a box labeled ‘Free Garbage.’ Her parts end up scattered throughout all of Toonville, and Marty has to gather them all to reassemble her.

When Holly wakes up, even though she realizes it was probably Burnie who was responsible for her state, she still puts all of the blame on Marty and even organizes an army of cute woodland animals and brainwashes them to be hellbent on hating Marty.

Speaking of Burnie, I literally have written as a bullet point for this section in my notes ‘Burnie.’ I think I’ve driven the point home that Burnie is a thoroughly unlikable character, but I really need to emphasize how much he damages the show entirely.

There are so many episodes where my overall view was dragged down simply because Burnie was there and being obnoxious. No matter if he has bearing on the plot or not, his selfish, mean, rude, uncaring behavior and attitude was always a chore to sit through.

You can have characters be terrible people and still be well-written and fun. Angelica from Rugrats is a great example of that. She was the ultimate brat. She lived for tormenting the babies whether it really benefited her or not, but she had much more to her than just being a bully, and she almost always got her comeuppance for being a little toad.

Megan from Drake and Josh is a good example of a middleground between Angelica and Burnie. She was also a nightmare who loved playing pranks on her brothers, but there was a charm about her and there were some moments that legitimately redeemed her. The major issue with her, though, was that she rarely ever got comeuppance. She never got punished for her terrible behavior or her rude comments. Even though she never made it a secret that she was a demon, her parents never recognized that she was constantly doing terrible things to her brothers. This aspect of her character made her much harder to watch.

Burnie’s not just horrible on his own – he’s also a terrible influence on Marty, but I’ll explore more of that mess later.

I know some people might defend him on the grounds that he’s the son of a supervillain so it makes sense that he’s so terrible, but I don’t buy that. His upbringing may have spoiled him and made him lazy and selfish, but 1) He doesn’t much care for the supervillain lifestyle. He doesn’t get along with his father and is constantly rebelling against him when they’re shown together. If anything, it makes more sense and would be funnier if he were a nice and benevolent guy. He’s a huge fan of Super Simon, Burnatron’s archnemesis, so he’s already halfway there. And 2) They don’t utilize that aspect of his character enough to justify that explanation.

There are numerous inconsistency issues throughout the show. Some of them can be hand-waved due to cartoon logic, but others are harder to justify. Characters change personalities quickly, the rules of their world change a lot, and sometimes things just make no sense.

For example, in an episode called 15 Minutes to Save the World, the group realizes that, because they live in a cartoon world, reality resets at the end of the day. They decide to do whatever they want, free of consequences because the world will just reset afterwards. They’re shocked to find that, the next day, everything’s still a mess. They wonder what triggers the reset, and in the end they discover that the end of the episode marks the reset….However, that’s not the way it was shown in the episode. They showed how the reset worked earlier in the episode by having the world reset after a zombie apocalypse the instant the sun came up. Now it’s the end of the episode that triggers the reset even though the beginning of the episode is kinda, ya know, the opposite of the end?

There are some other more damning examples I’ll discuss later.

The show as a whole never reaches a point where it really breached the line into ‘great.’ Despite having some really good episodes, it just doesn’t stick in your brain very well. Even though I mostly enjoyed watching this series, I can totally see myself forgetting I ever watched it in a month or so.

ToonMarty never truly finds its footing and really lacks a distinct personality. It bounces back and forth between being about toons being toony and just being a typical cartoon sitcom. I really think if they had committed more to taking aspects of animation and being creative with them in a nearly meta way it would have done wonders for this show’s identity. Even just taking the aspect of the ToonMart and running with it to show funny shenanigans with the gadgets and the characters who use them would have been a good option.

Instead, it’s like it’s uncomfortable being itself and keeps trying to emulate other shows……which brings me to…

Is ToonMarty a Rip-Off?

I have been making a stronger effort recently to not jump on rip-off accusations. Not saying things can’t be ripped off, but I really think that the term ‘rip-off’ gets thrown around way too much lately. People really have to just accept that some archetypes, stories, dynamics etc. are common tropes in media and have likely been for years. Just because someone uses the same tropes but isn’t as successful with them doesn’t mean they’re a rip-off.

That being said, there were several times over the course of watching this show where I got major Spongebob vibes, and it wasn’t just from the main characters. Some of the stories are also reminiscent of Spongebob episodes.

Apparently, I’m not the only one getting these vibes. In my research on this show, I found one of the very few articles on the internet that discusses ToonMarty – an entry in Terrible Shows & Episodes Wiki (Yikes) with a bullet point list of the negatives and positives of the show as a whole, and one of the points was that it is really similar to Spongebob.

The first time I really started going ‘Hey…wait a minute….’ was in the first act of Where There’s Smoke, There’s Marty, which is very similar to Employee of the Month during the first act, right down to the ridiculous wall of Employee of the Month photos and being motivated by trying to beat someone else for the title, only here it’s against Hobo Jeb for the record holder of most EotM awards. I don’t know how a guy like Hobo Jeb earned so many EotM awards, but maybe it’s just a default thing because…Marty’s the only one who works at ToonMart now, and Jack’s not going to give himself the award.

That’s suspicious, but the rest of the episode was entirely different, so I don’t think I can justify calling ‘rip-off’ there.

Then there was The Suit Makes the Super Hero, where Marty and Burnie get trapped in Super Simon’s suit and gain his super powers as a result, prompting them to cause a lot of chaos and trying to cover up that they took the suit without asking, like Spongebob did when he got Mermaidman’s belt in Mermaidman and BarnacleBoy IV, but there was no shrinking powers involved with this story.

The most shocking moment of this came in the episode Marty’s Bright Idea. This episode feels entirely unique until the ending. Toons rely on idea bulbs to stay intelligent. This is another inconsistency in the show as they barely, if ever, actually use idea bulbs in the series, but it’s a cute play on this old classic cartoon trademark. Jack gets the year’s supply of idea bulbs from his supplier and tasks Marty with safely storing them because they can’t get anymore until next year.

Burnie, of course, coerces him into using the bulbs for random stupid crap. They go through all of the bulbs in just one day. Toonville soon devolves into a brainless wasteland, so Burnie and Marty head to the location of the supplier. When I mentioned this episode in my tweet thread, I hinted as to what the big ‘rip-off’ moment was by mentioning the episode of Futurama where they discover the origin of Slurm, Fry and the Slurm Factory.

If you’ve never seen Futurama (you should), in that episode, the crew wins a tour of the Slurm factory. Slurm is an incredibly popular drink that Fry is basically addicted to. In the factory, they’re shocked to find that Slurm is actually a bunch of goo that is expelled from the butt of a giant slug/worm creature.

And, well, guess where the idea bulbs come from. Yup. The butt of a giant slug/worm creature.

It’s completely random for such a detail to be shoved into an episode that otherwise has nothing to do with Futurama, but I can’t imagine something as specific as this was not just ripped straight from Fry and the Slurm Factory. The other stuff I can find a way to excuse quite easily, but this is too on-the-nose.

Looping back to Spongebob, ToonMarty also has some background music tracks that sound reminiscent of Spongebob music in that they use lap steel guitars. Spongebob’s trademark BGM is loaded with lap steel guitars to make their music sound more Hawaiian, tropical and ocean-esque. Their most iconic musical sting is one in which a lap steel guitar is used.

ToonMarty doesn’t use these tracks very often, and it’s usually briefly, but when they do it’s very distracting. It’s not only very Spongebob-y, but it doesn’t fit very well with the small town setting they’ve presented us with.

There’s a fine, fine line between ripping something off and gaining inspiration from something. This is a subject I really had to mull over after seeing something else shocking.

In the episode, You’re It!, they show a closeup of a progression drawing to explain how this It disease has been passed on through the years. The drawing at the end is clearly Spongebob.

Being fair, there’s also a drawing of a character clearly meant to be Mickey Mouse, and another…..that I feel I should know based on the art style alone, but I can’t place it.

Considering all of the nods that they give to classic cartoons like Mickey Mouse, does this mean that they’re treating Spongebob as one of those cartoons and are just gaining inspiration from them and giving them a nod?

I have no clue why that’s there or what that could be implying. If they really were ripping off Spongebob, I doubt they’d be dumb enough to draw attention to that by having a blatant image of Spongebob right there in the middle of an episode.

So my final verdict on this matter is no. I don’t think ToonMarty is a rip-off. I just think it has such identity issues that it borrows from other shows sometimes in order to feel more secure instead of really embracing the fairly fresh concept that they had all the way through.

Marty’s Bright Idea is a perfect encapsulation of that whole problem. It’s fully embracing its own toony meta identity for most of the runtime and then BOOM suddenly you’re thrust into an episode of Futurama for a few minutes. (For the record, I do think that one moment was entirely ripped off.)

The identity issues aren’t just present in the borrowing of material. The way that the characters will change personalities on a whim or the inconsistency issues I mentioned before are both symptoms of this. I really think if ToonMarty maybe got one more season it could have cemented itself a little more and improved overall, but, sadly, it never got a chance.

Top Five Best Episodes

Before I go over my actual favorites list, I’m going to share some honorable mentions.

9A: The Barber of Toonville – A pretty funny episode that plays with the trope of toons never changing their appearance, so they obviously never get haircuts, but Burnie needs one. After he gets his haircut, it snowballs into a really good episode of funny nonsense that I greatly enjoyed.

11A: Toon-derworld – Just a really good Halloween episode that I will probably cover in full this October for Animating Halloween.

12B: Hot Tub Toon Machine – The only episode that completely centers on the classic cartoons of yesteryear also does a good job of shining a spotlight on them. I love classic cartoons and wish they got more appreciation by modern audiences, so I think it’s great that they were celebrated here.

Marty ends up losing his color and becoming wrinkled and sore after spending way too much time relaxing in Burnie’s hot tub. As a result, he’s sent to an old toons home where he meets other toons that have aged out of the public eye. Marty, however, remembers all of them. When Marty winds up getting in trouble after trying to help them, the old toons team up and get their old acts together to help him get his colors back and escape. In the end, the old toons stay retired and enjoy their naps, but it was nice to see them get back in the game.

15A: Senseless Burnie (The Good Parts) – This episode had a really unique, creative, and downright trippy premise that was really fun to play around with. However, the thing that dragged this episode down will be covered in the worst list….

Onto the main list….

5: 20A – Marty’s Theme

This episode was a great play on the concept of a character’s theme music. In this world, a character’s theme music drives their emotions. If happy music is playing, they’re happy. Sad music for sad etc. Without a theme band inside their heads, toons don’t feel emotions properly. Marty loses his band after they have a big fight and break up. They leave his head to go pursue independent careers.

Marty shops for a new source of theme music and decides upon a yodeling crocodile who doesn’t understand English. This makes him happy all the time, which causes a lot of problems in his life.

This episode is loaded with funny moments and is very memorable. My only note is that it would have been better if the entire episode only played whatever was set as Marty’s theme music. That way we could react along with him. Instead we get the normal score and Marty’s theme music, so it kinda loses impact.

4: 16B – Psych-O-Marty

I know I’ve written a lot about how insufferable Burnie is, but this episode helps heal that wound slightly. Dr. Smartypants gives Marty the job of ‘tooning up’ the toons of Toonville in her stead since she needs a vacation. He does a surprisingly good job with everyone except Burnie.

Through a multitude of mental conditioning techniques, including a reference to A Clockwork Orange of all things, Marty makes Burnie realize that he’s a terrible person, so he dedicates himself to being good from now on. Problem is, the fabric of the world’s reality is dependent on toons staying in their typical roles. Burnie being the polar opposite of how he normally is starts causing everything to break apart. Marty scrambles to get him to be a jerk again, but Burnie won’t budge.

There’s this…weird glossed over detail of Burnie having an evil teddy bear as a child that may have made him a jerk? It’s just “He used to say an evil teddy bear made him do everything.” ….Oh. Okay. Is that for real or did little kid!Burnie just make that up as an excuse whenever he did bad things? We never find out. We never even see the bear outside of the costume version Marty makes for himself.

The ending was the best part of the episode because it comes out of nowhere and is pretty shocking.

The only thing I didn’t enjoy about this episode was the implication that they have to keep Burnie as this horrible nightmare person because that’s just the way he is and you can’t upset the natural order or whatever. Also, it’s a bit alarming because that means literally no character can grow or change lest the world be destroyed as a result.

Technically, this is just mirroring a facet of animation. Many cartoons, especially classic ones, wouldn’t have character development, or, if they did, it would just be in one episode and wouldn’t stick through any other episode. It was the consistent formula that kept people coming back. However, when you’re talking about one of the most obnoxious characters I’ve seen in recent years, I’d rather not have the idea of him not being an asshole sandwich be shot down so firmly.

Other than that, it was a really funny episode that I greatly enjoyed.

3: 7A: 15 Minutes to Save the World

I already said quite a bit about this episode, but I did really enjoy the way they played with the cartoon trope of the world resetting once an adventure is over. I also like that they got a bit dark with it by having Jack legitimately die and stay dead until the very end. The weakest aspect of this episode, however, is how it starkly contradicts itself as I mentioned earlier.

2: 3A – Where There’s Smoke, There’s Marty

Yet another great example of them exploring cartoon trademarks and playing around with them. Marty is trying his best to earn Employee of the Month because he only needs four more of those awards to beat Hobo Jeb’s record. Marty rushes around the store trying to do a bunch of work, but all the zooming back and forth is exhausting his smoketoon. A smoketoon is the smoke version of a toon that they leave behind when they speed off somewhere. All toons need their smoketoons to travel at any decent level of speed. Marty’s smoketoon gets so fed up with his constantly zooming around that he detaches himself from Marty and leaves. Because of this, Marty is too slow to do basically any work around the store.

With his record in jeopardy, he asks to borrow Burnie’s smoketoon, who, in a polar opposite situation to Marty’s smoketoon, is actually pent up with a lot of energy because Burnie’s so lazy that he doesn’t tend to use his smoketoon. Burnie’s smoketoon rushes Marty around to work, which makes him exhausted and allows him to understand how his smoketoon feels. In the end, both Marty and Burnie are reunited with their smoketoons under the conditions that Marty will take it easy sometimes and Burnie will try to not be so lazy.

I really enjoyed this episode a lot. My favorite part was when the smoketoons got into a fight and created a fight dust cloud. That kinda bent my mind and gave me a good chuckle.

1: 10B – Batteries Included

I’ve always loved the idea of a magic universal remote that can do anything to the world around you. This episode is one of the best takes on that premise. I especially loved when Holly made Burnie speak Spanish and kept him that way throughout much of the episode, when they added audio descriptions to Suki (making one of about three times Suki has a good joke/scene in the series) and when their batteries ran out pressing ‘slow mo’ and they had to wait centuries for the batteries to recharge even a tiny bit. That whole time they were basically in slow mo limbo was awesome. Very memorable episode, and one I would definitely deem my favorite.

Bottom Five Worst Episodes

Time for some dishonorable mentions…

5A: The No-Toon Bro Zone – This was the first sign of rough waters ahead for ToonMarty. It was the first episode I disliked. Burnie and Marty are being complete douchebags acting as “bros” and annoying Holly to the point where she goes to her private space to relax. The boys find her in the space and realize that it’s essentially a reality-bending area where you can get anything you want if you just say it out loud.

While Holly’s gone, the boys take advantage of the space and completely trash it. Marty also spreads the word of the place to plan a massive destructive party for everyone in town. Marty’s big mouth causes everyone to move into Holly’s place, and Marty, Burnie and Holly are not allowed in. When she tries to make the best of their time in normal reality, Marty and Burnie act like bored jerks not even trying to have fun.

The only reasons that I am a little lenient with this episode are that Holly gets her space back in the end, Marty and Burnie get punished for what they did, Holly learns how to relax a little better thanks to her time with Marty and Burnie being a fellow ‘bro’ and the jokes were alright.

6A: Candy Cute – This episode has many problems – all of them focusing on why Suki doesn’t work as a character.

This is the one and only episode that focuses on Suki. As I mentioned before, Suki is the character meant to be a parody of anime, most specifically magical girl anime like Sailor Moon. Sadly, however, it’s very clear that no one in the writer’s room actually knows much about anime to make this character work well.

You guys remember when really the only exposure people had to anime were things like Speed Racer, Sailor Moon and Pokemon? And how the bare bones of jokes involving anime based purely on a single digit number of shows were ‘The animation is cheap’ ‘The characters don’t blink’ ‘Woosh lines in the background whenever anything happens.’ ‘They overemote to things and gasp a lot.’ and ‘The lip-syncing is bad.’

Well, if you know that, you don’t need to watch this episode at all or pay attention to Suki.

Bear in mind, this show was made in 2017, long after we got a torrential flood of anime in the west and after it became basically mainstream to like anime. There’s no reason the jokes should be this lazy. The only kinda modern anime reference they make with Suki is that she also has cat ears, which I’m only giving a pass to because, despite cat girls being around for a long time, they weren’t really common over here for a while.

Then there’s the Japanese stereotyping. Suki is voiced by a white woman but speaks in an embellished Japanese accent. This is not only problematic, but it also makes no sense. Hardly any character in an English dubbed anime has a Japanese accent.

If they’re poking fun at non-dubbed anime….why is she not just speaking Japanese? Why not give her subtitles? You can even poke fun at the silly details of fansubs or something. Why make her speak English with a Japanese accent? That doesn’t convey ‘anime’ to me. It conveys….I dunno, weeaboo? Or a Japanese person cosplaying while speaking English for some reason.

She’s also very much into DDR, virtual reality and she’s, for some reason, completely obsessed with candy. Is that a Japanese stereotype? I can’t imagine it’s an anime thing…right? I know Japanese candy is supposedly really awesome, though I’ve never had any, but making her obsessed with it doesn’t make much sense to me if it’s a joke or reference.

Her candy actually seems like it has powers? In this episode, there’s been a string of shoplifting incidents in ToonMart, so Marty is tasked with taking everyone’s pockets at the door (Not checking – taking). Suki leaves behind her skirt, I guess, and Burnie being Burnie convinces Marty to rummage through her pockets. She keeps a ton of candy in there and Burnie just helps himself.

Eating the candy gives Burnie cat ears, which, by the way, look nothing like cat ears. Until this episode, I thought Suki had short bunny ears, and I’m still not convinced they’re not even though they specifically called them cat ears.

Suki adores candy, and Burnie becomes much more fun when he’s on the candy (This is sounding like an anti-drug episode for some reason.) However, in a very surprisingly twist, Marty reveals that he’s allergic to sugar, and eating more than just a teeny, tiny microspeck of it will make him really, really crazy and sick, so he can’t have candy. He likes Suki, however, and wants to have just as much fun with her as Burnie’s having, so he pretends like he’s eating candy for a while until he flips out, eats the candy anyway and goes on a sugar-fueled rampage.

This episode as a whole is largely mediocre, but I couldn’t get over how badly they screwed up making a parody of anime. They play with so much when it comes to other cartoon tropes, but it’s like they were contractually obligated to have a character who was based on anime since it was booming in popularity, but they didn’t know what to do with her because no one on the crew knew enough about anime to actually make creative and new jokes, which is a shame.

7B – Spare Parts – I’ve already said my piece on this episode, but it really is a terrible one. At the very least, Burnie gets “cuddled” by the giant Cuddles in the end, even if Marty and Holly also get squished.

And now for the lowest of the low points of ToonMarty….

5: 10A – ToonScout Marty

Super Simon’s at his absolute worst here. He’s trying to get merit badges in the scouts with Marty. He basically treats it like a joke, wants Marty to do everything for him, and acts like an oblivious jerk the entire time. He keeps earning merit badges for stuff Marty is doing and taking full credit without a single thought. Meanwhile, Marty, who was a model scout and loves all of these activities, ends up getting scolded constantly and has all of his badges taken away in the end.

The wrap-up to this episode plus some genuinely funny moments kept the episode from being unsalvageable, but it’s really annoying to sit through.

4: 12A – ToonMart Mutt

The reason I don’t care for this episode is the rampant animal abuse. Marty is a horrible, horrible, horrible pet owner who kills every pet he gets (usually a fish.) He asked Jack if he could get a dog, and Jack agreed, but only if he could keep a fish alive for one year. Marty unknowingly killed a fish once a day for 365 days, and Holly just kept replacing them behind his back to help him get a dog, which is absolutely abhorrent.

Holly means well, but she’s knowingly getting hundreds of fish horribly killed by Marty’s hands just to give him access to a dog that he will likely also kill?

Speaking of that, Marty does get permission to get his dog, but when Burnie realizes how much of a cushy life the dog will have (He’s not aware that Marty’s a horrible pet owner) he magically swaps places with the dog that Marty would most likely want.

Marty tortures Burnie in this episode, even though he thinks he’s being a good pet owner. He’s like Elmyra only worse. I can’t believe this episode actually made me feel bad for Burnie, but when we see his horrible, swollen, injured, hungry form after just one day with Marty, I was starting to get upset.

I would normally be right on board with Burnie getting some punishment, but 1) He didn’t deserve it in this episode, really, and 2) I can’t help but imagine Marty doing this to a not-Burnie dog, and that just makes me even more upset.

At least, at the end of the episode, Marty agrees with everyone that he’s a terrible pet owner and probably shouldn’t ever get a pet ever again, but goddamn that was rough to watch.

3: 15A – Senseless Burnie (The Bad Parts)

While this episode was very funny, weird and creative, I hit a wall of hatred with this episode when Burnie started insisting that Marty eat some super duper candy coated mega burger.

Burnie loses all of his senses after being exposed to yak hair. In order to sense things again, Dr. Smartypants suggests putting a brain leech into Burnie and Marty’s heads. Burnie’s will accept transmissions of sensory input, and Marty’s will transmit the sensations. Through Marty, Burnie can use all of his senses again. Problem is, he still can’t sense anything himself. IE if he wants to smell a flower, Marty has to sniff the flower for him.

Burnie has been really looking forward to eating this super special candy coated burger thing that is loaded with sugar, but since he can’t taste anything on his own right now, he wants Marty to eat it for him. Marty is allergic to sugar. It makes his head explode. (Yes, that doesn’t mesh entirely with what was mentioned in Candy Cute.) He wants to keep helping Burnie, but that’s basically asking him to kill himself, so he refuses.

In retaliation, since Marty claims he will do literally anything else….*sigh* Burnie forces him to do a series of horrible things to himself, literally torturing him until he gives in and eats the suicide burger.

The only thing that makes this even slightly acceptable is that Burnie still feels everything Marty is feeling, so he’s being tortured too. However, when you really think about it, this just makes Burnie look even worse as a person. He’s such a monster that he’s willing to torture himself to torture his best friend to force him into doing something that will seemingly KILL HIM just because he wants to eat a burger. Fuck Burnie, I swear.

He actually sneezes out his brain leech thing while torturing Marty, regains his own senses, but then keeps torturing Marty and tries to find the brain leech because he thinks the burger will taste better with Marty’s senses than his own.

Oh and one more thing. Burnie was also taking advantage of the fact that Marty thought he was the cause of Burnie’s senselessness by exposing him to some yak hair a while back. Turns out, Burnie owns a goddamn pet yak and is extremely close to it……even lickings its eyeballs…..

The fact that the rest of this episode is so good just makes me angrier at the bad parts.

2: 13A – How Marty Got His Toon Back

This episode I dislike for three reasons; 1) It’s just boring. 2) It is the absolute worst example of poor consistency in this show. And 3) It makes 100% no sense.

Grizelda hates toons and tooniness. On her birthday, she just wants some normalcy, but the toons are irritating her everywhere. She finally snaps and starts zapping every toony thing around her and taking away their tooniness, which kinda means she’s committing mass murder in a sense because most of the things she’s zapping are sentient and they lose their sentience when she zaps them. They’re just normal objects afterward.

In comes Marty, who is at his tooniest and causing trouble for her right before giving her an explosive when he finds out it’s her birthday. She zaps him too, taking away his tooniness and making him a regular person. He now has the capacity to feel pain and can die.

There are so many things wrong with this episode I have no idea where to begin.

Let’s just start at the basics. This premise is based on the trope that cartoons can’t feel pain, get injured or die. They just squash and stretch and turn into accordions, etc. no matter what happens.

Thing is, that’s not how cartoons work, nor has it ever been that way. Cartoons survive a hell of a lot, yeah, and like 15 Minutes to Save the World explains, the world just resets once the episode is over. The status quo is never challenged once the credits run. However, the way pain, injury and death works in cartoons is that they selectively choose when to have these things happen.

For example, a cartoon gets crushed by an anvil. It would be terrible and gross for the cartoon to explode in a bunch of meaty chunks and then end the episode because it’s now dead. It’s funny to watch him get flattened into a pancake and walk off angrily.

Likewise, it usually isn’t funny if a cartoon gets bit or burns themselves or sticks their hands in a mousetrap etc. and doesn’t respond with pain.

Death can also be worked with. I just watched a classic cartoon where the main characters die in an explosion in the end and hang out in heaven playing harps and it worked just fine.

As a result, this entire episode doesn’t make any sense even in concept. And it only gets worse from here. There have been and will continue to be plenty of instances of pain, injury and even death in ToonMarty, so even in-universe this premise makes no sense.

This is basically spelled out for us because Dr. Smartypants is telling Marty about his condition….I’m sorry Dr. Smartypants, what exactly do you do all day if toons never feel pain, get injured or die?

You want to know what episode immediately follows this one? Marty’s Exploding Head – where Marty learns so much so quickly that his brain is at risk of exploding and killing him.

But it doesn’t stop there. Even if you ignore literally everything about the way cartoons typically work or even how ToonMarty usually works, they’re still completely screwing up this premise. Why? Because Marty only barely loses SOME of his tooniness. He can’t change his outfit by spinning around really fast. He can’t crash through a wall and leave behind his outline. And he feels pain and is supposedly mortal now. These are really the only noticeable changes Marty undergoes when he’s de-tooned.

Yeah, he can’t change his clothes when he spins around really fast, but golly he sure is spinning really fast for someone with no toon powers.

Yeah, he can’t zoom through a wall and leave behind an outline, but he was still moving his legs so fast that they made that cartoon wheel of legs, which shouldn’t happen if he has no toon powers.

Here’s a brief list of every instance of Marty supposedly experiencing a lack of tooniness in this episode.

Burnie drops an anvil on Marty’s head. Marty just goes ‘ow.’

Burnie drops a piano on Marty’s head. Marty hurts, but still bursts through the piano without a scratch. He does mention he doesn’t get piano teeth or a circle of birds over his head, but that’s not the problem. If you were not toony, you’d be ultra dead right now.

Burnie torments him by creating a pellet of insanely spicy stuff. Burnie bites it and bursts out with fire breath, but Marty is forcibly fed it and experiences a lot of pain with the level of spiciness. Okay, I’ll give them this one I guess, but they’re still making him do toony stuff by making his eyes literally glow red in response. Also, eating spicy things and experiencing pain while also breathing fire – typical things toons do because the idea of eating the spicy thing and not feeling pain is typically not funny.

Burnie pushes him off a high dive. Marty crashes into the ground, leaving a crater, feels pain….but also isn’t dead or visibly injured at all.

Burnie rolls his eyes at the idea of bringing Marty to the doctor, and even repeatedly says the word ‘waaambulance’ (remember that meme from ten years before this show was made?) Even when he’s calling an ambulance, he tells the operator to send a “waaaambulance” for the “huge baby.” That doesn’t have any bearing on the logic of the plot, but I just wanted to highlight what a pile of crusty used band-aids Burnie is again.

Dr. Smartypants shows that tons of Marty’s bones are broken in an x-ray, yet he’s not in constant ridiculous levels of pain, nor is he given anything more than a head bandage…..his skull was one of the few parts of him not damaged in the x-ray, by the way.

Marty is crushed in the screen wipe transition. Being affected by transition effects isn’t a toon thing….????

Marty catches his leg in Grizelda’s door, feels pain, but his leg is still stretching out quite a bit, and he comically paused for several seconds before he actually reacted to the pain, which is another thing toons do when they get hurt.

Marty jumps up and stays in the air for several seconds, which is something he should not be able to do if he doesn’t have toon powers.

Marty puts a massive pile of explosives under Grizelda’s house to make a prank so funny she’ll give back his tooniness, but then he realizes that all Grizelda wants is normalcy, not pranks and tooniness. He takes the pile of explosives away, Burnie detonates them behind Marty because I wish Burnie would die already, leaving him singed and in a big crater with no other visible injuries….and not dead.

In the next scene, he has bandages on his torso, an arm cast and he’s using a crutch.

To get the ingredients for the nice, normal cupcake Grizelda wants, they climb a mountain, and Burnie chucks the dino eggs that they’re trying to get at Marty, because I really hate Burnie. The dino attacks Marty. I’d think the dino would attack Burnie for not only having the eggs but also destroying them, but why not torment Marty some more for no reason?

In the next scene, Marty doesn’t have anymore bandages or wounds than he did before. They’re getting petals from some flower, and the flower is happily offering some to Marty, but then Burnie just yanks some off of the flower because *various anger noises*. The plant grows to massive size, develops huge spikes all over it and attacks Marty, because again, let’s torment Marty for shit Burnie is doing.

A few more bandages around Marty’s face as he goes to get the lava. You’d think Burnie, the one with fire powers and flight, would be the logical choice to get this, but no. Marty has to hang down right by the lava on a rope and get it with a coffee mug. Him being this close to lava without getting burned is already pushing it for me, but the point where I really said ‘screw this episode’ was when Burnie does a goddamn cannonball into the lava, because why wouldn’t he do the absolute worst thing you can possibly imagine to Marty right now, creating a massive wave of lava that crashes over Marty….and the only additional damage we see in the next scene is more bandages. They don’t even do the typical burned look with his hair slightly on fire like the way toons normally react to getting burned.

I know I said it wouldn’t be funny to have a cartoon get realistically injured or die horrifically like they would in these real-life scenarios, and I’m not saying that should be happening in the episode, but that’s a large part of the main issue here. They shouldn’t have even tried to do all of these stupid stunts. They should have made something funny out of Marty trying to avoid getting hurt as much as possible because he’s mortal now. If pain and death are such a huge risk to him now, it’s just plain stupid to keep having him get into situations where anyone without toon powers would easily be horrendously wounded or killed.

Maybe have Holly and Burnie scramble in a panic constantly over trying to help Marty avoid all of the hazards of their world and this very dangerous adventure. Have them use their toon powers to help make up for his lack of tooniness. Or is it much harder to make something funny out of that when “Hurr hurr, Marty suffering” is so much easier to write?

After Grizelda gets her dino lava whatever cake, Marty asks if she’ll turn him back into a toon. She agrees as long as he doesn’t do anything toony until her birthday is over. He agrees to the terms and gets his powers back, but Marty quickly explodes with tooniness all over and goes nuts. Grizelda actually understands Marty’s inability to control himself, but she can’t control herself when it comes to using magic, so she turns everyone in the room into frogs.

You’d think that’d be the end of the problems in the episode, but we’re still not done.

Everyone is turned into a frog except Burnie, who is kissed on the cheek by Grizelda, which turns him into…Merlin, but it’s just Burnie in a Merlin costume, basically. Grizelda was shown earlier to have the hots for Merlin….so uhh…she picks him up and says “Happy Birthday to me.” with bedroom eyes, porn-ish music playing and Burnie quietly begging for help.

…What the hell was that? Again, I’m all for punishing Burnie, especially in this frickin’ episode, but this is crossing a lot of lines. Not only is this creepy as shit in regards to consent, but Burnie can’t be older than maybe his mid-teens at absolute best. I’d say he’s probably 12 or 13 or something, honestly. I would rather the episode ended simply with the group being frogs, but if this terrible joke did have to be in here, why not transform Jack? Earlier in the episode, it was shown that Jack was one of Grizelda’s childhood friends who also keeps playing pranks on her for her birthday. You could have worked that into it instead of basically turning her into a pedophile.

The best this episode did was acknowledge that some people just don’t like pranks and it’s not right to try to force them to enjoy them. If they want to have some peace and normalcy, respect that.

1: 17A – A Friend Too Close

I hate this episode because it’s not only bad it’s basically doing the same thing Psych-O-Marty did only worse.

In this episode, Marty and Burnie realize that they’re so destructive and obnoxious together that they’ve literally been banned from everywhere in Toonville as a duo. They get into a big argument blaming the other for being the troublesome one, and then they decide to stop being friends.

Marty starts doing well because everyone likes Marty, but Burnie’s all alone and miserable because no one wants to be his friend because he’s the human equivalent of the teeny tiny x on mobile ads that you can never hit exactly right the first three times so you end up getting redirected over and over. Unlike in, say, Drake and Josh where they did a similar plot in Josh is Done, this doesn’t result in some sweet moment or self-realization.

Instead, Marty, despite having a blast with his new friends, suddenly finds them all boring because they suddenly start talking about boring stuff. Apparently none of them want to play pranks either, even though that’s a trademark toon thing to do, as shown in How Marty Got His Toon Back. It’s not exclusively something only Marty and Burnie do. Hell, that episode even showed that Jack loved pranks, and he’s an old fogey most of the time.

On the other side of the coin, Burnie starts going insane with loneliness, even though it’s been half a day and Holly’s tending to him. He can’t stop crying, he’s pretending a plant is his friend, and he can’t even maintain a healthy relationship with his plant friend.

It’s gets so bad, and I can’t even believe I have to say this, but Burnie actually builds a bomb and says its for when he gets “a little angry and destroy-y.”……..Are we going to find some poorly written manifesto after this?

It later turns out to be a garbage and slime bomb, but they treat it like a real bomb until the end. Holly, the robot, even recognizes it as a legitimate bomb and rushes to deactivate it.

In the end, they act like Marty and Burnie are worse apart than they are together, which couldn’t be less true. Despite having Marty for herself for a while, Holly doesn’t get to spend more time with Marty because he’s too busy with his new friends. Meanwhile, Burnie’s annoying Holly because he’s so miserable when she can easily just leave. Everyone else is fine. No one is being bothered. It’s a bright and sunny day in Toonville.

The only third party being negatively affected here is Holly, and that’s easily fixed without getting them back together. They had to tack on the bomb thing to add more severity to this situation, which is very messed up. Like, ‘No, Holly. You can’t leave him alone. He might commit a terrorist act.’

Here’s my solution – Marty spends more time with Holly now that he’s free of Burnie. Burnie suffers for however long by himself because he realizes no one wants to be friends with such a terrible person. Then he gets jealous of Holly and Marty getting along so well. He wants to go full-blown supervillain as revenge, but he can’t bring himself to do it. In the end, I dunno….I can’t suggest any sort of ending where Marty and Burnie get back together because I just find this friendship to be extremely toxic.

Marty’s always a worse person with Burnie, and Burnie’s always an unrestrained typhoon when he’s with Marty. Marty’s a great friend to Burnie, and Burnie’s a horrible friend to Marty. The only person who keeps them under wraps SOMETIMES is Holly, and they just end up making her the butt of the joke. I didn’t come away from this episode with any sense that we got the better outcome. Burnie should just be written out.

Bonus Notes

I tried really hard to find information online about ToonMarty, but it’s mostly a dry well. It’s a weird instance of a show popping into existence and flooring it into nonexistence. The show debuted on May 1, 2017 and aired an episode almost every single day until May 25, 2017 and then the show got canceled. I have no clue why they aired it like this. Power-airing a full season of a show in just one month is kinda crazy, and sounds like some form of sabotage, but I can’t be certain. There’s so little information surrounding this show that I can’t really know anything.

Nickelodeon gained the international rights to the show, but it apparently never aired in the US during its initial run – only in France, Latin America, Italy and Canada. Practically every video I find on the show is a promo from Nickelodeon France’s Youtube channel. It doesn’t seem like anyone has talked much about it. Outside of the Terrible Shows and Episodes Wiki entry, I found one IMDB review, one forum thread talking about distribution of the show, a couple of brief news articles and that was about it.

Oddly, though, Sardine Productions did create an online game based on the show called Marty’s Special Delivery, but it doesn’t seem to work anymore. I found two links for it – one is broken, and the other is Sardine Productions own web page for the game where it leads to nothing but a JPG.

The Facebook page for ToonMarty last updated on March 4, 2021 to announce that the show was heading to KiDoodle.tv, something that was also celebrated by Marty’s voice actor, Brian Froud, on his Instagram. However, the ToonMarty Facebook page hadn’t been updated since 2019 before that and then 2017 before that.

Oddly, they never noted that ToonMarty was heading to Tubi to get a US release.

Final Judgment

I won’t lie, I was a little disappointed when I finished the show because I had higher hopes for it. Not massively high, but high-ish. In the end, I think it’s good at absolute best. It can be smart and funny, and the main basis of the show is strong, but I can’t deny that the low points are exceedingly low.

I think a major factor in your enjoyment level of this show is how much you can stomach obnoxious behavior. Because, while I can handle a few bad episodes just fine, the fact that Burnie is here…..existing, is a problem for me all the way through. He was constantly ruining scenes or even whole episodes just by being there, and there’s never an episode where he’s not there. Then the frequent torment of characters who usually don’t deserve it makes things even harder to enjoy.

I don’t regret watching this show all the way through. Like I said, even in the worst episodes, I’d still crack at least one smile, and it usually had me either smiling frequently and/or laughing a few times. Plus, there were some concrete moments of high-quality comedy and goofy fun. However, whether I recommend it is another story.

I’d say it’s definitely worth a watch of at least a handful of episodes. I don’t think you’ll regret it. On the other hand, if you watch those few episodes and still want to walk away, I definitely won’t be jumping up to make an argument against your decision.

ToonMarty is not a show that was slept on or is a hidden/forgotten gem. It’s just a pretty decent show that came and went so fast, I’d expect it to have its own smoketoon. It was a fun ride for sure, but there were many problems with the show that needed be ironed out in a second season that never came. I really believe if it did get a second season, it would have made a good effort to fix the kinks and leveled up to having at least a couple ‘great’ episodes. Then again, I could be wrong and they could have just doubled down on the mess and made it worse. We’ll never know.

The good news is, if the show does interest you even a little it’s available for free on Tubi, available for free (?) on KiDoodle.TV, and Amazon Prime Video also has the series for free streaming with ads with options to purchase the episodes.


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