CSBS – Rocket Power Episode 4: Happy Luau to You-Au/Rescue Rocket

Plot: Happy Luau to You-Au – Reggie’s planning to have an awesome birthday party at Madtown Skate Park, but her plans are ruined when Otto gets all of them temporarily suspended from the park.

Rescue Rocket – Sam and Twister are forced into joining a junior lifeguard program. Despite a rocky start, they eventually find themselves enjoying the experience, much to Otto’s dismay.

Breakdown: Happy Luau to You-Au – Sometimes, Otto can be really full of himself. And other times, he can actually be pretty sweet.

Trying out a new game he came up with for Reggie’s birthday party in which everyone holds hands and skates in a chain, the group gets suspended from Madtown for one week. Despite being clearly a bad idea (maybe a fine idea in a skating rink, but not in a skate pool) Otto had innocent intentions here, and it would’ve been fine, technically, but their people-chain ended up knocking down basically every other person at the park.

They really should have stopped the instant one person went down because of them, since that’s just what most normal people would do, but they didn’t for whatever reason. As a result, they got suspended from the park for one week, which is honestly pretty lenient if you ask me, but it’s made all the worse because Reggie was planning on having her first big birthday party at Madtown. Usually she has ‘lame’ parties at the Shore Shack, but she’s finally breaking free and having her party somewhere more exciting. Since she’s suspended, she can’t have her party there.

Reggie is devastated and very angry, especially at Otto, and for once Otto is genuinely sorry. He doesn’t argue, he doesn’t try to make excuses – he just accepts that he screwed up and feels very remorseful about it.

Reggie, on the other hand, is being a bit of a brat throughout the entire episode. Yeah, it’s understandable that she’s being a brat, but it’s also just slightly annoying.

In his guilt, Otto tells Mrs. Stimpleton about what happened. She takes it upon herself to throw Reggie a huge birthday bash – and if you know Mrs. Stimpleton, you already see why this is a big problem. She has a very kiddie and lame idea of what a teenager’s birthday party should be. She ends up hiring a really awful clown (who is even named Lame-O) and a terrible band that uses accordions.

When Reggie learns about this, she becomes even angrier and vows vengeance on the person who told Mrs. Stimpleton about her party – making Otto feel even worse. As if that weren’t bad enough, Mrs. Stimpleton is going to ridiculous lengths to get the word out on Reggie’s party. She’s put out a full-page ad in the paper and is driving around town with a huge loudspeaker announcing the party.

Otto, Twister, Sam, Raymundo and Tito set out to make things right.

Mrs. Stimpleton goads Reggie into coming to the party, and Reggie is shocked to find that the party is actually really cool. It’s being held at the Stimpleton’s pool, the band is using ‘cooler’ instruments, there’s good cake, the clown is basically being taken as a doofy street performer and everyone’s having a blast.

Reggie gets her awesome birthday party, Otto makes up for his mistake, he and Reggie make up and everything’s great……….This isn’t really a luau, so I dunno what the heck the title’s on about, but everything’s great otherwise.

This was just a really wholesome episode (Well, wholesome barring one scene where they’re clearly making that joke about a character ‘drinking’ their problems away at the bar, but in this case it’s Reggie eating fries and Tito cutting her off. He even asks if she’s driving home. Kinda surprising how many kids’ cartoons make this joke.) that, for once, didn’t center mostly on extreme sports. Otto’s being a sweetheart, and even his big mistake was just that – a mistake. It’s something a kid would totally do without realizing it’s a bad idea. Reggie’s being a little bit of a brat, but, again, it’s understandable, and she never goes too far with it.

I also really like that Otto didn’t slam Mrs. Stimpleton for what she was trying to do. He worked with her to turn her ideas into something Reggie would like instead of hurting her feelings and taking everything over himself. It was also really sweet how everyone came together in the end to help make things right for Reggie.

Overall, this is a really good and sweet story. I fully enjoyed it.

Breakdown: Rescue Rocket – Sometimes, Otto can be really sweet. And other times, he can be a dumbass.

Story B of today’s episode involves Sam and Twister being signed up for a junior lifeguard course by their parents. They’re both bummed about it at first, but Sam quickly takes to it, and even Twister eventually starts making a really solid effort to succeed in the course.

Otto and Reggie, however, are bummed because this course is eating up all of Twister and Sam’s time and energy, so they’re left to skate and play hockey by themselves.

Both Reggie and Otto express disdain towards the class, but Reggie soon starts showing interest and is even impressed by the feats they’re pulling off.

Otto, on the other hand, stays firm in his stance that lifeguards, and especially kids partaking in the junior lifeguard course, are all weenies and losers. He’s being totally in character here, both as a kid and just as Otto, plus I get his purpose in trying to show the audience, who may share his views, how cool and important lifeguards are, but he is being flatout annoying.

You’d think a guy who was practically born on a surfboard and was raised by an avid surfer right next to the ocean would have more respect for lifeguards, but he could not respect them less. Even after hearing Tito’s dramatic explanation (according to him anyway) about how, many years ago, lifeguards started out as wise people who respected the power of the ocean so much that they spread the word to people who worked and played in the waters and kept them safe from harm, Otto’s still not impressed. Reggie, however, is so impressed that she asks if she can join the junior lifeguards near the end.

Left on his own as the class winds down, Otto laments that everyone he knows is giving into the idea that the ‘lame’ lifeguards are interesting and cool.

As he mopes, Tito, who claims he’s collecting some seawater with a bucket on a rope for a secret recipe, suddenly falls from the pier and into the water. He’s tangled in the rope and can’t swim to safety.

Twister and Sam instantly grab their gear and establish a plan to save Tito. They work together to untangle Tito from the rope and tow him to safety.

…..And yeah, he was faking the whole time. It was Twister and Sam’s final test in the course, which is fine and cool and all, but….like….what about everyone else in the class?

Tito was actually a lifeguard back in Hawaii, a fact that makes Otto eat some crow when he realizes how he was accidentally insulting Tito when was slamming lifeguards. Otto has now gained a better appreciation for lifeguards and even compliments Twister and Sam for their skills in saving Tito.

I really liked this episode, too. While Otto was annoying, he was realistically annoying. Most kids think lifeguards are lame, and it’s understandable that Otto, hater of all rule enforcers, would be one of those kids. I just feel like, given how much of his life revolves around the ocean and extreme sports in the water, that he’d have a decent appreciation for lifeguards by now. Has he not ever witnessed anyone being rescued before?

I would say maybe he doesn’t have a grasp or mortality either, but….uh….his mom’s dead…..

Like many other times, this episode also shows the significant difference between Otto and Reggie, and that’s simply in the fact that Reggie is more mature and open-minded than he is (Uuuuuuusuallyyyyyyyy.) They both started out ragging on the junior lifeguards, but Otto did it more, worse, and Reggie warmed up to them much sooner.

This was a great episode for both Sam and Twister. It gave Sam some confidence, which I always love. Once he actually got invested in it, Twister also had some nice moments. It showed that he really can learn and do great things if you manage to keep his attention. Plus, I really like Twister and Sam’s friendship. They make a great team when Twister’s not being a jerk to Sam.

There were several funny moments in this episode, particularly when Sam and Twister were trying to save Lars and Sputz. Twister refuses to save his brother, and Sam actually stands up to Lars when he, predictably, starts mocking him. I loved when Sam said “Please grab the rescue can, MADAM, and I’ll tow you to safety.” Then Twister returned without Sputz because he couldn’t understand what Sputz was saying (He’s basically the Boomhauer of the show – speaking in mostly gibberish only a few select characters can understand.)

I love the overall message of this episode as well. As I mentioned, while connecting with Otto, it helps kids who think lifeguards are lame to gain a greater respect for them. It also encourages kids and teens to take safety courses and become lifeguards. That’s really great, especially for a show that puts so much focus on extreme sports in water. Any kid who wants to partake in these sports due to the influence of this show should take safety courses to ensure they stay as safe as possible and help other people. Admirable job, Rocket Power. You did good.


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Pixar’s Lamp | The Incredibles (2004) Review

Plot: In the golden age, superheroes were loved, admired and cherished by the masses. However, one lawsuit started a snowball effect that changed everything. Supers were suddenly vilified, and they had to go into hiding with government protection to avoid all of the backlash. Now living as normal, average citizens, Mr. Incredible and Elistigirl, also known as Bob and Helen Parr, try to raise their children, Violet, Dash and Jack-Jack in a superpower-free world.

Bob is not content with his normal life and wants nothing more than to return to his good ol’ days of heroism. A mysterious message puts all the cogs in motion to grant his wish, but he forgot that with heroics comes danger – and danger means more when your family’s in the crossfire.

Breakdown: The year is 2004.

Marvel cinematic universe? Doesn’t exist.

DC actively trying? FEH!

This is an era where superhero movies are little more than a joke. People looked forward to them about as much as they looked forward to video game adaptations. They’d try and try again to make them work, and while they may be a box office success sometimes, they’d usually wane heavily in the critic department.

Pixar saw this as an opportunity. The Incredibles is not based on an existing comic book. It’s entire universe is built from the ground up on the silver screen. In addition, it’s animated – not live-action as a majority of superhero movies were at the time. In hindsight, this seems like a big gamble. Especially since the director, Brad Bird, was coming fresh off of his first venture into directing, which ended up being a box office disappointment.

But some people need to be reminded to keep the faith. After all, that box office disappointment….was The Iron Giant. The box office does not always reflect quality.

Let’s not keep beating around the bush. The Incredibles is……incredible. Yeah, I made that joke. Fight me.

From start to finish, the movie is filled with great humor, fantastic action, memorable characters and pokes at the superhero genre as a whole. This is a very realistic family in a, well, I can’t really say ‘unique scenario’ because the concept has been done before (In fact, when this first came out, this movie reminded me quite a bit of the short-lived, basically forgotten Nickelodeon series, The X’s.), but it is a very interesting and fun scenario.

Back in ‘the good ol’ days,’ superheroes were always hailed, respected and beloved, but you know that some jackass somewhere would ruin it by suing them. Granted, superheroes do make big messes and wrack up massive bills in damages, even the MCU addresses this, but I think whatever damage the enemy would do is almost always greater. And at least we’re lead to assume that the heroes aren’t piling up huge body counts during these battles….most of the time.

The heroes go into hiding, and there seems to be two sides to this coin. You have people like Bob (Mr. Incredible) and Dash who want to embrace their powers and be heroes. Because they’re not allowed to do so, Bob becomes very depressed and withdrawn, doing heroics in secret whenever he can with his buddy Frozone, and Dash acts out.

Helen (Elastigirl) and Violet, on the other hand, want to be normal. They still use their powers sometimes in private, but they want to fit in – Helen so she can protect the family and Violet because she wants to be a regular teenager.

In the end, they all find a middleground. Bob gets to be a hero more often, but he also comes to understand the importance of his family. Dash learns to tone it down, but he’s also now allowed to participate in school sports as long as he doesn’t play unfairly. Violet gets more self-confidence and embraces her powers. And Helen learns to not be ashamed of her life as a superhero while also encouraging that type of attitude in her kids.

It’s great that they chose to go down this route instead of having it black and white ‘this side is right, and you’re wrong.’

Helen and Bob have a great dynamic, and even Violet and Dash were really good together. I like how they eventually used their powers together. That hamster-ball idea was so cool.

Another thing to commend this movie on is, most of the time, they don’t pull any punches with the darker aspects. Helen even outright tells her children, basically telling the audience directly, that these bad guys aren’t like the ones you’d see on Saturday morning cartoon shows. They won’t show restraint on children. They will kill them without hesitation. That’s pretty heavy for an animated superhero movie in a world where kid deaths are typically taboo.

In addition to that, people attempt suicide, there’s hints of adultery and alcohol, some sexual-ish content and lots and lots of death.

Even though I said they don’t cause a lot of civilian deaths, there are a ton of bad-guy minion deaths – a good deal of which are caused by Bob and Dash. They don’t ‘directly’ cause these deaths. For instance, nearly all of the deaths caused by Dash are collisions caused by those pursuing him because he managed to out-maneuver them, but still…lots of bodies.

The ones they seem directly responsible for they kinda skirt around. For instance, Bob throws a huge tram car at two guys from a mile away and they specifically show them moving and groaning to assure the audience that Bob didn’t straight-up murder those guys.

Outside of that, we also have numerous depictions of heroes dying in that ‘NO CAPES!’ montage, including one of two instances where someone dies by getting sucked into a jet turbine. Yugh. And we have the harrowing fact that Syndrome essentially committed hero genocide, which I don’t think is given quite enough weight, but holy crap. Bob even finds the skeletal remains of one of the killed heroes and hides under his body to trick Syndrome into believing he’s dead. Wow.

Speaking of Syndrome, he’s a very effective and memorable villain. He’s very intimidating and is a serious threat. Lest we forget the hero genocide. His backstory is a little hokey, but not too bad. It’s understandable for someone who grew up in a world of supers and was basically a super fanboy to become jaded when given a massive tongue lashing by his favorite superhero. And he obviously did have value and talent, but Bob never wanted to give him a chance. He pulls off being both funny and threatening at the same time, which is very impressive. In any other movie, he’d be a complete joke, but he can be downright scary. It’s also a bit refreshing for the master plan to not be ‘take over the world’ again. Though, considering his normal job, maybe he already does, in a way. Hm.

His plan is fairly brilliant. Design a robot that is essentially perfect by having it learn and make changes to its design based on battles it endures with hundreds of various heroes. Kill the heroes, let the robot loose on the city, stop the robot and take the credit, making him the only and, by default, best hero in the world.

I will admit that the method of defeating the robot is a bit obvious, though. With all the weaknesses that have been exposed on this thing, Syndrome never thought to program it to not destroy itself? Especially when that’s exactly how Bob defeated it the first time? It has some sense of self-preservation, hence why it targeted the remote, but it’s still too stupid to not hit itself.

Some final things that I felt were a little negative in this movie:

I find Dash to be annoying 70% of the time.

While I really liked him, Frozone was mostly a superfluous character who barely did anything. I really wanted him to be given more to do.

I worry that, should they continue the series beyond the second movie, Jack-Jack will be too powerful. His main power seems to be shapeshifting, but from what I’ve heard he has many more powers that are revealed in the sequel (sadly haven’t gotten around to watching it quite yet, but very soon!)

His power is apparently that he’s a ‘jack of all trades,’ hence the name, but it’s also been suggested that, since Jack-Jack’s a baby, his power isn’t solidified and he has ‘unlimited potential,’ which is culminating in this mass array of powers. However, if that were true, that seems like it would be a normal part of a super’s life cycle. Dash and Violet would’ve had to have gone through the same thing as babies, which I doubt they did.

I dunno.

That’s about it on the negative side, though, and that’s not a significant mark on an otherwise exceptional movie. The Incredibles stands as one of my favorite movies and a testament to Pixar’s amazing talents as filmmakers. Even today in our saturated superhero movie market, I was very excited to rewatch this movie, and I’m jazzed to finally see the sequel.

Recommended Audience: It’s surprisingly dark when you get down to it, but a good chunk of the darkness is in the details. Still, there are some blatant darker aspects like the hero genocide, the suicide attempt and the implied infidelity. 10+


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AVAHS – Bugs Bunny’s Looney Christmas Tales Review

Plot: Bugs and the Looney Tunes crew partake in some Christmas stories.

Breakdown: I’ve always adored Looney Tunes, so getting a Christmas special on my review list this year was a treat.

This is a pretty enjoyable Christmas special. They have three different Christmas tales – A Christmas Carol parody, a more purely snow-themed Wile E. Coyote and Roadrunner sketch and Bugs telling his nephew, Clyde, about the story of The Night Before Christmas, which starts to meld into their own situation when a Santa’d Taz comes in.

The A Christmas Carol section was okay, but I felt like they completed it way too quickly. Scrooge is instantly made good just by Bugs pretending to be a ghost and scaring him into being nice, but it’s not that bad. The Bugs sketch is the best part, though, of course – because Bugs is the best and Taz is awesome.

Not much else to talk about, so if you can track it down and you love some Looney Tunes goodness, check it out this holiday season.


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AVAHS – The Tangerine Bear: Home in Time for Christmas! Review

Plot: A little teddy bear accidentally had his mouth sewn on upside down, giving him a frown instead of that signature teddy bear smile. As a result, no one wanted him. He bounced from the discount bin of a big department store to a little secondhand shop called Winkle’s on a street with little traffic. Over time, the little bear’s fur became bleached out from the sun, giving him such a bright orange coloring that he became known as the tangerine bear or Tangie for short. All Tangie wants is to be sold to a nice family for Christmas, but no one wants a tangerine bear with a frowning mouth.

Breakdown: This is another one of those Christmas movies I definitely remember watching as a kid and was glad to rediscover. The Tangerine Bear: Home in Time for Christmas! is an adorable and heartwarming tale of a sweet teddy bear who wants nothing more than to find a family until he realizes that he has already found a family right there in that store with the other things that are a little off like Jack, the Jack-in-the-Box whose bells don’t work and is afraid of going into his box, Bird the bird of a coo-coo clock who has a busted beak and is afraid of coming out of his house without ensuring the coast is clear so he won’t run into anything, and Mr. Winkle’s (originally) grumpy pet guard dog, Virgil.

It has a great message of recognizing that you’re special and can find love and family just the way you are, even if you’re different. Tangie is a sweetheart despite his perpetual frown, though he does frequently complain and get down in the dumps. He has every right to be, and I really wouldn’t bring it up if they didn’t make a point that he’s supposed to be a really happy little bear on the inside but you just can’t notice due to his upside down mouth.

Jack is a great guy and a great friend, and Bird fits right in as the straight man, though not to the point where he’s an annoyance or a grump. Virgil also isn’t unlikable before he gets an attitude change. He’s very serious about his job as a guard dog, which includes keeping the toys from wandering around and causing trouble. After Tangie and the others save his life, he becomes a very good boy and friend of the toys, and he’s about as sweet as Tangie.

The story is really cute, although the ending is questionable to say the least. On Christmas Eve some guy walks in and offers Mr. Winkle 200 bucks for Tangie and Jack claiming he collects rare and unique items like them…….Tangie is from a teddy bear line that was mass produced, but he had his mouth sewn on upside down and got his fur bleached out in the sun. How is that so rare and amazing it’s worth 200 bucks?

Jack’s situation makes even less sense because he’s just a broken run-of-the-mill Jack-in-the-Box with broken bells and an unwillingness to go back in his box.

Geez, rich people really are delusional.

But not as delusional and, quite frankly, sad as Mr. Winkle who refuses 200 and even 300 dollars for these toys because they’re his family.

Okay, I overthought the Mr. Winkle thing, so if this next part depresses any fans of this movie, I am so sorry.

This dude doesn’t have much money. He’s lucky he manages to make rent every month because no one ever really shops in his store. The only reason he starts making decent sales is because the toys decide to decorate and spruce themselves up. Mr. Winkle is really bad at his job. He leaves repair work on items undone for way, way, way longer than they should when he literally does nothing all day besides hang around his store and eat at the local diner, which is a bad habit because you shouldn’t eat out constantly if you’re struggling to pay rent (he lives in the apartment above the shop.)

He does sell items throughout the movie, but he’s offered $300, that he really needs, for items that he just leaves in the window….because they’re his family? (By the way, he leaves them there for so long that Tangie’s fur bleaches out because of it.) Okay, from a movie standpoint, this is really sweet because the toys also see Mr. Winkle as their family, and it’s great that he doesn’t care about their flaws and loves them as-is, but from an overthinking it standpoint, holy hell this guy is lonely as shit if all he has for family are his dog and broken toys in his store.

Not to mention the even more depressing aspect of this whole situation. Mr. Winkle is pretty darn old. He’s so old that decorations suddenly appear in his store window and he just shrugs it off as his failing memory. As Toy Story has forcibly taught us by ripping tears out of our eye holes, toys are basically immortal unless they’re trashed. Mr. Winkle probably doesn’t have many years ahead of him. What happens to the toys then? He seemingly doesn’t have any children or other family to inherit the toys, the store or, even more sadly, Virgil.

At the very least, the guy who tried to buy Tangie and Jack says he’ll be back with friends later to look at more items, hopefully ones Winkle’s actually willing to sell.

In the end, and ignoring all of the weird and sad parts about the ending, Tangie, Jack, Bird and Virgil all rejoice that they don’t have to separate and that they’ve found a loving home for Christmas.

The art and animation are alright, even if some character models for the people are terrible, but something is really wrong with whatever they did to the copy on TubiTV, unless it was just an animation issue from the start.

Nearly every frame has spots where the lines blur and it is horrendously distracting. I have no clue what happened here, but I couldn’t go more than a few minutes without noticing this problem.

The music was very sweet, gentle and Christmassy. Not the most memorable songs in the world, but still good. The voice acting was also good with the talents of the late Tom Bosley as Mr. Winkle, Howie Mandel as Jack and Johnathan Taylor Thomas as Tangie (huh, that’s two JTT sightings now.) This was made in 1999 so his voice was definitely puberty-ized by this point, but he still manages to make Tangie sound innocent and child-like.

Overall, as long as you don’t let your mind wander in the end and if you can ignore some really annoying blurring issues in the copy, this is a really great and sweet Christmas movie for the whole family. Like I said, it’s on TubiTV right now for free if you want to check it out this holiday season.


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AVAHS – Robot Chicken: Freshly Baked – The Robot Chicken Santa Claus Pot Cookie Freak Out Special Edition Review

AVAHS - RC

Plot: A begrudged Santa accidentally downs some pot cookies and has an existential crisis.

Breakdown: Holy shit, Robot Chicken’s still on the air? Wow.

I used to enjoy Robot Chicken quite a bit, even if some of their sketches go a little too far if you ask me. It was always one of the more consistently funny adult animation shows, and even though its actual status has yet to be confirmed (it’s been in renewal/cancellation limbo for over a year) I’m pretty glad to see it’s lasted the test of time. I’ve just been so out of the loop with Adult Swim’s western animation block that I haven’t kept up with the show in years.

As for this Christmas special, which is the ninth Christmas special the series has aired, it was pretty damn funny. Of course, there were some jokes that I thought went a bit far (let’s just say the elf song has a really dark suggestion for making their jobs easier.) but overall it was enjoyable and did have its own darker brand of Christmas spirit in there. I laughed out loud several times and had a good time.

If you’re looking for a more adult-oriented Christmas special for some holiday chuckles, this one is a good choice, and at 11 minutes, it’s a quick watch too.


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AVAHS – He-Man and She-Ra: A Christmas Special Review

Plot: Adam and Adora are finally able to celebrate their birthday together for the first time. As festivities get set up, Adam and Man-At-Arms launch a SkySpy drone airplane to keep an eye on Skeletor. Orko accidentally hitches a ride on the plane and ends up on earth where he meets two children who teach him about Christmas. When Man-At-Arms teleports Orko back to Eternia, the kids get brought back with him and they teach everyone about the magic of Christmas.

Meanwhile, Skeletor, Hordak and Horde Prime aim to kidnap the kids to bring a stop the goodness and love of Christmas.

Breakdown: I never watched much He-Man when I was a kid. It came on right around when GI Joe did (a little before it, I think) but I only watched it here and there. I never really got into it.

I never watched a single episode of She-Ra because I don’t think they ever aired it on any channel I regularly watched. If they did, I just never noticed or watched.

Both are on my to-watch list of old shows that bring shame to my cartoon reviewer name for having not watched alongside Transformers and Thundercats.

Although, from what little I caught, I did immediately love Skeletor. There’s just something about that bonehead that I get endless joy from.

Speaking of joy, I do remember catching this Christmas special back in the day on Cartoon Network for whatever reason. And even though I didn’t think much of it back then, I got a strange amount of enjoyment from it this time around. Maybe I’m in great need of some cheesy-ass 80’s fun, maybe this is too goofy and nonsensical for me to care about nitpicking it to hell and back or maybe it’s legitimately good.

Who knows?

….No, seriously. Who knows? Because I’m getting so many mixed messages by the fans. Some are calling it one of the worst Christmas specials ever made, and as one reviewer put it, the second worst Christmas special behind the Star Wars Christmas Special (fucking ouch) and others just enjoy it as being some nostalgic cheesy fun. (Also, one reviewer on IMDB complained that the special, and I quote, “lacks the masculinity of the great show.” *snort*)

The Christmas parts are just as corny as you’d expect, and the action is pretty decent. However, the one thing I definitely remembered from watching this as a kid was Skeletor basically being forcibly taken over by the Christmas spirit, bonding with a robo-puppy and saving the kids from his boss. I got so giddy when that happened.

Is it objectively a mess? Yes. Was that song in the middle vomit-worthy? Oh yes. No doubt about that. Does that make it any less enjoyable? To me, no. I can see how some might be bothered enough to just switch it off, but I had legit fun with it. And this is coming from someone who nitpicks to a point of concern. Sometimes, things are just stupid enough to be so much fun that I don’t care, and bonus points come when it’s in a Christmas special. Maybe He-Man/She-Ra fans would argue, but eh.

……I did freak the hell out when I realized She-Ra’s horse could talk though. I dunno why I recoiled so much at that.


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AVAHS – Bump in the Night: Twas the Night Before Bumpy Review

AVAHS - TTNBB

Plot: Bumpy aims to steal Santa’s bag of toys directly from the North Pole. Will he succeed in his plot or will he learn the true meaning of Christmas? …Or both?

Breakdown: Why?….Why did I waste all of my drug jokes on the Pac-Man Christmas special?

I really shouldn’t have watched this movie with a splitting headache.

This movie is so weird. That’s not to say the movie is bad or anything, in fact it’s pretty decent, but it’s really weird.

I’m not a fan of claymation. Nothing but the utmost respect to the animators, claymation/stop motion is one of the biggest bitches in animation and I take my hat off to anyone who chooses that as their style of choice, but I always found it to be very creepy. Even in beloved Christmas specials like Rudolph, the stop motion tends to come off as creepy much of the time.

It’s even worse here because the designs are meant to look weird and off-kilter since they’re monsters. They do achieve their goal of looking strange, but I never want to see a glob of goo try ‘tap dancing’ again. It was squicky and made me feel dirty somehow.

The claymation, done by Danger Productions, is pretty good, though. Everything is brought to life relatively well, even though you can tell that they definitely had budgetary constraints and had to edit their hearts out to refrain from using claymation wherever they could.

In addition to claymation, we also have a decent amount of paper cutout-ish traditional animation that’s done in that very 90’s-esque manner, if that makes any sense. Somehow, that tends to be even creepier than the claymation, and I was very happy that they didn’t use it that much.

AVAHS - TTNBB2

This story is about Bumpy, a little green monster, wanting to steal Santa’s bag of toys. He tries to do so every year when Santa visits their home, but fails, so he’s decided that, this year, he’ll visit the North Pole and steal the bag directly from his home. He recruits his friend, aforementioned glob of goo named Squish, to help him on his journey with the promise of giving him feet from Santa’s bag. Because Santa always has disembodied feet in his bag. Oh did I say Santa? I meant a serial killer. Squish wants feet so he can tap dance at the Christmas pageant.

On their journey, they meet a Latino worm who wants to conquer a bush. There was no way I could describe that without it sounding like a euphemism. His name is Juaquin and he’s voiced by Cheech Marin because this is a Latino character in the 90s – of course he’s voiced by Cheech Marin.

In exchange for the promise of bionic arms, Juaquin offers to dig them a tunnel to the North Pole, but he accidentally stops them in front of Stonehenge, where he is promptly crushed to death by a falling stone slab. Merry Christmas!

In comes a hummingbird named Doris who acts like an old lady. She wants a jet pack from Santa’s bag, so she agrees to point them in the right direction by telling them to follow the north star. Bumpy and Squish want to hitch a ride on her so they mold Squish into a cheeseburger, put him on a fishing line and use him to lure Doris into flying towards the north star……

AVAHS - TTNBB3

Anyhoo, when they reach the North Pole, we get to the really amusing stuff. No super cutesy Christmas cheer here. It’s an army of militant snowmen and elves acting as army generals to protect Santa’s bag of toys.

I did a double take here because the designs of the elves looked damn near identical to the design of Amanda in those claymation segments of The Amanda Show. They weren’t done by the same people (The Amanda’s Show’s claymation was done by Tom Megalis) but the resemblance was uncanny.

AVAHS - TTNBB4

In addition to the military part being funny in itself, the scene suddenly turns into an Indiana Jones parody when Bumpy reaches the bag. There’s also a funny joke with Santa’s sleigh stalling once he makes it outside.

Bumpy steals Santa’s sleigh, and Squish snags a ride right before he leaves. Then the elves try to shoot down the sleigh with ground-to-air candy cane missiles. In the commotion, the bag rips and sends presents down to each house. Doris gets her jet pack, and Juaquin reveals himself to be not dead and gets a pair of bionic arms.

They crash into the pageant, sending gifts flying to the other monsters/toys/dolls of their….town? I never really caught onto what this place is called. All of the presents are now claimed except one, which Bumpy tries to claim for himself, but is guilted into giving it to Squish because he promised him feet but didn’t deliver. In the box is a noisemaker meant to sound like tap-dancing, giving Squish the ability to tap dance even without feet.

Realizing that delivering all of the presents has made everyone happy, Bumpy learns the true meaning of Christmas is to give not receive.

A running subplot has been Molly, who is a kinda Frankenstein’d mishmash of a rag doll, trying to direct the holiday pageant in Squish’s stead. I guess it’s supposed to be funny because she’s meant to be a quiet and timid character that provides comfort, and now she’s basically chewing everyone’s heads off at every turn, but it’s mostly annoying. She does go back to her normal self in the end, but she spent most of the movie being a jerk. Everyone gives her a hug (which is what she wished for this Christmas) and forgives her for being a nightmare. Before that, though, she forces Bumpy to reprise his Christmas song from earlier, now changed lyrically to show that he’s learned his lesson over the course of his journey, so they can conclude the pageant.

AVAHS - TTNBB5

Speaking of music, that is probably the oddest aspect of this whole movie. Quite randomly, we’ll get song interludes that are really just classic Christmas carols with different lyrics. The lyrics are never really well-written, and they’re pretty sloppy. It’s like most of the songs were written in the car ride to the studio that day. Many of the songs don’t even rhyme, and it’s difficult to understand what they’re saying half the time.

These musical numbers are even lazier in their animation. 95% of it isn’t new animation. Instead, these scenes are made up of clips from earlier in the movie, sometimes just a scene prior, or they’re completely random clips from the TV show from which this movie originated, Bump in the Night. I’ve never seen the original show before and I didn’t know the movie did come from a series before watching it, so these clips really confused the hell out of me. Even now that I do know of the series, I’m still very confused because the clips have absolutely nothing to do with the lyrics.

Why did they even have these musical numbers in there if obviously didn’t care about them in the slightest? Just to pad time to a reasonable movie length?

The best song in the lot is a redone version of “God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen” made to be a military marching song for the snowmen in the North Pole. That one worked quite well. It rhymed, I could understand the lyrics, the song placement was good, and I got into the moment easily.

I will also give them props for having their own version of “Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel” because finding animated Hanukkah stuff is pretty rare.

AVAHS - TTNBB7

Overall, while it is a weird little movie, it did grow on me as it went on. It has a good sense of humor, it was a somewhat unique Christmas story, and it even had a good moral that you don’t typically see in Christmas movies for kids – You don’t need Santa to bring anything. You can exchange gifts with your family and friends and enjoy the act of giving while also receiving. Although, it is a bit of a double-edged sword in the message department because Bumpy stole Santa’s bag of toys and his sleigh (and hijacked his reindeer) but he didn’t really suffer any consequences for it besides losing all of his loot. He even got a present in the end from the closet monster.

The voice acting was very good with the talents of Jim Cummings as Bumpy and Destructo (the rule-enforcing robot who sounds like Duke Nukem for some reason) Rob Paulsen as Squish, and Gail Matthius as Molly.

Not sure I’ll ever visit the TV series, but I did have fun with the Christmas special, and if you’re in the market for some unique and off-color Christmas fun I suggest you seek it out too.


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AVAHS – Christmas Comes to Pac-Land Review

Plot: Santa crashes his sleigh in Pac-Land – a place that has never known Christmas. As Santa and his reindeer recover in Pac-Man’s house, the Ghosts help themselves to Santa’s sack of toys.

Breakdown: Gather ‘round kids. I’m going to tell you about this game called Pac-Man. It’s about a sentient ball addicted to drugs. All day, every day, he would just suck down tiny yellow pills. A group of four people that he hallucinated to be ‘ghosts’ constantly tried to chase him down to give him an intervention. When he took what he’d called “power pellets” he’d suddenly become very aggressive and murder the ‘ghosts’ by eating them alive. Once the effects of the “power pellets” wore off, he’d go back to pill popping. But then he’d be horrified to find that the ‘ghosts’ he’d just murdered had returned; perpetually haunting him to help get him to rehab and receive the help he so desperately needed.

Sadly, however, the 256th time he went through this harrowing cycle, he suffered from an overdose which broke his perception of reality. The ‘ghosts’ finally caught him, but it was too late. His final words were “Weeooeeooeeooee Bwoip Bwoip.”

But before his untimely death, he helped save Christmas!

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With drugs! 😀

Pac-Man loaded up Santa’s reindeer with “power pellets” and they were juiced up enough to get Santa through all of his deliveries on Christmas night, even though he was really far behind.

Also, Pac-Man’s dog sounds like Donald Duck and one of the ghosts broke a mirror inside of himself.

Oh hey there, Elephant in the Room! Been a while since I’ve seen you.

“Uhh, yeah. Just thought I’d check in and read your latest review….got a little concerned….Twix…are YOU on drugs right now?”

What? Of course not!

“How long did you giggle when the line “Guess he never found Santa’s sack.” came up?”

……Just a few minutes.

“Are you seeing an elephant right now?”

…..Wha–….What?

Eh….what the…??

……………………………………I’m uh….I’m gonna go to bed.

Oh yeah, the special’s okay. Predictable, but kinda fun….Nostalgic, of course. Cheap animation – Hanna/Barbera and whatnot, but it has its charms.

Peace out, and don’t do drugs – do hugs.


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Thanksgiving Special: Rocko’s Modern Life – Turkey Time Review

RMLTT

Plot: Rocko celebrates his first ever Thanksgiving (As he’s originally from Australia) but is shocked to hear from Heffer that turkey is usually the main course during the holiday. Chaos throughout O-Town ensues when all of the turkeys in town congregate to Rocko’s house.

Breakdown:

Hi. I’m Fiddle D. Twix. Wishing you and yours a happy and safe Thanksgiving holiday to all in the US. And to all not in the US, have a great day, and keep being safe.

I thank you all for joining me on this holiday. I know the year has been…Hm…what’s a polite way to say ‘hellish dumpster fire’? But the holidays are always here to bring goodness and cheer no matter if you’re with family and friends, whether in person or remotely, or if you’re just enjoying a quiet holiday on your own. I still try desperately to keep the holiday spirit no matter what the rest of the year spits in my face, so I hope you enjoy this year’s Thanksgiving special and the coming A Very Animated Holiday Special reviews over December.

So sit back, relax, warm up by the fireplace gif and join me for Rocko’s Modern Life – Turkey Time.

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Remember how I said that most Thanksgiving specials tend to be kinda boring because they all pretty much follow the formula of “family makes a big deal of dinner, dinner gets ruined, they salvage the night anyway and realize the holiday is about family and friends, not food.”? This special breaks off from the norm, because it’s Rocko, of course it would, silly.

Rocko is celebrating his first Thanksgiving in America with Heffer there to show him what goes into the dinner. They get everything they need at the grocery store in terms of veggies and stuff, but then Heffer reveals that they need a turkey. Rocko is confused as to why they need to invite a turkey to dinner, but they go to Conglom-O’s turkey giveaway and get a live turkey. All the while, Heffer is giggling that Rocko believes they’re just having dinner with the turkey.

When they arrive home, Rocko is devastated to learn that Heffer meant they were going to kill and eat the turkey for dinner, not eat with it. He can’t kill the turkey because it’s so cute, and even though Heffer acted like it was no big deal, he finds that he doesn’t have the heart to do it either. They decide to just hang out with the turkey and eat a veggie turkey for dinner, but that’s where the problems start.

Somehow, the other turkeys that were being given away by Conglom-O all escaped and took refuge at Rocko’s house somehow knowing he would protect them. Rocko’s got no problem protecting the turkeys, but word gets out that he has the only turkey in town since he got a turkey before the giveaway started. So, yeah, it’s still hitting some cliches – most notably being the ‘everyone gets a turkey ON Thanksgiving’ thing, which rarely ever happens, in my experience. Also, why is everyone getting a turkey from a free giveaway that Conglom-O is having? Do they not carry turkeys in the stores, or does everyone want a live turkey? Seems like an unnecessary amount of work. Why is Conglom-O having a massive live turkey giveaway anyway (Where the setup is literally ‘show up and get a free turkey’) That’d be a huge loss of profits, wouldn’t it?

Nitpicking aside, everyone in town demands that Rocko share his turkey. And, remember, they only believe he has one turkey. Apparently, that’s meant to feed like 30 people.

Rocko, pressured into doing it, does give them exactly what they want, a big turkey dinner…after he does a hilarious….and I don’t know how I can say this without it being taken the wrong way but….sexy dance in a turkey costume (Unless that is one of the turkeys, in which case, this is even weirder….They never did show him getting in or out of a turkey costume…..) They even set up the living room like a strip club. It’s really funny but also very weird.

Everyone eats the turkey and happily leaves, but then they discover that the turkey was actually a jumbo veggie bird. They turn back to see Rocko in the middle of a flock of turkeys and they set out to kill them all so they can have an actual Thanksgiving feast.

They’re about to kill the birds via dropping a grand piano (+pianist playing dramatic music) on top of them, but, like Rocko and Heffer, they find that they’re too cute and can’t do the deed. Mr. Bighead, though, won’t have it. He has no sympathy for the birds and, in a fit of rage, disperses the turkeys and demands they let go of the rope holding the piano. They do, but Mr. Bighead’s the only one they hit with it.

Later, the turkeys all get a big feast, reprising the sexy dance setup, only this time it’s Mr. Bighead with a bag of turkey food, much to the delight of the turkeys. And everyone enjoyed their Thanksgiving except Mr. Bighead because he’s an ass.

The end.

I only barely remembered watching this episode as a kid, but it’s a good one. This story was definitely refreshing for Thanksgiving specials, and it made me laugh several times. It’s a good time to be had all around. Rocko’s Modern Life adds its own style to the event, and they never opt for anything cheesy.

It is a tad on the dark side for a kid’s cartoon, though. That’s not a bad thing, of course, and Rocko has always been on the more mature side (See: Turkey strip tease), but it is kinda uncommon for a kid’s holiday special to focus so much on killing, even if they never outright say to kill them (Due to censors. They do directly allude to it as much as possible, though, including but not limited to Heffer making that throat-slitting motion and going ‘Gaaaaccckkk’). I can’t imagine any kid was traumatized by this episode on the revelation that turkey comes from, well, turkeys, especially since images of live turkeys are everywhere around Thanksgiving, but I still have my doubts that an episode like this would fly today (hehe, turkey, fly, hehe.)

This episode does have some additional bittersweet notes to it, though. It was written by Spongebob creator Stephen Hillenburg before he eventually went on to create Spongebob three years later. This was also the season in which Hillenburg was made a director and producer for Rocko’s Modern Life. Turkey Time was the last episode he (co) wrote before the series ended, though that’s not really saying much considering my final bittersweet note is that this is the first part of the series finale of Rocko’s Modern Life.

While, technically, the actual ending for the show was considered Future Schlock (the episode in which Rocko, Filburt and Heffer get shot into space for 20 years) the episodes were switched around to allow the Thanksgiving special to air closer to the actual date of the holiday, making this and the following segment, Floundering Fathers, the official series finale. That is, of course, until the movie, Static Cling was released 24 years later. (I have watched the movie, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.)

If you want to have some laughs this Thanksgiving, give it a watch. You won’t regret it.

~Happy Thanksgiving!~


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Animating Halloween | Happy Halloween, Scooby-Doo! Review

Plot: The Scooby gang enjoys Halloween while doing what they do best – solving mysteries. However, things get a little complicated when a local pumpkin patch turns into monstrous creatures bent on destroying the town of Crystal Cove and turning everyone into jack-o-lantern creatures.

Breakdown: Modern day Scooby-Doo is a weird area to venture into. I mean, granted, Scooby-Doo has always been kinda weird, but the way that the franchise has changed over the years, for better or worse, is both difficult to watch and kinda welcome at the same time.

Scooby-Doo tends to be very meta nowadays, and they’re constantly using self-referential humor. They also try to keep themselves modern as much as possible in their writing, which, again, sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t.

They also just tend to run with the idea that Scooby-Doo can crossover with pretty much anything. They’ve had crossover events with the WWE, Lego, Batman, Supernatural (I still can’t believe they pulled that off) and even, I’m not lying, an entire movie with Bobby Flay as a main character called Scooby-Doo! And the Gourmet Ghost….

Speaking of Batman, I really forget sometimes that actual Batman is a part of the Scooby-Doo universe, and what better way to remind me of that fact than by having the villain of the opening scene being Scarecrow….in his Scarecrow outfit….while wearing a different Scarecrow costume on top of that?

And this isn’t just a flippant fly-by cameo either. He’s a significant part of the entire movie….So are Bill Nye and Elvira, but that’s besides the point.

Now, I’m not saying them upping the weird ante is bad. Sometimes, the dialogue is a little cringey, but I actually tend to enjoy myself a lot whenever I watch a modern Scooby-Doo production, whether it be TV shows or movies….although I did hear Scoob! sucked……Anyway, they always tend to have snappy writing, good jokes, fun moments, good character interactions (And I like how they’ve changed the characters over time.), decent animation, good music, and even legitimate scares. All of those apply in Happy Halloween, Scooby-Doo!

Even if most of the movie is a big chase scene, it’s a fun and exciting chase scene that seems to have real stakes.

Although, I do have to say that the ending reveal didn’t make a lot of sense.

I’m not going to mention who the culprit was to avoid total spoilers, but Velma was actually right. Despite seeing many real monsters and supernatural events over the years, she refused to believe the living jack-o-lanterns attacking the city were real. And they weren’t. They were just drones. How they never managed to find that out for themselves, I have no idea. They smashed so many of those jack-o-lanterns, there’s no way they didn’t discover a drone or parts within some of them. They just squish like any other pumpkin.

Also, unless the culprit managed to sneak a drone in every pumpkin and jack-o-lantern in town, there’s no way they should have been shown turning into the jack-o-lantern creatures. The pumpkins literally carved themselves and the jack-o-lanterns just sprang to life.

Secondly, she says the way that the ‘alpha’ jack-o-lantern could drain the power from electronic devices when it got close to them was because it had an EMP inside of it, which also doesn’t make any sense because some electronic devices were completely unaffected, most notably the other lesser jack-o-lantern drones.

I might just be splitting hairs there, but in a series meant to be about using logic to solve mysteries I think it’s appropriate to nitpick sometimes, even if it is Scooby-Doo.

Overall, this was a blast to watch, and it really got me into a Scooby mood and a Halloweeny mood. My biggest complaint is that, yeah, some of the dialogue and jokes, especially where Daphne is concerned, are kinda cringey. I mean ‘torch-splaining’? Using ‘Mary Sue’ as if it’s a compliment? Saying “friendship is OP.”? Come on.

If you’re a Scooby-Doo fan, this is a great watch around Halloween, and I really recommend it.

Rating: 8.5/10


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