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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I love Donny, okay?

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

Rating: 7/10

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Animating Halloween: Dead Space – Downfall Review

Rating: 8/10

Plot: A prequel to the popular horror game, Dead Space, Downfall centers around the story of the first and second attacks on Aegis VII, as well as what really happened on the planet cracker ship the USG Ishimura. Security Chief Alissa Vincent and her crew are dispatched to rescue any and all survivors when the colony on Aegis VII suffers from a rash of suicides and sudden murders after uncovering a strange alien artifact. When the Ishimura tries to recover the artifact, whatever spread over Aegis VII starts to infect those within the Ishimura.

Breakdown: I absolutely love Dead Space (Well, the first two anyway. Three was a disappointment to me) It’s one of my favorite game franchises. However, since homework is poo, we’ll be mostly focusing on how this movie fares as a standalone.

Dead Space is a very, very, very bloody and gorey series. The death scenes are usually incredibly graphic and even the way you defeat the alien creatures, known as necromorphs, is pretty damn brutal. Necromorphs are more or less immune to bullets. The only way they can really be destroyed is through lopping off their limbs and finishing them off by stomping on their bodies. You can also defeat them by setting them on fire and blowing them to bits, but the aforementioned method is the most common.

This movie does not fail in matching the bloodbath of the video game by a long shot. Many characters die in ridiculously gorey ways. One of which being so bad I actually cringed and looked away for a second, which is rare for me to do in a horror movie.

But we’re not here for the gore, we’re here for the scares. This movie is a bit more faltering in that area. There’s not a whole lot of ambiance to absorb and it’s mostly just hopping from one action scene to another. Downfall is really at its best from a horror standpoint when it’s focusing on the insanity that the crew is falling victim to. One of the most harrowing things about this story is that it doesn’t really matter if you survive because the marker is slowly making everyone go insane anyway. Even if you manage to get through the necromorphs and hide away somewhere, you’ll probably die on accident or be driven to suicide. Being in a group isn’t any better either since the insane ones in the group will most likely just start killing the others.

Sadly, the psychological torment that befalls much of the crew only delivers a few creepy and unnerving moments.

The necromorphs are scary in themselves. Necromorphs are both alien creatures by themselves and reanimated corpses mutated with alien features. Most necromorphs, particularly the ones featured in this movie, are slashers, which are mostly humanoid creatures with giant blades protruding from the arms.

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However, we also have the annoying infectors, which are flying necromorphs,

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the depressing lurkers, which are tentacle’d necromorphs made from babies

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and swarmers that can kiss my ass.

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Each have their own special abilities for killing and infecting other people, and all of which are varying degrees of frightening.

Story-wise, this one is rather simple, most of the better stuff reserved for the actual video game. It’s a pretty cut and dry ‘we tread where we don’t belong and now we’re fucked’ stories.

A mysterious alien artifact, known as the marker, is found by miners on Aegis VII. The church of unitology, essentially a cult in the Dead Space universe (and, yes, likely based on scientology in some respects, though the creators deny this) dispatch a crew on the planet cracker, the USG Ishimura, to retrieve the artifact and bring it back to earth. Unitologists believe the markers are sacred religious artifacts that are key in bringing eternal life and paradise to the human race. I won’t go into the true meaning and purpose behind the markers because they don’t explore it in the movie and it’s ultimately unimportant to this review. The point is, because of the marker, people on Aegis VII and eventually the Ishimura start going crazy and falling victim to the necromorphs, killing each other and killing themselves.

Alissa Vincent, Chief of Security on the Ishimura, is set out, albeit against the wishes of the captain, Mathius, who is secretly a unitologist, to rescue any survivors on board the Ishimura once the infection reaches the ship.

After that, it’s mostly a lot of action, necro killing, death scenes and ultimately pointless rescues because everyone dies.

I’m not going to apologize for no ‘spoiler alert’, and I’m not saying this because I’ve played the games – the movie itself tells you at the very start that everyone’s dead, including Alissa.

In regards to characters, that’s a major weak point of the story. There’s a rather sizable cast here, but mostly everyone is left with the same angry personality, spouting out the same lines you’d hear in any horror movie, such as those akin to ‘we don’t have time for this’ ‘hurry up’ ‘stop foolin’ around.’ etc. etc. It’s understandable that everyone’s on edge, but it’s not like they act any different before everything starts going to hell.

Alissa’s crew have a few lines of banter that make you think they might be close, but that’s about it. I barely remember anything about Hanson. I don’t even remember the big guy’s name. Shen’s only memorable because of her weird-ass haircut and the fact that she is frustratingly inept in most of her scenes only to become a badass in her final scene. The only characters who have any sort of real personality or backstory are Ramirez and Samuel Irons, an engineer and unitologist that they meet along the way. Ramirez seems like a slight lovable goofball and he gives us a drive-by of his backstory in one of those ‘I die in the next five minutes, so might as well tell my story’ scenes. Samuel Irons is interesting in how he seems to be very wise and skilled, but we don’t know anything else about him.

Even Alissa is, sadly, entirely uninteresting. She’s the most angry of the group and really does nothing but boss people around and swear. She gets no backstory and no layers to her personality. She’s fairly honorable and wants to do anything to save people, but that’s about it.

She also makes some stupid decisions – the biggest one being stopping Kyne from crashing the ship into the planet. He wanted to destroy the marker and stop the infection from reaching earth. Alissa wanted to save whatever survivors were on the Ishimura, even though such a feat would be incredibly unlikely at this point, so she beat the hell out of him and stopped the ship from crashing down….only to realize literally minutes later that everyone else was likely dead, she was screwed either way, and she had to sacrifice herself to get a warning message out about it. And what does the message say? She tells them to destroy the marker at all costs….Good job.

I guess it could be argued that she was acting irrationally due to the marker’s influence, but I doubt it. She only starts acting weird after she does this.

The most interesting story is happening on the bridge with Captain Mathius and Dr. Kyne, both of which being closet unitologists who are the only ones who know that the main point of this mission is to bring back the marker to earth, not to help those on Aegis VII.

For those Dead Space fans, there are some continuity errors created by this movie, but nothing that breaks the story or universe. One of the main things I believe most Dead Space fans would want to see in a Dead Space prequel is Nicole and, sadly, she just barely gets a cameo if the person in this movie is even her.

Alissa and Ramirez infiltrate a room where a bunch of medical personnel are holding themselves up because a bunch of slashers are banging on the door. One of the personnel is seen crying under a table and Alissa tries to get her to leave. She asks her if she has a boyfriend, she says yes. She asks if she wants to see him again, she says yes and they leave. This interaction seemed very weird and out of place when I first saw it, mostly because it seems odd to suddenly establish a connection with a flash in the pan nameless character, and because it seemed like such an odd question to ask. Most people would ask ‘do you have any family?’ or maybe a husband or kids or something. I was sitting there wondering why she immediately jumped to ‘boyfriend’.

It wasn’t until I was doing some post-watch research on the Dead Space Wiki that I became aware that this was supposed to be Nicole, Isaac’s (the game’s main character) girlfriend…supposedly.

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It’s not confirmed that this is her. They just surmise this based on how she looks and the fact that Alissa specifically asked about her having a boyfriend.

The art and animation are done by Film Roman, who have done work on The Simpsons, King of the Hill and Family Guy, but, trust me, this style is much more reminiscent of their other work, X-men Evolution. I was constantly thinking about that show when looking at this art before I even knew who produced it.

The animation definitely has its hiccups and it’s not as fluid as X-Men Evolution, but it’s not too bad.

The CGI shots, which are pretty well-done and integrated, are done by EA, the producers of the game. The only shots I question are the first shot of the Infector and the shot of Alissa against a huge herd of necros.

The music is very fitting, but not very memorable. I did squee a little when Twinkle Twinkle Little Star played, though.

The voice acting is pretty good with some of the more notable actors being Jim Cummings as Mathius and Kevin Michael Richardson as Samuel Irons. Alissa’s voice kinda got on my nerves, but she was acting pretty well.

Bottomline: Whether you’re a Dead Space fan or if you’ve never played the games at all, this is a pretty good horror movie that also acts as a nice setup for the first game. It’s not super scary, but it’s certainly never boring and there are some really awesome scenes of both action and horror here. The biggest weaknesses are the lack of characterization in Alissa and her crew and some craggy animation.

Recommended Audience: Like the games, this movie is incredibly gorey. People get slowly sliced in half vertically, there’s organs and bones everywhere, even if it’s not incredibly detailed, there’s a lot of slicing people and nercos to bits, people get their heads blown off and there’s one scene where a character dies due to having a hypodermic needle getting crammed into their eye. There’s also a lot of swearing, particularly by Alissa, and while there’s no sex, there is one scene of lower-bit male nudity in the bathroom. 17+

Episode One-Derland (Cartoons): Dino Riders

“Promotional quotes that lend nothing to your view of the product, useless for 100 years, are back” -FiddleTwix

Plot: See Breakdown.

Breakdown: Dino Riders is a show about an alien race called the Valorians traveling through space and time to prehistoric earth. Following them are their enemies, the reptilian race, the Rulons. They use their telekinetic abilities to communicate with and befriend the dinosaurs of the land while the Rulons do the same, except using mind-control devices called brain boxes.

They outfit the dinosaurs in high-tech machinery, gadgets, lasers and missiles as they fight battle after battle in their never ending war to conquer the other.

…..Did you get that? Aliens control the minds of dinosaurs, outfit them with high-tech alien weaponry, including missiles and lasers, and battle each other.

I don’t think I need to say anything else. Everyone good? Kay. Put up the verdict card.

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Okay, for those still curious enough to keep reading, I first caught onto this show after watching one of the Nostalgia Critics commercial reviews. He was talking about one of the commercials for the Dino Riders toys which this cartoon is based off of. He was just as blown away by the concept as I was, and I couldn’t resist seeking out the cartoon. Of course this series was released in 1988, one year before I was born. Damn my inability to control what year I was born.

In all honesty, I am overplaying this series just a tad. It is awesome to see battles between raptors, pteradactyls, triceratops and even T-rexes outfitted with lasers and missiles, but I can’t deny that the foundations are kinda weak. We don’t really know why the Rulons want to destroy the Valorians so badly, they just do. The idea that pea-brained dinosaurs can be reasoned with so easily just with telepathy is a bit farfetched (but, honestly, who cares? And the alternative is mind-control hats) and it is just a flat out, 80’s brand ‘we’re two factions at war….pew pew.’

But it is still a lot of fun, and there is so much room for possibilities that, sadly, probably won’t get realized because this series somehow only lasted 14 episodes. Captain Planet gets six seasons. Dino Riders get 14 episodes. Rip. Off. I definitely would’ve been more invested in Captain Planet if they used laser equipped dinosaurs to kill polluters…..Actually…..easily befriending even the fiercest of creatures with telepathy and heart?…..Is Ma Ti a Valorian?

Not to mention we have some top-notch voice work here. Frank Welker (because he’s under contract to be in literally everything) Rob Paulson, Dan Gilvezan (Bumblebee in the 80’s Transformers series) Charlie Adler, Townsend Coleman and Peter friggin’ Cullen – Optimus Prime!

Even the animation stands up very well for being a late 80’s cheap cartoon based on a toy. And yes, I’m including both GI Joe and Transformers there.

Anyhoo, Dino Riders may be a short-lived series with a one-dimensional story…….but DINOSAURS WITH ALIEN LASER WEAPONRY IN BATTLES AGAINST REPTILE CREATURES…..COME ON!

Dreaming of Dreamworks: The Prince of Egypt

Rating: 9/10

Plot: In a telling of the Exodus story, a pharaoh named Seti has ordered the slaughter of many Hebrew babies. However, one baby is saved from the killing when his mother places him in a basket and sends him down the river in hopes of his survival in a better place. In a weird twist of fate, the baby is recovered from the river by the queen and her son, Rameses. He is adopted by the royal family and raised as their son Moses. He remains ignorant of his past until he runs into his blood sister, Miriam and brother, Aaron. As the truth of his past and his adoptive father come to light, Moses leaves the kingdom behind and later finds that he is destined for much greater things.

Breakdown: I am forever saddened that it has taken me this long to watch this movie. Welcome to The Prince of Egypt, Dreamworks second movie and a rare non-CGI movie from them. Well, okay, it’s not non-CGI. There’s plenty of CGI, but for the most part it’s regular cel-shaded animation. What is CGI is really well-done and cleverly integrated with the other animation. I’m almost shocked this came from Dreamworks because they always stay pretty clear behind Pixar in animation and art quality, but they did wonders with this. It is a visual treat to say the least, and this was made in 1998! The character art, animation and backgrounds still stand up extremely well to this day. Another movie I’d gladly rewatch for the art alone.

As stated, the story is the biblical telling of Moses and follows him all the way from him being a baby to his freeing of the Hebrew slaves. And it does not really screw around and make it all kiddie either. This is a pretty heavy movie. Granted, they still do a butt joke or two, but most of the goofy scenes are gone by the end of the first act.

You can sympathize with all of the characters, even Rameses, and you feel the emotional struggle between the two of them to go from brothers to basically mortal enemies in only the course of a couple of years. In a way, neither of them can sympathize very much with each other. Moses was not the blood son of Seti nor was he the eldest son, so he never had a lot of weight on his shoulders like Rameses did, and Rameses was never a slave nor did he wish to see the slaves as people who were worth anything. Doing so, in his eyes, would tarnish the ancient traditions which he was born to uphold.

The time skip is a little jarring but mostly just because Seti, the Queen (I think she’s the queen anyway. Moses is raised as Seti’s son so….*shrug*) and Moses’ mother, Jochebed, all seemingly die in that time when it seems like only a few years or so went by between Moses leaving and him getting the message from God. It’s understandable that Seti died because he was so old, but I have no clue what claimed the lives of the Queen and Moses’ mother. We also learn nothing of Rameses’ son.

The movie obviously takes some liberties with the story both with its religious historical roots and its Egyptian historical roots. To its credit, the movie admits that straight out of the gate. But it doesn’t stray too far from the path and is a pretty loyal adaptation of the story. I should also mention that the movie doesn’t cover the entire book of Exodus, just up to leading the Hebrews out of Egypt and a short glimpse of the Ten Commandments.

The music is phenomenal. It’s commonly set up much like a Broadway musical…I assume anyway, I’ve never seen one. But the music is epic. I’d say the only weak-ish link in the music section is “You’re Playing with the Big Boys Now” which just seems out of place considering how epic and serious the other songs are.

The point of that song is to show Moses that, despite the fact that he has the Hebrew God on his side, they have the various gods of Egypt on theirs, and if he wants a fight, he’ll get one. However, the chorus of ‘You’re playing with the big boys now’ just makes me feel like it’s a cheesy bully line.

Bottomline: Whether you’re religious or not, this is still a fantastic movie with amazing visuals, fantastic music, memorable characters, an exciting story and more. If you haven’t seen it, I recommend you check it out. I wish Dreamworks did more stuff like this. Instead we got a billion Shrek movies…Also, Rotten Tomatoes gave Antz a 95 but this a 79? *huff*

Recommended Audience: No sex or nudity, but there is a scene where a woman is being given as a gift to Rameses. Mentions of baby slaughter, to alligators no less. No visuals, really, but there is a mural of the scene. Various deaths, but nothing terribly graphic. Heavy overtones that might put off the youngins…..10+?

Animating Halloween: The Berenstain Bears – Trick or Treat

Plot: Brother and Sister go out trick or treating with their friends. They want to avoid the house of a woman that they think is an evil witch, but Mama tells them to go in order to be polite, stating she’s a very nice lady. When they arrive, will their fears be realized?

Breakdown: Ah the Berenstain Bears. One of few old cartoon series where I know the books better than the TV series.

Like many shows for little kids, this one obviously has a moral that is laid out from the very start of the episode. “We think this lady’s creepy!” “Don’t judge someone by how they look.” “She’s nice and Mama was right!” *roll credits*

It’s a good lesson to learn and they do sneak some slight spooky-ish scenes (at least for small children) in there to make for a nice little Halloween special. How and why this lady had a statue of a bear that looked identical to Lizzy, even down to the costume she was wearing, is beyond me, but it’s a respectable effort to lend credence to the story that she supposedly turns bears into stone.

This is also one of those episodes where bullies get pranked ten ways to Sunday, which seems to be an odd theme in Halloween specials.

I love Whitter Jones. She’s how I want to be when I get older. Hell, how I try to be now. She loves Halloween and decks out her whole house in all sorts of cool Halloween decorations and tricks. Though, I have to wonder how Mama Bear is such good friends with her that she actually has a framed picture of the two of them on the wall yet Brother and Sister don’t seem to know enough about her to know she’s not an evil witch.

If you’re a Berenstain Bears fan, this is a pretty good entry in the series, and it’s also a good episode to show the youngin’s around Halloween.

Recommended Audience:……..You’re kidding, right?

Animating Halloween: Donald Duck, Huey, Dewey and Louie – Trick or Treat

Rating: 8.5/10

Plot: Donald plays a mean trick on his nephews as they trick or treat at his house. Feeling sympathetic towards the poor ducks, a witch befriends them and helps them get revenge.

Breakdown: OCTOBER! HALLOWEEN! THINGS! WE GO NOW!

….Ahem. We start off this year’s AH with a Donald Duck short. On Halloween, Donald’s being the little jerk he is and decides to play a prank on his nephews, Huey, Dewey and Louie, as they arrive at his house to trick or treat. This would be mostly fine since it’s TRICK or treat, but when the ‘prank’ involves blowing up their sacks of candy with explosives….yeah, to quote the wrong franchise, it’s duck season!

Sweet vengeance does take place, and it’s pretty darn funny. It’s also a bit scary when you think about it. Having only your feet be possessed sounds like something that would happen in Army of Darkness.

Also, why does Donald even have a bowl of candy prepared if he’s just pranking everyone who comes to his door?

Overall, this is a pretty great Disney short to play on Halloween, and for this looking for some Halloween music, you have a massive ear worm here.

Trick or treat. Trick or treat. Trick or treat for Halloween. Better give a treat that’s good to eat, if you want life to stay serene.

Recommended Audience: Well, Donald nearly blows his nephews’ hands off with explosives. Other than that, nothing.

CSBS – Fillmore! Episode 3

CSBS Fillmore episode 3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rating: 7/10

Episode One-Derland (Cartoons) Zeke’s Pad

Plot: Zeke Palmer has a magic electric drawing pad that allows him to alter reality and create things from thin air just by drawing them.

Breakdown: It’s like Chalkzone mixed with Fairly Odd Parents only not nearly as imaginative, funny, or with as much freedom.

The end

I know, I’ve done similar bits before, but it’s true. This concept, on paper (….puns?), is a very good one that hasn’t been done to death but has been done, ala Chalkzone. But its execution here is just plain not good.

First and foremost, this is not an origin story episode. Which is….alright, because we can get the gist of the main plot from the theme song and the episode itself. Zeke has some sort of tablet (called ‘the pad’. How creative) that can create anything he draws. It seems like this ‘power’ is a secret, but I don’t really know. His best friend knows, and that’s all I got.

The origins of the pad are rushed through in the theme song and still make no sense. An electronic drawing pad was being assembled at a factory when the machine suddenly malfunctioned and caused lots of sparks and….magic? The machine threw it out, seeing it as defective, but it bounced out of the bin and out the window where Zeke caught it, somehow instantly knew its powers and how to use it and used to it get away from a dog that was chasing them…..Okie.

Next, Zeke is bland and forgettable with his only notable traits being that he’s lazy, selfish and inconsiderate. Because that’s what I want in my main character – unlikable traits.

To give you the low down, let’s go through Zeke’s actions throughout the course of the episode.

We spend well over two minutes hearing him bitch and moan and have a breakdown over having porridge for breakfast yet again. Apparently his insanely neurotic mother makes it every single day. However, this ‘joke’ has no real setup because we don’t go in knowing this and the joke runs for way too long and amounts to nothing.

After he has a minor porridge breakdown, he bitches and moans that they never have something good like pancakes for breakfast. Aw, poor baby. Your loving mother takes the time out to make you breakfast every morning and it’s not what you want. If you want pancakes, get off your ass and make them.

And he takes my advice…..by going to his room and drawing a huge pile of pancakes on the pad, which materialize before him. And by ‘huge pile’ I mean he stockpiles his room nearly to the ceiling with pancakes and he chows them all down….without syrup or butter. I know that would be messy, but without syrup or butter, you might as well be eating mattress foam.

He gets a huge gut because of this, and, continuity honored, his gut stays this way for the entirety of the episode. However, he completely fails a fitness test at school because of it. Why the hell would you draw a room full of pancakes to eat when you have a fitness test that day? Huge gut and cartoonish appetite aside, eating even a regular helping of pancakes before strenuous exercise would make me feel like garbage.

He got the worst grades on the test in school history, so he’s sent to a fitness camp to bulk up and pass. He exercises a little and gets so fed up with the whole thing that he draws a hot air balloon to escape, but drew it with a nearly empty fuel gauge and crashes…..Yeah, don’t ask me why he did that. He brings it up (“I had to draw it with a FULL fuel gauge?!”) but it still makes no sense (Why would you draw it with an empty gauge to begin with?….or a fuel gauge at all?). Anyway, he makes it home and obviously gets found out because his crazy camp counselor instantly finds he’s escaped, goes straight to his house, searches it and finds Zeke.

That was a pointless waste of time because of stupid, by the way. Of course they’d find out and call his parents. Of course they’d look for him. Of course the first place they’d look is his house. Maybe they wouldn’t practically break in and search without asking permission, but they wouldn’t just leave him be. And he knows this camp is necessary to get him a passing grade, so he should know escaping is pointless. If he were smart, he’d draw a way to make the camp or test easy as hell to pass. Hell, he has reality altering powers, just draw a test with an A grade on it.

Also, just to get this plot hole/annoyance out of the way, Zeke’s father, despite hearing that Zeke has to fitness camp to pass his test, for some reason thinks it’s ridiculous that Zeke would be a camper at a fitness camp and that him, being an artist, must be at an art camp. Even after telling him that and being found at the house, escaping from the fitness camp, Zeke exclaims later that his dad still thinks he’s at art camp…..Is his dad an idiot or is this very poorly written? I can’t tell.

Zeke recruits his best friend, Jay, in the middle of the night to help him pass his test. He claims he can’t just draw himself before he ate all those pancakes,because going back, deleting and erasing  always goes horribly wrong. We just have to take his word for it, but uh…..just draw yourself in a fit way you’ve never been. That way it’s an alteration not a redo or a deletion. It’s not that hard.

Just a note, Jay does not help him at all. Not for lack of trying or because Jay’s a bad friend, but because he has no way of helping him. Zeke has the pad and Jay could easily give him advice over the phone, but he begs him to put aside his studying for an algebra exam to help him at the camp and he, reluctantly, goes. When Zeke’s pad gets taken away by the counselor, they both sneak into his office to get it, but it’s entirely unnecessary for Jay to be there. He doesn’t do anything because there’s nothing for him to do. He does point out that Zeke is running away faster than he is and asks if he’s been working out, but bite me Zeke’s Pad. There’s no way a day and half of moderate exercise with a huge gut hanging over his pants made him fit enough for there to be any noticeable improvement.

When he gets his pad back, he thinks of the perfect solution. He draws them at Art Camp, which alters reality….somehow, to making everything an art test and art challenges, which Zeke excels at.

The only repercussions of Zeke’s selfish and lazy actions is that Ike, his older jock brother who both gave him the initial fitness test and worked as a counselor at the fitness camp, is still rough on him, they have to draw Ike in his boxers (Jay’s still at the camp because of no reason whatsoever.) and Zeke’s mom makes him pancakes when he gets home as a gift for passing his test, which, wahmp wahmp, makes Zeke freak out….Also, he’s instantly thin again when he changes the camp to an art camp…..continuity makes sense, right!?

Nothing about this episode was funny. Not a damn thing made me even want to put effort into moving my lip muscles. I’m watching a lazy inconsiderate idiot get himself into trouble, easily get out of it and get what he wants all the while bothering his friends and scarily manipulating reality and those around him. Not to mention a total lack of a lesson being learned or comeuppance for his behavior. He could at least have done something nice for someone else with that pad (like, maybe something to help Jay with his algebra test), but he just uses it stupidly for stuff he wants and is too lazy to do himself.

There’s also a subplot with the rest of his forgettable family with his mother making them work out and eat healthy non-stop. It goes the way you think and ends the way you think.

The jokes they attempt have no thought put into them. Most of them are unfunny slapstick gags, burp jokes and a fart joke, the rest is just cartoon zaniness in how quickly and sporadically they move, which may as well be slapstick.

As an artist who would value this power like a gift from the gods, it bugs the hell out of me that this is such wasted potential. I would love another Chalkzone-esque show. It allows for such amazing creative freedom in plots, characters and powers. However, it is just not used well here. There are vague and undefined restrictions by default and they can’t use the power many times because the thing needs to be charged.

Not to mention the fact that there’s no artistic merit going into these drawings. We never see him actually ‘draw’ anything. We get some weird overdone transition, see the finished drawing for about a second and then cut to the thing appearing or reality changed. We don’t even see him draw anything for the hell of it or at all despite the fact that people keep saying he’s creative and loves to draw.

Even in the very end where he gets his altered test to draw Ike, we don’t get to see him draw or see his finished drawing. This is a show based around art-fueled powers….with no art.

Speaking of art, the CGI cel-shaded art for the show is really blah with no real style to it. The colors are bright and appealing, but that’s about it. These graphics look pretty dated for a show that was supposedly made in 2010, and the animation, while not having many errors, doesn’t have a good fluidity about it. Half the time it’s jarring shifts and the other it’s slow moving in a sliding fashion.

The music’s alright, but forgettable. I listened to the theme song three times just five minutes ago and I’ve already forgotten it.

Final Verdict:

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Two-dimensional characters with the MC having no real good traits conveyed so far, poorly written story structure and dialogue, no good jokes and a complete waste of a fairly good plot and you leave me with no reason to want to continue.

Also, in spite of the fact that this show won two Elan awards for Best Animation TV Production and Art Direction, this show only lasted one season. Hm.

Golan the Insatiable Review

Rating: 7.5/10

Plot: In season one, Godlord Golan is sent to earth from his home dimension of Gkrool after a rebellion uprising hurls him through a portal. He lands in the Beekler home where he lives with his acolyte, a goth girl named Dylan, as they wreak havoc across Oak Grove, Minnesota.

In season two, Golan is summoned to earth by Dylan after she finds an ancient demonic tome in the basement of her mother’s workplace. Golan returns to his home dimension shortly after only to find it has been taken over by his acolyte, Kruung, who sends the demons of the dimension after Golan. He returns to earth after fleeing the demons and wishes to take over our world instead in hopes of one day creating an army that can combat Kruung back in his own dimension.

Breakdown: I really didn’t expect to ever like this series based on the premise, but I actually got into it quite a bit. I like dark comedies when they’re not being overly gross or seeming like they’re gunning for pure shock humor, like Mr. Pickles, a show that can die in a the hottest of hell’s fire. Granted, there is a lot of maiming, murder and rape implications, but it’s not usually so in your face about it that it put me off very much.

Dylan really came out being the best character to me through both seasons as they mostly kept her character consistent in how ridiculously ‘evil’ yet still somewhat realistic she really is. I love watching her do pretty much anything as you can guarantee that the contrast between her and her environment will be pretty stark. Plus her dialogue is usually pretty funny in that she’s constantly trying to overly exaggerate her words like she’s a villain. Think Zim from Invader Zim only as a small goth girl and much more violent. She has an unhealthy obsession with demonic forces, gross things and overt violence, and quite a few times she gets in on the maiming and murder.

Golan can also be a lot of fun and pretty funny, but season two kinda butchered him a bit for me. More on that later.

Long story short, I really liked season one a lot more than season two, and not in the usual way that works.

As you can probably tell from the plot synopsis, the second season isn’t really a continuation. It’s a complete reboot. The first season consisted of six ten minute long episodes and when the second season was picked up by FOX, they extended the episodes to 22 minutes and gave the entire series a reboot. From what I’ve heard, the creators deem the second season as the more legit first season while the ‘first season’ is really a series of shorts. Which is a shame because I really believe this series worked best in the first format.

In season one, Golan acts much more like you’d expect a ‘fish out of water’ demonic godlord to act. He makes overly dramatic statements, threatens a lot of people and does a lot of horrible things without thinking any of it is a big deal. Despite the fact that human stuff like watching TV, hanging out with the cool kids and fitting in does appeal to Golan, his first and foremost duty is being the demonic godlord that he is, wreaking havoc and trying to take over the world.

In season two, Golan basically got neutered. Golan is now more ‘human’ though more ‘partier’ human than he has any right to be. Dylan pretty much has to drag him on evil adventures all the time instead of him being proactive in his demonic duties, which is lame. If he is being proactive in that duty, it’s usually for some human related selfish end.

He’s also gotten a voice change, which does not work for him. Before, he had a very ‘monster’ like voice that was gruff and gurgly, performed by series’ creator Josh Miller. In the second season, he pretty much just has a slightly gruff human voice done by Rob Riggle. When old Golan would get ‘demonic’ he didn’t need to have any audio alterations done to his voice to make him seem any more menacing because his voice was just fine for it. Now they have to give him the stereotypical ‘devil’ filter.

Dylan is mostly the same, but now she is also a bit more human and has a seeming excuse written in for her odd and hateful behavior. Her dad’s either dead or not around. In the first season, Dylan had a dad, Richard, a really conservative somewhat doormat of a dad who served as more or less foil for Golan. In season two, he doesn’t exist. It’s never explained what happened to Dylan’s dad or even if Richard is the dad in this series, but they imply that he either died (of Robot AIDs) or left the family.

Dylan is still the best character in both versions, working off Golan and utilizing her personality pretty well, but the fact that they changed her story in season two kinda makes it less fun. I mean, her becoming a hateful death and demon obsessed sociopathic goth is just a bit sad when it’s partially because she feels lonely and lacks a father figure, which only gets worse in the season two finale. In season one, it’s funnier because you just think she’s a bit of a psycho kid with a legit passion for this stuff.

Carole, Dylan’s mom, stays roughly the same, but she’s crazier and more sexually frustrated somehow despite being a single mother who has no problem offering up her sexuality to people.

Dylan’s older sister, Alexis, is kept the same through versions, but the new animation style basically makes her look crazy. She can’t say a sentence without flipping her head or making big gestures. This might be a play on how overly dramatic some teens are, but it just seems more annoying than anything and this style is eventually applied to basically anyone, especially Carole.

Speaking of the new animation style, while you could argue that there is more detail and fluid animation in season two, I preferred season one’s. It was a bit on the rough jutting side, but it was fine. In the second season, everything’s a bit too animated. People don’t move their bodies that much when they’re just talking. It’s distracting and, like I previously mentioned, sometimes annoying.

Despite the fact that the characters are made slightly more human in the second season, the dark humor also gets amped up a bit. Like MacKenzie B and her friends are all viciously murdered in episode one and a baby is killed by either car crash or being burned alive in episode two. Yeah, Golan killed some people in season one, but for the most part he just maimed lots of people. Not that it really matters anyway since MacKenzie B is miraculously alive and well in episode two.

The finale with Keith’s background is even more confusing. They explain in a flashback that Dylan used to be a perfectly normal sweet pink dress and bow wearing little girl who used to be best buddies with Keith, Alexis’ boyfriend, after her dad ‘went away’ as a way for her to have a male role model. However, Alexis became his girlfriend and he never did stuff with Dylan again, causing her to become the evil and violence-obsessed goth girl she is today. It also explains that the teardrops (season one)/slash marks (season two) on the bottom of her eyes are actually scars as a result of her tearing at her eyelids when Keith was taken away from her.

It was never implied at all that Keith used to be Dylan’s best buddy nor that Keith felt bad about abandoning Dylan back then nor that Dylan had any lasting trauma from it. In fact, he’s made fun of Dylan right to her face several times before this revelation, yet suddenly he’s like ‘Oh…hi Dylan’ after that flashback and she huffs in response. It was nice to give Keith some backstory, but that was one of the sloppiest ways to shoehorn in such a story thread, not that they do much with this anyway in the grand scheme of things.

 

Not to mention, there have been numerous times where Dylan’s given zero shits about possibly losing Golan, even in similar circumstances, but the concept of such a thing in this episode is inconceivable to her just because it’s matching almost exactly how she lost Keith.

A character named Swingly is introduced in the finale of the first season as a spastic and odd little boy that Dylan gets a crush on. In season two, he’s basically the same. He’s pretty entertaining in his own right in both versions, even if they recycle several jokes of his between versions, but in the end of his only part in season two, they make him gay and give him a boyfriend, subsequently crushing Dylan’s first crush. I’m perfectly fine with making him gay, but it just seemed like such a dick move, writing-wise, to Dylan. They could’ve done a lot more with that pairing, but they just decided to scrap it. It’s even worse considering there are so few people Dylan actually likes.

Another strike against season two is the fact that the citizens of the town are way crazier than they were before, and some of them even possess supernatural powers. The thing that made season one so funny was the stark contrast between how evil and crazy Dylan and Golan were in comparison to the rest of the normal citizens in the world. Yet they were also pretty much accepting what Golan and Dylan were doing as if it were somewhat normal or, for comparison sake, like it’s a rambunctious child with an imaginary friend, only magnified.

If you make everyone else just as crazy and weird, while also making it so nothing has consequences (like MacKenzie B coming back to life) and other people having supernatural powers (like the doctor being able to time travel; almost certain that’s not a Doctor Who reference) then it makes it much less funny. It’s just a town of crazy people with a demon and an ‘evil’ little girl as the main characters. Added to the fact that Golan is made more human in the second season just basically waters down season two entirely. It still has its moments, but they lost much of what made it funny to begin with.

This also makes Dylan’s issues seem kinda moot. Yes, she’s still quite a bit different from the other kids, but since so many people are so crazy and everyone sees them as normal, it makes her problem of feeling alone and misunderstood because she’s so different seem like less of an issue because, really, she’s not so different. Though considering, as of the finale, she has three major ‘tragic backstory’ reasons behind her behavior, I guess even this point is moot.

As a contrasting example, in season one, Dylan and Golan are trying to capture the tooth fairy. Dylan’s dad, the one who’s really been leaving money under her pillow, gets his arm caught in a bear trap that Golan left under the pillow to catch the tooth fairy. As he’s writhing in pain, he decides to keep up the charade of the tooth fairy by saying he was stealing the money she left behind instead of revealing that the tooth fairy isn’t real.

It’s important to note that the parents are the only ones who put value in Dylan’s belief in the tooth fairy, since they believe it’s normal for kids to believe in that stuff and revealing the truth too soon in their lives might be heartbreaking. Dylan doesn’t really care if she’s real one way or another, and the only reason they’re trying to capture her in the first place is because Golan wants to bone her. His ridiculous and misguided sacrifice is for the sake of their view of normalcy, and that’s what makes it funny. If this was some crazy character hollering and jumping around then falling down or exploding or something, this whole scene would be boring.

Another good example of this is the running gag in season one where Golan keeps hitting on and making sexual references to Alexis and Carole. It’s funny because Alexis hates Golan and it’s also somewhat offensive considering she’s right on the border of legal age. It’s funny with Carole because she’s married and is obviously sexually frustrated while being attracted to Golan, as evidenced by her spicy Golan fanfiction. However, she can’t bring herself to just do it with Golan because she is loyal to her husband.

In the fourth episode of season two? Both Alexis and Carole blurt out that they’ve had sex with Golan, and both times were never mentioned or ‘shown’ on screen. So yeah, they basically just burnt that joke to make a not-really-joke. The reason they said it was because she was comparing the pain of breaking her arm to the pain of having sex with Golan…..Not like it would’ve still been funny with Carole anyway since she seems to be a freer sexual being who is now single.

Season two’s run time is also a problem for me. The first season’s episodes were all between 10 and 11 minutes long, which I found perfect for this type of formula. This show doesn’t really call for intricate storylines and extended plot elements. 10 to 11 minutes is all it really needed to tell the specific story it wanted to tell while keeping up the pacing just fine. In the second season, the episodes are extended to 22 minutes, and I can’t say I was a fan of the change. It just seems like, for the stories it presented, except maybe the pilot, 22 minutes was too long. It felt like the stories dragged on for a bit and tried to fill up extra time with sideplots that usually didn’t work very well.

FOX has officially canceled the series after it spent about a year in hiatus hell, which is a shame because I have faith that this series could’ve been something pretty great if it had more of an opportunity to get its footing in the new format.

Is it perfect? No. I wouldn’t even go so far as to say it’s really entirely great, but it has quite a few memorable moments and lines and you can have a ton of fun with the characters, especially in the first season.

As a final note, here are my favorite and least favorite episodes of both seasons.

Season 1 Favorite: Dylan Crushes Reading – Swingly is just a very entertaining character and his weird mannerisms and personality are perfect alongside Dylan’s. Plus, the plotline with her being unable to read is handled in a very funny fashion.

Season 1 Least Favorite: A Pox on Your Pox – I just didn’t like how Golan was treating Dylan during this entire episode. I know that seems like a weird thing to say considering he’s a demonic godlord, but he was just being a dick for most of this episode. Plus, it was kinda light on jokes that really worked.

Season 2 Favorite: Shell Raiser – It involves a bacteria ridden turtle with a sawblade taped to its back getting a magically possessed arm by a stoner that peer pressures Golan into messing up his and Dylan’s latest plot of infecting a huge vat of chili with turtle bacteria by pushing him into smoking weed. I don’t feel I need to say anything else.

Season 2 Least Favorite: On Golan Pond – This was one episode in the entire series that I pretty much hated. Golan sheds his skin and becomes a little chibi version of himself for 24 hours, leaving Dylan to protect him in the middle of the woods while they’re on vacation. He eventually gets taken by a mama wolf who sees him as one of her own. He then proceeds to treat the runt of the litter, a pup he calls ‘Runty’, like garbage. Runty, starving partially because of Golan taking the last teat, licks up some of Golan’s blood and becomes a monster bent on killing Golan. He is then killed by Dylan and his heart is ripped out and eaten by her. So, yeah, the only two jokes in there are Golan being cute and cuddly and treating a dying wolf pup like crap before viciously killing him.

Oh and there’s a stupid subplot about Carole deciding to let loose with Keith’s partier parents and falling in love with a Party Bot. Reminded me somewhat of that Futurama episode where Bender doesn’t want to get an upgrade.

Recommended Audience: There are rape implications and some sexual content, but no real sex scenes, nudity and so forth. There is swearing slung around, but surprisingly not a whole lot considering the subject matter. People get killed and maimed quite a bit, and there are several instances of animal abuse. 16+

CSBS – Danny Phantom Episode 2

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

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

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

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

We see the Dragon Ghost three times in this episode.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Danny: “I’ll do my best!”

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

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