CSBS – Rocket Power Episode 1

CSBS - RP EP1A

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

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

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

Sadly, I kinda understand why.

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

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

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

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

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

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

CSBS - RP EP1B

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

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

Sam: “What could possibly go wrong?”

Oh, bless your heart.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ratings:

Part 1 – 5/10

Part 2 – 6.5/10

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CSBS – Fillmore! Episode 4

CSBS Fillmore Episode 4
‘Nasium’s Gym’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rating: 7/10

Episode One-Derland (Cartoons) Ruby Gloom

Plot: In a world of Gothic scenery filled with various monsters and creatures, Ruby Gloom is, oddly, never gloomy. She’s always looking on the bright side and can find happiness in anything.

Breakdown: Mmm…..Disappointing.

I wanted this show to be so much better than it was. It has a lot of potential, but a lot of problems.

The show is based on a line of stationary and other school products that had the character and Gothic designs emblazoned on them. While they were initially aimed towards goth teens and tweens, the franchise eventually switched gears towards younger children….and it shows in the cartoon.

The art is really lovely and stylized, even if the animation is typical cheap Flash animation. It’s not bad Flash animation, but it’s still just okay.

The writing is what really throws me. The dialogue and a lot of the throwaway gags work really well – it’s the story that’s obviously dumbed down to hell for kids. Let me ask you what is the laziest and obvious of ‘sitcom’ plots. If you answered ‘an easily cleared up in real life but causes ridiculous amounts of problems in sitcoms because no one communicates like human beings “MISUNDERSTANDING”’ You’d be someone who knows what a sitcom is.

Ruby starts out the story writing in her diary about a surprise May Day party she’s planning for her friends. The entry starts with ‘Dear diary, sometimes it’s okay to keep a secret from your friends, especially if that secret is a surprise party!’ She “hides” the diary in a super secret spot….on a small bookshelf in the living room….No one….would ever…suspect.

Iris, a cyclops, comes in saying she wants some adventures. And, boy howdy, a great place to find adventures is in books! Which are held in bookshelves! Diaries are books! On bookshelves!

She directs Iris to her bookshelf and leaves to prepare stuff for the party. Iris finds the diary and reads it. She justifies it by literally saying……you only live once…….I thought we were done YOLOing ourselves into stupidity. She opens it to today’s entry and reads “Dear diary, sometimes it’s okay to keep a secret from your friends….” then she stops, freaking out that Ruby’s keeping a secret from them, and runs off to panic their other friends.

She doesn’t even….

….finish….

 

 

….the….

 

 

….friggin’…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

….sentence…..

Urgh.

When Iris goes to talk to Misery, their miserable friend who is always experiencing some misfortune, they see Ruby carrying a big box and instantly conclude that she’s moving out of the house (They’re all roommates in a big Gothic mansion.) In an effort to keep her around, Iris, Misery, Skull Boy (a skeleton) and Frank and Len, conjoined brothers who are kinda air-headed rockers, decide to pester Ruby the whole day while doing things they assume she wants them to do.

Ruby is frustrated by the lack of privacy since that’s definitely not conducive to planning a surprise party, but instead of asking her friends what’s wrong with them, she consults…a psychologist who’s also a crow? He keeps smacking a bee for some reason. His name is Poe, and he has two brothers named Edgar and Allan. (Get it?)

Ruby decides to investigate for herself. She retraces her steps, prompting her to open her diary back up. She sees that it was left ‘open’ to the following day, which is odd because she never does that. However, the book was back in the book shelf…meaning it was closed….and not open to any day. She finds a bunch of cookie crumbs in the diary because not only is Iris a privacy invading weasel, but she’s also an inconsiderate bitch. Ruby knows the last time she saw Iris she was eating a cookie and deduces she read her diary and found out about the party.

She decides to use reverse psychology to make everyone believe that the ‘fun thing’ won’t happen unless everyone gives her some space…..Which…is it me or does that not make any sense? They believe the ‘fun thing’ she’s talking about is moving away, and they don’t want her to move away, so shouldn’t they not be giving her any space? These plots never work unless people are being unnecessarily vague in situations where they wouldn’t be otherwise.

Also, just as a bitchslap in the face to anyone in the audience with a lick of common sense, we get this exchange.

Ruby: “There just seems to be something else going on here.”

Poe: “Have you considered asking them?”

Ruby: “Well, that’s no fun, is it?”

PbsabdbsadbsadbnsadbsadbsakjsaduhkjdwedweFUH!

That is flatout – “Why doesn’t she just ask them?”

“Then we wouldn’t have a plot.”

She gets invitations out to everyone and decides to hide in the meeting spot to learn what’s really going on with them. Iris, Misery and Skull boy state that they believe Ruby is moving out, and Iris suggests that if she’s really set on it, they’ll hold a bon voyage party. She could’ve just come out of hiding and cleared everything up then, but we still have four minutes of runtime.

Ruby decides that wallowing in her friends’ misery (no…pun intended?) is a nice coverup for her party and even later calls it a ‘joke’. Because we still need padding, her friends don’t believe her when she reveals she was never intending on leaving and was planning a surprise party. Right, instantly believe wild accusations based on evidence so flimsy it couldn’t support an ant filled with helium, but Ruby outright telling you what her intentions are, well, she’s obviously lying.

Ruby, giving up on trying to convince them otherwise, claims she was indeed thinking of leaving but realized that they’re such great people, so she decided to stay….and that works. Cut to dance montage.

Also, Frank and Len, for some reason, believe Ruby was dying this whole time and just talk about the five stages of grief before holding a private memorial service for her. I dunno.

——————————

I really feel like this series needed to be somewhere between this age level and Invader Zim age level. The fact that this is for younger children and is obviously written in such a ‘kids are stupid’ manner hurts it so much, and it’s such a waste because, like I stated, the dialogue, timing and jokes are there – it’s the story that blows.

If this is meant for younger audiences, what’s the moral here? Don’t read other peoples’ diaries because it will cause shenanigans? Find better hiding places for your diary and don’t outwardly direct people towards it? Never talk in a vague manner?

As a first episode, it works alright. It introduces us to the world and characters fairly well. We learn what a good chunk of the characters are like without them needing to shove exposition in our faces. Ruby doesn’t really come off as a character who is always happy and looking on the bright side, though, because she spends a good chunk of this episode confused, irritated and suspicious. She has a good personality, but I don’t think she’s quite at the level of being always happy.

Finally, the music is awesome. That opening theme is one of the catchiest theme songs I’ve heard on a show in a long time.

Final Verdict:

cbxcz0k

I wrestled with this verdict for quite a while because the story for this episode was just so badly written, but the jokes and dialogue worked so well that I think and very well hope there’s stronger entries here. It has everything it needs, but maybe we just got off on the wrong foot in the story department. This series got three seasons and won a few awards, so I assume there must be something better there.

Extra Notes: She has a cat named Doom Kitty. If I ever get another cat, I’m naming it that.

Exploring Disney’s Castle: Pinocchio (1940)

Rating: 7/10

Plot: A toymaker named Geppetto made a marionette named Pinocchio. Despite his awesome ‘stache, he couldn’t find a woman to mate with him and make him a child, so he wished Pinocchio was a real boy. His wish is granted by a fairy because fairies just do that, but she only brings the puppet to life. In order to become a real boy, Pinocchio has to prove himself to be a kind and moral young lad. However, he doesn’t know the difference between right and wrong so a kindly cricket named Jiminy gets assigned to be his conscience. Then a bunch of weird stuff happens.

Breakdown: While Pinocchio isn’t the closest nostalgic Disney feature in my heart, I do look back on it it fondly, and I remember getting the VHS for the movie way back when I was a wee lass. And, wow, unlike Snow White, I just could not refrain from nitpicking and seeing this movie with a more adult view.

Don’t get me wrong, I still really like this movie, and man I do loves me some of that painted Disney magic, but I was just picking apart the story and then realizing that the second half is one trippy confusing little ride. Not mention how many times I had to stop myself from thinking a scene was pedo-y….

Some things I can’t nitpick too much. I was going to say it’s dumb to send Pinocchio off to school when he’s only been a sentient pile of wood for less than 12 hours, but then I remembered that they seem to live in a weird world of anthropomorphic foxes and cats (even in a world with pet cats. It’s Pluto and Goofy all over again) so that’s not really an issue anymore. And seeing as how Pinocchio’s existence is also completely brushed off by fellow kids, I guess a puppet coming to life is just another day in Italy.

To get to the actual issues though, I’m confused about the fairy’s logic. She specifically says Geppetto deserves a son, but she doesn’t fully bring Pinocchio to life and instead makes him go through a trial of being a good person before he can actually be human. That’s okay I suppose, but then there’s the fact that he has no sense of what’s right or wrong and he’s naïve as all hell. So Jiminy is assigned to being his conscience, but dammit all if he doesn’t suck at it. He doesn’t really give any advice on what’s right or wrong to Pinocchio ever. He just points out that one person is bad without reason once.

Geppetto’s no help either because he doesn’t try to teach Pinocchio anything. He just answers every question with ‘because’ and sends the poor boy off to school not preparing him for how the kids may react or how anything in life works – like stranger danger.

Pinocchio gets into trouble because he really doesn’t know any better and then starts lying to the fairy for no real reason. The Pinocchio in this version has been shown as a very kindhearted yet extremely naïve individual, yet he somehow not only knows how lying works but he does it very naturally and without any actual prompt. Did he think the fairy would get mad if she heard about him getting kidnapped? Because that’s Jiminy’s fault, if anything.

I would say that’s a message of saying that, no matter what your conscience is telling you, it’s up to you to listen or not, which is also fine, but then I have to remember that Pinocchio has no real knowledge of anything in the world at all. Hell, he was setting himself on fire the night before because he liked how pretty the fire was.

He then gets caught by the same people without Jiminy even realizing it, you’d think he’d learn after that to keep a closer eye on the kid but no, and he gets tricked into going to ‘Pleasure Island’….see what I meant about the pedo-y stuff?

Here’s where Pinocchio pulls a complete 180 in character. I could brush off the whole thing about getting kidnapped and going off to join the marionette guy from before because he didn’t really know any better. But when he gets to Pleasure Island, he full on says that he likes being bad, so it seems that even without Jiminy he realizes that what he’s doing is wrong and is going ahead with it for whatever reason.

Oh yeah, let’s address the creepy and downright dark and confusing aspect of Pleasure Island. So a man kidnaps BOATLOADS of misbehaved boys who skip school and do no good. How no one in town has noticed that many kids going missing is beyond me. But considering that they all must be rotten boys, that must be a really awful part of town. Also, I love how it’s only misbehaved boys who are taken. All girls are innocent angels free of sin. ❤

Pleasure Island is a theme park, and I do not understand said theme park. You already kidnapped the kids – why the theme park? Just stick them in a cage or something. And wouldn’t that theme park, that inevitably gets destroyed each time the kids come, cost way more in construction, maintenance, operation and repairs than whatever you get for the kids? And this theme park is specifically designed for little brats since it has robot Indians chucking out cigars to the kids (Aw look, it’s Disney being racially insensitive to Native Americans before Pocahontas. Awww they were so precious.) kegs, and model houses specifically for the kids to destroy.

That’s not even the most baffling part about this theme park. It’s all just a front for a secret operation to turn the kids into donkeys.

Uh. Huh.

I mean, what? How did we go from an innocent story about a puppet coming to life by a fairy and having a bug being his conscience in hopes of someday becoming human to kids being turned into donkeys? I mean, come on Disney. Suspension of disbelief! Pft.

But yeah, the beer and the cigars were poisoned with….something, I dunno, that turned all of the boys into donkeys who would eventually be sold off to salt mines and farms to work until they die. Unless they were young enough to apparently retain their ability to talk because….I honestly have no clue what happened to those boys. Probably kept as a show attraction until they were too old to speak anymore and then sold off into child/donkey labor.

Not one of them were saved. Yeah, screw your happily ever after. Those little brats were never found and were probably forced to work to death. Kinda dark, there, Disney.

Lampwick might have escaped, but I don’t see how.

While this is trippy, dark and confusing, them repeating the stuff about being jackasses (and, yes, they actually say ‘jackass’) basically implies that this scene means if you’re a little brat as a kid, you’re damned to turn into a jackass for the rest of your life….I guess.

Then we get to the weirder stuff. Half-Donkey Pinocchio runs home to find that Geppetto is not there, and I can’t understand how long Pinocchio’s been gone. Last we see of Geppetto, it was the same day Pinocchio was supposed to go to school and he kept looking for him all over town. His first kidnapping took place over the course of a day before he tried to get home again, but I guess the second one took place over days, weeks or possibly months.

Geppetto’s gone and a glowing bird sends down a message to Pinocchio and Jiminy that Geppetto has been swallowed by a whale.

Ya know, typical Tuesday.

……He was swallowed by…..a whale. I can’t even understand how this happened. Geppetto wasn’t swallowed by any old whale – he was swallowed by a huge whale that is known for being particularly murderous and even swallows ships whole.

Apparently, Geppetto was out on his fishing boat when he got swallowed up. This is what confuses me about the timeline. They’re starving to death, act like they’ve been on that boat for quite some time and have little hope they’ll (they being Geppetto, Figaro and Cleo) survive in the next few days. But what was he even doing out on that boat? Like I said, last time we saw him he was looking for Pinocchio after he had gone missing after leaving for school. What was he doing on the boat then? Did he think he’d find Pinocchio out on the ocean? Or had he been missing for so long that he decided to go fishing to clear his mind over the loss of his puppet child?

Also, how could both Pinocchio and Jiminy breathe underwater? The prospect of drowning doesn’t even come up until they exit the whale. I would say this is because Pinocchio’s a puppet, but he seems to have regular bodily functions like in his reactions to the cigars. And his ‘death’ later can only be explained as drowning.

There’s also that thing about making a whale sneeze by setting a fire in its stomach which I don’t even sense make.

Bottomline: I have no idea why I was able to completely immerse myself in Snow White and just gloss over every seeming issue yet I was practically hung up on them in Pinocchio. This just got to be more trippy and dark than I remembered….and confusing, hence why three points got knocked off. But for the most part the movie does have good morals, decent characters and I can’t think of a point where I wasn’t really enjoying myself.

Recommended Audience: Well, the word ‘Jackass’ is said a few times, but I always thought it was stingy to say that’s a swear. It’s in the bible for crying out loud. Kids smoke and drink beer, but the message is obviously that those things are bad to do….and will turn you into a jackass. Plus there’s the downright frightening aspect of that whole Pleasure Island thing. But other than that, it’s perfectly fine. 5+

CSBS – Danny Phantom Episode 3

CSBS DP EP3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Episode One-Derland (Cartoons): We Bare Bears

Plot: Three brothers, a grizzly bear, a panda bear and a polar bear, try to meld into modern human society.

Breakdown: This series makes me smile.

This is another one of those shows that I’ve caught in passing, and every time I’ve watched it I’ve been thoroughly entertained. The characters are charming (especially Ice Bear), the humor’s both low-key and energetic and it’s just a fun time in every episode. It’s the type of show that you can watch when you just want to sit back, relax and have some laughs.

For this Episode One-Derland, I watched both the pilot episode and the official first episode. Both were very funny and properly met all of the criteria of a first episode. The characters are firmly established early on with dialogue and situations that allows their personalities to shine through without being in-your-face with exposition.

Grizz is the oldest brother, and he typically takes the lead in every situation they’re in. He’s the loudest and, truth be told, the most annoying, but his antics can also be the source of a lot of fun.

Panda is slightly neurotic and obsessed with his phone and the Internet.

Ice Bear is the coolest character (Oh yeah, enjoy that pun.) He barely (more puns?) says anything, but he delivers the funniest lines just by doling out one-liners usually starting with ‘Ice Bear.’ He is the most tolerable character to ever speak in third person, and he’s voiced by Demitri Martin. It’s a match made in heaven.

Their world is also established quite well. No one really takes note of the fact that they’re bears, and the public is usually only reacting to their personalities or whatever shenanigans they’re getting themselves into.

In terms of story, the pilot episode centers on cheering up Panda after he breaks up with his Internet girlfriend. They decide to get him some ice cream by crashing a kids’ birthday party. While the ending of the party plot makes no sense, it had a lot of funny moments and ended with Panda realizing he needs space away from his ex when she tries to get him back. Admittedly, he seemed clingy, so it’s probably best for both of them. The episode doesn’t center on the relationship at all, but the bare bones of information flashed to us is enough for us to sympathize and move the plot forward.

The actual first episode is about the brothers having their backpack of stuff stolen at the basketball court after playing a game. They lose Grizz’s wallet, Panda’s phone (so he’s obviously freaked out) and Ice Bear’s ninja stars (That he bought legally). The rest of the story is about them tracking down the culprit. The ending twist was great and really threw me for a loop. There are many funny moments throughout this episode, but I’ll admit I was more partial to the pilot.

Final Verdict:

cbxcz0k

I will probably binge watch the rest of the series now. Ice Bear would approve.

CSBS – American Dragon Jake Long Episode 3 Review

CSBS ADJL EP3

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

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

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

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

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

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

———————————-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rating: 4/10

Episode One-Derland (Cartoons) Looped

Plot: Luc and Theo, caught in a time loop to keep living the same Monday over and over, take advantage of their knowledge of the day to avoid dodgeballs in gym class. The consequences are disastrous somehow.

Breakdown: This series confused me before I even got around to actually watching it. This is the description –

“The series revolves around the life and adventures of Luc and Theo, two 12-year-old best friends who get stuck in a time loop where every day is Monday, and as the Monday is always the same, they know everything that will happen before it happens. They use it as an opportunity to do whatever they want to, most primarily at school, what usually gets them in trouble. Theo has a crush on Gwyn, a recurring character on the series, what is shown in various episodes. They first got stuck in the loop because Luc hopped his skateboard and crashed into Theo’s garage-lab in the first episode, and Theo’s scientific experiments got mashed.”

That sounds far more hellish than it does funny. While you can make some comedy out of that for the first handful of days, like nearly any version of this plot, eventually it gets to the point where reliving the exact same day every single becomes more of a nightmare than something to have fun with. Even in the Stuck on Christmas segment of Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas they realized this.

Not to mention, as an audience, wouldn’t this be horrible to sit through the exact same dialogue every single episode? Even repeating itself over and over in a single episode is bound to be annoying.

I just realized that this show probably saves oodles of money on animation by reusing footage….

As a series, this could work, theoretically, because it sounds like they get into a bunch of ‘wacky shenanigans’, but considering the day just resets after everything’s said and done, there are really no consequences for their actions….except….ya know….being caught in a hellish time loop, which I doubt they’ll recognize as hellish or explore any of the deeper and personal resonances this could have on them as people, like they do in Groundhog Day.

But enough presumptions. Let’s actually watch the show.

*one episode later*

Hm. I failed to realize another problem of this show. Time travel.

Looping is, essentially, time travel. While the day continuously resets, making the space/time continuum’s structure stay solid, time travel still negatively affects the plots of these stories.

Today’s episode is about Luc and Theo using their future knowledge of their bully’s dodgeball throws to dodge aforementioned balls. After a few days of looping and calculating, they become Matrix-level dodgeball dodgers. However, this already doesn’t make much sense. If they’re dodging the balls now, they’re changing what happens after even the first one is thrown. Thus their calculations should now be void because the bully, named Jesse, will be throwing balls differently than he did when they were being hit, either through aim, trajectory, velocity etc. they will be different because they changed the timeline.

This is especially apparent after they dodge the first wave of dodgeballs and they talk to Jesse about it. Jesse gets so angry that he furiously chucks another dodgeball at them and Luc easily avoids it, even though there’s no way he could’ve known where that one was going since they never encountered that one in the past before.

…..Oh and also, their coach gives a young boy who just got hit in the face with a dodgeball mouth to mouth when he obviously didn’t need it…..His name is Kyle and he’s known as being this perfect attractive Adonis kid…..Also the coach is devastated when Kyle is hit in the face with the ball, presumably because it marred his beautiful features…..Someone call the cops is what I’m trying to say.

Oh and also, as punishment for hitting Kyle with the dodgeball, some popular girls (two of whom might be his sisters?) tell Jesse to go to….the fart box….It’s a wooden box where they trap him and some fat kid lets out a huge fart into it (through a butt-shaped opening). It’s a kid version of a gas chamber. Lovely.

Later that same Monday day (that’s what they call it), Luc and Theo find that Jesse is so devastated at ‘ripping the wings off an angel’ that he won’t eat, bully people or anything. They then meet with an alternate dimension form of Jesse who is a knight, demanding retribution of his sullen reputation after the dodgeball game. According to Theo, who, by the way, is the science guy, this Jesse is a glitch in the loop, created to fill in the void of a bully left behind from the original Jesse no longer being one.

That makes so much no sense I can’t even nonsense. Filling the void of something lost in a timeline by creating a new substitute for that role sounds logical, but I think being without a certain something in a timeline makes much less damage to a timeline than creating two of the same person and having them coexist in the same timeline.

There’s not even anything to suggest that Jesse gave up bullying for good. I’m sure after Kyle’s face healed he’d be at it again.

They get their asses handed to them by Sir Jesse (why he’s a knight is never explained) who defeats them in a joust and wedgies them on the goalpost of the football field.

The next Monday day, they prep for another confrontation with Sir Jesse…Wait, what? Why wouldn’t you just save Kyle from the dodgeball so his perfect work of art face won’t get hurt, they still won’t get hit with dodgeballs and Jesse won’t give up bullying? They’d also be saving an innocent kid from getting his face bashed in with a rubber ball. Oh right, he totally deserves that hit because he’s attractive and everyone loves him and when they got hit with dodgeballs he sincerely said it looked ‘ouchies’ and they were jealous that he never gets hit with dodgeballs. Right right.

They don’t stop the completely inappropriate mouth to mouth either.

They come into school wearing knight armor, but are shocked to find a different Jesse taking the role of new bully now – he’s a greaser I think. The next Tomorrow Monday (it’s what they say) he’s a caveman, then a pirate, then a robot – What the hell is even happening? Why are they getting a different new glitch Jesse every day? And why is he always some time period stereotype?

At gym, Theo is freaking out about what new glitch Jesse they’ll face today, and he wants to stop the glitch entirely by just letting themselves get hit with the dodgeballs. Again, you could stop the glitch and Jesse’s downfall by just saving Kyle from getting hit. Coax him to move a foot in literally any direction. Catch the ball. It’s not difficult. I thought Theo was supposed to be a genius.

Luc refuses because apparently being zapped by a robot, slashed at with a pirate sword, bashed with a caveman club and jousted are so much better than just being hit with a few dodgeballs.

Moron.

Today’s Jesse is a supervillain, and Luc finally realizes that they need to set things right and let themselves get hit, but not before Supervillain Jesse uses his psychic powers to make Luc and Theo make out.

Ya know what? Forget calling the cops on the coach. Call the cops on the writers. First we have child molestation now sexual assault? What the hell?

Also, Supervillain Jesse flies with farts. Lovely.

The next Tomorrow Monday, Luc and Theo let themselves get hit and the status quo is restored. And nothing mattered ever.

Oh and the coach gives Luc mouth to mouth for some reason even though he never did in any of the other normal timelines.

Well, kids, we learned a valuable lesson today. Some kids are just meant to be bullies. If you try to stop them from being bullies, they’ll turn into supervillains and make you make out with your best friend until you accept your role as bully victim.

This was awful and unbelievably asinine. The premise is difficult to work with as is, but they don’t even start with an origin story. The theme song doesn’t explain the origins either, it just repeats that they’re in a time loop….Oh, haha, I get it. The song is kinda looped. Haha.

None of what they do in this episode makes any sense. The ‘moral’ if there even is one is terrible. Not to mention just returning everything back to normal at the end without learning anything worthwhile for the only two characters in this show who actually can learn and progress is infuriating. They could’ve easily just gotten better at dodgeball by playing it over and over and over and saved Kyle from getting hit. The end result would be a different day, they’d stop getting hit, they’d learn a new skill and they’d save an innocent person from getting hurt. But nope, it’s just ‘gotta let the bully be a bully’

In nearly every incarnation of the time loop plot, the characters who are cognizant of what’s happening usually learn something from their actions, but here everything’s pointless. And if you’re going to have a pointless episodic show where nothing matters, at least be funny about it. This show is nowhere near funny.

The fact that the alternate dimension Jesses come with such a flimsy explanation is also irritating. Their existence makes that version of reality worse when it’s meant to supposedly fix something that was screwed up because of it. Why don’t they just build on the Butterfly Effect logic like nearly any other show that uses this plot? Have something logical but bad happen because they changed something minor in the past. Don’t just make something up because pbbtt time and space things.

In the end, going in, you know none of this matters anyway, They’re in a time loop with no intentions of leaving it for some reason. By the end of the episode, nothing will have lasting consequences so it’s all moot. I just don’t think you build a lasting series on the time loop plot. A movie? Sure. An episode of a series? Yeah. A series? No.

You’d need a team of seriously good writers to pull that off, and this show just doesn’t have them. They have writers who make 80% of the jokes in their episode be filled with snot, slobber, farts, sexual assault or child molestation.

For those thinking that I’m reading too much into the child molestation thing, let me point out that even the animators knew this joke was wrong. They do this joke three times, and they never animate it. It’s never on screen. We just get a bunch of gross slobber noises and reaction shots.

As for the characters, barring Theo, who only gets tolerance points for being the only one with knowledge or sense, everyone else is terrible. Luc is an asshole idiot, Jesse is a bully idiot, Sarah and her popular cronies are jackasses and the coach is a child molester who roots for the bully to be a bully.

Final Verdict:

750spsl

Technically, I only reviewed the first half of episode one since this is one of those shows where two stories take up one episode, but I think I’ve seen enough.

CSBS – Rugrats Episode 2 Review

Rugrats episode 2 title

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

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

Breakdown:

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

Case and point, this segment.

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

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

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

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

Rugrats episode 2 - 2A 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rugrats episode 2 - 2B 1
ShutupshutupshutupshutupshutupshutupshutupSHUTUP!

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

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

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

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

Rugrats episode 2 - 2B 2

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

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

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

Rugrats episode 2 - 2B 3

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

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

Parenting Fails

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nobody notices that Tommy knocks the garbage over.

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

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

Didi leaving Tommy alone with these two.

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

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

Tally: 26

What the…They’re Babies!

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

Episode One-Derland (Cartoons): Winx Club

Plot: A teenage girl named Bloom finds a fairy named Stella being attacked by an ogre out in the woods. In an effort to save her, Bloom discovers that she has fairy magic too. This is just the start of something much bigger for Bloom.

Breakdown: Alright, I need to prepare myself for this one. Just gonna jump into my subconscious for a tad.

*poof*

Girly part of me! Where are you?! I need you for 20 minutes and 14 seconds! I know you’re in here! I felt your presence when I was looking at puppy pictures earlier! Ah there you are. I don’t know why I don’t always look in the nook with my Beanie Baby collection first.

Away!

*poof*

So, yeah, as you can probably guess, despite having the girl parts, I’ve never been that girly. I’ve always been more into things that were more traditionally boy-like. I had some regular girly stuff like Barbies and bead sets and a fake plastic kitchen (I make the best plastic omelets), I’ve even had the tea parties and dressed like a fairy princess once. But if you ever asked me to choose between something like Power Rangers and My Little Pony, I’d be imagining piloting the Megazord before you’d finish your sentence. I never really disliked girly things, I was just more interested in boy-ish stuff…..It was cooler….No My Little Pony dolls shoot lasers or explode, okay?

With that in mind, it goes without saying that I never really watched Winx Club. I caught a few minutes of it here and there but—OOH BEYBLADE’S ON!

*cough* Something else would usually come on.

But I’m not without my girliness. My femininity. My female…itude…..I have a purse.

Let’s see if I can get into Winx Club.

*one episode later*

Mmmmmmmm…..Nrrghhh……Unf.

Alright, let me level with you. This show is not terrible on the basis of rampant girliness. The girliness levels are high, damn near ridiculous (The main character’s animal sidekick is a damn bunny for crying out loud), but I was able to get through that relatively fine…

This episode is just poorly written.

Right off the bat, the pacing for the first half is breakneck. In the first three minutes, we’re briefly introduced to our main character, Bloom, who is a normal average teenage girl, she sees a fairy girl with a valley girl accent fighting an ogre, she starts to be defeated, Bloom goes to help her, reveals she suddenly has powers, knocks the ogre away, the fairy girl, named Stella, gets back up, defeats the ogre with ease and then faints.

The pacing slows down a bit then ramps right back up after the ten minute mark. For example, in the time span of a minute, Stella brings Bloom to Alfea, an all-girls boarding college for fairies, pixies and something called…gowylians? Gowillians?….Uh those – Most of whom are princesses because of course they are. They learn to be magic users, protectors of their realms and queens.

This place is right down the road from the boy’s school – The Red Fountain School for Heroics and Bravery (A place ‘full of hunks’ according to Stella), where young men learn to become military heroes utilizing such things as hand to hand combat, weapon use, basic survival, magic swords and DRAGONS. Look! Look! The boys get magic swords and dragons! They get the cool stuff!

They’re also closeby to the Clow Tower School for Witches, which could not be more designed to be a villain factory if you tried.

Then, in the same minute mind you, she informs Bloom that she already invited some of the boys from the Red Fountain school to her house. When did she do this? She never had the opportunity as far as I saw.

If the pacing doesn’t get you, the story won’t do you any favors. It is extremely cut and dry ‘normal person discovers she has magic powers and is tasked to save the world’ schtick. The good guys are obvious, the bad guys are even more obvious and they practically go out of their way to separate everyone into their respective groups. For God’s sake, if sectioning off good from evil wasn’t enough, they have to cordon off the boys into their own school too. So we can wrangle the love interests? What’s that about?

Wait a minute.

*One Wiki Later*

Yup, that’s literally it’s purpose. All of the future members of the Winx club will have either fiances or boyfriends and, you guessed it, they all, barring one, come from the Red Fountain school. Wow.

Bloom’s parents are unreasonably stupid. Not believing your daughter brought home a fairy is one thing, being one room away from a door that is being brutally pounded on by someone, seeing a pet freaking out about it and constantly wondering why the animal is freaking out and pointing to the aforementioned door is another. They have to shake the whole house and actually enter before they realize, holy crap, someone’s at the door.

Anyone familiar with Tuxedo Mask Syndrome in magical girl shows can rest assured that the girls do indeed get rescued in the end by the hero boys she mentioned. At the very least, they barely know what they’re doing too.

The dialogue is okay at best and cringe-worthy at worst. There’s a lot of lame slang, valley girl speak and just horribly written lines delivered in lackluster ways. Par for the course for 4Kids.

The art and animation are horrid. It’s not the absolute worst I’ve seen, but it is quite a ways down there. Italy, I hate to keep giving you crap, but….you kinda keep giving me crap. It’s weird. There isn’t really a tidal wave of animation errors – it’s moreso like an unfinished animation or just sloppily done. The action actually isn’t the worst part of it. The bad animation is most highlighted in the speaking scenes. I laughed out loud when we saw Brendan speaking in that extreme closeup. If there was ever a shot where bobble-head physics applied, it’s that one.

The music is about what you’d expect from a girl-targeted show from 4Kids. Girly earworms. I will wag my finger in 4Kids face for one moment of music faux pas. They very clearly use a piece of BG music from Pokemon when Bloom wakes up. Tsk tsk.

As a first episode, it does the job just fine. Mostly because they’re mowing down the plot of the episode to shove every bit of exposition down our throats as quickly as possible. It introduces us to the characters and their universe just fine. They don’t really explain too well what fairies are in terms of what they do, nor do they explain how their magic works. They also never explain why or how Bloom is a fairy. She just shows she has powers and Stella spends half the episode gushing about how awesome she is.

They show the big bads, but we have no clue what they want beside power and I can only assume world domination.

Final Verdict—wait a minute.

While this first episode, in my opinion, is a hot mess that doesn’t make me want to want to watch anymore, I will concede for a bit. Winx Club is a huge franchise spanning over several seasons, movies and even comics.

I’ve read some stuff from future storylines and it seems somewhat interesting. I don’t want to write off the entire franchise for you all here, so let’s leave this as an;

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I, personally, won’t be continuing because it’s just not my cup of tea. However, if you can find yourself getting into shows of this vein, I recommend giving it a go for a few episodes. If anything, the art and animation seem to improve over time.